Seattle is a town of restaurants and Canlis is a restaurant fabled among them – expensive, exquisite, an unmatched view, a wine list longer than any other and servers in kimonos. Certainly not the usual fare for those of us in the nonprofit trenches. And so we were thrilled when Canlis invited us to join them for a party yesterday evening, to celebrate their 60thanniversary as a restaurant. We arrived to find a festive crowd of 200 people, all like us – dedicated members of the Seattle nonprofit/social enterprise arena.
We learned that Canlis is run by close family (all of the Canlis name and all of them present last night) and that they decided to honor all of us with this party. They explained that they initially wanted to hold a charity event to celebrate the restaurant’s 60th anniversary, but realized that such an event becomes an “ask.” Instead, they wanted to do a “give.” “It’s our birthday party, but we’d like to give the present and not receive it,” said Mark Canlis. They identified that what they had to give was food and hospitality, and so give they did. The food poured from the kitchen all night long, the wine was outstanding and three wonderful musical ensembles kept the music flowing.
Not only was the evening a great time, I think a lot of us felt really great to be honored in this way. Yes, people tell us all the time that the work we do is valuable, and thank us for our dedication. But not many people “put the food where their mouth is.” What Canlis did was very Other Centered–that is their term, actually. Other Centered is one of the three Canlis family/company values. And they demonstrated it last night in spades. And so from Jon and Erik at TisBest, and all 200 other invitees, to the Canlis Family – thank you for a wonderful evening. Seattle is fortunate to have such institutions as your restaurant, your family, and your collective heart.