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July 23, 2008 6:30 AM

Au revoir, Crepe de Paris

Posted by Nancy Leson

Annie Agostini -- born in Corsica, raised in Marseille and owner of Rainier Square's French restaurant and cabaret, Crepe de Paris -- will serve her last crepe July 31, lift a glass of Champagne and bid the restaurant business a fond adieu. "After 41 years, it's time," she says. "I need to retire, to rest my legs, my feet and my head." At 72, she deserves to do just that.

She's sold the Rainier Square restaurant, which is expected to reopen after a swift cosmetic makeover as Navya Lounge Indian Cuisine. As for her longtime chef, Jacques Jarriault, "Jacques is not too young, either, Annie says, noting his intention to help new owners Sanjeev Sharma and Vommi Padmanabha with the transition.

In 2008, with French bistros and creperies sprouting like cepes in a moist woodland, it's hard to imagine Seattle as a city where a young woman can come to visit friends, take a look around and say, "Seattle needs a French restaurant." That's what happened when Annie visited the city for the first time. She's been a fixture on food scene ever since. In 1967 the young chef opened the first incarnation of Crepe de Paris on Seventh Avenue, relocating 10 years later -- after the downtown building was slated for demolition -- to the far reaches of Madison Park.

In 1978 she opened the existing location in Rainier Square and soon after sold her Madison Park venue to French chef Dominique Place (you know the place today as the Italian trattoria Sostanza). "One is enough for me, I didn't need two," recalls the hands-on proprietress. But these days, enough is enough. "Now it's time for me to enjoy some other things" -- like travel and friends, she says. "I ran the place by myself all these years and it was a big responsibility. I'll miss my customers, but I need to let go."

Care to say au revoir? Crepe de Paris will serve weekday lunch and dinners Monday through Saturday before closing at month's end. Care to read more about its life as a cabaret? My theater-going pal Misha Berson takes a look back at the rollicking and risque cabaret shows she's enjoyed there, right here.

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