Before his 26-year career at Meydenbauer Center, seasoned hospitality professional Tim Carr had a long history of working in the restaurant industry. His first experience working in Bellevue started in 1989 when he opened Lucca’s Pasta Bar in Bellevue Square. Carr spent the next five years building strong relationships with consumers and expanding the restaurant to different shopping malls across the Greater Seattle area.
By 1994, Carr was ready to look for new opportunities. He sold the Italian restaurant chain to Monterey Pasta Co., where he began a new role as their consultant. Carr’s work with them helped open 25 restaurants in a span of one and a half years – an accomplishment he’s proud to be a part of.
Carr eventually returned to Downtown Bellevue and started a career at Meydenbauer Center in 1996. During his time at the 54,000 square feet convention center and theatre, he worked various jobs within the sales and food service department that helped pave a strong path to his current role as CEO in 2019. Read more about why Carr believes Meydenbauer Center is a mainstay of the Downtown economy, his view on Downtown Bellevue’s growth, and his favorite places around town.
Why do you enjoy working at Meydenbauer Center?
The convention center business always brings something new. Unlike working at a restaurant where your daily operation looks the same, working at Meydenbauer Center provides an opportunity to assist with different events and be part of Bellevue’s economic growth. It keeps us energized and excited about working with our hospitality community to bring visitors and people Downtown.
Why do you believe Meydenbauer Center is a core foundation for the Downtown Bellevue community?
Meydenbauer Center serves as the gathering place for community events. We provide a space for local organizations and businesses to bring people together and make memorable experiences. Meydenbauer Center is a venue option for the corporate and nonprofit communities to host meetings and fundraisers. Our purpose is to support them through the planning process and help execute something they’re proud of.
What challenges has your organization gone through, especially in the last few years, and how did you overcome them?
The pandemic has changed the way we do business. Within the first two weeks of hearing the news, our full calendar for the next few months had been canceled. The governor’s order came, and we shut down for roughly 10 months. Without a high number of events and meetings, our staff had to think of other ways to serve people in a time of crisis. That’s when we saw an opportunity to house the King County Court System. For about nine months, Meydenbauer Center operated as a courtroom for them because we could hold more people in our space. This helped us stay afloat.
Why do you love working in Downtown Bellevue?
Downtown Bellevue has a variety of attractions like The Bellevue Collection. They provide an incredible selection of restaurants, shopping, and entertainment. You also have the Old Bellevue experience. I love meeting friends after work and sitting outside in the summer at 520 Bar & Grill or Monsoon. We have a variety of urban experiences, and that’s important to a thriving city.
Where do you see Downtown Bellevue in 3-5 years?
The pandemic was a blip that made us rethink some things. Coming out of it and attending the Bellevue Downtown Association’s (BDA) Land Use and Livability Committee, I sense that Downtown will continue to grow and mature as a place for people to live. Our city has advanced so much in the last 10 years, but before that, people came Downtown to work and then left for the suburbs. I want to see Bellevue come to a point where people can live and work in the same area; I’m excited to see more neighborhoods and villages develop as we move towards that goal.
Where are your favorite places to dine in Downtown?
For a fancy night out, I like to go to The Lakehouse for their Pacific Northwest dishes and Baron's Sino Kitchen & Bar for the elegant duck. I also enjoy dining out at El Gaucho during their happy hour. My favorite thing is supporting homegrown-based businesses because you can tell by tasting their food that they have a stake in the community. They’re here for the long run, and it reflects in their ingredients.
Do you have a favorite places to shop in Downtown?
Bellevue Square has a collection of amazing retail-my family and I like to stop by when we’re in town for Snowflake Lane.
Are there any hidden gems in Downtown Bellevue you’d like to shout out to?
John Howie Steak is a great place and worth all the hype. Their happy hour burger is delicious and worth the try.
Where do you see Meydenbauer Center in 3-5 years?
Our future will continue to support our mission of being a place for conventions and meetings. We’ll continue supporting local organizations and expand to bring in more national and international events. We also see a strong return for cultural arts performances in our theatre.
Overall, we’re preparing for the number of people coming in and out of Bellevue in the next few years when the light rail is finally finished. I look forward to seeing how the Grand Connection will help link more neighborhoods and businesses together. Our venue must be accessible to our guests and people, it’s a massive factor in our success.
Keep in touch with Meydenbauer Center on social for up-to-date information on events and 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.