This fall, a longtime French favorite will bid its adieu. After more than 15 years, Belltown’s Boat Street Kitchen & Bistro announced it plans to close permanently November 15 due to the challenges brought on by the pandemic. The business is currently on the market.
“This was not a thoughtless or hasty decision for our team to make and it pains us deeply to close the place that we’ve considered our home for so long,” the restaurant’s statement read. “The financial strain of the necessary ‘stay home - stay safe’ order, coupled with the general turmoil of 2020 events has forced our hand.”
Since it opened at its Western Ave location in 2005, Boat Street Kitchen has been a reliable neighborhood fixture, serving up comforting French-influenced bistro fare, such as organic chicken liver pate and amaretto bread pudding with butter rum cream sauce, earning kudos from critics for its warm ambience and approachable food.
But its roots go back even further than that. The Kitchen was a sibling enterprise to the acclaimed Boat Street Cafe, which launched the career of chef Renee Erickson after she purchased the restaurant in 1998. When Erickson moved the Cafe from its former U District location to the Belltown/Lower Queen Anne area, she and the Cafe’s original owner, Susan Kaplan, opened the Kitchen as a joint venture (although the Kitchen also operated out of Sophie’s Donuts, which Kaplan owned, two years prior).
The Cafe closed in 2015, but its more casual daytime counterpart carried on under Kaplan’s stewardship, growing its size and adding dinner service, in addition to brunch, while still maintaining the inviting, rustic atmosphere that made the Boat Street name such a draw. The Kitchen has also hosted cooking classes in the space over the years — and even expanded the program to France, which is currently still a go, despite the closure.
“Boat Street in France resumes in February,” Kaplan tells Eater Seattle. “And, we are contemplating a combined France/US virtual holiday cooking class in December, but we haven’t set a date.” In the meantime, the other regular classes at the restaurant are on hold.
During the pandemic, Boat Street Kitchen has shifted to several different takeout offerings, including buttermilk biscuits, twice-baked shrimp, and even some to-go mimosa kits. But the restaurant’s team said that trying to stay afloat meant that everyone was working “over capacity” and it simply wasn’t sustainable moving forward. The owners directed diners to keep an eye on the official site for status updates about the sale of the restaurant and possible upcoming projects.
“We will be open for the next month to give everyone time to come in to say goodbye to the place that has been important to so many,” said the statement from the restaurant. “We are hoping this next month will be a celebration of all the lives that have passed through our doors, all the events we were blessed to be part of, and all the crave-worthy meals.”