If they ever create a James Beard Award for brokering restaurant deals, Laura Miller is a shoo-in. In a town where restaurants open more frequently than Twilight sequels, even in a bad economy, Miller is the go-to agent for chefs seeking something more than kitchen help.
A former restaurateur, Miller likes to work with chefs because it keeps her close to a community she is fond of. Her creativity in striking deals—she declines to reveal her secrets—has helped many chefs realize their dreams and has kept Seattle in the culinary forefront.
“I know what it’s like to put every last penny into a restaurant,” she says, “so I am mindful of so many aspects in opening a restaurant—and I am always thinking of an exit strategy, too....Many of my clients are chefs and, quite frankly, amazing artists at what they do. Understanding what is fair in the current market as far as rental rates, landlord contributions and overall lease terms [are concerned] may not be their strong suit, so that is where I come in.”
Seattle superchef Ethan Stowell, who worked with Miller when he opened Anchovies & Olives on Capitol Hill, says, “Laura is the best at making the hunt for a restaurant space as efficient and painless as possible. She knows what’s going on around town and is great at making connections that are good for both parties.”
Miller estimates that, in the past 18 months, she has worked on about 30 restaurant deals in Seattle. A notable recent accomplishment was finding a home for Tamura Sushi Kappo, a Japanese restaurant in Eastlake owned by Taichi Kitamura, a 2009 James Beard Award semifinalist (see review, page 42). Miller has also signed a deal as an exclusive broker for Starbucks in the Seattle market outside the downtown core and is involved in leasing space at the high-profile Melrose Market on Capitol Hill.
“This line of work is what makes me tick,” she says of the restaurant deals. “It is what I choose to do in my free time.”
Published November 2010
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