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Black Bottle Bellevue Fights Hunger With Food Lifeline

March 14, 2022 - by Sandy Vo

Black Bottle Bellevue Fights Hunger With Food Lifeline

(From left to right) Christopher Linker, Jaclyn Lensch, Brian Durbin and chef Robert King. Judy Boardman is not pictured.

Black Bottle defines themselves as an unpretentious "gastrotavern" with a desire to help the community around them. The new generation bar started 17 years ago in Seattle by owners Judy Boardman, Brian Durbin and Christopher Linker. Since the beginning, they've highlighted local ingredients from the Pacific Northwest and sell delicious shareable meals and drinks at an affordable price. Today, they offer a bigger cause behind the variety of sharable plates they serve.

For the last decade, Black Bottle has made annual donations to Food Lifeline, a nonprofit dedicated to ending hunger in Western Washington. As the pandemic continued last year, they decided to do more. In April 2021, they launched a partnership with the organization, where for every 'share-plate' purchased at Black Bottle, an equivalent nutritious meal was donated to Food Lifeline. Since starting the program, they’ve made a donation comparable to 15,649 meals.

Linker said while it’s fun to give a fantastic restaurant experience to guests, they’ve also tried to find a deeper purpose in everything they do.

Image courtesy of Black Bottle

“I think in the past, the spirit of giving was always in our DNA, but now it’s really baked into our business model,” Linker said. “Our meal program provides a consistent donation to struggling communities in our region.”

From the outside, Black Bottle was seen helping the community through their food and donations. But behind closed doors, they were also aiding their employees through the pandemic. Jaclyn Lensch, director of operations, said owners Boardman, Durbin, and Linker supported the entire Black Bottle crew through donations of food and toiletry needs.

“If your dish washer is serving out food but can’t eat that day, then you’re doing something wrong,” Lensch said. "Black Bottle has been nothing but generous and everything they’ve done to support us speaks volumes to how great the leadership is here.”

Black Bottle emphasized that while this has been a challenging time for restaurants, they believe their partnership with Food Lifeline has been the greatest outcome of the pandemic.

“There’s no roadmap in a pandemic, it’s just important to continue communicating with one another and try to support where we can,” Durbin said.

Black Bottle invites guests to come, share a plate and create change at their restaurant.

This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.


Black Bottle
919 Bellevue Way NE
Bellevue, WA 98004

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