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CrabFest 2023


Alder & Ash

Downtown's latest turnaround

A stand-alone restaurant space associated with the Sheraton Grand Seattle has finally emerged in new form. Alder & Ash Bar & Grill, developed and operated by hospitality group Apicii, opened in late May. If you must have a label, it's being called a Pacific Northwest Brasserie featuring New American fare showcasing, of course, seasonal Pacific Northwest products and producers.

Apicii operates across the country, working with people who own real estate-office, residential, sports facilities (like The Boxyard for the Mariners), hotels-and want to add a restaurant and bar. "They know how important restaurants/bars can be to their property," says Apicii founder and CEO Tom Dillon. "We develop and operate the restaurant and bar; employees are ours, not the property owners.' The Sheraton opportunity came up pre-pandemic. We looked at the property (formerly The Daily Grill) to consult with the owners. Once we'd spent time there, we realized what a phenomenal location it is, close to the convention center, right downtown. The owners wanted to reinvest and do something special. Like many cities, Seattle has had financial and pandemic issues. This was a great opportunity to be part of something good downtown. The Daily Grill was a challenging space with the ramping and multiple levels. We wanted to do it right for the longer term. When you fly into Seattle, the scenery is so gorgeous. Alder and ash trees are everywhere, so we felt using those in the name would reflect the area. And while Alder & Ash isn't a seafood restaurant, there's seafood on the menu. Seattle is unique in the phenomenal quality of the seafood here. Other ingredients are reflective of what you can get in the Market.


"We like to do great bars; not a restaurant bar, but one that can stand on its own as well. There are 50 seats in the bar area alone here. We like to stay with the classics and add some local tastes. We consider Alder & Ash a standalone restaurant. There is a back way in from the hotel, but the main entrance is on 6 th & Pike. We don't want to do an amenity for a hotel, we do destinations," explains Tom.

PNW Gin & Tonic

Apicii's culinary team got to work on an opening menu. "We have a large culinary team in our company, but we wanted to find the right chef with our same outlook. It's a challenge to find not only a talented chef but one who is also a leader. We're lucky to have found Blake Lord-Wittig for our Executive Chef. He has 15 years of experience and is a local Northwesterner."

"I had been working as the Executive Chef at for the Arcade Group," recalls Blake. "It was corporate, but every day was different, and I got to experiment. It was also nice to have a job where I went in early and got off at 2 p.m., as I was able to spend more time with my wife and new baby. As I became aware that tech was downsizing, I considered leaving I saw the ad for Alder & Ash wanting a chef to open a new space and thought, 'I've done that 6-to-1 now.' It was a good fit for me and I'm probably a glutton for punishment!"

"When we were developing the Alder & Ash concept, we wanted to do something that would appeal to a broad group of people," explains Tom. "That's why the breadth of the menu and flavor profiles. We wanted it to be an inclusive space." They had worked on the menu for some time, but needed someone who had local, intimate knowledge of the micro-seasons and foraging. "It's a balance because we are associated with a hotel and need to cater to a lot of different palates; we have to offer people pleasers. My love for Northwest food adds to that. I like the idea of approachability and not being fussy, allowing people to experience new things, like Saskatoon berries and other unique and exciting ingredients. Things they can't get outside of this area. Apicii is great to work with and we all value creativity. The menu right now is a bit of everyone, but it will continue to evolve and we'll explore new ways of doing things. It will become more my thing as we get comfortable with the space and in our own skin, progressing to what we'll be. I'm always learning. I'm interested in unique things, garams with fish bones, but can't forget the audience. I may have to tone it down," laughs Blake. "American cuisine is exciting because there really aren't many rules, unlike Naples where there is a regimented type of pizza or sauce. I've been to a lot of Asian countries where they're praised for how they can make a dish precisely, not how they can make it differently."

Rockfish dip and chips

Blake takes great pride in mentoring and growing people. "Personally, I'm most proud of opening my own place-it was the hardest and best time of life, and so many good things came out of it. I hired a dishwasher who was with me for four years and taught him the whole bar program. He won 'Best Bartender' the same year I won 'Best Chef.' At Alder and Ash, I'm proud of the employee community I've built. The kitchen isn't about what I can make, it's about me growing others so they can progress in their careers. I hired my dishwasher from and he's now my butcher at Alder & Ash. Kitchen jobs are hard, I want to do it in a better way, I want it to be a nourishing kitchen. And as much as I'm helping them, I'm inspired by the Apicii team who help me better myself."

Connie Adams/August 2023

Click here to read Blake's background.

Photos by William Muñoz Photo

Alder & Ash Bar & Grill
629 Pike Street
Seattle, WA 98101

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