<p><span>Grub owner Sharon Fillingim (right), with chef Joel Jester.&nbsp;</span>photo/Ronald Holden</p>
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Grub owner Sharon Fillingim (right), with chef Joel Jester. photo/Ronald Holden

 

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Gossip isn’t gossip when it’s true, right? 

A casual-themed, breakfast-lunch-dinner place called Grub will replace Ototo Sushi at the top of Queen Anne. 

The owner, Sharon Fillingim, was previously a partner in Le Reve (the Queen Anne bakery and cafe), as well as two other restaurants (the late Jimmy’s Table in Madison Valley and Cool Hand Luke in Madrona). 

Her chef at Grub will be Joel Jester, who’s keeping mum about his professional training and previous experience. 

The menu will feature foods and cooking styles from around the world; opening is set for August.

The building, at the corner of Queen Anne Avenue North and Boston Street, was home to three restaurants for many years but has been vacant since January. No word on plans for other two spaces (Teacup, Polpetta/Enza Cucina Siciliana).

 

What the numbers say

Pike Place Market’s Athenian Inn is a beloved, 103-year-old Seattle institution with $10 breakfasts. 

What it’s not, despite much ballyhooed claims by Forbes.com, is the fifth- or sixth-highest-grossing, independent restaurant in the country, with an astounding income of $19.1 million a year. 

“Totally wrong,” general manager Eddie Clark told me.

We all know, here in Seattle, that the highest-grossing restaurant in town, at $15 million-plus a year, is the Space Needle’s Sky City. That’s a bit more than $1 million a month, or $30,000-plus a day. It’s not difficult to do if your restaurant seats 200 people and you serve 300 lunches (at, say, an average check of $30) and another 300 dinners (at, say, $65).

But if your average check is under $20, you’re only open from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., you’ve got slow times during the day and if Forbes doesn’t even count alcohol sales (thus, ignoring the Athenian’s touristy bar scene) — well, you get the picture. 

At best, we’ll give Athenian 300 customers and $6,000 a day — about $2 million a year. Not shabby, but sheesh! 

Forbes — that bastion of supposedly reliable information about our country’s millionaires — was off by a factor of 10. 

 

Moving markets

The Metropolitan Market atop Queen Anne has closed after 50 years. 

Terry Halverson, whose company, Food Markets Northwest, owned the business, started his career here, bagging groceries at age 16. Before long, he bought the place (then known as Queen Anne Thriftway) from its owner, Dick Rhodes, and eventually acquired several other neighborhood groceries around town: Admiral, Proctor and others, ending up with six stores. 

In 2004, he turned the Admiral Thriftway into the flagship of the newly named Metropolitan Market mini-chain. 

After competitor Larry’s Markets imploded, Halverson bought the Larry’s on Lower Queen Anne and completely transformed it. 

Halverson is an innovator: He moved flowers and fresh produce to the front of the store; hired Jon Rowley to promote a better selection of fresh fish, including Copper River salmon (Julia Child was impressed); bought a bakery (Boulangerie) to provide fresh bread; brought in a B&O Espresso bar; and added a mini-kitchen for in-store demonstrations and author signings. All of it cutting-edge when introduced.

The half-block site on Queen Anne Avenue is being redeveloped for residential use, and there isn’t enough room, Halverson said, for a traditional supermarket. The nearby Safeway is on a full block and has what Met Market lacks: room for 60-foot semis to back into the loading dock without using side streets. The current building, under 20,000 feet, is barely big enough to qualify as a modern supermarket at any rate, but without easy deliveries and (easy parking for customers), it’s a non-starter. 

The developer, Joe Geivett of Emerald Bay Equity, has developed several other properties nearby and has an excellent reputation for community involvement but can’t make the numbers (reportedly asking $45 a square foot) work for Metropolitan.

What could go into the space on Queen Anne? There’s a well-established, specialty grocer just two blocks away, in a cramped and crowded building, who would move in a heartbeat: Trader Joe’s. 

 

Tidbits

Don’t forget about Tom Douglas’ cool “Salmon Chanted Evening” barbecues at Victor Steinbrueck Park in the Pike Place Market; the next one is Aug. 25.

And Thierry Rautureau, owner of Luc and Rover’s in Madison Valley, is back on new episodes of “Top Chef Masters.” 

There’s a new Evolution Fresh juice bar downtown — wheat-grass smoothies to-go.

Wanna buy a restaurant? Medusa in Columbia City is for sale. 

Dulces Latin Bistro, a mainstay of Madrona’s commercial district for many years before moving, has closed its new space on Western Avenue after less than a year. 

Rocksport Bar & Grill in West Seattle is throwing in the towel after 17 years. 

Bad Albert Tap & Grill in Ballard is closing, as well. 

RONALD HOLDEN blogs about food, wine and travel at Cornichon.org.