Why is Thierry Rautureau closing Rover's?

Seattle's official "Chef in the Hat!!!" is closing up shop. Why?
Crosscut archive image.

Thierry Rautareau with his wife Kathleen Encell

Seattle's official "Chef in the Hat!!!" is closing up shop. Why?

Thierry Rautureau, Seattle's iconic "Chef in the Hat!!!" (with, yes, three official exclamation points), has put his flagship restaurant, Rover's, up for sale.

Rautureau says he's selling because his lease is up and "It's time for me to turn the page and move on to new projects. I'm a Curious George kind of guy, you know."

Notwithstanding his Zagat ratings of 29/30 for both food and service.

Here's the listing, by Laura Miller of Gibralter USA:

  • Subject: Mad Valley Restaurant Space Available 2808 East Madison Street currently ROVERS
  • Over 2 decades as Rovers
  • Available: June 1st, 2013
  • 2,285 SF
  • Patio Seating
  • Equipment: TBD
  • Rate: $36.00 + NNN ($7.00)/SF

Including the triple-net (taxes, insurance, common area utilities), that's over eight grand a month. Not cheap, but you get the whole house. 

Thierry's been in Seattle for the past two decades. He started in life on a farm in northwestern France, started cooking as a teenager, moved to Chicago in 1980, worked in LA, happened to eat at Rover's, found out it was for sale and bought the place in 1997. Rover's was former owned by Kevin McKenzie, a restaurant owner from Los Angeles, who had bought it five years earlier from Les Larsen, the headmaster at The Bush School.

Thierry's been on Top Chef Masters, thinks Padma Lakshmi is actually very smart and has put together a cooking show of his own called Kitchen Circus that just wrapped its pilot season. In the finals, nine home cooks were challenged to make dinner for 45 people in the professional kitchen at Rover's in six hours.

Rautureau intends to keep Luc, the less formal spot in Madison Valley, named for his father, that he opened in 2010. "We're moving on to a new chapter," he tells Crosscut. "Timing is everything."


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About the Authors & Contributors

Ronald Holden

Ronald Holden

Ronald Holden is a regular Crosscut contributor. His new book, published this month, is titled “HOME GROWN Seattle: 101 True Tales of Local Food & Drink." (Belltown Media. $17.95).