Canlis 60th Birthday Celebration Honors Northwest Visionary Philanthropies


Canlis, the iconic Seattle restaurant known for its outstanding service, wine and Northwest cuisine, celebrated its 60th birthday, Sunday, December 12, with local influential non-profits, private foundations, artists, business leaders and politicians. The private dinner party focused on the importance of community and generosity. The family used the evening to “give a gift to the city” announcing a $500,000 Matching Campaign for non-profit organizations.

“Alice and I are so proud of our sons for continuing the Canlis legacy of community philanthropy and choosing to celebrate our 60th birthday with those who are making a difference in this community,” said Chris Canlis, son of Canlis founder, Peter Canlis. “The people in this room are the revolutionaries the influencers who are defining Seattle in a new way: by its generosity.”

At the party, the Canlis family gathered with 230 select community pioneers who are making a positive impact on Seattle through living generously. Organizations present included Solid Ground, PATH, Ashoka, Girls on the Run, World Concern, Downtown Seattle Association, Thrive by Five Washington, The Moyer Foundation, Technology Access Foundation (TAF), and Jewish Family Services. Other key individuals and organization at the party included Tom and Jackie Douglas of Tom Douglas Restaurants, Author John Medina and his wife, Kari, Microsoft’s Akhtar Badshah, and Senator Paull Shin.

The evenings’ guests were encouraged to share stories from the heart. As guests looked out at the city, Canlis projected thought-provoking questions on its windows and tray passed questions like appetizers in order to encourage and guide the conversations all night. Questions included: Who are we forgetting to serve? How do we engage difference? Does generosity + awareness = change? How do you define neighbor’ in this global economy?

As one final way to encourage their guests and thank them for playing such a key role in Seattle, the Canlis family reiterated their own commitment to community by launching the Matching Campaign for non-profit organizations. Canlis will match up to $500,000 in gift certificates purchased from the restaurant for donation to any non-profit organization in the city. The Matching Campaign is another way Canlis is encouraging the community to get involved and make a difference.

“Generosity is not a financial word,” said Mark Canlis, owner of Canlis. “The Matching Campaign is the third leg of the stool: the model invites the people of our city to partner with businesses in order to support Seattle’s non-profit movement.” Announcing the gift to the crowd, he stressed the importance of community coming together not apart in hard times, and emphasized “every person has been given something they can be generous with.”

The evenings’ entertainment included music by Thomas Hunter and the Magsouls followed by a moving performance by multi-platinum artist Isaac Slade of The Fray and his wife Anna Slade. The evening concluded with jazz music from award winning artist Stacie Orrico and cellist Phil Petersen.

Canlis’ 60th Birthday has been a multi-staged celebration centered on Seattle generosity, its legacy, and what that means for the city’s future. In addition to the 60th Birthday party, the restaurant concluded the first phase of its menu scavenger hunt, where Seattle-area residents searched daily for one of 50 original Canlis menus and were awarded dinner for two at 1950s prices. On December 31st, the winners from the menu hunt will participate in yet another search, this time for a grand prize of dinner for life. In the spirit of generosity, these participants will be competing for the opportunity to give this dinner for life away every year to a person or charitable organization that embodies the spirit of philanthropy. The Canlis family is also working to compile a book of history, filled with the stories of guests’ special moments and memories at Canlis to be published in 2011.

For more information about Canlis, visit or find them online on Facebook at or Twitter at

Posted 12/17/10.

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