Closing a restaurant is always a somber occasion — and, unfortunately, Seattle saw plenty of places shutter permanently over the past 12 months. But the following closures made a particularly large impact on the dining scene in 2019, whether sad or shocking (or both). They may also have reverberations in the year to come.
This low-key diner had operated at various locations Downtown since the 1930s, serving all-day breakfast with Filipino specialties like ube pancakes with coconut sauce, lumpia, and longsilog. But the most recent owner, Gregorio Rosas, was a victim of rising rents — and had to shut down for good after a fire this summer. At the timing of the closing, there was still hope that Rosas could find another location for Ludi’s at some point.
After 11 years serving up fantastic seasonal fare with global influences, popular Capitol Hill stalwart Poppy closed in August after James Beard-award winning chef Jerry Traunfeld decided to retire. For over a decade, Poppy drew raves and delighted customers on Broadway with Northwest ingredients weaved into Indian cuisine, including Tandoori chicken with cilantro slaw and paneer with maitake mushrooms, all bolstered by marvelous soups, spices, vegetables, and naan. Italian pasta spot Carrello took its place.
This vibrant and versatile Korean barbecue/noodle/parfait restaurant in Capitol Hill — from star chefs Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi — closed in June after five years. Trove received praise from critics for its ambition and style (it landed on Eater Seattle’s list of highest-quality Korean restaurants). Sad as it was to see Trove go, Seattle fans of Yang and Chirchi’s food will still be able to enjoy it at the highly-regarded Joule and the popular Korean street food destination Revel.
In June, this beloved Vietnamese-owned fixture in the Chinatown International District closed its doors after 27 years in business. It was a gut-wrenching loss for many who enjoyed its fantastic Vietnamese sandwiches, coffee, and steam-table specials. It also was perhaps a worrisome sign for the International District’s future, as development continues to encroach on many different neighborhoods and small businesses.
After 11 years serving up souvlaki, seafood, and sizzling saganaki, this Ballard neighborhood favorite closed in June. It was a welcome mainstay in a town that lacks a ton of great Greek restaurants, and was critically praised over the years for its Athenian plates, including octopus marinated in white wine and red wine vinegar, gyro meritha, and eggplant casserole topped with bechamel.
This high-end Korean steakhouse in Pioneer Square served its last dinner in May. The closure was a definitive loss for the Seattle restaurant scene. In 2016, the restaurant was a James Beard Award semifinalist in the Best New Restaurant category and one of the country’s only producers of makgeolli, the cloudy Korean rice beer. It’s long held its own among the area’s best Korean restaurants, noted for its modern twists on classic dishes like the kalguksu with squid ink noodles and japchae with Dungeness crab. Matsu — a sushi spot from the owners of Momiji and Umi Sake House — has since taken over the location.
There are a few more days to eat a meal at this Capitol Hill gem. In September, James Beard Award-winning chef Matt Dillon announced he would close his beloved first restaurant, Sitka & Spruce, in Melrose Market December 31. The spot was known for its popular brunch, which was praised by roving national Eater critic Bill Addison. No word yet on what will replace it, though there will be big shoes to fill.
It’s been almost a year since this successful Seattle-born conveyor belt sushi chain — with seven outposts in Washington and California — closed all its locations suddenly, shocking customers and even its own employees. What made the situation so alarming was that there were plenty of signs that things weren’t going well stretching back years, detailed in this investigative piece. The problems started at the top, and went downhill from there.
Ethan Stowell’s Bramling Cross, Super Bueno, and Marine Hardware
It makes sense to group these together, since Stowell announced that these restaurants would all end service by the end of the year. But it may come as little surprise for those following Stowell’s recent trajectory. In early November, when the chef inked a deal with the Seattle Hospitality Group to free up more cash, he indicated a desire to expand with existing concepts, not one-offs. And Stowell was refreshingly honest in his statement that these spots had “never been as successful as they could be.” This — along with fellow restaurateur Tom Douglas’s recent closing decisions — hint at a sea-change in the city’s dining scene, which may have repercussions for years to come.