When Tom Douglas closed his beloved Palace Kitchen in March 2020, amid a lot of other restaurant closures, it was a sign of how serious the pandemic was getting, and also a taste of the series of rolling disasters that were about to hit downtown Seattle. At the time, Douglas told the Seattle Times that he was hoping to close most of his restaurants for “eight to 12 weeks.” Obviously that was a bit optimistic.
Three years later, the Palace Kitchen is finally reopening and will have its first night of service this Saturday, April 22.
The press release announcing this return emphasized that this is more than another coming-out-of-the-pandemic reopening, but a symbol of downtown’s revitalization. “The whole team is keen on seeing downtown blossom back into the dynamic neighborhood we’re nostalgic for,” Eric Tanaka, Douglas’s managing partner, said.
In its heyday, the old-school establishment (opened in 1996) was a centerpiece of Belltown and a late-night industry hangout spot where cooks and bartenders would come after their shifts. When it closed, The Stranger’s Christopher Frizzelle wrote this about his favorite restaurant:
Everyone who’s been to Palace Kitchen knows how great it is. A golden glow pervades the place, emanating from the kitchen. The bar is in the center of the room, with seating on either side. The whole idea of Palace Kitchen is that this is where palace servants gather to feast and play, which explains that giant oil painting of a palace kitchen. The cooks all wear mechanics’ jumpsuits—and they include, sometimes, Tom Douglas himself, the man with three James Beard awards.
As it reopens, the Palace Kitchen won’t maintain its former late-night hours, though the kitchen will serve food until midnight and the bar will remain open until 1 a.m. Initially, it will be open from Wednesday until Sunday, with plans for it eventually to be a seven days a week place. (Imagine that, a Belltown restaurant open on Mondays!) It’s bringing back all its iconic dishes, like the tiered cheeseburger, the stuffed plin pasta, and the whole trout that servers fillet at your table.
As for the “revitalizing downtown” thing, that’s out of even Tom Douglas’s hands. As the Times noted last week, there should be more out-of-towners coming into Seattle for cruises and conferences, and Amazon’s remaining post-layoff office workers will be back in their spheres come May. Will that lead to a lot more diners? Douglas is apparently hopeful, and if the Palace Kitchen’s reopening goes well he’ll be reopening the Neb Wine Bar soon, the Times reported.
Update April 19 12:19 p.m.: This piece has been updated to reflect the new opening date of April 22.