Vegan baked potato bar Papas Hot Potatoes closed in Ballard after service on Friday, May 31. The business is now for sale, according to the restaurant’s website. Papas, which opened in October, lasted only seven months serving build-your-own baked potatoes with all-vegan toppings.
Chef Chris Blanco didn’t respond by press time to Eater’s request for comment on the decision to close his restaurant. But he told My Ballard the decision was a personal one. “My wife and I have a baby on the way this Fall, so I’ll be working a day job with a structured schedule for now so I can focus on being a new parent,” he said. “Running a small business like our neighborhood cafe has been rewarding and wonderful in many ways. We’re super grateful to all of our supporters and fans of our food.”
Blanco opened Papas in place of his previous restaurant, Stock, which served lunch and brunch menus dominated by Southeast Asian flavors. Blanco admitted it was a strange switcheroo, but told Eater it reflected the recent changes in his own life and diet.
“It is a bit bizarre, really, but life is strange and surprising. I loved Stock, and greatly appreciate all of our wonderful customers,” he said. But “I was presented with health challenges chronic and verging on serious, I wanted to try eating a different way. My switch over the past year to a whole food plant-based [diet] has benefited my health and well-being in incredible ways. I can’t ever remember having this much energy or focus, and while it can’t all be attributed to a dietary choice, it has served as a catalyst in many ways.”
Papas customers had access to five signature baked potato combinations, named for famous paintings, like the Mona, with a Washington-grown russet, smoky red chili, queso vegano, and pickled onions, or named for famous artists, like the Picasso, with New Mexico green chiles, sour cashew cream, and chopped red cabbage. Customers could also build their own combos with a local russet potato, a white sweet potato, or cauliflower rice as the base and further add-ons, like garlic aioli, coconut bacon chips, pickled beets, and guacamole.