Five of them are the with-zero-notice shutdown of all the branches of Blue C Sushi — and this look at closures so far this year also contains more sad surprises. But there's a silver lining here and there, too.
Here’s a look at Seattle restaurant closures so far in the new year: 13 of them, with some sudden shutdowns, dramatic eviction notices and fewer tortas (but more bagels on the way). But if you’re thinking a baker’s dozen is a lot, consider how many restaurant openings we’ve already seen in the first six weeks of the year in and around Seattle: 43 total (including the massively popular international chain Liuyishou Hotpot in Bellevue, which sounds really good right about now).
Tortas Condesa on Capitol Hill: After three-plus years, fans have until the end of February to get one (or many) more of Tortas Condesa’s potentially lifesaving sandwiches along Olive Way’s strip of bars — then the lease expires, and chef Monica Dimas will let the space go. The good news: Dimas’ tortas will still be available at her other two spots, Neon Taco (not far away, inside Nacho Borracho on Broadway) and Little Neon Taco (on First Hill — and one of our top new places from last year). And more good news: Dimas says the “new things on the horizon” mentioned on Facebook means a multifaceted expansion of her popular-but-currently-tiny bagel stand Westman’s (another of our 2018 top spots — and never fear, she says the little Madison location will stay open).
Vine & Spoon and Alchemy in West Seattle: This upscale restaurant-and-bar pair joins Capitol Hill sibling By the Pound/Bar Justice in apparent permanent closure, with all three having received eviction notices and collectively owing back rent mounting into hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to court records. Chef Larkin Young was originally on board in West Seattle but departed; a recent communiqué about the sibling Capitol Hill spot indicated that “a new strategic partner” had joined parent company F2T Hospitality “excited” to reopen. All three remain closed. PR representatives did not respond to a request for comment, while Katherine Benjamin, F2T’s director of operations, says she cannot offer any enlightenment, is no longer with the company and has no information about anyone who is.
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Community Table in South Lake Union: In Seattle’s Amazonland, not even a FareStart place called Community Table is safe — after just a year and a half, the largest of the nonprofit’s three South Lake Union restaurants has folded. FareStart says the crowds just didn’t show up at that location to support its James Beard Award-winning efforts to provide restaurant-industry job training to those in Seattle who are homeless and disadvantaged. Bright side: The organization’s airy, elegant full-serve Maslow’s remains open, and its nearby Rise cafe will expand — and an Amazon rep says the company will “continue pouring resources” into FareStart’s mission.
Dexter Brewhouse in South Lake Union/Westlake: In another Amazon-adjacent casualty, Dexter Brewhouse made a “voluntary decision to close,” thanking “the South Lake Union community” for its “continuous support.” That’s a nice sentiment, but the place had struggled from the beginning, when it was called Mollusk and included chef Travis Kukull. The name and the chef departed after less than a year, and now brewmaster Cody Morris has, too — Washington Beer Blog reports that while Dexter Brewing’s sibling Magnuson Cafe & Brewery will remain open, Morris is moving on to open a brewery in Shelton, Mason County.
Blue C Sushi across the Seattle area: This one came out of nowhere, with all five branches of the local conveyor-belt sushi chain shutting down with zero notice. As my colleague Tan Vinh reported, an email to employees cited financial problems, and records indicate that Blue C Sushi’s parent company has a history of falling behind on its taxes, owing $194,957 as recently as 2016. Sympathies to the employees, some of whom turned up for work to find locked doors.
Dad’s Diner A Go Go in Eastlake: This second branch of what appears to be a very successful Anacortes place opened just this past September. The owners write on Facebook, “It’s tough to leave and not be heartbroken … but we failed. There is no one else to blame. Not our management, our staff or our landlord. Just us.” They cite “a lot of circumstantial set backs, hurdles and mountainous road blocks,” and thank Seattle for its “love, support, criticism and honesty.” Yikes.
Bick’s Broadview Grill in Broadview: This longtime neighborhood joint appears to have closed for good at the new year, with no further information available. Seattle Times reader/tipster Carl says, “Darn it. Big loss.”
Gordon Biersch downtown: After many years on the top floor of Pacific Place, the immense Seattle edition of this chain brewery has departed, saying simply, robotically, “Thank you for your loyalty … If you have any remaining Passport Rewards you can redeem them at any Gordon Biersch nationwide.”
Scout downtown: Seattle’s Thompson Hotel has closed its restaurant for “an extensive refresh,” promising to return in the spring with an “entirely new concept” with a “provocative new restaurant name” — whatever that may mean — under the same executive chef, Derek Simcik.
Birch in South Lake Union: Chef Jeffrey Kessenich’s weekends-only, $80 prix-fixe restaurant at the Kois Center (a dental school, for which he’s also the chef) is currently closed, but will host pop-up happy hours and dinner this spring, returning to its regular schedule in June, according to the website.