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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

New in Restaurants: Dale Wamstad's Lost Lady Cantina

Posted by on Tue, Mar 17, 2009 at 3:33 PM

The former Union Square Grill in downtown Seattle reopens tonight as The Lost Lady American Cantina. Texas restaurateur Dale Wamstad bought the restaurant from Consolidated Restaurants Inc. (owners of the Metropolitan Grill and Elliott's Oyster House) earlier this year. Wamstad previously founded two national chains: Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouses and III Forks (that's "three" Forks, not "ill" Forks). He sold his stake in Del Frisco's to start III Forks, then sold III Forks in 2000, according to the Dallas Business Journal.

Also in 2000, a lengthy article in the Dallas Observer detailed Wamstad's past lawsuits, "bitter business partners," and an altercation with his ex-wife at one of his restaurants in 1985 in which she shot him three times. Wamstad then sued the Observer for libel, saying his reputation had been damaged. Lawyers for the Observer successfully argued that Wamstad was a public figure, and the libel case was dismissed. (According to The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, the court said, "Through his promotion of his family man image in his advertising over the years, Wamstad voluntarily sought public attention, at the very least for the purpose of influencing the consuming public. The continuing press coverage over the years showed that the public was indeed interested.")

Details on the shooting from the Dallas Observer:

The purse on the sofa held the .25-caliber semiautomatic pistol her husband had given her two years earlier to protect herself when she closed the restaurant at night alone. As Rumore exited the restroom, she heard a loud slam. Wamstad had burst through the front door. He demanded that Theresa open the front door and he pushed a briefcase in her face. Lena told him to stop. "Then he screamed, 'You fucking bitch, what do you think you're doing closing and putting that sign out there?'" Lena says. "And he hurled the briefcase at me, and I mean with force."

She pleaded with Wamstad to let her explain what had happened, but he came at her again. She reached into her purse and pulled out the gun.

"He kinda laughed, 'You fucking bitch. You better use it on me, because if you don't use it, I'm going to kill you with it,'" Rumore recalls. "He started coming close, like he was going to take it from me. So I fired."

Rumore fired four shots before the gun jammed. One bullet missed. Another went into Wamstad's jaw, while a pair of slugs entered his back. He moaned. She screamed and dialed 911.

The police didn't arrest Rumore.... On July 16, 1986, Lena Rumore was found innocent. The judge ruled that she had acted in self-defense.

One of Wamstad's lawsuits—one he instigated—involved Ruth's Chris Steak House founder Ruth Fertel. Again, from the Observer:

Wamstad sued Ruth's Chris for slander in 1994 after the restaurant's newsletter suggested that the Knife and Fork Club of America, which produced a Top 10 list of steakhouses, was really a front for Del Frisco's. Del Frisco's regularly appeared among the top three on the list. Wamstad admitted in a civil suit deposition that he paid the producer of the list, Thomas J. Horan, more than $60,000 between 1989 and 1994. The suit was later settled....

Wamstad has demonstrated a flair for the dramatic, per the Observer profile:

...Wamstad created a little family to inhabit his grand steakhouse crowned with a 24-carat gold-leaf dome that stretches 55 feet into the air. He invented for himself the character Capt. Bob Cooper, a 257-year-old cross between a North Texas trading-post pioneer and the skyjacker who slipped away with a $200,000 ransom payment by parachuting from an airliner over Washington state in 1971. Capt. Cooper maintains his youth because he drank from the Fountain of Youth 200 years ago in East Texas, or so went the spin.

According to a press release (reprinted here), Wamstad grew up in Spokane and is moving to Seattle to run the Lost Lady American Cantina. The restaurant's website features "The History of the Lost Lady," a tale of the origins of the name from a ship lost at sea between Astoria, Oregon, and Seattle in 1915.

While Wamstad "plans to create a theatrical setting" for the Cantina according to the press release, the former Union Square Grill's faux-Deco interior appeared largely intact at the invitation-only opening party on Saturday night. At the height of the two-hour event, the bar was packed; banana, blackberry, and prickly-pear margaritas were served. An appetizer buffet included cheddar and pepperjack cheese, as well as an unusual cold hors d'oeuvre of a whole-wheat tortilla wrap containing pickles, tomatoes, and a mayonnaise-type sauce. A squadron of female waitstaff, wearing red wrap-front tops and belts with golden rings, served fajita platters in the dining rooms. One server said that the fajitas would be followed by a lobster course; another later said, "There was an idea about lobster, but it never came to fruition."

Wamstad declined to be interviewed for the 2000 Dallas Observer article. Calls to the Lost Lady American Cantina and to the public relations firm seeking Wamstad's comment have not yet been returned.


Comments (43) RSS

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How is the wine menu at this place?

Any decent reds in the $9 range?
Posted by QFC Shopper on March 17, 2009 at 3:52 PM · Report this
Its been too long since we've had a decent restaurant in Seattle under threat of gun play.
Posted by Collin on March 17, 2009 at 3:57 PM · Report this
There is a bizarre compulsion amongst steakhouse owners or aficionados to create and market these "top ten lists". It's funny, because they're all basically the exact same thing; it's like being so committed to the Top Ten Rolls of Toilet Paper or Top Ten Seven-Elevens that you pay to print the lists in various expensive glossy magazines. I mean, I like a good steak, but I'm not under any kind of delusion that by eating one I'm participating in an exotic ritual of sophistication. I guess it's Insta-Class for people who aren't clever enough to have complicated opinions about art or literature.
Posted by Fnarf on March 17, 2009 at 4:04 PM · Report this
Methinks that the tv show King of the Hill was familiar with this guy and this shooting...
Posted by michael strangeways on March 17, 2009 at 4:08 PM · Report this
Ooh, finally the Dallas televesion soap-opera moves to Seattle.
Posted by Pat on March 17, 2009 at 4:19 PM · Report this
Four shots and the gun jammed. This is why you spend a few bucks more and buy a real gun, people.

Fnarf, I only see those ads in the idiotic in-flight magazines. Do they actually publish them somewhere else, too?
Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty on March 17, 2009 at 4:20 PM · Report this
They're promising to serve "the finest tequila's".
Posted by Fnarf on March 17, 2009 at 4:24 PM · Report this
I would apologize for this guy, being from that particular region, but Tarrant and Dallas counties are their own little micronations of stupid.
Posted by Baconcat on March 17, 2009 at 4:25 PM · Report this
@7 Fnarf, that settles it. I won't be going in there without my red pen.
Posted by lily on March 17, 2009 at 4:31 PM · Report this
In all seriousness Dan...

Can we just have an ECB stole a bottle of wine post and get this BS over with?

Everyone wants their pound of flesh, and this will at least allow us to comment normally on other posts without them being hijacked by this craziness.

Why are you being so hypocritical and not doing it?


Ohhh I was going to ask if there are any good wines at this place? Who knows if a good red wine would go good with the lobster?
Posted by Inquiring minds want to know on March 17, 2009 at 4:33 PM · Report this
@10 because then, quite literally, the troll-terrorists win.

If all some dick sitting out in Issaquah getting his jollies with a Weekly shoved up his ass has to do to get The Stranger to pay attention to him is plop his fat ass in front of his computer for three days (unemployed? taking sick days? who fucking knows) and comment constantly on some pissant topic that *no one fucking cares about otherwise,* then he's going to set up camp in front of The Stranger's office and start clogging up Slog every time Frizzelle picks his nose.

And no one wants that.
Posted by devilsmoke on March 17, 2009 at 4:41 PM · Report this
Nice spam, 10! Because YOU'RE not the one person with the bazillion sock puppets having conversations with him/herself.

Also, unoaked Chardonnay, Chablis, or non-fruity Sauvignon Blanc will go well with lobster. Red would not go "good." Jackass.
Posted by lily on March 17, 2009 at 4:43 PM · Report this
@11 I'm sorry Devilsmoke

but that smells of a nasty double standard.

ECB is the queen of snark, and we all know she would be jumping on someone else for doing something similar

I've lost alot of respect for SLOG if this isn't discussed publically.
Posted by Inquiring minds want to know on March 17, 2009 at 4:44 PM · Report this
This is being discussed publicly, just not by the Stranger staff. Imagine if some other topic got this much comment on every slog entry. Why the protectionism???
Posted by cafepuppy on March 17, 2009 at 4:48 PM · Report this
@14: because it's clearly one asshole with an ax to grind. That's not "this much comment."
Posted by Abby on March 17, 2009 at 4:58 PM · Report this
The amount of false dichotomies and strawmen about who the trolls are is hilarious. Maybe a lot of people have an axe to grind with ECB. It isn't that hard to imagine.
Posted by Red Red Wine on March 17, 2009 at 5:00 PM · Report this
How do you know it is one person? You are letting what you wish to be true get in the way of what is true.
Posted by Red Red Wine on March 17, 2009 at 5:02 PM · Report this
so set up a blog and jump on her yourself. whoop-de-fucking-doo. have fun spending your entire week trying to make people (besides your 15 other usernames) care about this - I'm out.
Posted by devilsmoke on March 17, 2009 at 5:02 PM · Report this
I don't think anyone is trying to make the apologists for The Stranger are about this. I think most of the people posting are hoping to antagonize The Stranger and Slog readers into acknowledging that ECB is a thief.
Posted by Red Red Wine on March 17, 2009 at 5:06 PM · Report this
I smell troll... there's no mistaking the questionable paragraph structure and schizophrenic non sequiturs of the Lesser Northwest Straw-troll... but I couldn't tell you who's what here. So I'm not going to bother.
Posted by breklor on March 17, 2009 at 5:08 PM · Report this
What a total hatchet job! I and friends were at the event and we all were served fork-tender steak and lobster. I heard that twice as many attended as invited, and the truth is that they ran out of lobster. Why not mention that brie, chevre, and other aged French cheeses were also served? Not to mention that four different types of flat bread kept coming to the appetizer table. This low down slanted review is bordering on slander. This restaurant is not about Dale Wamstad. It is all about a new concept and great food. The Stranger is a yellow journalism rag....
Posted by Lady Jane on March 17, 2009 at 5:42 PM · Report this
I still can't get over that mascot... exactly which of D.B. Cooper's attributes did this immortal Texan Pioneer posses?
Posted by Dougsf on March 17, 2009 at 6:08 PM · Report this
Fork-tender? What is the attraction of fork-tender steak? Do your dentures not fit properly or something? I like to chew my meat. The tenderest cuts of beef are the least-flavorful. That's one of the things I don't get about steakhouses; all this attention paid to filet mignon, when a good Porterhouse or T-bone (to say nothing of the wonders of brisket) has ten times the flavor.
Posted by Fnarf on March 17, 2009 at 6:12 PM · Report this
I should have also mentioned that I and friends were at the benefit for Cystic Fibrosis event at the Lost Lady on Monday night. Roast tenderloin, amazing New Orleans rice and roasted vegetables were served. And two big dessert tables! There was a dessert table at the Saturday event too. I think some "charity" should be given to Dale Wamstad and the fact that he donated all staffing costs, wine and food for two charity events for Children's Hospital and Cystic Fibrosis; wait staff were amazingly attentive, and the tenderloin flowed out of the kitchen with speed. If this is any indication of the real calibre of this new place....then I'm there to eat, NOT to dish about something that did or didn't happen in New Orleans 25 years ago. I think Seattle is better than what passes for journalism in this Stranger Slog slander.
Posted by Lady Jane on March 17, 2009 at 6:16 PM · Report this
Fnarf: are you against fork-tender with real flavor?
They also served rib-eye and NY strip which could be cut with a fork too............what exactly is wrong with tender, rare beef? Or are you just trying to be negative.
Posted by Lady Jane on March 17, 2009 at 6:21 PM · Report this
AAAAAAAHHHH.... I've been at work (where I don't comment on Slog, gotta look busy, it's a recession) but this ECB stealing wine has had me in stitches all day!

Whodathunk, ECB a thief! And WTF is up with stealing an $8.99 bottle? I mean, not even in the $20-25 price range?

Not surprised there is zero comment from the Stranger. They just looooove to hang everyone else's dirty laundry out for all to see, but the second it's their own, it gets stuffed back in the hamper.
Posted by Una copa de tinto, por favor on March 17, 2009 at 6:24 PM · Report this
God it's troll-y in here.
Posted by Why Isn't There A Comment Moderator on Slog? on March 17, 2009 at 8:48 PM · Report this
Wow..another crazy restaurant owner? How insanely rare.
Posted by theyallcrazyYO on March 17, 2009 at 9:20 PM · Report this
@21 (and, what the hell, @26 too):

"Dost want cunt, John Thomas? Dost want my
Posted by Lady Jane?" on March 17, 2009 at 9:43 PM · Report this
Crazy restaurant owners are my lifeblood. Bring 'em on!
Posted by NapoleonXIV on March 17, 2009 at 9:49 PM · Report this
This just in: the stranger no longer reviews restaurants in the chow section; they write senseless "news" stories.
Posted by pound of flesh! pound of flesh! on March 17, 2009 at 10:42 PM · Report this
The Sock Puppet Troll has been around for MONTHS, not just this week. It needs to be stamped out.

The Stranger needs to moderate Slog with a firmer hand or this asshat is going to start driving people away.
Posted by michael strangeways on March 18, 2009 at 9:55 AM · Report this
@23, for your information both tenderloin and porterhouse steaks (one in the same really) happen to contain the same tenderloin of which you criticize in the form of Filet mignon.

Perhaps you seek out a standard butcher's guide...
Posted by jerry on March 18, 2009 at 1:05 PM · Report this
I worked for the man Dale Fransis Wamstad. He is a good man! Tough asshole sometimes, YES! Does he do it right, YES! You are llucky to have him in Seattle. As for Dallas, all I have to say is G.W. Bush desided to move there. It's an empty city of sprawl.
Posted by Thaddeus on March 18, 2009 at 1:28 PM · Report this
sorry i can'y spell
Posted by Thaddeus on March 18, 2009 at 1:34 PM · Report this
Sounds like a great concept, too bad a snarky veiw had to be taken about a man who did no wrong...

Posted by Edmund W. on March 26, 2009 at 8:48 PM · Report this
This guy is crazy as fuck! I know. I used to work for him. He is totally unprofessional. He yells at the waitstaff on the floor in front of guests. He berates his staff to the point that half of them have left and both managers resigned in disgust. None of his steaks are Prime. He buys them all from COSTCO but claims they come from corn fed Nebraska beef.
This guy is a Restaurant Carnie. Low class guy trying to sell you a low class product at twice the price. Also one of the girls who worked with me was laid off because she was "too fat" by Dale Wamstad. This guy is a dirtbag! Now I know why his wife shot him 4 times. I felt the same way after working there and I wasn't even married to the guy!
Posted by Ex Employee on April 17, 2009 at 12:09 PM · Report this
sounds like a typical ex employee bitchin about loosing a job. Looks to me like we finally have a perfectionist on our hands. thanks for the advice , I will be going to check this place out. And as for fat chicks and ex employees! I think the met is hiring! Whats wrong with costco beef?
Posted by andy. dales nephew on April 24, 2009 at 12:07 AM · Report this
HE is no CARNIE!!! He is F'n P.T. Barnum!!! And Barnum olny had fat chicks in the freak show not the main show!
Posted by Thaddeus on April 26, 2009 at 8:58 AM · Report this
Andy! Take your RETARDED REDNECK ASS back to Alaska! You are a clueless pussy whipped mamas boy! You know exactly nothing about cooking! The only thing you could do right was to change your daughters diapers in the kitchen and fuck around all day. You were worthless.
The Lost Lady American Cantina Kitchen Staff
Posted by Rice & Beans on May 4, 2009 at 11:57 PM · Report this
Just in case anyone was wondering, this place is closed down. I work at One Union Square and asked the security gaurd what happened after a co-worker and I wandered over there for lunch today. He didn't say anything, just moved his finger across his neck...
Posted by OutToLunch on May 5, 2009 at 4:11 PM · Report this
Dale wamstad is an abusive male chauvinist pig who has so mab=ny people fooled it is pitiful. Greatest CON ARTIST EVER! To all the idiots who revere him. I feel sorry that you are so takenin by his bullshit He is only interested in glorifying himself - He once told me "Fuck, Jesus Christ" m So if he is your great Hero You are all idiots. He ignored his first born son when he was diagnosed with cancer and said that he wished he would die. Real Nice Guy. By the way, He LOST His "defamation lawsuit" because every word was TRUE and the truth is its own DEFENSE. There is a sucker born every minute and Dale knows exactly how to find him Personally, I knbow the restaurants are great because I and my son, Roy helped make it a Success in 1980's I believe Character in person is very important and much more important than consuming a great piece of meat.
Posted by Lena Rumore on February 27, 2010 at 11:21 PM · Report this
This comment is a little late, Dale is a con-artist, with all the success he has, he is not a happy man. He will never rest. He has no peace in his heart. Dale becomes bored with projects and people so he finds something new. He is not the type of person anyone should have a long term relationship with up close. Keep him at a distance and you will do well.
Posted by Truthisfreebutlieswillcostyou on January 5, 2014 at 8:39 AM · Report this

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