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Originally published Friday, March 2, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Chef sours on sweets haven Coco la ti da

Coco la ti da chef Sue McCown closed her much-anticipated dessert lounge Tuesday, after opening just three months ago and receiving a positive...

Seattle Times restaurant critic

Coco la ti da chef Sue McCown closed her much-anticipated dessert lounge Tuesday, after opening just three months ago and receiving a positive review on these pages two weeks ago.

Last summer McCown left her pastry-chef position at Earth & Ocean in the W Hotel to open Coco la ti da with a financial partner.

She started the wholesale arm of her operation first, renting kitchen space while readying the restaurant.

McCown said balancing wholesale and retail operations proved to be too much. "I'm not the business side of it, I'm the creative side. 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 closure announcement Saturday night. "It now belongs to my business partner," she said.

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.

Other restaurateurs are already eyeing the 42-seat space in the historic Loveless Building, which only a year ago was home to Fork. 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: nleson@seattletimes.com

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