In yet more closure news, the Seattle location of Oregon-based vegan deli Ben and Esther’s is shutting down at the end of the year, reports Capitol Hill Seattle Blog. According to CHS, the owners are blaming in part the high cost of labor and rent:
“Like many other restaurants, we’re at the point where we just don’t see a sustainable path forward. The writing’s on the wall, and numbers don’t lie,” the small chain’s statement said. “Rent and labor have been double what they are in our other shops, but we’re only seeing half the amount of business.”
When the deli opened on Capitol Hill last year, it was part of owner Justin King’s plan to start a chain of vegan Jewish delis (there’s another location in San Diego). But evidently, Seattle hasn’t proved as fertile a ground for the concept as King hoped.
That’s a shame, because vegan or non-vegan, there aren’t that many Jewish delis in Seattle. Zylberschtein’s in Pinehurst is a standout — it might be most famous for its bagels, but it also has matzo ball soup, pastrami, smoked fish, and challah on Fridays. Not too far away from Ben and Esther’s is Dingfelder’s, which has an extensive sandwich menu plus knishes, latkes, and everything else you could want.
Other than that... there’s not much out there. On its website, Dingfelder’s cites “the sheer lack of foods of our heritage” as one reason it opened in 2018. Schmaltzy’s in Ballard closed last year, taking its latke sandwiches with it, limiting the options even further. And none of the delis mentioned here (including Ben and Esther’s) are certified kosher — even a Jewish-oriented travel site admits there isn’t much here for visitors who want to eat out and keep kosher.
Ben and Esther’s has teased the possibility of a return — “We’ll continue to look at more viable spaces and hope to return in the not-so-distant future,” owners told CHS — but beyond that, maybe 2024 will bring Seattle some more Jewish delis? We hope?