After Chop Shop closed its doors, Bruce and Sara Naftaly were courted by Chophouse Row management and tenants to take over the space.
“It was kind of a community groundswell of people trying to tell us it makes total logical sense that we take over,” Bruce Naftaly said. “We got a lot of encouragement, so we said, “Okay, we’ll take it over.”
The Naftalys owned and operated Le Gourmand and companion wine bar Sambar in Ballard until closing in 2012. Sara Naftaly opened Amandine Bakeshop at Chophouse Row last year, her husband doing work in the background. Bruce Naftaly said with his wife at Amandine and their son at Nova High School in the Central District, it made sense for him to Naftaly said it made sense for him to also be on the Hill.
The Naftalys anticipate opening Marmite (pronounced mar-meet and is the French word for covered cooking pot) and cocktail lounge Spirit in the Bottle in December. To avoid confusing Marmite with the British food spread, Naftaly said the restaurant’s sign will have the correct pronunciation and definition below its cooking pot logo.
“Sara grew up in England and had a lot of Marmite experiences that she’s not fond of,” he said.
Marmite will be less formal than Le Gourmand, Naftaly said, and start off with daytime service, with many soups, sauces and gratin.
“It’s going to be the same ethos — everything is going to be organic, locally sourced, like I’ve been doing for decades,” he said. “It’s kind of fun and exciting to get back in there and play with all of those ingredients in a beautiful format to share with the public.”
Naftaly is big on stocks and soups, planning to have at least four soups available daily, which will also be for sale at a takeout window on the 11th Avenue side of the restaurant.
“We’re going to take out one of those windows and turn it into an opening one and do a little take out there,” he said. “There’s been a lot of deman from all the people I teach classes to, like, if you sold all the stocks, that would be great.”
Sara Naftaly will be crafting cocktails for Spirit in the Bottle, the nighttime side of the business, for now.
“There will be a lighter menu of smaller plates to go with the bar,” Naftaly said, “and then we’ll get into dinner later, and then we’ll have brunch on Saturday and Sunday too.”
Naftaly said his wife’s sister suggested the name, which is tale 99 from the Brothers Grimm collection of fairy tales.
“It just sounded like a perfect name for a bar, and we thought it was pretty charming,” he said.
Naftaly said he’s still working on the menu for Marmite.
“It’s hard to say what the signature dish will be,” he said.
After closing Le Gourmand, Naftaly also took up teaching cooking, and has plans to work with Seattle Central College’s Seattle Culinary Academy, opening Marmite for an externship program. Naftaly said the plan is to start a nonprofit to run the program, as well as supporting farm conservation nonprofit PCC Farmland Trust.
Naftaly said space used by Chop Shop for another dining area in the restaurant will not be incorporated into Marmite, and will instead be used for its original purpose, which was another retail space next to Niche at Chophouse Row.
Chop Shop back in August, the restaurant shutting down due to a lack of visibility and funding, according to owner Ericka Burke. Naftaly said he had always found Chop Shop to be pretty busy.
With soups on the menu, Naftaly said a December opening should keep business bustling.
“We’re opening in the winter, so it’ll be very good timing for all of this satisfying food,” he said
• Coming in November to the Capitol Hill marketplace is Cake Skincare, which plans to open in November.
• Chophouse Row is readying to launch a weekly farmers market in its courtyard, which will be curated by Bar Ferd’nand’s Matt Dillon in collaboration with the King County chapter of the Northwest Agriculture Business Center.