Roughing It

Chris Svalesen is doing his best to keep 36 Degrees afloat. Now it's time to do your part.

Former Fish restaurant chef Chris Svalesen is trying everything--anything--to bring cash flow into his 36 Degrees seafood restaurant. He's opened The Net Result, his fresh seafood market attached to the restaurant, and he's been serving dinner and Sunday brunch for at least a month now. Svalesen launched lunch service last week, and he's jumped into the thick of the holiday catering frenzy.

All of this out of a restaurant that's a half-million dollars from completion. "I feel like we're a bunch of used-car salesmen," Svalesen says of the lengths he and his crew have gone to to get their veins flowing green. But they're more like gourmet squatters.

To finish the restaurant, Svalesen is selling off some of his shares in 36 Degrees to pump into the dining room. He's also being resourceful. The windows of the Lemmon Avenue space that was once home to Venus Supper Club have been boarded up with plywood. Yet Svalesen has installed tables and chairs next to the timber for patio seating. To help mask the under-construction ambiance, he had a painter create a rough-hewn brick faux finish over the wood. He's also converted the bus and service stations in front of the kitchen into dining nooks through the use of billowing muslin, snaking Italian lights and purple draperies. The narrow threshold leading to the indoor seating, which used to be a closet, even has a guest book.

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Through this sleight of hand, Svalesen has cobbled together a 62-seat-of-the pants seafood restaurant. "It's campy a little bit, huh?" he says with a shrug. Say what you will about this seafood specialist, he has guts. On a tour through the dining room, which is little more than concrete and wall guts, Svalesen points out the bar and circular sushi bar locations with a wave of his hand. But it's difficult to track with his vision. The room is pitch black, and Svalesen doesn't know where the light switches are.

What he does know is the complexion of the menu. It includes such provocative items as a Mediterranean squid and baby octopus salad and Norwegian arctic char. He even has a tight little wine list that's among the most reasonably priced in the city. So help Svalesen's cash flow and stop by 36 Degrees for a campy lunch, brunch or dinner. Or perhaps you can have him cater your holiday events with a flotilla of live Maine lobsters and Dungeness crabs. Or if you really want to lend him a hand, purchase a doryful of 36 Degrees shares. Do something--anything--before he puts a sushi bar on the roof.

 
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