Some of the saddest stories in Seattle restaurant closures this year already have happy endings. Of course, there’s the saga of Paseo: the overnight shutdown, the citywide freak-out, the revelation of a lawsuit filed by former employees, the bankruptcy and — finally, to sandwich-lovers’ tremendous relief — the imminent reopening by new owner Ryan Santwire, as soon as humanly possible.
Fans of Georgetown’s Katsu Burger also went to food hell and back in 2014. After just a few years, Hajime Sato shuttered his Japanese hamburger spot, saying regretfully that he couldn’t maintain consistent quality. (He was also busy with his popular West Seattle sustainable-sushi restaurant, Mashiko.)
Enter Katsu heroine Stephanie Kang, who bought the place and reopened in short order, then quickly brought another branch to Bellevue (replacing her own Kimchi Amigos near Factoria). Now the ridiculous Mt. Fuji burger — panko-fried patties of beef, chicken and pork, plus ham, bacon, egg, cheese, more — is available for attempted surmounting on both sides of the lake.
Stellar Pizza, a longtime favorite also in Georgetown, weathered a similar cycle: shutdown, general outcry, reopening under new ownership, relief.
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Capitol Hill’s Lark closed for approximately five minutes, opening as planned in a bigger, arguably even more beautiful space a few blocks away. Those who miss the intimacy of the 12th Avenue Lark can console themselves with the fact that it’s easier to get a table now, and that the new edition has a bar (called Bitter Raw), and that it’ll also soon have a sandwich counter (called Slab Sandwiches + Pie).
If that’s not enough, the old Lark space will temporarily house the great Cafe Juanita — starting Feb. 4 — while its Kirkland home gets a remodel. (The Kirkland location will be closed starting Jan. 1.) If anything could be better than Lark inside the old Lark space, this might be it.
Jason Stratton’s downtown Aragona closed somewhat mysteriously after less than a year, having been touted as the culmination of his “longstanding relationship with and love of Spanish cuisine and culture.” That love was apparently star-crossed. But fans of his Capitol Hill Italian restaurant, Spinasse, were happy: Aragona became Italian too, under the new name Vespolina.
In the category of places closing down to become probably-even-better places, there’s Marché. It was sad that Marché, the second iteration of the storied Campagne, just wasn’t as great, but the news that Seattle sushi master Shiro Kashiba will open his own place there in 2015 is little short of awesome. And while the Ballard Azteca was mourned by few, plenty of people are excited for its replacement, the Hotel Albatross — a collaboration from the owners of Ocho and Hazelwood, with Ocho’s chef Chris Howell running the kitchen, slated to open in time for New Year’s Eve.
The small Fremont storefront that used to be Dot’s — Miles James’ deli-then-bistro that didn’t survive 2014 — will soon be home to a Japanese restaurant called Suga. Suga is the pet project of Eriko Sugawara, who’s owned the Benihana downtown for the past 18 years. She’ll be serving “Japanese family comfort food,” she says, promising, “It’s going to be fun — it’s not a franchise, it’s all my own.” Target for opening is the end of January. And over where the beloved Malay Satay Hut used to be in the International District/Chinatown, a Szechuan place called O’Yeah Asian Food is newly open. Chef/owner David Ding formerly owned O’Yeah Cafe in Houston; the Seattle O’Yeah has a karaoke room.
Other notable area closures over the past year include Cormac Mahoney’s Madison Park Conservatory (it seemed perfect for its tony neighborhood, but Mahoney said the stars didn’t align) and Belle Clementine in Ballard (an experiment in communal-table dining that only persisted for two years; the space is now Porkchop & Co.). Two family-friendly Chinese favorites also departed after decades: Ballard’s Louie’s Cuisine of China and Perry Ko’s, originally on Beacon Hill, then in Bellevue.
Regardless of whether you ever attempted to eat at Bruno’s Mexican-Italian Restaurant & Pizzeria on Third Avenue, its demise after four decades meant the loss of a downtown landmark; it was, at the least, an anti-corporate haven for any and all. (Another bastion of Seattle weirdness lost in 2014: the Erotic Bakery, after almost three decades of explicit baked goods.)
And speaking of local landmarks/havens, you have until New Year’s Day to pay your respects to the Hurricane Cafe before it goes away. After two decades, 24-7, as the Hurricane — and, before that, as the Dog House and the Bohemian Continental, for almost 100 years of continual service — owner Neil Scott has lost his lease. Who’s taking it over and tearing it down? Acorn Development LLC, which, while it sounds like a cute little outfit, happens to be an affiliate of Amazon. Happy New Year, everybody.