Given the dire state of the industry as the coronavirus pandemic wears on — and on — the number of Seattle restaurant and bar closures since we last tallied at the end of November seems extremely low. Certainly, some apparently temporary closures have already quietly become permanent ones; not every owner wants to weather a tearful public goodbye. And certainly many places are hanging on, locked into leases and hoping they’re less damned if they keep going than if they don’t. The statewide small-business eviction moratorium is helping, though the current expiration date of March 31 looms. A new round of PPP loans may also offer some spots assistance. And there’s hope that with the new Biden administration, more meaningful aid is on the way.
Those who have the means can continue to support our still-extant restaurants by getting takeout and buying gift cards. And everyone can take a moment to urge our senators to work hard and fast for legislation supporting struggling independent chefs and owners. For restaurant workers under duress, the new Seattle Hospitality Worker Emergency Relief Fund, from the city of Seattle and Wellspring Family Services, is offering a round of direct cash assistance for those here who’ve lost jobs or income due to COVID-19 — apply by Feb. 1 at hospitality.wellspringfs.org. It’s up to $2,000 per family. Donations to the fund may be made at give.wellspringfs.org/give/313244.
To the farewells …
The Wandering Goose on Capitol Hill: The fluffy biscuits, the huge wedges of layer cake, the Friday night fried chicken … the neighbors around 15th Avenue East will sorely miss chef Heather Earnhardt’s little shoebox-shaped home for Southern-style baked goods, brunches and more. After eight years — and, Earnhardt calculates, more than one million of those biscuits — the already “precarious economics” of the industry plus the pandemic caused the final closure of the Goose’s doors. Earnhardt will still run the vintage 1885 Tokeland Hotel and its restaurant out on the coast, reopening when it’s safe to do so, and her farewell Facebook post gave copious, appropriate thanks to the staff who kept the Capitol Hill spot going in fantastic form. “I’m going to look back on the past eight years and be nostalgic,” Earnhardt says, “but also blazingly proud of the food we put out — of a 200-square-foot kitchen — and the relationships we formed and carried with us. It’s a heart-wrenching, sad thing to leave, but also a glorious feeling that something new will come out from underneath the biscuit rubble.” Meanwhile, Ethan Stowell of Rione XIII next door (and a few other places) confirms a rumor that he’s taking over the space, with its new use TBA.
Lecosho downtown: After 10 years ensconced halfway up downtown’s Harbor Steps, this cozy favorite for excellent happy hours, upscale suppers and late-night industry decompressing closed its doors forever at the end of 2020. On Facebook, co-owners Jill Buchanan and Matt Janke thanked patrons and staff profusely, saying, “We are truly heartbroken that this chapter must come to a close. Perhaps something wonderful will be born of these ashes. …” They call those who’ve worked there over the last decade family, saying, “We have been fortunate enough to attract true artists in this industry,” with past chefs including Mike Easton of Il Nido. Silver lining: Lecosho’s last chef, Cody Westerfield, may now be found at Frank’s Oyster House & Champagne Parlor.
Feierabend in South Lake Union: This German pub started serving huge plates of wienerschnitzel, big stubs of fried pickles and various vessels of German beer — some so sizable, they were hard to lift — in 2006, back when taking over SLU was just a twinkle in Jeff Bezos’ eye. In a Facebook post, owner Chris Navarra describes fighting to stay afloat over the last year, “but reality sometimes defeats the loftiest efforts.” He continues to operate a number of other pubs around the Pacific Northwest, including the various Prosts!, and says he hopes to resurrect Feierabend — the name roughly means “quitting time” — someday.
Orange King in the University District: After 45 years of serving Huskies, Ave rats and sundry neighborhood denizens, friendly retro-style Orange King is no more. Starting as an Orange Julius knockoff, the place evolved into a stop for burgers and big, cheap plates of teriyaki, fried rice, noodles and more. Vanishing Seattle notes on Instagram that the Korean couple running it became “known for being friendly and generous … asked why they give such huge portions, the owner said they wanted to feed the college kids, knowing they are usually broke.”
Populuxe Brewing in Ballard: After eight years, this capacious dog- and family-friendly place closed with a heartfelt explanation of the hardships of the last year on Instagram, detailing trying all kinds of different service, attempts at negotiating with a landlord who was not to be moved, applying for many kinds of aid and lobbying for more, all to no avail. “This is devastating,” the owners write, “but we find hope in the wonderful support we have received from all of you through the years.” They also note that another craft beverage tenant is already set to move in.
Yoroshiku East in Bellevue: A tucked-away spot popular for its ramen, this izakaya closes permanently on Sunday, Jan. 24, with the owners expressing great appreciation for the support since their May 2019 opening. They hope to see fans at the original location in Wallingford, which remains up and running with the motto: “Yoroshiku prepares from the heart and serves from the soul.”
Neon Boots in Belltown: After three years and many naked selfies taken in the red-lit bathroom, this Belltown bar has called its very last call. “Seattle, it was an honor and a privilege …” the Boots said via Instagram. “Thank you to everyone who ever came by and spent time here. … We love you and don’t you ever change.”