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Famed Restaurateur Ethan Stowell Gets Into the Fast-Casual Wok-Fired Bowl Biz

Plus, Tutta Bella goes strawless and a big burger chain plans another expansion

Kigo specializes in rice and noodle bowls, with four locations in Seattle and one in Boston.
Kigo Official

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Ethan Stowell fires up the wok

Famed Seattle restaurateur Ethan Stowell — who owns 12 well-known spots around town, including How to Cook a Wolf, Goldfinch Tavern, and Bramling Cross — is making some big moves. According it Seattle Met, Stowell is in the process of getting into business with Kigo Asian Kitchen, a popular fast-casual chain specializing in wok-fired rice and noodle bowls, with four locations in Seattle and one in Boston. While details are still being finalized, Stowell called the arrangement a “merger” and told the magazine that he wants to help Kigo improve its recipes. Meanwhile, it appears that Kigo CEO Steve Hooper — a Seattle native who opened the chain’s first location in 2013 — will be involved in Stowell’s restaurant group on the business side. Such a deal might make sense, considering that Stowell is planning to open up an outpost for How to Cook a Wolf in New York City down the line and may need some more muscle behind the scenes.

Pizza place ditches its straws, for environment’s sake

Popular wood-fired pizza chain Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria — with five locations around the Seattle area — is taking the next logical step past compostable straws: no straws at all. The restaurant made the announcement that it is going strawless effective immediately, only providing compostable straws to customers upon request. Last summer, the City of Seattle requested that all restaurants provide compostable or recyclable alternatives to straws, dishes, and other disposable items. And Tutta Bella joins a growing trend of restaurants, including mega chains such as Starbucks and McDonald’s, trying to find ways to eliminate straws altogether with special lids. It’s even affected the bubble tea industry.

Massive burger chain readies its new location

Looks like there are some more popular patties coming to town. West Seattle blog reports that the longtime California-based chain Habit Burger Grillwhich has gotten critical praise for its charred Santa Barbara burger — is on the verge of opening up a new spot in the neighborhood on Avalon and 35th Avenue SW, starting with a charity event. This will be the chain’s second location in Seattle, following the spot in Ballard (there’s also one in Shoreline and one in Tukwila). Expect more to be popping up soon, despite heavy competition from popular local chains such as Katsu Burger. According to Forbes, Habit Burger Grill now has 255 locations across the country, and plans on opening about 35 new ones this year.

Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria

4918 Rainier Avenue S, Columbia City, WA 98118 206 721 3501 Visit Website

The Habit Burger Grill

907 NW Ballard Way Ste B-120, Seattle, WA 98107 (206) 659-0756 Visit Website