Could there be room for a little more teriyaki in this town? One new entry to the scene hopes so. A fast casual spot called Grillbird is planning to open its teriyaki-focused restaurant on 35th Ave SW and Morgan Street in early 2020. Owner Matthew Parker — a West Seattle resident — tells Eater that the menu will be “small, but efficient.” All the teriyaki selections will be gluten free and there will be some vegan options, with grilled mixed mushrooms, tofu sourced from Vashon Island, and grilled Chinese greens. There will be online ordering and a delivery app as well.
Grillbird will take over the spot formerly occupied by the California-based chain Winchell’s Donut House, and most recently Pizza Hut. This will be Parker’s first effort at opening a restaurant, although he’s been a creative director and designer for a variety of Seattle spots, including Westward and Great State Burger. Renowned Seattle chef Josh Henderson (who used to own Great State Burger) will lend support, although it’s unclear at this point how involved he’ll be.
When it opens, Grillbird have plenty of competition, since teriyaki is a Seattle comfort food classic. The sticky-sweet Japanese-American dish was popularized by Toshihiro Kasahara at Toshi’s Teriyaki Restaurant in the 1970s, with John Chung putting a popular Korean spin on it. West Seattle in particular is home to a few favorites, including Nikko Teriyaki, a family-owned spot near the junction.
Parker insists that this will not be a chain or an attempt to “elevate” teriyaki — “just your local teriyaki joint made a little more modern,” he says. As Grillbird gets closer to opening, it may be one to watch.
UPDATED, November 4, 2019, 10:51 a.m.: Details about vegan options and Josh Henderson’s involvement have been added to the post.