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News / Business / Clark County Business

El Gaucho steakhouse coming to Waterfront Vancouver

Popular Seattle and Portland steakhouse will add restaurant, terrace bar in the future Hotel Indigo

By Anthony Macuk, Columbian business reporter
Published: February 18, 2019, 6:09pm
3 Photos
The Hotel Indigo and Kirkland Tower share a foundation and are being built as one project, but will operate as separate buildings. Kirkland Tower condo residents will be able to access the Hotel Indigo lobby to reach retail tenants such as El Gaucho.
The Hotel Indigo and Kirkland Tower share a foundation and are being built as one project, but will operate as separate buildings. Kirkland Tower condo residents will be able to access the Hotel Indigo lobby to reach retail tenants such as El Gaucho. Courtesy of Kirkland Development Photo Gallery

One of Seattle and Portland’s fine dining mainstays is adding a new location: El Gaucho Vancouver will open in 2020 on the ground floor of the future Hotel Indigo at The Waterfront Vancouver.

Hotel Indigo developer Kirkland Development and the steakhouse’s parent company, Fire & Vine Hospitality, announced the news Monday.

“Our team is excited to be part of the growth of the Vancouver waterfront and the opportunities it presents for our guests and our staff,” Fire & Vine Hospitality CEO Chad Mackay said in a press release. “We have been looking to expand in the area and the beautiful setting and connection to this growing area make this the perfect spot.”

Fire & Vine Hospitality currently operates three El Gaucho restaurants in the Puget Sound region and a fourth in downtown Portland inside the historic Benson Hotel, along with two luxury hotels and six other individual restaurants throughout Washington, many of which were opened by Fire & Vine’s culinary director, Jason Wilson.

The El Gaucho restaurants emphasize a festive traditional atmosphere with live music and tableside meal preparation.

“Order the caesar and you’ll have the entire thing — mayo included — made from scratch before your eyes,” Eater Portland wrote in a 2016 story. “Order the Bananas Foster, and you’re in for a fire show.”

The Portland El Gaucho location has been a frequent dinner and event destination for the Portland Trail Blazers, and players Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have both listed the steakhouse among their favorite local restaurants in previous media interviews. Nike has been known to entertain its athletes at the restaurant.

The company has been looking for an opportunity to expand the El Gaucho brand in the Portland area for several years, according to Fire & Vine public relations director Beth Herrell Silverberg, and The Waterfront Vancouver development presented an ideal location.

El Gaucho Vancouver will include a main dining room, bar and private dining rooms occupying 8,500 square feet on the main floor of Hotel Indigo at the southeast corner. The restaurant will also operate a 1,500-square-foot terrace bar on the hotel’s eighth floor, including a 600-square-foot patio overlooking the Columbia River.

Visitors who have dined at other El Gaucho locations will find a familiar menu in Vancouver, including many of El Gaucho’s classic and popular items like the tableside Caesar salad, Chateaubriand for two and bananas Foster.

“The menu will be very familiar and the level of service will be identical,” Silverberg said. “What will be different (from the Portland location) is it’ll be lighter and brighter and have a view.”

El Gaucho Vancouver will be open for dinner and happy hour, and the restaurant will be the exclusive provider of lunch and dinner catering services for the Hotel Indigo’s 10,000 square feet of events space.

‘Greater, bigger things’

The 138-room hotel broke ground last year and is being built alongside the future Kirkland Tower, a 12-story condo building. The two buildings share a foundation and are being built as a single construction project, scheduled for completion in 2020.

“As a lifelong resident of Vancouver, I’m very proud to be a part of the Waterfront development which is changing the skyline of Vancouver,” Kirkland Development President Dean Kirkland said in a press release. “Having El Gaucho Vancouver as part of the Hotel Indigo/Kirkland Tower development sets the stage for greater and bigger things in our city.”

The Hotel Indigo and Kirkland Tower will feature a total of 20,000 square feet of space for retail uses, according to Kirkland. El Gaucho will occupy about half of that space, he said, and another 8,000 square feet has been leased to other business partners that have not yet been announced.

The El Gaucho brand dates its origins to the opening of the El Gaucho steakhouse in Seattle in 1953. The original restaurant closed in 1985, but it was reopened in a new Seattle location in 1996 under the ownership of Chad Mackay’s father, Paul Mackay, who had worked at the original location.

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The Portland location opened in March 2000, followed a couple months later by a seafood restaurant on the Seattle waterfront that was later rebranded as AQUA by El Gaucho. The third El Gaucho location opened in Tacoma in 2002, followed by the fourth in Bellevue in 2008.

Chad Mackay took over the business in 2014 following the retirement of Paul Mackay. The parent company El Gaucho Hospitality was renamed Fire & Vine Hospitality in 2017, partnering with Wilson and expanding the El Gaucho Revelers Club program to Wilson’s family of restaurants.

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