Chef Kaspar Donier leads his catering team in preparing dinner for 400 guests at Fremont Studios. Photo courtesy of Kaspars Special Events & Catering
Chef Kaspar Donier leads his catering team in preparing dinner for 400 guests at Fremont Studios. Photo courtesy of Kaspars Special Events & Catering
1
2
Developers are setting up their dominos in Uptown, and one of Seattle’s premier catering companies is the latest to feel the push.

Kaspars Special Events & Catering (19 W. Harrison St.) will move out of its primary Queen Anne location and expand to a catering kitchen in Magnolia. The business also announced a major expansion through partnerships at three new venues: the Stimson-Green Mansion (1204 Minor Ave.) in Capitol Hill (1204 Minor Ave.), the Factory Luxe event space in the Old Rainier Brewery (3100 Airport Way S.) and the Olde Stone Stables in Issaquah. The new location and partnerships more than double Kaspars’ capacity to host guests.

After 21 years in the catering space that can accommodate about 180 people, owners Kaspar and Nancy Donier sold the property to Teutsch Partners L.L.C., which is planning a six-story apartment complex with 74 units, plus a small retail space in the corner.

John Teutsch, managing partner for the developer, said the location is attractive because it’s on a quiet street with decent views, has grocery stores within walking distance and is nearby theaters and the Seattle Center.

“It’s in the thick of everything but still has a certain quietness about it,” he said.

Teutsch said the current building underutilizes property in an up-and-coming area.

“I’ve had many a good times [at Kaspars],” he said. “It’s not a classic building that is real painful to take down, but I don’t take any great joy in tearing anything down, actually.”

 

Moving on

The husband-and-wife team founded Kaspars as a restaurant in 1989 and had their first big break in 1994, when The Seattle Times gave the shop a glowing, four-star review. They flipped to a farm-to-table special events and catering company in July 2005.

Nancy said they’d been discussing an expansion for years, but it wasn’t until Greystone Property Development purchased five properties for multi-story apartment complexes just south of them — Seattle Elks Lodge, No. 92 (300 First Ave. W), 301 Queen Anne Ave. N., the union building and two parking lots — that they started fielding offers.

“The real estate is just kind of crazy,” she said.

Although developmental demand hasn’t reached South Lake Union or Capitol Hill proportions, Uptown is undergoing a change. Nancy and Kaspar said they never put the property on the market, but that the Queen Anne property is not built for a catering company and the construction on the Mercer corridor hasn’t made traveling to catering jobs easy. Nancy said the Greystone developments and the likelihood for even more congestion in the area made the decision easier.

She said the couple were initially approached by national developers but preferred to keep it local with Teutsch.

“We had a choice, but we think this made sense,” Kaspar said.

Kaspars has already set up in its partner locations and plans to move to Magnolia in June, though they have the Queen Anne space until at least August.

Most of Kaspars’ business takes place off-property, but the expansion gives them more locations for specialization. The owners said they will likely hire additional employees on top of their 30 to 40 full-time staff, with many more who are permanent part-time.

“It’s gonna be busy,” Kaspar said.

 

Magnolia and Queen Anne

Kaspar and Nancy, who live in Magnolia, purchased the former Villa Restaurant (3656 34th Ave. W.) and leased an additional 3,000 square feet of space across the street as their company warehouse. Nancy said the sale closes May 15.

Chef Kaspar said the new location has more kitchen and refrigerator space, as well as more overall efficiencies for a catering company.

Besides being the new main kitchen, the Magnolia restaurant will be used in a similar way as the Queen Anne property: for private parties, cooking classes and special event dinners. They expect to open in the fall; Nancy said the company will not close at any point in the transition.

“It will be seamless,” Nancy said.

Kaspars won’t be entirely out of Queen Anne, as it will continue to cater at The Clubhouse (1608 Fourth Ave. W.), which can host between 20 to 120 people.

 

First Hill

The catering company has partnered with the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation in becoming the sole in-house caterer of the Stimson-Green Mansion, an eclectic home built in 1901 that was restored as special event venue and opened to the public in the ‘80s.

The company plans to renovate the Carriage House, which currently houses offices, into an additional special events venue. The combined buildings are expected to accommodate up to 250 guests. An open house is planned for the coming month,

Chris Moore, executive director of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, said the partnership came down to good timing.

“We weren’t necessarily looking for a new catering situation, but their proposal for how the mansion would be used and the alignment with what they do and what they can provide with our mission for historical advocacy, was a good fit.”

 

SODO and Issaquah

Kaspars will also be the “preferred caterer” inside the old Rainier Brewery building. The company held an open house at the location on April 28.

Kaspars will also operate the Olde Stone Stables in Issaquah, a renovated pole-barn they expect will be used for weddings and other events.

To comment on this story, write to QAMagNews@nwlink.com.