After more than two decades working in Seattle’s food industry, Nick Yockey is opening his first restaurant in the heart of Madison Valley.
“Hopefully we have a community that supports us and a product people enjoy,” said Yockey, who’s planning a spring opening for Nick’s on Madison in Arboretum Court.
Yockey is taking over the space where Rob Sevcik’s short-lived Petite Galerie operated, having reached out to the building owner shortly after the French restaurant closed its doors.
“I just thought, maybe I can throw my name in the hat,” Yockey said.
Yockey recently left his job as general manager at chef Eric Donnelly’s FlintCreek Cattle Co. in Greenwood.
He also worked at Ivar’s Salmon House in South Lake Union in college, and as general manager for Tolouse Petit in Queen Anne. He worked for Donnelly previously at his RockCreek Seafood & Spirits restaurant in Fremont.
“I really feel like he’s the best chef in all of Seattle,” Yockey said.
His wife, Ryan Walsh, helped open RockCreek and worked there until opening her Emry Boutique last year, conveniently located next door to Yockey’s new restaurant.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to work next door to your wife,” Yockey said.
And the location was also ideal.
“We feel very much part of the neighborhood since we were kids,” he said.
Yockey grew up in Capitol Hill, while Walsh is from Montlake. The two remember summers spent swimming at Madison Park Beach. Yockey was a cook at Hank’s by the Lake in 1992, where McGilvra’s now stands.
“I wasn’t by the lake, so I had to throw ‘Madison’ in there,” Yockey said of his restaurant.
“This place feels like home to us, so this is where we want to spend most of our time,” Walsh said, the couple now living in Madison Park, within walking distance of their side-by-side businesses.
Bistro might best describe the concept for Nick’s on Madison, Walsh said, but it’s still not right. The couple wants the restaurant to be casual while still offering quality food complemented by an exceptional cocktail menu.
“You could come here on a date night, or you could come here with your kids and have dinner,” Walsh said.
Nick’s on Madison will open for lunch and dinner, Yockey said, and later add brunch. Lunch will include burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads, with steaks, pastas, Northwest seasonal dishes and shared plates on the dinner menu. Diners can also expect to see fish on the menu.
“We’ll definitely have whatever’s in season,” Yockey said.
An executive chef and bartender have been added to the staff, but Yockey didn’t want to disclose his new employees until they’d given notice to their current employers.
“Our executive chef, he’s very good at throwing dinner parties and wines,” Yockey said, the restaurant’s additional dining space to be opened up for private functions.
The main room seats 50, with 15 more seats in the bar, which was part of the buildout Yockey and Walsh oversaw when they took over the space in December.
Most of the work left to do ahead of opening is confined to the kitchen, which is still being upgraded. Yockey hopes to be open in early April, but an official date is still a ways off.