The opening of a new Seattle restaurant – oh the joy! I have always loved new things and to open a new restaurant is no different.
So, how do you go about opening a restaurant? Or more accurately, re-opening a famous Seattle seafood restaurant that was closed for several months for a major remodel.
First, you need to hire a passionate Executive Sous Chef. I was blessed to find Joe Ritchie, whose culinary travels include the Herbfarm in Woodinville, Cave B Inn in Quincy and Poppy in Seattle. Joe also spent time in Sonoma working at the Michelin 2-star restaurant Cyrus. He is going to be a great asset for us here at Ray’s!
Next, we sat down and figured out what we could do with what we have. Joe and I walked the Boathouse line, as eerie as it was with all that equipment, pans, coolers and no action due to the remodeling going on. This part of the process helped us get our heads around what was possible from an execution standpoint. You never want to overload any one station, unless there is just one superstar on your team standing around saying “I’ve got nothing to do” so then you give it to them – ha ha!
One part that was easy was the fact that we knew we were going to have a seafood concept, just as Ray’s has been over the past 40 years. But sometimes it’s this question that gets the team stumped – “what do you want to be? I don’t know, what do you want to be?” And so it goes…
With our seafood concept set, the question was what do we want the menu to look like? Do we want small plates, shareables, appetizers, soups/salads, salads/soups, entrees, large plates, chef specialties and so forth? We decided there are many titles for all the same things, so it came down to what we thought would catch the eye for the hungry diner or the one looking more for entertainment. We also had to consider how many items to offer in each of the sections – finfish, shellfish, meat, poultry or others – and deciding what to put into each category.
Once we established all of that, we selected each dish for the “chef specialties” menu. We are planning a lobster dish so next we needed to create a recipe for that. This process went on for all of the 24 items we have decided to put on the opening menu, in addition to the new “tasting menu.” By the way, those 24 items each come with multiple recipes, mousses, vinaigrettes, stocks, marinades, compound butters, crackers, croutons, hashes, salsify gratin and the list goes on. But this is what we live for as chefs, to create fresh new dishes for our guests!
Did I tell you we had only a few months to get this all wrapped up and to the table? It has been quite an exciting experience and I am looking forward to introducing all of you to the new Ray’s Boathouse & Cafe!