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A local chef — now retired — once commented that a perfect restaurant would have “no customers and no employees.” A cynical view, perhaps. But it elegantly captures the challenges of running a restaurant. Culinary entrepreneurs have to be so much more than good cooks.
Restaurateur Rich Komen began his extraordinary career in 1961 by securing the sports concessions contract at the University of Washington. In the ensuing 56 years, Komen opened more than 40 restaurants, founded and sold Restaurants Unlimited (think Cutters, Palomino, Palisade) and, with his crack executive team, created Cinnabon.
The 60-seat restaurant Copine opened in July at the base of the new, mixed-use Ballard Public Lofts, and it is exquisite. From the Tom Kundig-designed open kitchen to the soothing, neutral tones of the furniture, every detail has been carefully curated, down to the tiny fork “stands” that hold ever-changing, innovative amuse-bouches, such as melt-in-your-mouth citrus-cured salmon with roe.