Annual Sales: $10 million
• Renee Erickson, owner
• Jeremy Price, owner
• Chad Dale, owner
• The Walrus and the Carpenter (a fishing pub-like feel that Bon Appetit named a Best New Restaurant in 2011)
• The Whale Wins (travel-inspired cuisine; another Bon Appetit Best New Restaurant, 2013)
• Barnacle (an Italian aperitivo bar)
• General Porpoise (wholesome doughnuts and great coffee)
• Bar Melusine: (the maritime flavors of Normandy and Brittany)
• Bateau (dry-aged steaks, cocktails and wine)
• More units of General Porpoise throughout Seattle and Puget Sound.
WHY IT’S COOL: If you don’t live in the Seattle area, Renee Erickson may be the best restaurant operator you’ve never heard of. If you live there, you know this woman with nautically themed restaurants walks on water. The food she offers is so good, in fact, that this year the James Beard Foundation declared her the Best Chef in the Northwest. That’s all well and good, but she also happens to run spectacular, welcoming restaurants that have their own distinct charming style. Many are places where you order a glass of muscadet and piles of chubby oysters. But her reach extends to a delightful aperitivo bar, to dry-aged steaks raised on her own farm, to mindblowing doughnuts. Everything Erickson touches turns to gold, and that’s no small feat.