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Cooking With Purpose: Ascend Hospitality Goes Beyond Fine Dining Experience

May 23, 2022 - by Sandy Vo

Cooking With Purpose:
Ascend Hospitality Goes Beyond Fine Dining Experience

Ascend's 31st floor dining room

Ascend Prime Steak & Sushi’s floor-to-ceiling windows, luxurious décor, and dreamy view from the 31st floor are just some the elements you can expect from the fine dining establishment. They’ve made a name for themselves in Downtown as the restaurant for all occasions, but beyond the extravagant dining experience, they're also committed to serving the staff and community around them.

Guests dining at Ascend

Operating under Ascend Hospitality Group (AHG), Ascend opened in 2018 investing wholly in their team and every guest that walked through their doors. Elaina Morris, co-founder, CEO & president of AHG, said that the hospitality industry needs to do more for its people.

“I created AHG because, for years, the hospitality industry had lost the values of what really matters,” Morris said. "We want to be the amazing hospitality company that raises the bar, not only for how we care for our guests but how we care for our people.”

In late 2021, Ascend started their Beyond The Experience series. The program was designed to help share the stories of Ascend’s remarkable team tasked with making the impossible probable, surpassing expectations and transcending the meaning of hospitality.

“What often happens in the hospitality industry is people start feeling like just a number,” Morris said. “We want them to know that they matter and are more than just an extra set of hands. They are the essence of our business.”

Executive Chef Brandon Muehl

Ascend’s Executive Chef Brandon Muehl has been working at the restaurant for two and a half years and quickly moved into his current leadership position last August. Like many, Muehl had self-doubts about stepping into a new role, but he said Ascend has done an excellent job validating his capabilities and helping him flourish. Just this April, Muehl and his culinary team rolled out a new stunning brunch menu—something they’ve been working on since last August.

“There was this sense of completeness and satisfaction after launching the menu,” Muehl said. “The thing about Ascend is the work doesn’t stop here. We’ll continue evolving the brunch program and finding new ways to take the experience to another level.”

Muehl said Ascend gives people the ability to continue learning and growing, no matter their position.

“I think the most important thing is that we feel heard, appreciated and respected,” Muehl said. “You go to some places and they might hit on a few of those core ideas, but I think AHG encompasses all of it. They really are a hospitality group for the people.”

31 lives campaign

Beyond what AHG has done for their staff, they’ve also committed to elevating the communities they serve. In 2018, they launched a '31 Lives' initiative as part of their AHG Cares program. The initiative was designed to fund scholarships and internships for aspiring culinarians, as well as contribute pro-bono professional expertise and tools to elevate culinary education in the Puget Sound area. While it is currently on hold due to the pandemic, they hope to reestablish it in the future.

"AHG Cares is the philanthropic arm of our organization,” Morris said. “It continues to remind people who work here that there’s a purpose to the work they do. It makes people happy when they can wake up every day and impact someone’s life.”

For more information on AHG’s community impact, visit their website.

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.


Ascend Prime Steak & Sushi
10400 NE 4th St
Bellevue, WA 98004

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