Next Chapters

Eight Row Will Close in June

Chef David Nichols says his orchard-driven Greenlake restaurant will return. It's just not clear when.

By Allecia Vermillion May 13, 2024

A new Eight Row would likely be smaller and more intimate.

One of Seattle’s most notable restaurants is closing this summer. Though Eight Row’s owners say it’s not forever.

“It’s a sad, weird thing,” says chef and co-owner David Nichols. Their lease is up and negotiations to extend didn’t prove viable. Eight Row’s owners say the restaurant will resurface in a new location in the future. But the when and where of it all don’t yet exist, says Nichols. “There’s no timeline; we don’t have anything set.”

He and his brother, Ian, opened Eight Row in August of 2019. The menu centers fruit from the pair of orchards their parents run in Wenatchee, not to mention hyperseasonal Washington produce from the center of the state.

Eight Row is one of the city’s loveliest dining experiences, a place where both the tasting menu and the a la carte lineup do right by our agricultural riches. The “pan-American orchard fare” skips around from sourdough bolillos and duck carnitas tostadas to pastas and perhaps the best eggplant dish in Seattle. Nichols was a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2022 and 2023.

The restaurant’s bar program was long-listed for a James Beard Award this year, an achievement even more notable considering Nichols and his wife and business partner, Kate Willman Nichols, launched Seattle’s chapter of Ben’s Friends, an addiction support group specifically for members of the hospitality industry. These days, Ian Nichols is based in London for his day job, but uses his proximity to Europe to build a wine list so good it draws other somms on their nights off. (David and Kate will continue leading the Seattle chapter of Ben's Friends, though the group will have to find a new location for its Monday night meetings.)

Eight Row’s closure is a loss, no question. I’m generally skeptical that a shuttered restaurant will ever really resurface, despite a chef’s passionate proclamations. But the Nicholses do have a lot of factors going for them.

David, Kate, and Ian are opening a restaurant in a century-old fire station in Wenatchee and are deep in the prosaic (and expensive) stage of architectural drawings and seismic refittings for the project, which likely won’t open until mid-2026. The trio is also planning a second restaurant in the brothers' hometown that would arrive a year later.

There’s also the small matter of their parents’ farm. The elder Nicholses are in their mid-60s, and big companies buying up nearby land means the specter of selling the farm always hovers on the periphery. If the family hangs on to these acres, says David, they’ll have to make some changes so things are more economically viable. "Eight Row doesn't exist without our farm," he says.

In addition to all this, he and Kate had a son last year. Eight Row's large size makes it difficult for either parent to be absent during service.

David and Ian have “literally talked about this since they were teenagers," says Kate of Eight Row's general concept. "Given the longevity of the dream…we’re okay with waiting a little while, if that’s what it takes.”

And a new location could be a very good thing. Eight Row’s space always felt like a mismatch, the one less-than-ideal aspect of a business that otherwise hums. David consulted for the restaurant that was here before, and took over the lease when it closed. It's big, it's a little too bright. This food—and this bar program—belong someplace small and charming.

"We're a 110-seat restaurant doing an a la carte menu and a five-course tasting menu with a 300 bottle wine list," says David. That requires a ton of logistics mostly unseen to customers. The scale made it tough to switch things up as produce came on and off the menu. He'd like Eight Row 2.0 to be about half the size.

The final dinner service will happen June 29 (plus a few more events in July). Eight Row will also reinstate its five-course orchard brunch on Saturdays throughout the month. For the restaurant's many fans, it might not be farewell, but even under the best circumstances, it will likely be a year or two, at least, before we can experience those warm bolillos and fried eggplant again.

Show Comments