Person Behind The Place:
Chris Peterson’s restaurant story began as a dishwasher in New York. In 1998, he then moved to Seattle and joined Cafe Campagne as a sous chef. After building a reputation for himself, Peterson took to the Eastside and became executive chef at the all-too-familiar Bis On Main for eight years and now owns the title of co-owner at Bake’s Place Bar & Bistro with Craig Baker.
According to Peterson, Bake's Place is "not trying to be the best restaurant out there, we’re trying to become the favorite." The owners wear many hats as they evolve the place with themed drink nights, high-end food and beverages, different types of live music, beautifully decorated bars and more. We caught up with Peterson on how Bake’s Place has evolved over the years and his favorite spots in Downtown Bellevue.
How did the idea of Bake's Place begin?
We initially started in the basement as a live jazz and blues club, with my business partner Craig Baker. After deciding to expand, we found a performance and professional kitchen space in Issaquah where they allowed us to run the music scene... that's where Bake's got its notoriety.
How has Bake's Place evolved over the years?
When we started as a jazz club, we were very focused on music at that time. Food and beverage were secondary in a lot of ways. Bake's Place in Bellevue opened 11 years ago and as the restaurant started to develop, we began doing a lot of private and big corporate events. We became more than just a restaurant - we became a venue for music and a venue for private parties.
How did COVID-19 impact the business?
COVID hit and kind of changed everything, but changed it for the better. Music is so hard to make money on with only a hundred seats. It forced us to be completely focused on food and beverage, service and atmosphere. Once we took the music piece out, we were able to be hyper-focused on that being our brand. That’s our future. We are a restaurant providing high-level food, beverage and service. We plan have some music but now that's going to come back as sort of the cherry on top. It'll just be one more thing to add that differentiates us from everybody else.
What's unique about Bake’s Place?
We’re a relaxed upscale environment with lots of dynamic elements going on. We offer a 25-foot projection screen, craft cocktails, large patio space, Tiki and Whiskey bar, daily drink themes, and more. It’s fun, vibrant and funky but the finishes are all top-notch. At Bake’s, we’re constantly trying to create that edge, whether it’s lighting, sound system or beautiful interior. As one of the owners, I'm constantly on the floor engaging and talking to people. Our staff is such a hard-working, dedicated team. We're good at conveying what we offer to people, whether it's food or whiskeys, wine or whatever. Everybody plays a critical role in the process.
Anything special coming up at Bake's Place?
We have two live shows coming up on Oct. 9 and 10 as part of the Bellevue Jazz and Blues Music Series. Just go on our website. and make a reservation for the night. We don't use a ticketing service as it further defines us as a venue. We're branding ourselves as a restaurant that offers live music.
How would you describe Bake's menu and what dishes do you recommend?
I call it European-influenced New American cuisine. We serve a broad range of upscale bar food. I recommend the goat cheese and Gnocchi, hands-down my favorite and probably everyone else’s. We also do seafood well. The Chilean sea bass on the menu right now is phenomenal. Our burgers are also amazing.
What do you love about working Downtown?
I love the diversity of people and what Bellevue is becoming. There's plenty to do in a three-block radius. I like being in the center of the future of Downtown. Amazon's right around the corner, and you've got Google, Microsoft -- Bellevue is growing so fast. So many things are being developed including the light rail and Old Bellevue. The city is becoming more and more walkable and bikeable and it’s so exciting.
Any favorite places to dine out?
I’m very partial to Old Bellevue. I love dining at Cantinetta and Bis On Main. Moving towards Bellevue Way, I'm a huge fan of Din Tai Fung. STK Steakhouse just opened and I’ve always liked the one in Vegas, so I gave the one in town a try and really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere that’s different from your typical steakhouse in town. I also enjoy Suite Restaurant/Lounge for a night out.
Any hidden gems you'd like to share with us?
The Goose Pub & Eatery is one of the only dive bars left in Bellevue and I love going there. There’s also this delicious hidden Taiwanese restaurant called Facing East. When Civility & Unrest opens up again, I’ll definitely be going. It has such a great craft cocktail program and a cool atmosphere.
Like they say at Bake's Place, 'you only have to find them once'. Follow Bake's Place Bistro & Bar on social for menu updates and up-to-date happenings!
Person Behind the Place 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.
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Bake's Place | Bar & Bistro
155 108th Ave NE
Bellevue, WA 98004