Expanding with Partners

 
James Weimann and Deming Maclise own four restaurants in Seattle, with a fifth restaurant, Stoneburner, opening in May. Geoffrey Smith photographer, courtesy of LookatLao Studio.
Shared ownership produces positive restaurant results.

The cliché that too many cooks may spoil the soup ironically doesn’t always apply to restaurant operations. A lot of cooks—and in this business those cooks can be restaurant operators, investors, or indeed the chefs—can make the restaurant run more smoothly, have greater financial backing, and lead to expansion.

That’s certainly the case for Deming Maclise and James Weimann, owners of three restaurants in Seattle with two more opening this year.

Maclise and Weimann have worked together for more than four years, since they dreamed up their first restaurant, Bastille, which opened in May 2009. Since then they’ve also opened Poquitos and Macleod’s.

Although they own Bastille outright, each with a 50 percent stake, the two men are no strangers to leveraging partnerships to foster growth, having worked with silent partners for their second two restaurants. Poquitos has five investors and Macleod’s has one, but all are silent partners.

This year, things are changing—beginning this month when the duo opens Von Trapps, a German-Austrian beer hall and restaurant in Seattle, with five silent partners plus two active partners. And in May they’ll open Stoneburner, which will have two silent partners (who are also invested in Poquitos) plus two active partners.

The decision to bring operating partners into the mix was motivated by a number of factors. For starters, having partners who are involved in the day-to-day operations, and in this case also working in the restaurant, means they are much more vested in the restaurant.

“It’s different going to a job where you’re employed vs. going to a job if you’re an owner,” Maclise explains.

Weimann adds: “There’s more heart and soul that can go into the restaurant for owners, because it’s theirs.”