George Page closed La Boucherie, his highly acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant, last week, saying it made more sense to focus his efforts on two Seattle-based farmers markets.
He plans to offer occasional dinners and special events at the intimate eatery on the western edge of town and to continue to lease the adjacent space as a butcher shop. But the butchery will no longer be open to the public as a retail space, and the restaurant will no longer offer a la carte meals to walk-in diners, he said.
“It just turns out that 80 to 90 percent of our sales happen at the farmers markets in the city, … so it just seemed to be the logical choice for us to close the restaurant,” he said.
La Boucherie, or “butcher shop” in French, opened in 2008, providing an outlet for products from Sea Breeze Farm, a small, north-end enterprise on Vashon where Page and his crew make cheeses, raise animals for meat, ferment wine and create other high-end foodstuffs for gourmet diners. Since then, the tiny restaurant has garnered strong reviews from Seattle-based publications and has developed a loyal following.
But Page said he and his staff were spreading themselves too thin trying to keep the restaurant open and juggle the many other demands of creating products to meet a growing market for locally sourced foods.
“We have a farm and a dairy and a winery and a cheese plant and a restaurant, and we’re doing two farmers markets. As much as I want to do everything, I only have so much bandwidth,” he said.
Under the new business plan, Sea Breeze will continue to sell cheese, wine and meat at the University District and Ballard farmers markets, using its presence there to invite people to special events at the farm and eatery, Page said. Patrons, for instance, would come to Vashon for a tour of the farm and a wine- and cheese-tasting, followed by dinner at La Boucherie.
“We’ll refine it into a few high-value events per month. For us, it seems the best way to showcase our products in the restaurant is to do events for a limited seating of 20 to 30 folks,” Page said.
He said the approach will enable him to cater to a Seattle crowd that has supported his endeavor. “I’m stunned and humbled by the following and the commitment we have from our farmers market customers,” he said.
But he also doesn’t plan to walk away from Vashon patrons and hopes to continue to offer invitation-only events for islanders as well, he said.
“Stay tuned. We’re still here. We’re doing our best to meet the needs,” he said.