SUDDENLY THE CORNER of Fillmore and Pine has a completely new look and feel — and taste. Glaze Teriyaki Grill opened at the end of April, heralding a switch from Johnny Rockets burgers and fries to teriyaki plates, salads and sides.
Seattle natives and partners Ian McCormick and Paul Krug created Glaze as a “fast casual” option for diners seeking inexpensive, healthy fare. Krug commandeers two existing New York locations; McCormick heads up the new local spot. Their eateries focus on chicken, steak, salmon, soy, pork and vegetable teriyaki plates accompanied by white or brown rice and a green salad.
“For Seattleites, teriyaki is comfort food,” says McCormick. “It’s fun for us to take the cuisine we grew up with and introduce it to new places.” All Glaze sauces are made fresh daily, he says, and most dishes feature local, organic ingredients. The open kitchen allows diners to witness the preparations.
Picky eaters are accommodated, too. Several gluten-free choices are offered, as well as a kid’s special — a Yummy Teriyaki Bowl of a protein choice over rice — for $5. And McCormick insists that special orders won’t upset them. “We want people to ask for what they want with every order,” he says. “No rice, more salad, salmon more or less well done.”
A respect for the old lives on in the new concept.
“We wanted to use this space in the most efficient way, but also preserve as much as possible of what came before,” says McCormick. He’s particularly proud of four red and chrome counter stools salvaged from Johnny Rockets that diners can now use on the revamped back patio.
McCormick calls the back patio, which streams with afternoon sunlight, “a hidden gem.” It’s been transformed into a cozy haven, with picnic tables and handy heat lamps. The patio walls are now hung with panels of colorful vintage wallpaper from Belgium and Italy.
The new look and feel of the place was engineered by the Brooklyn-based firm Hecho, which also outfitted the two Glaze restaurants in New York. Still, McCormick seems a bit astonished the design firm got the Fillmore location so pitch-perfect from 3,000 miles away, especially given the firm’s commitment to reclaimed material. “I’d sometimes try to get in touch with them, but they’d be out in a field in Pennsylvania looking for the perfect tree,” he says.
Hecho designed laser cut murals in wood for the walls of the main dining room that include icons of San Francisco, New York and Seattle — and they’ve already inspired conversations and camaraderie. Some of the paneling is fashioned from reclaimed wood from the 1920s; the benches, tables and counters are built from wood salvaged from a prison church in New Jersey built in the 1800s.
While Glaze awaits approval of a beer and wine license, the taps are adorned with “Not Yet” stickers. In the meantime, diners are offered options including Seattle’s Jones Soda Company and something not found just everywhere: coconut juice served up au naturel, with a straw sticking out of the hull.
All Glaze entrees are $10 or less, which McCormick says helps make the new grill an “alternative fit” to the neighborhood that is perfect for knowledgeable locals. “In New York, it was, ‘What’s teriyaki?’” he says. “Here, they know.”
Among his personal favorites on the menu: the sides of charred pork ribs and shishito peppers, some of them hot and all spiked with a subtle seasoning.
Fillmore Street was the first choice as a west coast Glaze location. “In terms of sheer beauty, it’s the best street in the city. I love the shops and the food that’s already offered on the street,” McCormick says. “I think we’re a great fit for Fillmore, which has so many people who care about the neighborhood.”
He has already been charmed by the eager customers and the welcoming merchants on the street. “Fraiche, the yogurt place down the street, let us use their space as an office,” he says. “We did our interviews for new employees there.”
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