On the Horizon

Chain restaurants invade; local chef/owners expand.

A troubling press release arrived this week; "Houlihan's targets Seattle for expansion," it read. The 86-unit chain, most notable for popularizing chicken fingers and mozzarella stix, plans to offer up to eight franchise agreements to Seattle backers. South Lake Union, get ready for some ribs; West Edge, prepare yourselves for stuffed potato skins; Lake City, the Threebie appetizer combo is almost upon you; SeaTac, can you handle more corporatized fettuccine Alfredo? Citizens, Houlihan's wants you to drink what they call a Jailbreak, wherein Jack Daniels, Kahlua, and Amaretto are shaken and added to a wine glass half full of equal parts Coke and Guinness. You've been warned. With the further chainification of our city looming, it's a fine time to check in with some of the locally and independently owned restaurants and lounges coming soon. A phone call to John Sundstrom at Lark confirmed a very interesting tidbit I recently stumbled upon: He and his partners are opening a restaurant and lounge next door to Lark. Set to open in April, the new space will be called Licorous. An online search reveals that Webster's hasn't listed "licorous" since 1913; it means "tempting to the appetite." Sundstrom says Licorous will have a loungelike atmosphere, with a bigger bar and a mostly small-plates menu. In lieu of dining room tables, a nontraditional seating arrangement will allow for 30 to 35 lounging patrons. Given the most oft-heard complaint regarding Lark, I just had to ask: Will a person be able to make a reservation at Licorous? Probably not, Sundstrom said—but if things work out the way he and his team have planned, they'll probably offer reservations at Lark once Licorous is up and running. (Insert citywide, contented sigh here.) At Union, Ethan Stowell and company are planning a spin-off, too. Theirs is Italian in theme and Jerry Tide, Stowell's affable, strawberry-blond bartender, will have a front-seat role in the new venture. I've only sat at Tide's bar twice, but twice was enough to know I like his style. He seems—and I hope he'll not take this wrong; I really mean it in the best way—like a nerd's nerd, or, better yet, a nerd's barkeep. No word yet on where the new place will be; Belltown might seem the obvious choice, but my sources say it could as well pop up in an outer nabe. Wherever it lands, I love the idea of homemade Italian food preceded by a nerd-made martini. Bring it on. Down the street from Union, in the space formerly known as Patti Summers, the Can Can was expected to open by Valentine's Day, but you know how these things go. Christoph Snell and Sara Green have their work cut out for them; the long-struggling, subterranean Patti Summers was one of those places that are so bad they're fantastic. Expect a mixture of cabaret-inspired entertainment and rock, folk, and country, and expect a rescheduled grand opening on March 11. And keep your fingers crossed that the pours will be as generous as they were under Ms. Summers. lcassidy@seattleweekly.com

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