According to Larry Kurofsky, The Commons maintains a food and drink focus with an emphasis on how they interact with each other, which fits the mold of the other restaurants under the HRB umbrella. “This place has similar components to our other restaurants, but with all the same bones in place,” Kurofsky said. The Commons occupies the space of the recently vacated Tully’s in the Hollywood Vineyards shopping plaza. Kurofsky saw great opportunity in the space, hoping to fill the void of an early morning coffee and pastry spot that Tully’s left behind.
The Commons fulfills that role nicely, with luscious pastry options like fresh-made cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting, muffins, New York-style coffee cake and more, plus coffee from San Francisco’s Sight Glass Coffee, but a coffee stop is not all it’s meant to be. The new restaurant has sort of an interesting structure — it starts out in the morning offering coffee, pastries and sandwiches for order only. As the day progresses, the restaurant takes on a full-service approach, adding lighter fare like sandwiches and salads, and drink offerings from local wineries, distilleries and breweries. Dinner offerings at The Commons include house-made snacks such as maple-braised pork belly and entrees such as chicken pot pie. Guests also can expect special dinner themes such as “BBQ Night” and “Breakfast for Dinner” at The Commons.
The response to the opening of The Commons has been positive so far. The country comfort food with a modern twist appeals to visitors and locals (maple-braised pork belly biscuit sandwich for breakfast, anyone? Deconstructed chicken chicken pot pie for dinner?). The staff’s reverence for drinks extends beyond local wines to an impressive craft cocktail menu (read about one the Vintner’s Sidecar, one of Denise Sakaki’s picks in her Flavor column, Sept./Oct. issue).
Kurofsky attributes what seems to be a successful start to The Commons, and all of his restaurants really, to his ability to emphasize with his customers. “It’s really about the people. What would they like from a dining experience? It’s important to ask that question. You have to be a people -pleaser. You have to like what you do. And we have fun,” he said. Kurofsky, who hails from California, started his first restaurant several years ago in Las Vegas. It was a business plan he’d had in his back pocket since graduate school, a 3,500-square-foot space featuring 70 wines by the glass and a full menu. It was incredibly well-received and filled a niche in the area, but he and his family decided they wanted to move away from Las Vegas, and chose to settle in the Northwest. Lucky for us. While Kurofsky isn’t a trained chef, he has a remarkable knack for surrounding himself with talented people, and although he isn’t the one in the kitchen, he pays close attention to and is heavily involved in the creative process of all his restaurants.
Those talents have brought HRG far, but not without hiccups along the way. One of Kurofsky’s biggest challenges was trying to expand aggressively when the economy did what it did in the late 2000s. “Closing Barrio in Bellevue was a difficult decision for us. But it was the right decision, and I’d make the same choice if I had to make it again,” he said. “Cast Iron Studios has been an incredible fit for that space, and it fulfills a need in that area.”
If you look closely at HRG and the way Kurofsky operates his business, a pattern emerges — one of filling voids and fulfilling needs. The Seattle restaurant scene has of course exploded in popularity over the last few years. Kurofsky credits local restaurateurs, explaining that the amount of quality operators and the bar for their standards of operations has been raised exponentially, resulting in the need to be more creative to keep up with the burgeoning scene. And the Eastside is no different. Kurofsky continues to see opportunity here: “There are still many voids to be filled on the Eastside dining scene.” Stay tuned.
When you go
14481 Woodinville-Redmond Road N.E., Woodinville; 425.892.7012
Hours: Monday through Friday, 6am to midnight
Saturday, 7am to midnight
Sunday, 7am to 10pm