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A&E >  Food

Chef Tony Brown honors the magical realism of Disney illustrator Eyvind Earle with forthcoming restaurant

Chef Tony Brown poses behind the bar at Ruins on Friday, July 25, 2014. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Chef Tony Brown poses behind the bar at Ruins on Friday, July 25, 2014. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

The color scheme is TBD. So is the rest of the decor and most of the menu.

But construction on Tony Brown’s newest restaurant “will hopefully start in the next week or two.”

The Spokane chef and owner of Ruins, the North Monroe Street eatery that’s known for its small plates and frequently changing menu, is planning to open Eyvind in late spring.

But, he said, “It’s still very, very, very early. I hate trying to pinpoint a date.”

Named for painter Eyvind Earle, known for his works of magical realism such as the background illustrations for animated Disney films in the 1950s, Brown’s latest offering will seat 40 to 45 guests – or just a bit more than Ruins, which has room for 38.

As far as ambiance, “It’s going to be more polished than Ruins,” Brown said, nothing, “The reason it was called Ruins is it was crumbling around me when I got it.”

Brown opened Ruins in an old art deco diner in 2014. It’s since become popular for its ramen nights on Sundays and McRuins night on Mondays as well as ever-changing menu of small plates and creative cocktails.

Eyvind will be located in a 1,800-square-foot first-floor space in the Bickett Building, 225 W. Riverside Ave.

“It was a furniture store from like 1906 to the 1990s,” Brown said. But, “It’s been empty for a long time. It’s just a shell.”

That’s one of the things that excites him about the space.

“This is the first time I’ve been able to start from the ground up and design everything,” Brown said.

Another thing that excites him is the actual location, which is “three doors down from the High Nooner,” where Brown once worked. Brown also worked at Mizuna and owned and operated Stella’s, a beloved sandwich shop, for five years before closing it in early 2017. Today, sandwiches from Stella’s old menu can be found for lunch at Ruins, including the popular banh mi.

Brown sees the potential for growth in the neighborhood of his forthcoming Eyvind, with prospective condos or apartments coming in like the ones on the upper floors of the Bickett. More downtown living would bring more urban foot traffic, Brown said.

Meantime, he has a color scheme to figure out and other decor decisions to make. Not everything will be new, however; there are a couple of vintage elements that will be incorporated, “like the original brick and Douglas fir floors.”

The menu at Eyvind will change, although not as dramatically as the one at Ruins. Brown said he’ll likely switch it up three to four times per year as well as offer seasonal specials with ingredients he picks up at local farmers markets.

“There’s no theme to the restaurant,” he said. “No Southern. No barbecue. No French brasserie.”

The specialty will be seasonal and scratch-made Inland Northwest cuisine spotlighting local ingredients.

“I just want to make the best version of whatever I want to make – whatever floats my boat,” Brown said. “I’m definitely inspired by the Northwest. It’s where I’m from. It’s where I cook.”

Eyvind will also feature a streamlined cocktail program with “super classic” drinks (think Manhattans and gin-and-tonics) as well as four or five taps of “hyperlocal” beer.

Planned hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

There’s metered street parking from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. as well as two nearby pay-for-parking lots bookending the spot, which be open for lunch and dinner most days as well as weekend brunch.

The restaurant’s namesake, who died in 2000 at age 84, joined Disney in 1951. He’s perhaps best known, at least in his Disney days, for the background and styling on “Sleeping Beauty” from 1959. But he also worked on “Peter Pan” and “Lady and the Tramp,” among other animated films.

“He’s a surrealist, basically,” Brown said. “I like his stuff. It’s technical yet whimsical, and there’s a level of virtuosity. And that’s how food should be. It should have a level of virtuosity, and it should be appealing to the eye. I’ve always been influenced by visual stuff. I’m a very visual person.”

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