Tom Hurley’s Coupage Restaurant in Seattle has Closed
Remember Hurley’s Restaurant on NW 20th in Portland? Tom Hurley closed the business in December 2007, saying we weren’t good enough to appreciate his food. He had started a restaurant in Seattle called Coupage, which he said was much more successful, as it was in “a bigger city with more sophistication.” I think the bigger issue about his Portland restaurant, was the public perception that Tom, the “disabled” firefighter, was cooking full time in a restaurant when he was also collecting disability payments. On the other hand, perhaps it was because he was serving a $28 burger with foie gras, which angered local animal rights activists.
At the time he told the Oregonian, “Portland wasn’t ready for me,” says Hurley. “People in Seattle love what we do. They don’t mind paying for quality.”
Apparently, Seattle wasn’t ready for Mr. Hurley after all – the restaurant has closed. Calls to confirm are met with a “This voicemail is full” recording, and OpenTable is not taking reservations.
By the way, Cafe Nell opened a few weeks ago in the old Hurley’s location. More to come.
Good Food For Me says
So many chef’s that don’t make it or are somewhat forced out of Portland head to Seattle. It’s almost like a cattle car at times. It’s kind of like the number of printed restaurant reviews here in Portland – the same comments, the same restaurants vetted over and over again. The number of restaurant review publications is over the top here. I’m not sure if it because Portland has such a great volume of diners that need to be vindicated in their choice of eating out or if we are slow readers and need to read the same things over and over again before we shell out that cash to the wait staff because we can not give an unknown a try. Sure people like to get great food when they eat out, but the number of publications in this town is starting to have a reverse effect. People are ignoring them because they all say the same thing. Perhaps it’s because about ten people control what is written and they to are tired of it all, but still the publication needs money so…they have to keep writing. I don’t know. I’m very thankful for sites such as this that at least allow other people’s opinions on them – whether good or bad – at least many comments are fresh and insightful and actually researched. I’ll bet that lot’s of people won’t think my comments are though. Am I off track or what?
It’s the Trilateral Commission; they control everything. Just ask Lyndon LaRouche.
Maybe Hurley and Hebb can get together and open a place that NOBODY is ready for.
“Maybe Hurley and Hebb can get together and open a place that NOBODY is ready for.”
I just fell outta my chair from the laughing.
Maybe the future of dining is unemployed chefs talking about food? No more restaurants, just “dancing about architecture.”
Throw in Stu Stein and they won’t even have to make up their own menu. Now that’s a triumverate!
They could change both of their last names to Hebbley or Hurlebb.
Sir Loins says
Oh, don’t worry about Hurley, folks. Last I’d heard, he’d been collecting quite the nice disability pension for several years: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1435604/posts (2005 Oregonian article “Paid Not To Work”)
It sounds like Coupage had a complete meltdown with chefs leaving and bad customer service. A number of Seattle-area blogs describe the pain diners had at Tom’s place. Maybe it’s Tom Hurley who is the common factor here? Maybe he’s just tough to work with and that is the reason his businesses close? Hmmm….
mike thelin says
Interesting. I drove by Coupage a few months ago on a Friday night and it looked packed. I could never really afford Hurley’s, but I did have the opportunity to try the $28 burger. It was amazing. Too bad it was $28.
Ahhh, the group gloat.
The food dude and some friends, dissed and dismissed, soar with satisfaction, gleefully speculating on the demise of an enterprise whose owner dared to state publicly the obvious fact that Portland is a working class town with pretension and small dollars, while Seattle is polished mahogany, chrome and art-glass with deep pockets and no apologies. Not the BMWs in the Pearl, creatively edgy cafe names, nor the incessant bleating of our sweaty fleet of sneaker-clad restaurant reviewers alter that fact. Get over it and revel in Portland’s uniqueness, not someone’s failure, whatever the reason.
Food Dude says
He set himself up for it with his obnoxious comments, and karma came knocking. I suppose now he’ll head to New York since he failed so miserably in both Portland and Seattle. Fortunately he still has his disability to fall back on.
Cuisine Bonne Femme says
“I’m moving on to bigger and better things,” says Hurley. “I need to be in a bigger city with more sophistication, more money.” AND “Portland wasn’t ready for me,” says Hurley. “People in Seattle love what we do. They don’t mind paying for quality.” From the Oregonian: http://www.oregonlive.com/dining/index.ssf/2008/01/hurley_leaves_foie_gras_mess_a.html
Ken, it’s called schadenfreude, which in German means “blow me”.
Well, mr. elastic chicken,
I don’t believe we’ve been introduced.
Food Dude says
It should be noted that I don’t think this is the K&Z’s Ken, who normally posts under Ken on this site
I’m sure this is true. The current poster should properly bear the distinguishing moniker “Seattle Ken,” still smarting over all the attention the “working class,” impecunious little town to the south receives in the national food press while “deep pockets” Seattle languishes in relative obscurity. It is very unfair, what with all that underappreciated mahogany, chrome and art-glass. What the f**k is “art-glass” anyway? Actually, I take that back. Who cares.
I think “art glass” refers to Riedel stemware. Unless Riedel now makes fragile glass bongs, which I think actually could be a growth industry.
“impecunious”. I had to look that up. Well played.
FWIW, I assumed “art glass” was a reference to (Tacoma native) Dale Chihuly…
I’m going to go find some mahogany to polish to feel a little better about myself.
This mean-spirited and vindictive circle j**k is largely due to the fact that Hurley’s characterization of PDX is spot on.
I ate at coupage and the food was fantastic. I thought Hurley was well-regarded in portland.
so it's seattle ken then says
Altho I’m in Portland…which I much prefer to all that polished mahogany and stuff anyway.
‘Long as we’re having this little chat here, can you guys direct me to a first rate Japanese restaurant where Sushi’s not the main course. Be nice now, after all, I liked ‘impecunious’ too…
the cobra says
Ken is spot on. Whether “Food Dude” (or whomever) would care to admit it, it’s frankly tasteless to cheer at the demise of Tom Hurley. Moreover, Portland was lucky to have Hurley’s.
Perhaps Tom’s detractors were too busy touting their beloved temples of gastronomic mediocrity (you know the ones) to notice that he is among the most talented chefs to have cooked in Portland?
Whatever the case, I’d suggest removing the chips from your respective shoulders… it’s clearly affecting your judgment.
Cobra and Ken sound like Pres. W. He places the blame for all his administration’s failures at the feet of his critics!
the cobra says
No one is arguing that the critics sunk Tom Hurley’s restaurants, “PDX Yogi”… I (rightly, if I may say so) pointed out that it’s in remarkably poor taste to cheer at the demise of a local business.
I then went on to point out that Hurley’s was a restaurant of distinction, whilst backhandedly mentioning that the same critics of Hurley’s (indeed, a great many “blog folk”) mostly tend to rave about comparatively uninspired, mediocre restaurants.
The “W” quip was… cute (I suppose?), but hardly pertinent.
Please forgive my being so impertinent, o arbiter of propriety.
Hurley certainly deserves all the schadenfreude he can get, considering how he felt compelled to diss Portland with parting shots about our not being good enough for his product.
BTW: My moniker means
pd = public display
x_y = I’m a guy, silly
ogi = I’m a graduate of OGI, you presumptuous boob!
Food Dude says
Ok, so I think we all agree that Hurley is an idiot. He burned his bridges when he left Portland, and no doubt will do so leaving Seattle. He get’s the negative rep that he deserves. None of that ever really bothered me that much, but this does. From the Oregonian:
“An injured firefighter scrambles up mountains and through woods on his TV show, “Northwest Hunter.”
Another disabled firefighter owns an upscale Portland restaurant, aided by city taxpayers who subsidized his training at the prestigious French Culinary Institute in New York.
All have one thing in common: Though clearly able to work, they continue to collect thousands of dollars in benefits each month from the Portland Fire and Police Disability and Retirement Fund.
Disability programs in Oregon and most major U.S. cities serve as a temporary safety net for injured police or firefighters while they are unable to work, moving them off benefits and back to jobs as soon as possible.
Not in Portland. ”
He’ll never get any respect from me.
the cobra says
You’ve illustrated part of my point, Yogi. And part of Ken’s.
Tom Hurley, when routinely faced with complaints (like a few in this thread) of his food being too expensive for our taste, arrived (and this is just CRAZY) at the conclusion that Portlanders… indeed, the very same Portlanders he’d spoken with directly… didn’t want to pay his prices. Look up a thread on any blog in that Portland, and you’ll see:
1.) Complaints about pricing.
2.) Accolades for his food.
But what do people do? They get their little feelers hurt, when he merely states this as fact.
To this, I say “grow a pair, Sir.”… and that goes for all of you detractors.
Besides, you wouldn’t take his “diss” on Portland so seriously, had his comments not rang somewhat true. Hurts, doesn’t it?
That’s truth, for you.
Food Dude says
BTW, Coupage is now on the market for $350K
I’m beginning to sense Hurley envy here…
I never had a problem with Tom Hurley. He was always decent to me when we talked, and the price/portion ratio @ Hurley’s may have been a bother, but it didn’t keep from visiting. What I didn’t like about Hurley’s was the food-as-church ambiance that prevailed in that place. It was almost as though fun was prohibited. That’s not right, whether in Portland or Paris.
The other thing was the persistent rumor that Tom didn’t treat his staff too well. That rumor hung around–with no rebuttal–like gray clouds in November. Eventually, I must admit, I gave it some credence.
The parting shot at Portland was just kind of dopey. I heard good things about Coupage, but I firmly believe that if “the people in Seattle love[d] what” Hurley did that much, his doors would still be open. And I sure don’t envy a guy who now has to reckon with failed businesses in two cities. . .and burned bridges in at least one of them.
The Wizard Tim says
“The other thing was the persistent rumor that Tom didn’t treat his staff too well. That rumor hung around–with no rebuttal–like gray clouds in November.”
To say the least, i’ve heard very bad things about that subject. Also, every time Tom came into my restaurant he would rave about the food, only to dish dirt gossip, and slander any other restaurant in town. I could only presume that the second he left my establishment that he would do the same to us at another restaurant.
A number of years ago when my father was visiting from NYC, we took him to Hurley’s. Now, this is a man who lives and works in Manhattan and goes out to dinner at least 4 times a week. His comments: the food and its presentation was just a bit too “precious”. Certainly, the lengthy explanations of each dish as it came to our table took longer for the server to recite than it did to eat the 3 or 4 bites that comprised each plate. As I recall, the food was good, but definitely not worth the price for the portion sizes. While I think that most restaurants here serve portions that are way too large for most people to comfortably eat in a single sitting, we left Hurleys thinking that we’d had to order way too many dishes in order to feel that we had really eaten a meal. When it comes to taste/portion size/price, our recent meal at Ten01 completely blew away the Hurley’s experience.
On my only visit to Hurley’s for a belated
birthday dinner; I found the food so
rich that i felt poisoned for a couple of
hours…and i am not a sensitive diner at
all. I could never return.
Thing is, Hurley did something special that few people accomplish. He had an extremely ambitious vision outside his area of expertise and he found a way to make it happen in a big way. Speculate and quibble if you will about how he treated his people, whether or not he should have volunteered to give up the disability payments he received as a firefighter, or whether you liked his décor, menu or haircut. That’s all rumor, speculation, personal preference and character assassination. The guy did a brilliant thing which most people dearly wish they had the cojones to even try, let alone achieve. Sure he went to a fancy chef’s school on his disability. So? Plenty of folks attend those schools and wind up making goulash and quiche in the local deli. That he closed his doors could have been because he was a jerk or perhaps an employee absconded with his money. Maybe his disability became overbearing, or he just couldn’t take living in the same town as his mother in law. Nobody on this forum knows.
Major kudos to Hurley for pursuing his dream and making it happen. The fact it didn’t work out is beside the point. At least he tried, no doubt learned a lot, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he makes it work next time, lessons learned.
Ken=Hurley? Or his mother maybe?
Samantha Pigeot says
I work with him…. He is the worst…. A Petite Beet if you ask!