February 29, 2012 update: Skillet is confirmed for Armory take-out counter
After much humming, hawing and are-they-or-aren't-they confusion, Skillet Street Food has officially signed on as an anchor tenant in the Seattle Center's newly-renovated food court, The Armory.
While a handful of heavy-hitting Seattle restaurateurs have been seemingly waiting for the first one among them to take the plunge and place their stock in the 21st Century Committee's vision of transforming the Center House into an "actual fine-dining destination," Skillet's Josh Henderson finally committed, he says, because "I do feel confident, especially after discussing with folks what their intentions are."
Apparently the "folks" he was referring to are "some of the other 'big name' chefs in town," whom Henderson says "are very interested and are all clamoring around to be a part of it." Henderson continued in an email, "It feels like there is a very positive energy around it and I feel very confident that the folks we think are fantastic at what they do are going to be joining us in the endeavor."
Skillet is planning a takeout counter that will serve some of the trailer/diner staples ('the burger', duh), and plans to be up and operating in The Armory around June.
In a sneak peek tour in February, the Seattle Center Century 21 Committee revealed its first real glimpse of what it has in store for the remodeled Center House, which is now being called The Armory.
Architects from Graham Baba, the firm designing the spaces of hit restaurants around Seattle faster than you can say “industrial chic,” showed off the first fruits of its labor: a wall that had previously concealed back-of-house operations has been knocked out and replaced with a cool industrial space with newly-exposed black steel beams and ceilings, the future home of a selection of mobile eateries and food trucks. The west-facing exterior wall now features large windows and several doors that open onto a dining patio overlooking the fountain.
The new name is a nod to the building's past as a National Guard training facility during World War II, before it was repurposed to house programming for the 1962 World's Fair. “This is exactly why we wanted to work with Graham Baba,” said Seattle Center spokeswoman Deborah Daoust, “not to add to the building, but to strip back.”
Though several heavy hitters of the local restaurant scene were in attendance at the unveiling, a sense of commitment was still elusive. “Everyone's just kind of standing on the edge of the cliff waiting for the first person to jump,” said Josh Henderson of Skillet Street Food. Henderson has been in continued talks with the committee over the possibility of signing on as an anchor tenant and has voiced support for the committee's goal of making The Armory a true dining destination, but has yet to commit.
Ethan Stowell (Tavolata, Staple & Fancy, Anchovies & Olives, etc.) said he has had one initial and brief meeting with the committee, but couldn't say what type of presence, if any, he was considering there.
Nonetheless, Daoust said they are in advanced stages of talks with about 16 possible vendors, and hopes to be able to make some announcements soon.
This post has been edited since its original publication.