James Beard-nominated chef Rachel Yang has announced “with a heavy heart” that she’s closing Trove, her restaurant on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. Open since 2014, the Korean barbecue spot — and the place to get the city’s best rice cake, all crispy-chewy and served with gingery Northern Thai-style curry — will have its last dinner service on Sunday, June 30.
“I can talk about the financials on paper, analyze the reviews and head count or sales per square foot,” Yang says of the shutdown. “I have questioned many things and blamed on situations, but to someone else, it could just sound like bunch of excuses. What we offered at Trove simply didn’t align with people’s expectations.”
Yang says that she’s grateful to “served many happy customers and created terrific dishes,” calling the five-year run “an incredible experience.” But despite working “to make Trove relevant” — including a major menu shift — “This industry is tough and this wasn’t our turn.” The closure, she says, “reminds us not to take anything for granted.” The Trove space will be a home for pop-ups, cooking classes, and private dinners for the time being, according to Yang. She and her husband, Seif Chirchi, carry on with their other two Seattle places, Joule (on our recent list of “10 Essential Seattle restaurants“) and Revel (currently in South Lake Union), as well as their Portland restaurant, Revelry. “We are lucky to have two amazing boys, three amazing restaurants and a lot of people who still enjoy our food,” Yang says.
A top Seattle chef shutting down a place on prime Pike/Pine corridor real estate, plus 17 more Seattle restaurant and bar closures since our last goodbye roundup in May — it sounds like a lot. But wait: Since then, we’ve also seen 42 new restaurants open in the city — plus 41 more to the north, south and on the Eastside. Oh, and three new bars around town, two more bars on Capitol Hill, two taprooms, two natural wine bars and a sake bar from Mutsuko Soma (who, by the way, also just became one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs 2019). And, per usual, some of the closures come right back as yet more new restaurants and bars. … So the sky remains aloft for the Seattle restaurant industry.
In case you missed it, we listed Broadway favorite Aoki as closed a while back, but a new owner has kept it as-is — and intends to add more ramen options. And if you heard that beloved Belltown dive Shorty’s is closing and commenced mourning, hold on: Owner Avout Vander Werf tells (great) local pinball zine Skill Shot that it’s just relocating one block north. Moving day is July 12, so there’s still time to have a last Chicago dog at the original location.
Travelers Thali House on Beacon Hill: A tipster wrote “through tears” to report that this popular vegetarian Indian spot, originally on Capitol Hill, is gone. From a long letter on the website explaining the labyrinthine road to the end, it sounds like tears were involved for the owners, too. RIP, Travelers — but the silver lining here is that chef Melissa Miranda‘s new contemporary Filipino restaurant will take over the space, and she hopes that the transition will be a swift one.
Little Kitchen in the University District: This family-run little kitchen with its funny little dining area on the Ave was one of our favorite new places of 2018. Owners Hui Yu and Tian Liu were doing it the old-school way, making all the Northern Chinese food themselves, and according to their son I-Miun Liu, “It was just too much work. … It just kind of wore on them.” They decided that instead of simplifying the menu, they’d simplify their lives, he says; they’ve sold the spot, which should soon be home to another Chinese restaurant. (Meanwhile, Liu is still running the revamped Dynasty Room, which he says now will likely carry on in some form through the end of the year — stay tuned for more on that.)
Crow in Lower Queen Anne: If you’re reading this before June 22, there’s still time to make it to this favorite neighborhood bistro to say farewell after “an incredible 15 years!” If you’re reading this after that date, the owners would surely welcome you at Betty, their like-minded place atop Queen Anne, which remains open.
Hamansu downtown: It was part of the Benihana chain for many, many shrimp-flipped-atop-toque years, then in 2016, the family running it changed the name. Now they’ve said goodbye via Facebook: “Arigato — it’s how we end each experience, thanking you for supporting us. Unfortunately today was our last night doing what we love. We are so grateful that we were a part of your celebrations and traditions for nearly 50 years, it was truly our pleasure.”
Green Leaf in North Seattle: While the longtime Chinatown International District and Belltown locations remain open, the newer Aurora outlet of this Vietnamese place is gone, and the Bellevue edition closed recently too. The owner did not return a call inquiring about the circumstances.
Georgetown Deli and Market in Georgetown: Bainbridge Island-based chef Brendan McGill sold his Hitchcock Deli Georgetown to the general manager there earlier this year, but it appears the replacement has already faltered, with the door locked, deli cases empty and mail scattered on the floor. Condolences for what looks like a tough one.
A La Vida Tapas on Capitol Hill: The owner of what used to be called Itto’s Tapas (a second branch still exists in West Seattle) recently sold this little spot on Summit to its manager, but the new iteration lasted only about a month, ending with a very sad sign on the door: “Unfortunately, we didn’t make it and are now closed. Thank you for your support.”
Seattle Deli in Little Saigon: The venerable Vietnamese to-go (and my personal banh mi go-to) spot has gone, with Eater Seattle reporting that the owner sold the building to a developer and is seeking a new space somewhere nearby. Sigh.
Papas Hot Potatoes in Phinney Ridge: “Like the Mighty Icarus we flew too close to the Spud based Sun,” says this vegan baked-potato place. After less than a year, they closed at the end of May, with the owner telling My Ballard that the decision was to focus on family.
Brass Knuckle Bistro in White Center: The owner of this newish sandwich shop explained on Facebook that while business had “been good and getting better,” the managing aspects combined with personal circumstances precipitated the closure. The good news, according to West Seattle Blog, is that local mini-chain Biscuit Bitch is on the way.
Girin in Pioneer Square: This upscale Korean place will reopen anytime now with “a new Japanese sushi & steak concept,” according to an Instagram post.
Belltown Pub in Belltown: After nine years in business, the owners expressed “immense sadness” in a heartfelt Facebook post, citing “ever-rising costs” for the closure, and thanking their family of employees and regulars.
Westcity Sardine Kitchen in West Seattle: Commenters on West Seattle Blog mourned the loss of this almost 6-year-old neighborhood favorite; no information on what happened is available.
CaliBurger in the University District: This franchise of the In-N-Out-style chain seemed to struggle from the start, but a rep for the company says it’s being relocated to Westlake Center — opening “within a month or so … [with] all of our technology platforms to include self-ordering kiosks featuring Facial Recognition” (!) — and that the Alderwood mall location is “enjoying a robust business.”
Il Fornaio downtown: After 20 years at Pacific Place, the Seattle iteration of the California-based upscale Italian chain “unfortunately” is no more, according to a Facebook post. The corporate office did not return an inquiry about why.
Cupcake Royale on Upper Queen Anne: One location has closed, but five more are still there to serve all your cupcake needs.
El Camion in Ballard: “The Overlords have ‘decided’ Ballard needs more apartments, and less tacos …” the website says, but: “We want to KEEP SLINGING TACOS in Ballard SO WE ARE!” The 15th Avenue Northwest location is no more, but you may get a taco slung at you at the new El Camion at 4301 Leary Way N.W.
Trellis in Kirkland: The restaurant in the Heathman shut down for a minute but has already reopened as Hearth — same chef, but now featuring “an approachable menu of American fare,” meaning less spendy than Trellis.