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Chef sours on sweets haven Coco la ti da
Seattle Times restaurant critic
Sue McCown called it quits Saturday night, three months after opening her much-anticipated dessert lounge, Coco la ti da, on Capitol Hill.
"I started the business undercapitalized," said McCown, who left a high-profile job as pastry chef at Earth & Ocean in the W Hotel to go out on her own last summer with the help of a financial partner.
The restaurant was reviewed in The Seattle Times just two weeks ago.
McCown opened the wholesale arm of her operation first, renting kitchen space while readying the restaurant. In the end, she said, balancing a separate wholesale and retail operation proved to be too much. "I'm not the business side of it, I'm the creative side," she explained. "I was getting farther and farther away from what I wanted to do."
McCown admits she "made mistakes" along the way and that her staff was "shocked" when she left following her announcement Saturday night. "It now belongs to my business partner," she said.
When reached for comment, the partner, Karen Hudesman, said: "It's happened so abruptly, I don't know what I'm going to do right now." According to McCown, both women are talking to their lawyers.
Coco la ti da's phone has been disconnected, and other restaurateurs are already eyeing the 42-seat space in the historic Loveless Building, which only a year ago was home to Fork. Like Coco la ti da, Fork was highly anticipated and opened to critical acclaim, only to close abruptly after six months.
Portland restaurateur Tom Hurley, who recently opened Coupage in Madrona and is looking to expand locally, toured the space Tuesday. With an eye toward possibly taking over the lease, he reviewed profit and loss statements. Considering the debt load, the building's historic status and the cost of the lease, Hurley said he'll continue to look elsewhere. "You'd never be able to service the debt," he said.
As for McCown's future, she said, "I went into this with my eyes wide open, and I got a lot out of it. I'm not done — I'm gonna rest and have a couple of good cries, and I'll be back."
Nancy Leson: email@example.com
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