Gypsy, Seattle, Washington — DEAD

I’d say the following is the most dramatic subject line I’ve ever received on an e-mail:

“Please Read. We have been betrayed. The end.”

It’s from the folks at Gypsy, Seattle’s very own underground restaurant. We posted about it back in September of 2006, February of 2007, and about cooking and eating at its sister venture Vagabond in March of 2007.

Gypsy was super passionate, always fun, and often tasty. The best thing about the few times I participated in one of their dinners was that the Gypsy folks were having a good time and trying to make something special. Dana even cooked for them several times.

And now, according to their e-mail, they have to shut down. Here’s the e-mail:

Camelot has ended.

We wake up, we go to work, we come home, we occasionally eat out. Most lives are fashioned after this pattern. Most restaurant’s lives are as well: make food, sell food, clean up, go home. Sometimes, a very magical sometimes, restaurants are able to trancend the merely ordinary and in doing so, transform to some small degree the lives of its patrons.

Gypsy has been this magical place for many many people. New friends, new ideas, new love, a salon of creativity. But as with all things destined to touch hearts, evil waits to take it away. We have been betrayed. Gypsy as we know it was too scary a place to exist, so now it doesn’t.

We are going much deeper underground. Those who really know how to get ahold of us, please email (please don’t call us), we will start a new list, a more protected list. Dinners are cancelled for all intents and purposes. And to the traitor to the clan we offer you this: May you never sleep well, may laughter sound bitter in your ears, and may food always taste like ashes to you…this is our Gypsy curse. You have destroyed a good thing.

That curse at the end is a real doozy. Some random thoughts on this:

  • you’ll notice in the comments on my first post as well as reactions I got to it in person from former colleagues that the secrecy surrounding Gypsy was confusing to people. When I wrote about it trying to be vague I got accused of being a snob. (I may be a snob, but that’s not the right evidence to use.) When I told folks at work about it and was vague, the ones who already knew said “you mean Gypsy? What’s the big deal. Why are you acting like it’s a secret?” And for an underground restaurant, Gypsy actually was kind of confusing. They sent out e-mails. They had a website. etc. I always assumed it needed to stay secret and acted accordingly. But maybe not everyone felt the same way.
  • I wonder if someone really did try to get them in “trouble”, and if they know that for a fact. I can only assume they do based on the content of their e-mail. Why would someone do that? Lame.
  • And as Alex pointed out to me in conversation, it sucks when the government spends time and resources regulating things that don’t really need to be regulated. Not to create a whole debate here, but will an underground restaurant here or there really destroy society? Yes… I know about health codes, etc. I wonder if you could objectively rate every licensed restaurant in Seattle vs. Gypsy for absolute health code compliance where Gypsy would fare. I bet it would be among the top scorers. These folks were passionate about doing a professional job. And yes, I know you can’t necessarily count on the honor system with everyone. It’s still annoying though.

I hope Gypsy reforms. But I am surprised they announce that they’re reforming in the mail. Won’t the people they got in trouble with see their intentions? I guess I have a lot to learn about running a secret underground restaurant. Luckily, that’s not a requirement of my job. I just intend to eat there.

I wish the Gypsy folks luck, and I’m sorry someone screwed up a good thing.

13 Responses to “Gypsy, Seattle, Washington — DEAD”

  1. peabody says:

    Wow, that is a bummer. Not a member but very aware of what they were doing and fully supported it. And no our society will not be destroyed by an underground restaurant club.

  2. A says:

    God damn. Serves me right for procrastinating — I’ve been on their mailing list for years, and never got around to going.

    And then I heard that Mistral close two weekends ago.

    Bleargh.

  3. Robert Collins says:

    I found out about Gypsy by seeing the pictures you posted. I had worked in the same kitchen a couple days before. Never did get to one of its functions, my loss. Seems that here in the Soviet of Washington, you can’t do anything innovative and fresh. Our sorriest thinkers are government employees.

  4. Wendy says:

    So the foodies have lost a getaway. If new restaurants didn’t pay all the required licensing and inspection fees, the following people would lose their jobs:

    * Chain restaurant employees — because corporate generica is the biggest winner when it comes to regulations. After all, who can better afford to navigate the obstacle course that is entry to the market than conglomerates with legal teams?

    * Government employees whose salaries are paid in part by our taxes and in part by all those licensing fees and non-compliance fines that small business owners must pay.

    * The purveyors of goods and services that help restaurants comply with laws and regulations. Their lobbyists worked with legislators for a reason — to protect their businesses.

    Unless we want to allow independent farmers and restaurateurs and other innovators to establish a foothold in our communities, we must remain vigilant, enforce existing laws and regulations, and pass new ones!

    For a start, isn’t about time we started regulating the blogosphere? I hear the PI’s circulation is down.

  5. I’ve been lurking around your blog for weeks, maybe months, I love your blog. I think this is my first comment here.

    call me crazy or call me naive, whatever you wish. What’s an underground restaurant? What kinds of codes does a restaurant evade to classify as an underground/secret place? And more importantly how do they keep it a secret? If it’s a good thing, I am not sure how a restaurant continues to remain a secret place.

    Personally I believe our society won’t be destroyed by underground restaurants. The idea of a secret place is very exciting and I know I am not alone on this. So what if these places don’t follow all the health codes and OSHA regulations? And what if they don’t pay their taxes all the time. If they serve food prepared in their “clean” kitchens and their servers wash their hands, as a general courtesy for others, who cares? Rules are meant to be broken and anyone that can do it on this level deserves some credit. I strongly believe government and law makers need to move away from regulating these things and concentrate more on important issues such as ensuring children and low income families eat a meal frequently and regularly.

  6. Erin says:

    The restrictions on food in this country are insane. Upon my return from Europe in November they allowed me to keep some rather sketchy looking wild boar pate, but took my husband’s can of soup. Hermeticly sealed, totally cooked soup that he has brought home before. I don’t know what they would have done if they spotted the truffles and Marmite. The worst part of it all was that they made a GIANT deal out of it. It’s not like we didn’t declare it. I think it is high time the government focuses on cleanliness standards and lets us decide what we see fit to put in our mouths.

  7. geoff says:

    long live gypsy. sigh i would of given any thing to eat there.

  8. Karin says:

    Well this is a shame. After moving back into the area I had hoped my husband and I would get the opportunity to dine in such a creative way. After having seen Tony do his show there I was psyched at the thought of trying out what is considered “unusual dining”. I really hope that with the support of fans and fanatics that our little corner of the world will yet again get to experience such creativeness, even if I may never get the chance. You have our support even though we have never had the experience you offer. Kudos to you and your love of food, no matter where it comes from!

  9. Felisa says:

    This really – for lack of a better word – sucks. Seattle is my home, and I was hoping to bump into Gypsy just after Christmas since I’m bringing my boyfriend’s family from Boston to the area. If there is an event planned, please contact me! Even if I don’t receive a response, know that I fully support you, and hope that you can continue to practice your craft! Happy holidays

  10. As with all things magical there is always something/someone out there that decides that because they are not in the inner circle they must destroy even if just so others can not enjoy!

    I was never on the mailing list but would have loved to have been. My hubby is a chef and I’m a foodie and we would have loved having the opportunity to enjoy a meal or two with others that share the same passion for flavors and textures that we do.

    To the destroyer(s) – I hope you get food poisoning over and over again! Even then the punishment would not fit the crime.

    Viva La Gypsy!!!

  11. [...] even closure—a fate that befell Brooklyn’s Taste of Hawthorne last year, and Seattle’s Gypsy before that. To minimize risk, underground restaurateurs have devised a variety of ways to weed out potential [...]

  12. Lyndon B. Meighan says:

    I’m on the edge of the culinary world always looking for a imperfect flavor made perfectlty. Find me!

  13. Bill Crawford says:

    Is the Gypsy supper club up and running and if so how would my wife and I find out about a possible membership ? I am a retired Fireman from Phx AZ and have done Firehouse cooking for years and have always enjoyed fun, folks and FOOD !!!!!!!

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