For Your Consideration . . .

October-November is Oscar season for new restaurants, too.

  If I want a shot at winning the Oscar betting pool, I've got to spend the next few weeks in the theater. Marie Antoinette, The Last King of Scotland, Volver . . . the list of movies I haven't seen is a long one. Trouble is, it's also Oscar season for restaurants. Coco la ti da, the Capitol Hill dessert shop owned by former Earth & Ocean star Sue McCown, finally opens this week, as does Oliver's Twist, a Greenwood spot for cocktails and snacks run by Carmelita alumnus Dan Braun and his partner, Sarah Hughes-Giles. Serious Pie, Barolo, Vessel, King's Hardware, and Wann Izakaya are but a few of the high-profile, high-investment places that have opened in the past two months, with Tavolata (from Ethan Stowell of Union and Patric Gabre-Kidan) and Osteria La Spiga's new location soon to premiere. Why the Big Bang? "Everyone tries to get their restaurant open before either the tourist season or the holidays," says Lori Randall of Randall PR, who handles a number of restaurant clients. "Those were the two big pushes this year." October and November are a critical time. That's when corporate event planners are scouting for locations for their holiday parties, and it's important for a new business to get on their radar. "The holiday season is a nice way to start out," says McCown, who had originally planned to open in August until renovation and permitting delays pushed the date back three months, "but it's also tricky." Training new staff becomes much harder when you're simultaneously fulfilling holiday-season demands for gifts and party favors. To compensate for the late start, the chef has scaled back the range of Christmas goods she planned to offer. "I think starting out with less and doing it tight is important," she says. The goal of opening before mid-November isn't just to score those holiday dollars but to accrue enough of them to coast through the New Year. Across the restaurant industry, the January slump is a given. According to Anthony Anton, president of the Washington Restaurant Association, restaurant revenues in Seattle are 12 percent lower in the first quarter of the year than in the fourth. Right after New Year's, diners are cash-poor and resolution-high, and the weather encourages nesting. Dreamworks and Disney can release their most promising Oscar-contenders on DVD before the big night; new restaurants may have to wait until the tourists arrive for their second shot at blockbuster status.

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