Don’t panic about the most recent restaurant closures — this is still booming New Seattle. Since our last tally, six new bars and 20 new restaurants have opened in the city, plus about two dozen more on the Eastside, North and South End combined. In closed/not-closed news, star chef Renee Erickson has revamped Saint Helens Cafe in the Laurelhurst-Bryant area, which she acquired last year, and changed the name to Bistro Shirlee, after her mom. And one shutdown we won’t count here, but that’s nonetheless noteworthy for the Seattle food scene: Erickson pulled the plug on the Los Angeles branch of General Porpoise, her chain of upscale doughnut shops, after just six months. The L.A. edition of General Porpoise represented Erickson’s foray out of state; business partner Jeremy Price cited low sales and “an unsustainable situation” in the new Palisades Village shopping center vis-à-vis the shutdown.
Neon Taco on Capitol Hill: Chef Monica Dimas’ taqueria housed inside the Broadway bar Nacho Borracho is no more. With plans to concentrate on the bigger First Hill branch, counterintuitively called Little Neon Taco, as well as to expand her Westman’s Bagel operation, “It was just too much,” she says. But she “loved the opportunity that having the Neon Taco and Tortas Condesa windows gave me” — Dimas also gave up the latter space in February — “a nontraditional way to have my own voice in the restaurant world.” But, true to New Seattle form, Tortas Condesa has already been replaced with chef Taylor Cheney’s Middle Eastern Yalla, while the taco window inside Nacho Borracho has already become chef Ricardo Valdez’s El Xolo, serving “Alta-Northwest Mexican street food.”
Nollie’s in South Lake Union: One sad tipster says, “RIP to Nollie’s, one of South Lake Union’s lone establishments with any heart and soul (and the best damn breakfast sandwiches you’ll find anywhere).” Silver lining: Another writes, “[Owners] Dan and Sue said they’re thinking about moving to Hawaii, where they have friends, and opening a shave ice stand or something. Sounds so perfect for them.”
Harry’s Chicken Joint in West Seattle: If you never tried the excellent fried chicken at this sweet spot, it’s too late now — owner Bruce Cougan is retiring. “I am happy and proud to say,” he writes, “that our quality only became better over the years and that we were able to step aside while we still loved the people and the process.” Best to him!
Ballard Loft in Ballard: Owners Dan and Erin Murphy posted on Facebook to say goodbye on behalf of the Loft, after more than 11 years. “We have collected so many great memories …” they wrote, “and hope that you all have as well” — and from the 90-plus comments, it sounds like many fans did.
Roy Street Coffee & Tea on Broadway: This oddball Starbucks-in-disguise “concept cafe” finally bit the dust, with a big “RETAIL SPACE AVAILABLE” sign in the window now. (Only one other ever existed, on nearby 15th; it closed in 2017.) A spokesperson writes, “we continually evaluate our business to ensure a healthy store portfolio,” etc.
Red Lantern in Chinatown-International District: There’s no info to be found about the closure of this place for Northern Chinese and Korean food, but according to a sign on the door, there’s “Traditional HotPot Coming Soon!!!”
B’s Po Boy on Alki: According to Facebook, they’d planned to close for the month of January, then reopen, but a sign then read: “We regret to announce that we have made the decision to permanently close … Thank you to those who regularly supported us.” The owners did not return a message asking why.
Engimono Ramen in Northgate: In its last days, according to a tipster, a server at the short-lived ramen-and-izakaya spot said the reason for its imminent demise was that maybe the space was too big — and that at the moment there were no plans to relocate.