Canlis restaurant in Queen Anne Seattle is up for two awards in the James Beard Foundation Awards, in the “Outstanding Restaurant” and “Outstanding Wine Service” categories. The James Beard Foundation is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “celebrate, nurture and preserve America’s diverse culinary heritage and future”. Every year, nominees can make their own entries for any number of categories. Canlis has been nominated once before, but did not win. Those who have had the pleasure of dining at Canlis I’m sure would agree with the nomination. Canlis isn’t the only entity that has been nominated for a James Beard Award. That’s right, local chef and entrepreneur Tom Douglas is nominated this year (and last!) in the “Outstanding Restaurateur Award” who owns a variety of Seattle restaurants including Dahlia Bakery and Lounge, Etta’s, Lola, Palace Kitchen, and the oh-so-good Serious Pie. A number of other Seattle chefs have been nominated in the “Best Chef: Northwest” category, and a Kirkland chef,Holly Smith, is nominated for “Outstanding Chef” and her restaurant Café Juanita for “Outstanding Restaurant”. It’s so exciting knowing that Seattle truly is a great food capitol, bringing diverse and excellent dining options and opening new places so frequently. Congratulations to all the nominees and good luck. See a full list of nominees and past winners here.
I recently had the chance to go to one of Seattle’s great restaurants: The Ruins. Located at the base of Queen Anne near Mercer Street and Aurora Avenue, not a place to hide, but that is what this private restaurant has done from most of Seattle since it opened in 1993. And that is how Joe McDonnal, who opened the restaurant with his partner in business and life, Virginia Wyman, wanted it. The Ruins website proudly states “Seattle’s Best Kept Secret.”
When I was invited to The Ruins recently (inquire about membership to The Ruins here), I had no idea Joe McDonnal, 79, was very sick with pneumonia in Palm Springs, CA. Mr. McDonnal passed away on January 31st. During his lifetime, he not only created The Ruins, a restaurant as well as a base for catering and a place to host weddings and corporate events, Mr. McDonnal was a mentor to many of Seattle’s restaurateurs. Both Ethan Stowell, who owns four Seattle restaurants including Anchovies and Olives, and Joanne Herron, who opened the French bistros Le Pichet and Cafe Presse, worked under and were encouraged by Mr. McDonnal.
Mr. McDonnal is survived by his “unmarried spouse” of 32 years, Virginia Wyman, his sister Maribel Cadmus, and his brothers Bill and Fred.
$46 million was awarded to the victims of a shooting at Denny’s in Kent, WA, with the majority going to one of the victims, Steve Toelnoa, who was left paralyzed. Unfortunately for the Mr. Toelnoa (above and beyond the tragedy of being left paralyzed), he will only get $13 million. Before the jury came back with the verdict, Mr. Toelnoa agreed to a settlement where he would receive a minimum of $5 million and a maximum of $13 million (depending on what the jury awarded) and Denny’s agreed not to appeal (which is a not a minor concession).
According to one article, the award was mainly based on Denny’s not taking appropriate action after the police were called 30 times to this particular restaurant between 2005 and 2008 for crimes such as assault, rape, drug, harassment and car prowls. Other articles seemed to indicate more police involvement. For example, this article in the Seattle Times from May 2009, put the number much higher:
Since Jan. 1, 2007, police have logged 338 calls and 65 investigations involving Denny’s, compared with 155 calls and eight investigations involving Shari’s, several blocks off the freeway.
That earlier article also had a quote from the Kent police that the local police had been working with Denny’s to reduce after hour issues. This statement at least partially contradicts the victims claim that Denny had not taken appropriate actions. The jury obviously agreed more with the victim’s assertion.
In this case, Frank Lee Evans, 23, had been in the restaurant arguing with another table. Evans then left and came back and started shooting in the crowded restaurant. Evans later told police he was drunk and angry after losing his job and getting in a fight outside a nearby bar. Evans was sentenced to 63 years in prison.