The Seattle Food Establishment: Second Annual List

The 50 most powerful players in Seattle's food scene, plus one to watch.
| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 

Who is shaping the way we eat now? The Seattle food scene’s movers and shakers may not be who you think they are. For the second installment of the our Food Establishment list, we tracked down the newest ventures, expansions and innovations by chefs, entrepreneurs, corporate honchos and behind-the-scenes players to rank the top 50—plus a new one to watch—in terms of impact. Unlike last year’s list, in which we took a longer view (it was our first list, after all), the emphasis is on what’s been shaking in the past year—with the long-term influence weighing in the balance. Read on to discover who’s got the power. Additional reporting by Mallory Peterson

Use the arrows above to navigate through the list, presented in reverse order.

One to Watch!
51.
Patrick Dempsey

Owner, Global Baristas LLC and Tully’s Coffee

Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: This year, the Grey’s Anatomy actor made his fictional relationship with Seattle real, making bigger news than the downtown sinkhole in Season 8 by inserting himself into our city’s food establishment: His investment group outbid Starbucks to acquire the locally based flailing underdog coffee chain, Tully’s, for $9.15 million. Employees: 380; tullys.com

50. Patrick O’Donnell
Cofounder, Urbanspoon
Est.:
2006
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: Along with cofounders Adam Doppelt and Ethan Lowry (who left the company in 2010, after it was sold to InterActive Corp), this software maverick makes it easier to find a good place to eat, first in Seattle and now around the world, with reviews, a reservation service and now, more links to other tasty content from Eater and the like. Last year was huge, with Urbanspoon partnering with Facebook to allow its Dineline to be added to users’ timelines, a more accessible redesign of the iPhone app home screen and the launch of Urbanspoon apps on Windows 8. New projects: One of the company’s missions is to make Urbanspoon a better experience for its users, so expect more outreach and action on feedback. Employees: 71; urbanspoon.com

49. Dick Spady
President, Dick’s Drive-In
Est.:
1954
Place on list last year: No. 35

Because: Seattle’s original fast food chain continues to make headlines. Last year, Esquire named Dick’s the “Most Life-changing Burger Joint” after Dick’s earned a whopping 56 percent of the votes in the magazine’s poll. Just as irresistible as a Dick’s Deluxe at midnight? The company’s generous base salary, benefits and charitable giving. Employees: 180; ddir.com

48. Brian D’Amato and Gina Batali
Owners, Salumi Artisan Cured Meats
Est.:
1999
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: What began as Armandino Batali’s (pictured, above right) humble charcuterie project and sandwich shop has grown into a cured-meat empire, with Gina Batali’s husband, Brian D’Amato, and his small but mighty crew cranking out 2,200 pounds a week. Much of the incredibly savory stuff is served in the Salumi storefront, along with a rotating selection of soups, pastas and vegetable dishes. Yes, vegetables. But its flavorful reach also spans from coast to coast, showing up at Dean & DeLuca in NYC and California and on menus at restaurants owned by that guy who’s Dino’s son—what’s his name? Yeah, celebrity chef Mario B. New projects: Experimenting with new, seasonal flavors. Employees: 14; salumicuredmeats.com

47. Fran Bigelow
Owner and president, Fran’s Chocolates
Est.:
1982
Place on list last year: No. 31

Because: Bigelow started the now-ubiquitous salted caramel craze, and her caramels are still our favorite. The quality and consistency of Fran’s never wavers, and we’re equally enamored with her other confections, especially the picture-perfect chocolate-dipped figs. Employees: 65; franschocolates.com

46. Lara Hamilton
Owner, Book Larder
Est.:
2011
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: A regular of the late Kim Ricketts’ Book Events has created a warm, welcoming cookbook store that some customers liken to heaven. Add a heaping helping of dazzling author appearances, a book club marshaled by local author/blogger Tara Austen Weaver and a long list of engaging classes/demos, and this larder feels like the best kind of community clubhouse. New projects: Recently launched an online bookstore so far-flung fans can order signed copies and rare, vintage gems that line the shelves along with new releases. Employees: 3; booklarder.com

45. Mark Tupper
Owner, Triad Fisheries
Est.:
1978
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: Seasoned fisherman Bruce Gore developed groundbreaking techniques for preserving the quality of his catch of wild seafood long before it was cool. Tupper bought the company from Gore five years ago, continuing the high standards, working with a fleet of 23 boats and earning kudos for quality and sustainable practices from the Dublin-based Global Trust, as well as thumbs up from local eateries (Mashiko in West Seattle is a fan, using 60–70 pounds in its sustainable sushi and sashimi offerings each week) and shoppers who buy Triad’s stellar frozen-at-sea products, sold around the globe. New projects: Just inked a deal to sell to a distributor that will supply high-end restaurants in Paris. Employees: 1, plus the crews of 23 boats; triadfisheries.com

44. Barry Bettinger
Owner of Snoqualmie Ice Cream

Est.: 1997
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: Seattle owes much of its ice cream revolution to this dairy visionary, who provides a pasteurized base product to Molly Moon, Full Tilt, Peaks Frozen Custard and others. All the while, he follows the noble sustainability mantra of his idol, the eat-right guru Michael Pollan, right down to keeping chickens for the eggs that go into the frozen custards and growing fruit for Snoqualmie’s own signature flavors. The state-of-the-art production facility includes solar panels and a special type of concrete in the driveway that absorbs rainwater, to cut down on runoff. New projects: Steady expansion of the 1.5-acre farm near the production facility in Maltby, including upping the number of chickens; worked with Top Pot Hand-forged Doughnuts to develop new doughnut-driven flavors. Employees: 12; snoqualmieicecream.com

43. Orlin Sorensen and Brett Carlile
Co-owners, Woodinville Whiskey Co.

Est.: 2010
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: In a region swimming in newly minted distilleries, this one rises to the top with its small-batch, hands-on approach, overseen by attentive distiller/owners. The proof is in its cult following, making it nearly impossible to find bottles of the highly allocated whiskey and rye on the shelves after they are released. Sorensen and Carlile also pioneered the DIY whiskey-aging kits. We’ll drink to that! New projects: Look for the limited edition of a new harvest release in October. Employees: 9; woodinvillewhiskeyco.com

42. Amy Pennington
Author, TV personality and owner of Go Go Green Garden
Est.:
Started Go Go Green Garden in 2007
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: All of a sudden, Amy Pennington is everywhere! The author of two books—Apartment Gardening and Urban Pantry—writes about kitchen gardening for Food52 and hosts Check, Please! on KCTS (the second season begins next fall), along with other writing gigs. Oh, and she also plans and manages gardens around the city (including one for Bennett’s Pure Food Bistro on Mercer Island) via her Go Go Green Garden business. New projects: Pennington began publishing an e-cookbook series called Fresh Pantry in January; each installment focuses on a different, seasonal ingredient (this spring: rhubarb!) Employees: 2, sometimes more, seasonally for Go Go Green Garden; amy-pennington.com

41. Eric Banh and Sophie Banh
Chef/owners, Monsoon, Monsoon East and Ba Bar
Est.:
1999
Place on list last year: No. 25

Because: The siblings who introduced many in Seattle to Vietnamese flavors at the much-loved Monsoon continue to impress with their all-day eatery, Ba Bar. Sublime, elevated versions of everyday Viet fare: a wondrous pho made with Painted Hills brisket; the city’s most irresistible congee, with braised pork belly. New projects: An impressive pastry program—pastry chef Karen Krol is one to watch—and a new cocktail program at Monsoon. Employees: 82; monsoonrestaurants.com

40. Maria Hines
Chef/owner at Tilth, Golden Beetle and Agrodolce
Est.:
2006, with Tilth
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: This telegenic dynamo continues to travel the globe, searching for inspiration to fuel her restaurant expansion mode. Last fall, she explored Sicily before launching her new Italian spot, Agrodolce, in the space that was once 35th Street Bistro. Her quest to keep it hyperlocal led her to milling flour in-house for the handmade pasta. New projects: She plans to continue working closely with local farms, sharpening the focus on showcasing sustainable ingredients in her kitchens. Employees: 90; mariahinesrestaurants.com

39. Brian McCracken and Dana Tough
Chef/owners of Spur, Tavern Law, Coterie Room
Est:
2008, with Spur
Place on list last year: No. 42

Because: This pair is committed to creating something that complements each neighborhood in which they set up shop, in addition to showing their support for those micro communities as boosters at fundraisers. New projects: The Old Sage, a charcuterie-driven watering hole, opens on Capitol Hill this spring. Employees: 72; mccrackentough.com

38. Ron Post and Ilyse Rathet
Owners of Ritrovo
Est.:
1999
Place on list last year: No. 54

Because: Thanks to this well-traveled couple, fans of Italian specialty foods have plenty of reasons to cheer. The more than 130 discoveries in their catalog of imported and domestic products that make our lives more delicious include carnaroli rice—the best for risotto, according to Cafe Juanita’s Holly Smith—and a top-secret artisanal Italian flour, favored by Il Corvo’s chef Michael Easton for his magical pasta. They recently introduced a white balsamic drinking vinegar and are collaborating with Canadian chocolatier Hagensborg, supplying their truffle and salted almonds for a savory sweet called the Wild Boar Bar. Bravo! New projects: Ritrovo is collaborating with Miller Farms in California on a sustainable almond blossom honey in its almond groves, which will eventually be available in limited supply at retailers that carry Ritrovo products, including Metropolitan Market and DeLaurenti. Employees: 7; ritrovo.com

37. Jim Sinegal and Jeff Brotman
Founders of Costco
Est.:
1983
Place on list last year: No. 3

Because: There’s no arguing about Costco’s impact both locally and globally on what we eat and, more recently, on where and how much we pay for what we drink. With last year’s passing of Initiative 1183, which allows private liquor sales (and a cause in which Costco invested nearly $21 million), state liquor drinkers saw prices with tax soar, in some cases as much as 30 percent. New projects: Several new locations in Japan, Mexico, the U.S. and Europe. And in fall 2012, a return to selling fine art on its website, which has included original works by Chagall and Warhol. Employees: 174,000; costco.com

36. Ron Cohn
Owner, Consolidated Restaurants
Est.:
1951
Place on list last year: No. 43

Because: The family-owned restaurant group runs Seattle’s most iconic steakhouse, The Metropolitan Grill, and the best oyster house around, Elliott’s. It also operates several Wing Domes and Steamers Seafood Cafes. New projects: Cafe 56 on Pier 56 (the same pier as Elliott’s), which opened last year, is Seattle’s first outdoor oyster bar. Dungeness and king crab (at Elliott’s), clam chowder and seasonal seafood are also available to go. Employees: 296; consolidatedrestaurants.com

35. The Pike Place Fish Guys (Jaison Scott; Dick, John and Ryan Yokoyama; Ryan Rector; Taho Kakutani; Chris Bell; Jake Jardine; Anders Miller; Ryan Reese; Sam Samson; Charlie Trimarco; Yori Oyloe; Erik Espinoza; and Justin Hall)
Est.:
1965
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: Not only do the men in orange move a whole lot of seafood at this tourist attraction—yes, much of the 1.5 million pounds sold annually is thrown as shutters click—but they’ve got a new cookbook, In the Kitchen with the Pike Place Fish Guys (written with Leslie Miller; Viking Studio), that serves up 100 recipes, shopping and prepping tips, and fleshes out their own fish stories. Let’s give the fish-tossing crew a standing ovation for going fully sustainable in 2011. New projects: Look for the saucy characters featured in the cookbook to show up on the TV demo circuit. After all, they’ve got loads of experience in front of cameras. Employees: 15; pikeplacefish.com

34. Allrecipes.com
Est.:
1997
Place on the list last year: Not ranked

Because: This reader-driven website, founded by then- University of Washington grad students (Tim Hunt, Carl Lipo, Mark Madsen, Michael Pfeffer, David Quinn and Dan Shepherd) and now owned by publishing giant Meredith, calls itself the world’s largest online food community, drawing, on average, more than 30 million visits each month. Phew! That’s a whole lot of sharing. New projects: Continued expansion of the catalog of cooking videos. Employees: More than 200; allrecipes.com

33. Murray Stenson
Bartender extraordinaire
Est.:
Began bartending in 1976
Place on list last year: No. 19

Because: In Seattle, Murr the Blur has iconic status, but he’s nationally renowned, too. Stenson made Zig Zag Café a cocktail destination and helped establish Canon as one of the best bars in Seattle. And it turns out that all the adoration Seattle bar patrons have expressed for years wasn’t just lip service: When news hit last fall that Stenson had a heart condition requiring surgery, but that he had no health insurance, benefit events from Seattle to Australia raised more than $200,000. New projects: Recovery. And his eventual return to bartending.

32. Jerry Traunfeld
Chef/owner, Poppy
Est.:
2008
Place on list last year: No. 28

Because: While many of Seattle’s other big-name chefs are opening restaurants so quickly it’s hard to keep up, Traunfeld focuses instead on keeping the quality at Poppy as high—nay, higher—than it’s ever been. His menus are especially thoughtful, and his way with vegetables is endlessly inspired. Cocktails—made with curry leaves and saffron, or hand-plucked herbs from the garden out back—double as tropical elixirs. But perhaps best of all: There’s a happy quality to the place. New projects: Nothing concrete, although Traunfeld is planning an eating trip through China in the fall. Dare we dream of what Traunfeld’s take on dim sum would taste like? Employees: 34; poppyseattle.com

31. Charles and Rose Ann Finkel
Owners, The Pike Brewing Company
Est.:
1989
Place on list last year: No. 47

Because: The couple who founded the craft brewing movement in Seattle, and mentored countless brewers around the country and the world, continue to prove they know how to make really, really good beer. Last year, Pike XXXXX Extra Stout was awarded a silver by the World Beer Championship. And the Pike Space Needle Golden IPA, originally crafted as a commemorative beer for the 50th anniversary of the Space Needle, is now on tap year-round. New projects: Pike Olympic Honeymoon Suite, made with honey from bees kept on the Fairmont Olympic Hotel rooftop; collaborative brews made with Tom Douglas staffers for the Brave Horse Tavern; and a new and improved menu at the pub. Employees: 80; pikebrewing.com

30. Molly Moon Neitzel
Owner, Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream
Est.:
2008
Place on list last year: No. 32

Because: Not only did Ms. Neitzel publish an inspiring collection of recipes in Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream (Sasquatch Books, 2012), she launched a feel-good project in memory of her sister, Anna, to help families in need purchase milk. Plus, she continues to make us scream for her ice cream. Employees: Approximately 60; mollymoonicecream.com

29. Evan Andres
Owner, Columbia City Bakery
Est.:
2005
Place on list last year: No. 27

Because: Seattle is a competitive market for artisanal bread bakeries and yet Columbia City provides bread to 60 of the city’s best restaurants. The bakery’s retail growth has continued steadily at an increase of 10 percent—year after year—for the last several years. Andres says the cakes have been especially popular this year. New projects: Columbia City will sell its bread, pastries and those addictive pretzels at three farmers’ markets this year: Columbia City, Queen Anne and Broadway. Employees: 40; columbiacitybakery.com

28. Terry Halverson
Chair and CEO, Metropolitan Market
Est:
1971
Place on list last year: No. 33

Because: The man behind the winning team knows how to make grocery shopping a pleasure, not a chore, building an ever-growing foundation of loyal fans. Many shed tears when the store on top of Queen Anne closed in July, as more than 2,400 showed up for an appreciation party. But when one door closes, another—the new store in Magnolia—opens. New projects: Introduced Belgian street-food-style pommes frites in Kirkland, Sand Point and Uptown/Queen Anne. Also testing a poke (the Hawaiian seafood salad) bar at the Magnolia store, and is hoping to roll it out to other stores as well. This year, expect the addition of a new, large soup bar and the arrival of sushi made on-site in Magnolia, with a complete remodel of that store in 2014. Employees: 700; metropolitan-market.com

27. Scott Staples
Chef/owner, Restaurant Zoë, Quinn’s Pub, Uneeda Burger and Feed Company Catering
Est.:
2000, with Restaurant Zoë
Place on list last year: No. 26

Because: Most know Staples as the owner of three of Seattle’s most stylish and delicious restaurants, including Restaurant Zoë, Uneeda Burger and the never-been-better Quinn’s (see page 83). But Staples also heads Feed Company Catering, which supplies tasty party food to Capitol Hill’s Sole Repair and other event spaces. New projects: Staples is searching for an event space to house Feed Company Catering. Quinn’s will open for lunch in summer, and it will also participate in the “parklet” program, opening up sidewalk seating around the city. Employees: 75; restaurantzoe.com, feedcocatering.com

26. Kevin Klock
President and CEO, Talking Rain
Est.:
1987
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: The Preston-based sparkling water company redoubled its marketing efforts for its naturally flavored Sparkling Ice product, redesigning the packaging and retooling the flavors. It worked: In the two years since, revenue has grown from $10 million to more than $200 million. New projects: As one of the fastest-growing beverage companies in the U.S., Talking Rain plans to expand to Mexico and Canada in 2013. Employees: 186; talkingrain.com

25. Roz Edison and Kamala Saxton
Owners, Marination Mobile food truck, Marination Stations
Est.:
2009
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: One of Seattle’s first food trucks, Marination’s “Big Blue” has led the mobile food trend by sending out good vibes and really delicious Korean-Hawaiian food. Now with two brick-and-mortar locations, the Marination brand is growing and thriving, and yet the quality never lags. New projects: There’s talk of boozy shave ice at Ma Kai in West Seattle! Employees: 50; marinationmobile.com

24. Linda Derschang
Owner of Bait Shop, Linda’s Tavern, Oddfellows Cafe & Bar, Smith and King’s Hardware
Est.:
1994, with Linda’s Tavern
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: For nearly two decades, this stylish tastemaker has been creating the coolest places to hang out for diners and drinkers as well as her steadfast crew, many who moonlight as musicians. Her contributions to the city’s cultural and culinary landscape were recently documented in an online series called American Hipsters. New projects: Tallulah’s, a casual neighborhood restaurant (19th and Mercer), opening this fall. Employees: 160; lindastavern.com

23. Kurt Dammeier
Founder, Sugar Mountain; CEO, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Pasta and Co., Bennett’s Pure Food Bistro, Maximus-Minimus
Est.:
1999
Place on list last year: No. 14

Because: Judging by the hordes of fans taking photos in front of his Pike Place Market store, this cheese whiz has succeeded in his goal to get people excited about seeing how food is made. That mission has gone bicoastal with his hit fromagerie and 90-seat Cellar in Manhattan. Plus, a slice of all profits go to Beecher’s Flagship Foundation, which has funded outreach programs that teach kids about healthy eating. New projects: An 11,000-square-foot brick-and-mortar version of the Maximus-Minimus food truck will open in South Lake Union later this year. Employees: 240; sugarmtn.net  

22. Matt Galvin
Co-owner, Pagliacci Pizza
and Leslie Mackie

Owner/chef, Macrina Bakery
Est.:
Pagliacci in 1979, and Macrina in 1993; partnering on green initiatives since 2006
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: This like-minded duo are darlings of sustainability, leading the good-for-the-earth charge on recycling and composting efforts at their respective businesses, as well as teaming up to build a LEED-certified bakery in SoDo in 2009, shared by Pagliacci, Macrina and three other businesses. New projects: Both are always experimenting with new recipes and new ways to bolster their environmental chops, including Pagliacci’s LEED-certified pizzeria in Madison Valley late last year. Employees: Pagliacci, 600 at 27 locations; pagliacci.com. Macrina, 100 at three cafés and the bread kitchen; macrinabakery.com

21. Bill Taylor, Paul Taylor and Janet Pearson
Owners, Taylor Shellfish Farms
Est.:
Began farming in 1890, incorporated in 1969
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: Oyster lovers in the Northwest and around the world can thank this Shelton-based company for those briny bivalves they slurp in restaurants and bars, including their own popular retail/oyster bar space on Melrose, and retail operations in Sammish Bay and Shelton. Not only does the family-owned operation grow its own, it sells shellfish seed to farmers up and down the West Coast. Plus, it’s managed to make geoduck cool. New projects: Expansion of the seed business to serve increasing numbers of growers around the globe. Employees: 480; taylorshellfishfarms.com

20. Joe Whinney
Founder, Theo Chocolate
Est.:
2005
Place on list last year: No. 20

Because: This tireless supporter of organic, sustainable, fair-trade cacao beans turned his mission into a sweet success and has been forging impressive partnerships far (Jane Goodall Institute, the Eastern Congo Initiative with Ben Affleck) and near (FareStart, PCC Farmland Trust). In 2012, Whinney was honored with a Global Citizen Award from the Krista Foundation. New projects: Continued distribution expansion; now available in supermarkets nationwide. Employees: 85; theochocolate.com

19. Andrew Stout
Founder and chief farmer, Full Circle Farms
Est.:
1996
Place on list last year: No. 37

Because: The man is a force of nature, turning his 5-acre farm into a 450-acre brand name while “answering the call to fix a broken food system.” Starting as a local CSA, Full Circle now delivers organically grown fruits, veggies and artisan food products year-round to customers in Washington, Idaho, Alaska and the (most recently) the Bay Area. Employees: 170; fullcircle.com

18. Mark and Michael Klebeck, and Joel Radin
Owners, Top Pot Hand-forged Doughnuts
Est.:
2002
Place on list last year: No. 29

Because: They’re everywhere! Not only did these genuinely sweet guys (Radin not pictured) launch six new cafés last year, they’re continuing to expand into Madison Valley, First Hill and Issaquah this year. Watch out, waistlines! New projects: They introduced a line of doughnutty-good ice cream in 2012, and plan to develop franchises in New York City later this year. Employees: 250; toppotdoughnuts.com

17. Keith Carpenter and Harry Hegarty
Founders, Wood Stone Corporation
Est.:
1990
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: The Bellingham-based company that built its reputation making custom stone hearth ovens for the likes of Tom Douglas (Serious Pie, Brave Horse Tavern), Ethan Stowell (Rione XIII) and all of the Tutta Bella locations, also makes specialty cooktops and ovens, including the plancha on which Blaine Wetzel cooks at Willows Inn. Wood Stone’s Josper, a charcoal broiler oven, has earned a cult following: Portland’s Woodsman Tavern has one, as does Danny Meyer’s North End Grill in NYC. The only Seattle restaurants to boast Jospers? Cafe Lago and El Gaucho. New projects: Tabletop steamers. Coming off a year with profits increasing 25 percent, the company is looking at increasing its innovative cookware and custom offerings. Employees: 115; woodstone-corp.com

16. Jennifer Shea
Owner, Trophy Cupcakes
Est.:
2007
Place on list last year: No. 21

Because: Shea’s Tiffany blue and chocolate brown color scheme is instantly recognizable and unquestionably upscale. In the last year, the company has grown to include four shops and two carts at CenturyLink Field. And fans can’t get enough, especially for timely ideas—remember the Beast Mode cupcake for the Seahawks? New projects: Shea’s first book, Trophy Cupcakes and Parties, will publish in the fall with 37 cupcake recipes and 20 party-theme ideas complete with tips on décor, craft ideas, even Shea’s favorite party snacks and cocktails. Employees: Approximately 40; trophycupcakes.com

15. Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi
Chefs/owners of Revel and Joule
Est.:
2007, with Joule
Place on list last year: No. 22

Because: This power duo deftly juggles two wildly popular restaurants—Joule (newly relocated to Stone Way) and Fremont gem Revel—in addition to teaching monthly cooking classes, frequently appearing at charity events and taking care of two young sons. They loop their kiddos into their busy schedules often enough that 3-year-old Pike is already an aspiring back-of-the-house guy. His favorite place to play: the dish pit. New projects: “We are just enjoying Revel and Joule right now,” Yang says. Employees: 45; revelseattle.com, joulerestaurant.com

14. Renee Erickson
Chef/owner of Boat Street Café and Kitchen, The Walrus and the Carpenter, The Whale Wins and CEO of Boat Street Pickles
Est.:
1998, with Boat Street Cafe
Place on list last year: No. 41

Because: Together with her business partners, Chad Dale and Jeremy Price, Erickson is all about satisfying her need to feed with new enterprises. The Whale Wins made a big splash at its debut last year, already showing up in national food mags, and her pickle business keeps expanding its reach, finding a nifty niche at Murray’s Cheese Shops in Manhattan and its satellite shops in area QFCs. New projects: She’s rolling out Narwhal this spring, a seafood-centric food truck that will focus on catering and regular weekly gigs around town, as well as expanding Boat Street Pickles’ offerings with the help of her mom, Shirlee. Employees: 65; thewhalewins.com, boatstreetcafe.com, boatstreetpickles.com

13. Jody Hall
Founder and owner, Cupcake Royale
Est.:
2003
Place on list last year: No. 24

Because: Local specialty cupcake shop trend was started by Hall, and this year she started another trend: cupcake-inspired ice cream flavors, which can be found in the six Cupcake Royale locations. Hall has also been outspoken about workers’ rights (she provides health care for all of her employees) and marriage equality. Employees: About 100; cupcakeroyale.com

12. Chris Curtis
Director of the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance
Est.:
1993, when Curtis founded the University District Farmers Market
Place on list last year: No. 11

Because: Twenty years after its founding, the Seattle farmers’ market movement is stronger than ever: Fifty-thousand new customers visited local farmers’ markets in 2012, resulting in an 8 percent increase in sales to farmers. The mainstreaming of shopping seasonally and locally—at farmers’ markets in so many area neighborhoods—is a direct result of Curtis’ work. New projects: While no new markets are planned, new vendors will join the Phinney Ridge, Magnolia and Lake City markets, and the Columbia City Farmers Market will open early for chefs. These and most of the seasonal neighborhood markets start their 2013 seasons in late May or early June. Employees: 103 in 2013 (up from 98 in 2011); seattlefarmersmarkets.org

11. Mark and Brian Canlis
Co-owners, Canlis Restaurant
Est.:
1950
Place on list last year: No. 9

Because: The third generation of this family business has consistently hit the refresh button at the landmark restaurant. Whether it’s through engaging social media or giving chef Jason Franey the freedom to update the menu, the brothers seem to be having a lot of fun. New projects: A dramatic remodel of the wine cellar, including a dazzling new glassed-in Champagne cellar. Employees: 80; canlis.com

10. Uwajimaya
Est.:
1928
Place on list last year: No. 12

Because: Ever since the Moriguchi family first launched its once tiny, now mighty Asian grocery enterprise, it’s been amassing a loyal fan base that showed its strength last year when it raised more than $40,000 for tsunami relief. The vast selection of fresh and pantry products at four stores (in the Chinatown–International District, Bellevue, Renton and Beaverton, Oregon) is illuminated by well-informed and helpful staff. Also, featured in two episodes of Top Chef, voted best grocery store in the I.D. by Seattle mag readers and recipient of the EnergySmart Grocer Award. New projects: Uwajimaya is celebrating its 85th anniversary this year. Employees: 460; uwajimaya.com

9. Charlie Billow and Ray Bowen
COO and president, Charlie’s Produce
Est.:
1978
Place on the list last year: No. 5

Because: Chances are, the produce on your plate at almost any restaurant in the region comes via Charlie’s, the largest independently owned produce wholesaler on the West Coast. And now more than ever, that produce is local; even in dead winter, the company offered two dozen varieties of Washington grown apples. New projects: The growing Charlie’s-owned Farmers Own label, which represents 20 organic local farms of varying sizes. Employees: More than 1,000; charliesproduce.com

8. Ted Baseler
President and CEO, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
Est.:
Winery est. 1934
Place on list last year: No. 36

Because: This pillar of the Washington wine industry has a reach that extends far beyond the picturesque chateau in Woodinville, with 14 brands in its prestigious portfolio (including Col Solare, Northstar and Columbia Crest) and flourishing global partnerships with Italy’s Antinori and the Dr. Loosen estate, one of the preeminent producers from Germany. Baseler amasses loads of frequent flyer miles supporting the company’s “string of pearls” and importing projects, while at the same time cheerleading for the entire state’s grape growers and winemakers. New projects: Building a new winery in Prosser this summer to support the unbridled success of its 14 Hands label. Employees: 800; ste-michelle.com

7. Howard Schultz
Starbucks CEO
Est.:
Started working at Starbucks in 1982
Place on list last year: No. 2

Because: Not only has the coffee giant grown to more than 18,000 stores worldwide, in recent months the brand has expanded into India and Vietnam. While its effort to purchase Tully’s was foiled (see No. 51), three key acquisitions made this year—the juice company Evolution Fresh, Teavana tea shops and Bay Area bakery La Boulange—prove that the company continues to diversify its products and increase its market share beyond the coffee market. New projects: Starbucks plans to open 3,000 new stores and remodel thousands of others in the next five years. Employees: 200,000+; starbucks.com

6. PCC Natural Markets
Est.: 1953

Place on list last year: No. 10

Because: This community-minded local co-op—which donates more than 57,000 pounds and 1,200 volunteer hours to 10 partner food banks—has been laser-focused on local, organic ingredients way before it was trendy, ever evolving in its mission to create a better shopping experience in its nine stores located throughout the area. That includes the genius cooking classes at five of the PCC Natural Markets, with menus from around the world (Korea, Morocco, Latin America, India and much more), hands-on basics (sauces, pie making, canning, knife skills) and kids’ classes for ages 2–15. (Registration opens on April 2 for classes from May through July; kids’ cooking camps go through August.) New projects: Look for a new store in Green Lake in 2014, and another in Columbia City in 2015. Employees: 1,000; pccnaturalmarkets.com

5. Nathan Opper and Zak Melang
Owners, Matador restaurants, Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen, Ballard Annex Oyster House
Est.:
2004, with Matador
Place on list last year: Not ranked

Because: The winning team behind the wildly popular Tex-Mex mini chain branched out in 2012, tapping into the seemingly insatiable hunger for Southern comfort food at its Kickin’ Boot in Old Ballard (bonus points for the beautiful rehab of a historic building) and Southland Whiskey Kitchen in Portland. New projects: Launching the Oyster House in the old Thaiku space, which will include tanks for live Dungeness crabs and lobsters. Employees: 449; matadorseattle.com

4. Mike McConnell
Restaurateur and owner, Caffé Vita and Via Tribunali
Est.:
Opened first Caffé Vita in 1995
Place on list last year: No. 6

Because: As a partner in dozens of Seattle’s favorite restaurants—including The Wandering Goose, Neumos, Hitchcock Restaurant, Pike Street Fish Fry and Big Mario’s—he has helped local chefs fund their dream projects. Next step: Nationwide domination. Last year and early this year, McConnell opened Caffé Vitas in New York City and Los Angeles, and later this year he plans to open as many as five more, in NYC, LA and San Francisco. New projects: Along with the five new Caffé Vitas, McConnell has two local restaurant projects in the works: a trattoria and a fried chicken joint. Look for more on Seattle magazine’s Restaurant Insider blog. Employees: 250; caffevita.com, viatribunali.net

3. Ethan Stowell
Chef/owner, Ethan Stowell Restaurants (Staple & Fancy, Ballard Pizza Co., Rione XIII, Tavolàta, How to Cook A Wolf, Anchovies & Olives, Lagana Foods)
Est.:
2003, with Union
Place on list last year: No. 7

Because: Together with his wife and business partner, Angela, this kitchen magician continues to turn neglected spaces into inviting places and, as a chef consultant at Safeco Field, has made huge strides in feeding Mariners fans the best food in the major leagues, much of it local. The couple also launched a fundraising 5K in 2012 called Eat, Run, Hope, benefiting the Fetal Health Foundation. New projects: Bar Cotto debuted this spring next to Anchovies & Olives, and Stowell joined a national entrepreneurs’ group called EO to sharpen his skills away from the stove. Employees: 150; ethanstowellrestaurants.com

2. Matthew Dillon
Chef/owner of Sitka & Spruce, Bar Ferd’nand, The Corson Building, Bar Sajor and London Plane
Est.:
2006, with Sitka & Spruce
Place on list last year: No. 15

Because: With two projects opening this year in Pioneer Square (his first, Bar Sajor, debuted in late February), Dillon is doing more than opening restaurants; he’s helping to change the image of one of Seattle’s most iconic (and underappreciated) neighborhoods. Dillon is also pushing Seattle diners’ palates toward largely unexplored territory: Middle Eastern flatbreads, North African spices, and unusual vegetables. He’s feeding us and teaching us. New projects: London Plane, a mixed-use space to include a bakery, a florist and a wine bar, also opening in Pioneer Square this summer. Employees: 65 (up from 34 last year); sitkaandspruce.com

1. Tom Douglas
Restaurateur, author, chef
Est.:
1989, with Dahlia Lounge
Place on list last year: No. 1

Because: Tom Douglas is simply unmatched in his influence on how, what and where Seattle dines. His early use of local, seasonal ingredients is now commonplace, and his early embrace of South Lake Union was a catalyst for other restaurateurs to open in the then-fledgling hood. In late spring, he’ll expand his empire by opening four new concepts in a multiuse space (more details below); and there’s talk of a food truck, too. New projects: A 10,000-square-foot, mixed-use space (not named at press time) inside the Via6 apartment complex downtown (Sixth Avenue and Lenora Street) will house a bakery, a restaurant, a coffee shop and a grocery, opening this spring/summer. Employees: 650; tomdouglas.com