The New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni once famously written about Seattle, “I’m hard-pressed to think of another corner or patch of the United States where the locavore sensibilities of the moment are on such florid (and often sweetly funny) display, or where they pay richer dividends, at least if you’re a lover of fish.”
Seattle’s climate is enticing for food lovers, culinary experts, and entrepreneurs, as it is blessed with natural produce, from Rainier cherries and apples to an enviable catalog of seafood. The quality of ingredients and welcoming attitude of the inhabitants combine to stimulate one of the most sumptuous and inviting culinary scenes in the region.
This list contains 15 of the best restaurant contractors in Seattle. Contractors in this list have a strong familiarization with the complexities and unique challenges of building and remodeling restaurants. To consolidate this list, we considered a great number of firms among the city’s rich number of commercial contractors along with awards, accolades, and overall quality of each firm’s work history.
15) CDB General Contractors
Website | 206-719-6981 | 613 NW 41st St., Seattle, WA 98107
Since 1991, CDB General Contractors has been providing the Seattle area with commercial and residential build-outs. CDB’s hallmark in operations is its capacity to coordinate the players and stakeholders in each project. Andrew Constan and his team ensure that value maximization and budget forecasting to reinforce the expert-level construction the firm provides.
CDB showcases a portfolio of well-designed residential and commercial projects. Take Bruciato as an example. This Pizzeria serves Neapolitan style pizza and gelato in the minimal space with an open floor plan. Bruciato follows the Napolitano school of pizza cookery, which requires a highly specific list of ingredients including San Marzano tomatoes, Italian salumi, and type 00 flour, and only uses a wood oven in the process.
14) DB General Contractors
Website | 253-736-2980 | 18026 72nd Ave., S Kent, WA 98023
With over 5,000 completed projects in just 13 years, DB General Contractors stands as one of the most productive firms in the area. DB’s team is composed of craftsmen specializing in commercial, retail, and corporate projects. Led by Dewaine Bednarik, an industry veteran of 20 years, the firm renders construction, construction management, and maintenance services all over the Seattle area.
Thanks to DB’s pursuit of quality, the firm has amassed projects in various markets all over the Emerald City. DB has constructed several neighborhood dining spots, including Levitate Gastropub, a restaurant and bar known for its quirky menu. DB realized the design conferred the restaurant by utilizing a classic combination of wood wall cladding, concrete floors, and industrial lighting that evokes a contemporary and non-mainstream fashion.
13) Unimark Commercial Builders
Website | 206-628-5110 | 1221 Fourth Ave., Seattle, WA 98101
Unimark Commercial Builders is an institution since 1953. This staple builder in Seattle has over 13 million square feet of lifetime project completed and more than 300 thousand square feet worth of projects in progress. The firm’s extensive portfolio has been well-noted by publications such as 425 Magazine and received dearly by the Seattle central business district and Puget Sound region.
The firm has several restaurant projects including the Seattle flagship store of Specialty’s Cafe and Bakery, a California-based cafe. This 5,700 square-foot project was completed in collaboration with the Dahlin Group, an award-winning architecture firm. As a result of the collaboration, the cafe space has a modern and industrial feel channeled through light-washed wooden panels and steel frames.
12) Adatto Construction
Website | 206-652-5300 | 1314 Denny Way, Seattle, WA 98109
Adatto Construction is a commercial and residential contractor specializing in fast track projects, and focuses on building restaurant and retail boutiques. The firm was established by Richard Adatto, an industry veteran of over 40 years. Adatto has a strong background in design; he holds a degree in Art Drawing and Painting from the University of Washington, and designed automobiles for decades.
The firm’s strong design background converts very well to its projects. Projects such as Re:Public restaurant and Flatstick Pub demonstrate a high level of attention to detail in design and construction capacity. Re:Public Restaurant and Bar, a farm-to-table concept serving Pacific Northwest dishes in an appropriately-lit environment defined by exposed bricks and dark wooden furniture.
11) JTM Construction
Website | 206-587-4000 | 800 Maynard Ave South, #101 Seattle, WA 98134
Seattle-based JTM Construction positions itself as a neighborhood builder in the Pacific Northwest region. JTM has been building commercial and retail projects for over 14 years under the leadership of John Hayduk, who also serves as the chief estimator.
JTM has already completed various interesting projects in the area. Take Cohanim Properties’ Shaker + Spear Restaurant at the Palladium Hotel as an example. This 65-seater restaurant was completed through a collaboration of the firm with Gensler and Coughlin Porter Lundeen in order to preserve the historic elements and structural integrity of the building. This seafood restaurant pampers diner, and sports an open seating area, an exhibition kitchen, wood flooring, milestone plaster walls, and Alaskan granite columns.
Website | 360-862-8316 | 1910 Bickford Ave., Suite A Snohomish, WA 98290
Since its establishment in 2002, Corstone has built over 750 projects, making it one of the most engaged restaurant contractors in this list. The company has a construction presence all over Western states and is well-regarded in its endeavors, garnering awards from Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Western Washington with two silver awards in 2017 and 2018. Corstone is headed by Mark Tapert, 30-year construction veteran, and Erin VerHoeven, who manages a large part of business operations and advocates free enterprise through active membership on ABC.
Corstone’s award-winning team has laid out equally vital projects in the past. The infamous Seattle restaurant Ivar’s Salmon House, for example, hired Corstone to handle remodeling and upgrading efforts back in 2007. The restaurant is a cedar replica of a Northwest Indian Longhouse, providing a unique experience while overlooking the view of Lake Washington. The Salmon House offers an unparallel experience of dining.
9) Wilcox Construction
Website | 425-774-4185 | 234 5th Ave., S Edmonds, WA 98020
With upwards of 500 projects every year and a 90% client referral rate, Wilcox Construction is one of the most influential firms in this list. In the firm’s five decades of industry experience, it has completed projects of various types, from shopping centers to boutiques, offices, and restaurants. These projects are concluded by a studded team eight project managers and 30 superintendents, led by 30-year industry veteran Matt Lessard.
Wilcox’s studded team is responsible for projects such as El Gaucho, a steakhouse perfect for dates and business meetings. The steakhouse has a classic leather and wood feel that suits the premier steak, wine, and cocktail selection.
8) Rafn Company
Website | 425-702-6600 | 1721 132nd Ave., NE Bellevue, WA 98005
The enterprises and institutions in the Puget Sound region have been enjoying the construction services of Rafn Company for over forty years. Rafn is known to provide spectacular projects, distinguished by awards including the ABC Excellence in Construction Award, which it has won multiple times, and NAIOP’s Night of the Stars.
Landmark Seattle fine-dining restaurant Canlis worked with Rafn in 1996 to do major overhauling and upgrades to the space, which has been an icon since it opened its doors in the 1950s. The firm handled the delicate details of the restaurant including the porte-cochère, second-floor kitchen, and exterior landscaping. More than 20 years after the project, the firm remains the contractor of this celebrated restaurant.
7) Abbott Construction
Website | 206-467-8500 | 3408 1st Ave., S Seattle, WA 98134
Abbott Construction is a West Coast construction powerhouse with operations all across the nation. It is headquartered in Seattle. Troy Stedman, originally a project engineer for the company, currently leads the company operations as president and CEO.
Stedman’s leadership has enabled the firm to completed multiple restaurant projects and acquired various awards in so doing. For the Westland Distillery project, Abbott garnered the AGC Excellence in Construction award for Tenant Improvement Under $5 million and International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Best Design In Hospitality. The distillery stands in a 13,135 square-foot warehouse once used in crane production in 1919. Together with Urbanadd architects, Abbott created a space that includes a laboratory, tasting bar, whiskey library, and offices.
6) Mētis Construction
Website | 206-380-5997 | 6250 Stanley Ave., S Seattle, WA 98108
Known for its alternative business model that restructured the company into a worker-owned and controlled firm, Mētis Construction has been shaking up the industry with a progressive business approach and high level of build quality with which its creative team of craftspeople work. Mētis is a high craft, worker owned firm committed to a Triple Bottom Line that puts people first, the planet second, and profit third. Mētis is one of the very few firms of its size that self performs all carpentry related scopes of work.
Mētis is known for working closely with clients and architects to build beautiful spaces on tight timelines. Mētis’ conversion to worker ownership in 2016 has enabled the company to attract and retain exceptionally talented and dedicated staff that are essential to providing clients with an outstanding construction experience.
Mētis has completed dozens of iconic restaurants from projects like Rhein Haus that features extensive fine woodwork, to Optimism Brewing where structural steel and wood timbers drive the aesthetic, to the underwater and steampunk aesthetic of Zocálo, a 7,000 square-foot 200-seater restaurant serving Mexican and Oaxacan cuisine that Mētis built in collaboration with Strata Architects and owner Joe Bisacca.
5) Marian Built
Website | 206-328-2102 | 4511 Shilshole Ave., NW Seattle, WA 98107
Despite having been around for a modest eight years, Marian Built has established a name in the restaurant construction industry, with recognition from the Seattle Met, Seattle Magazine, Eat Seattle, and The Seattle Times.
Founder and principal Michael Marian has been building since the age of eight and has been building homes since his 20s. This thorough and diverse background has enabled the company to land high-value projects including Brimmer and Heeltap, a neighborhood restaurant that serves a diverse menu and has an enviable patio and courtyard. The restaurant has a welcoming atmosphere and plenty of natural lighting and an amazing outdoor space. This project perfectly demonstrates Marian’s ability to comply with strict design standards and plans that put the site’s landscape on the premium.
Website | 206-682-3030 | 919 5th Ave., Seattle, WA 98164
Commercial contractor Schuchart is an award-winning and frequently featured builder in Seattle. Founder and CEO George Schuchart set his foot down in the industry as a carpenter’s apprentice. Years later, he became the Director of Wright Schuchart, a Seattle-based industrial contractor. This position allowed Schuchart to understand day-to-day company operations and the construction market in Seattle and in 1988, he established his own firm. Three decades later, the company has garnered awards such as AGC 2019 Build Washington Awards and six Boeing Performance Excellence Award, which testify to the company’s strong background in commercial construction. Local publications such as the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce also document the company’s construction capacity.
The cafe in Microsoft’s Building 50, in its Washington headquarters, stands to be one of Schuchart’s most interesting projects. This 8,000 square-foot cafe, completed in collaboration with Graham Baba Architects, provides Microsoft employees with locally-sourced fresh meals, from a deli to burgers.
3) Dovetail General Contractors
Website | 206-545-0722 | 1143 NW 45th St, Seattle, WA 98107
Founded in 1991, Dovetail is a custom builder that crafts fine architectural projects throughout Seattle and the Northwest. The firm specializes in complex, architecturally significant projects, with both wood shop and metal shop to support bespoke designs. Its architecture-drives works have graced the pages of several books including Jim Olson’s Building, Nature, Art, and Tom Kundig’s Works.
Dovetail has received numerous awards including the 2019 Architizer A+ Award for the Klotski Building and, Graham Baba Architects-designed Trailbend Taproom. Dovetail also won the 2018 Historic Seattle Preservation Award of Best Adaptive Reuse for Harvard Exit, as well as two distinctions from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) mainly the 2012 Commendation Award for the Tansu House, designed by Olson Kundig; and an Award of Merit for the Rock Box designed by MW Works Architecture + Design.
Dovetail is known for capturing the soul of the space and has built a myriad of noteworthy restaurant projects. The firm’s portfolio is peppered with fine dining concepts for James Beard Award-winning chefs including Renee Erickson, Ethan Stowell, Rachel Yang, and Seif Chirchi. Edam Stowell’s latest restaurant venture is Cortina, an Italian eatery famous for his signature cocktails and elevated cuisine. Located at Two Union Square, Cortina is situated in one of the city’s most prominent commercial towers. The 8,000 square-foot restaurant was designed by Heliotrope Architects and features refined aesthetics evoking a classic European café where the bar is positioned along an interior wall and people sit close to the windows and the street, creating a connection to the energy of the city. The result is an urbane and sophisticated space filled with natural light, white-oak, warm leather, pops of colored glass, and bright brass.
2) Turner Construction
Website | 206-505-6600 | 830 4th Ave. South, Suite #300 Seattle, WA 98134
Nationwide corporate contractor Turner Construction is a construction powerhouse that offers full-scale services in various markets, including commercial, civil, and corporate. Turner’s operations in Seattle is the focal point of its reach in Washington and the anchor of its market in the Pacific Northwest region.
In the restaurant contracting industry, Turner has completed projects such as Capital Grille. Through the architectural services of McCluggage Van Sickle & Perry, this two-level, 12,000 square foot space was completed in the historic Beaux-Arts Cobb Building. Capital is famous for steaks and cocktails served in a dimly-lit environment filled with oil paintings and ornamented with luxurious details. The restaurant has a backroom speakeasy appeal that mixes privacy and luxury, making any drinks and meals there more special.
1) Hammer and Hand
Website | 503-232-2447 | 1020 SE Harrison St., Portland, OR 97214-4709
Leveraging on more than 20 years of industry experience, Hammer and Hand provides Pacific Northwest communities with precise craftsmanship and technology-led construction management services. The firm treats both residential and commercial markets with equal importance and lays out the same level of professionalism and attention to detail. In turn, Hammer and Hand has been distinguished with various awards, including the 2018 Gold Nugget Award by Builder Magazine and the Outstanding Remodeling Achievement Award for Commercial Interior in 2014. The firm’s engagement with the press is as impressive as the awards garnered; it has also been featured in numerous publications, including Seattle Met, Seattle Magazine, Curbed, and Daily Journal of Commerce along with a few more.
Hammer and Hand led the development of Big Chickie, a Peruvian charcoal rotisserie that serves pollo a la brasa, marinated an entire day before serving. The restaurant is built in the former site of a service station, maintaining the structure of the place while upgrading the overhauling of the space with a chic and stylish atmosphere perfect for the casual nature of the restaurant. As a cheeky detail, the restaurant has a permanently sold out neon sign. This reflects the restaurant’s philosophy, which entails an always-fresh output.