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TRACE Market

Hotel restaurant officially disrupted, part 2

Last month we shared the change in concept for TRACE restaurant to TRACE Market. This month we'll learn more about menu creation from Chef Ross Lewis, Market pop-up demo days, and local design pieces.

The newly-conceived menu is from Chef Ross Lewis (photo) who has been at the hotel for nine years. It's his first time creating his own menu from start to finish. "I anticipated this would be difficult, but I felt ready for it after COVID," he says. "Over the years, it's been trial and error, I've eaten good food, and I've learned. Also, Executive Chef Steven Ariel has been a great mentor. I was in online markets on Facebook where purveyors can sell their products. I'd put my mushrooms (Covington Mushroom Co) and microgreens ( Rain City Greens ) on and they'd sell out. I got to know other purveyors like Mushroom Joe, and people who make bread and cheese. The year led up to what this is becoming.

"The menu just flowed, and it was an easy transition. It was cool that Wade wanted to do something that allowed us to hit the ground running. The whole team was excited and involved and it created ownership. We wanted to keep the nuance of TRACE so, for example, we can put our quiche and breakfast casseroles together fresh at 6 a.m. and put them in the oven to bake. Our first customers get them hot out of the oven.

"People want comfort food, a name they can recognize. Then we do more than they expect. We had a woman get the casserole and looked at it to check it out. I turned away and then back and it was gone! The next day she was back with her husband and child. Same thing, gone! It was great.

"People have changed the way they eat. This new concept allows them to eat here or take it back to their office. They like getting an individual portion vs. a slice of something. It also makes it easy to stop in for breakfast and also pick up lunch so they can eat at their desk later. We bake things in aluminum to-go dishes and they're steaming hot when we put the lid on.

"Our Impossible Greek Meatball Sub is a great plant-based option for lunch. There are so many spices in the sub that you'd never know it wasn't meat. Ultimately, we'd love to do a W-branded plant-based option, but that's in the future!" Wade adds, "We hear the demand from our clients who want to go meat-free."

And what about dinner? "TRACE Market incorporates our fast casual vision for breakfast and lunch," explains Wade. We encourage guests and locals to dine in at our Living Room Bar with its varied seating. It's where people want to gather. They can listen to music while enjoying tapas-style dinner, which is easier to eat on lower tables. You can curate your own plate and make it your own experience." Ross adds, "You can also get our salads as sides. It's a more intimate meal with whoever you're with." In the future as dinner volume grows, they may section part of the Market off and expand the bar in the evenings. Or they may curtain off the counter area and use the TV menu boards for sports watching.

Breakfast casserole

Ahead, expect periodic Market Pop-Up demo days with growers and producers. They will showcase their goods and guests can sample and learn about Seattle food and beverage.

"W is huge on design, and I wanted to bring local design into the mix," says Wade. "In the breezeway connecting TRACE Market and the hotel, local artist and our yogi Morgan Zion has created a mural on this 'living art wall.' It will change out every six months or so with different artists." Other local design pieces will remain, like the columns that resemble lodge poles and tree rings in the flooring.

Wade and the TRACE Market team are doing good things for the right reasons. Let's watch and see if their vision is successful and can be pushed out to other W Hotels.

Connie Adams/August 2021

Click here to read part 1



TRACE Market
1112 4th Ave
Seattle, WA 98101

Avocado toast


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