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Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants.

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March 28, 2008 11:50 AM

Kirkland Restaurants: Here today, gone tomorrow-ish

Posted by Nancy Leson

If you live in Kirkland, you're probably well aware of the planned downtown development of Lake Street's McLeod Project. But if that's news to you well, join the club. I just got wind of it a couple weeks ago. For more developments on that big development, check out the City of Kirkland's website, but here's some news you can certainly use: Four restaurants now doing business on the site -- Hector's, Mixtura, Calabria and Sasi's Cafe -- are facing the wrecking ball. World Wrapps closed a month ago.

As for Mixtura, the Peruvian restaurant I waxed rhapsodic over after it opened in late 2005? You'd better get over there fast. They're closing for good after service on Sunday, according to co-owner Gus Rivadeneira.

So what's next for his Peruvian "surfer chef" Emmanuel Piqueras? "I have a project in New York," says Piqueras, the man who introduced me to the delights of Peruvian ceviche, Alder-smoked sea salt and warm quinoa rolls. The project is another Peruvian restaurant, this time in NYC's West Village. He's also working on a cookbook proposal and writing recipes, and he says there's some interest from at least one major publisher. (Hey, Ten Speed! I'll buy two.)

While the bad news for us is Mixtura is closing, the good news -- for Rivadeneira and his business partner, Oscar Acosta -- is that they had a buyout clause in their lease. Rivadeneira says he's toying with the idea of opening another Peruvian restaurant. "We had a pretty good response from the public, and we've built-up a clientele. I think they'd like to see us continue," he says. "We'd like to find a place in downtown Seattle. My idea would be to find a group of partners to do this with us, to do something similar to Mixtura."

Sasi's Cafe will move in May. Owners Roland and Doris Oberholzer are already making plans for their re-location, combining their Lake Street cafe and catering operation with their second location at Central Park Tennis Club, opened two years ago. According to the gal who answered the phone when I called a bit ago, the move is permanent: they won't be moving back in.

I'm still not sure what's what with Kirkland's longstanding Southern Italian restaurant, Calabria, opened in 1988 by Gianfranco Bafaro. Gianfranco's ex-wife, Rhonda, owns the place and. . .WAIT, STOP THE PRESS, THE PHONE'S RINGING!

Whoo-hoo! So, I just got off the phone with developer Stuart McLeod. He says with the design of his project recently approved, he "still has a couple of other steps to work through" till the whole thing is a done-deal. If all goes as planned, he hopes to break ground this summer. As for his restaurant tenants, here's what I (now) know:

McLeod owns Hector's, though it's run by a management team. "I don't claim to be a resaurateur. I'm a developer, and an investor" -- one who bought Hector's five years ago "because it was the only way I could get the property." A new Hector's has already be re-designed into the plans for the new site -- one he expects to cut the ribbon on in the first quarter of 2010. Meantime, McLeod says, Hector's will close (date TBD) for about 30 days and relocate, temporarily, to a (as yet disclosed) nearby location. McLeod says he'd love it if some of his original restaurant tenants would move into the finished project two years from now.

"It would be nice if Sasi's would come back," he says. "And we're in the discussion stage with Rhonda." McLeod's also in the discussion stage with a Mexican restaurant in California, one that's "not a large chain." He for sure wants an Italian restaurant, a French bakery, and a steak house. He's got some folks in mind for the steak house, and when I asked him whether it was JaK's Grill, he said it wasn't -- though having eaten at their original Issaquah location, he told me he'd certainly give Jak's consideration.

Anyway, don't get me started on the proposed plans to redevelop Kirkland's Parkplace Center -- home to Purple Cafe and Wine Bar, Hoffman's Bakery, Rikki Rikki and my favorite breakfast joint, the Original Pancake House.


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