It’s been a busy 24 hours on Capitol Hill. Per Eater Seattle, Scott Staples’s relocated and reimagined Restaurant Zoe opened softly at 14th and Union on February 15. Then Capitol Hill Seattle Blog spread the word of another opening—St. John’s Bar and Eatery started welcoming customers Wednesday evening at the Pike Street address previously home to Capitol Hill legacy restaurant Rosebud. Apparently a lot of customers.
“It was the hardest soft opening of my life,” reports partner Val Kiossovski. “We were busy as hell.” Kiossovski and partner Billy Gould also own Solo in Lower Queen Anne. People more badass than myself might know them as members of Kultur Shock and Faith No More respectively.
The watchword here: affordability. “Both my partners and I, we hate expensive places,” says Kiossovski, who also bartended at the Crocodile for ages.
The New American menu is similar in concept to Solo, says Kiossovski, but St. John’s is “more of a dining experience” than its small plate-driven sibling (it’s also about 30 percent larger). Kiossovski spent opening night rushing around, but did find time to sample the menu’s hamburger, which appears alongside mainstays like pasta and roast chicken. The partners brought over Joe Randazzo, who had been cooking at Solo for about two years and recently graduated from Seattle Central Community College’s culinary program.
We discussed Seattle’s newfound penchant for bars that have restaurant-caliber food programs. Kiossovski said his staff hates the word “barstaurant” (so do I: too close to breastaurant) but since he arrived in the U.S. in the early ‘90s, “I have to dine at one place and go drink at another place and it never made sense to me.”
Next week the restaurant plans to deploy a happy hour from 2 to 6 each day, then again from 6 to 10. That food menu will be closer in spirit to Solo, says Kiossovski. On the drinking front, St. John’s has about 10 red and several white wines, selected for their friendly pricing as well as taste, six draft beers, and roughly a dozen bottled offerings. (A house cocktail program is taking shape as well.) And there’s plans for brunch to begin about two months from now. It would be a travesty indeed if the space that once housed Rosebud didn’t offer brunch.