Lacey restaurateur Rick Nelsen, who successfully relocated his Ricardo's Kitchen and Bar steak restaurant to the city's Woodland District in 2016, has a whole new plan for a second restaurant and bar in the same area.
And that's not all. He also plans to open a coffee shop next to Ricardo's that will be called Cafe Marie, which is named for and will be run by his wife. Both could take about six months to open. The coffee shop will cater to office workers in the Woodland Square Loop area.
But the larger venture is taking place at 4418 Sixth Ave. SE. That's where Nelsen has leased the former Shanghai Restaurant & Mongolian Grill. The plan is to to give the building a significant overhaul and facelift and reopen it as a gastropub, serving small plates of food in the atmosphere of an upscale bar, he said.
Some features at Ricardo's, such as the patios fire pits, will be used at the new location.
In fact, Nelsen envisions a bar built around an indoor fire pit, with fire pits outdoors as well. He plans to tear down the existing parlor awning and create a new covered area that will extend about 30 feet towards Sixth Avenue. That way customers can sit outside in rainy weather near the warmth of the fire pits.
Another idea, similar to Ricardo's, is to add not one, but two glass garage doors in place of outer walls. The garage-style doors can be rolled up, making the restaurant open air when weather permits.
Nelsen is again working with MJR Development of Kirkland, a commercial real estate company, for this latest venture. MJR bought several office buildings in Lacey's Woodland Square Loop business district that had been hollowed out by the Great Recession. After upgrades to buildings and landscaping, they have enticed several businesses to the area, including Ricardo's. MJR also bought the Shanghai property and has landed Nelsen as a tenant.
"He's ambitious," said co-owner Marie Nelsen about her husband. "I'm always impressed with his vision."
Nelsen hasn't settled on a name for the gastropub just yet, but he knows this much: It will not be painted lime green.
"The color has got to go," he said.
WHAT'S THE BACKSTORY ON 'SEXY BEEF?'
When Nelsen first announced that he was moving Ricardo's from a remodeled home on Lacey Boulevard to Lacey's Woodland District, he explained that the new location would have a temperature-controlled room for dry-aging beef.
"We want to make dry-aged beef look as sexy as possible," The Olympian quoted Nelsen as saying.
After that story was published, Nelsen visited his grandmother, Lorna Wilson, and she was ready with a line of her own.
"Oh, look, there's sexy beef," she said as she saw her grandson.
The moniker stuck, Nelsen said, and led him to produce a line of Sexy Beef T-shirts.