Critic's Notebook

A Beloved Seattle Restaurant Shuts Its Doors

A closure so devastating, fans circulate a petition to bring it back.

By Kathryn Robinson May 20, 2013

The biscuits, sniff.

It happened over a month ago—entirely without fanfare. “After a successful run in our U-District location, the day has come for us to announce that Nook served its last breakfast sandwich and closed its doors on April 14th,” read the post on Nook’s website.

No warning; no Rover’s-like runup to D-Day with calls for one last biscuit, one more “this-time-it’s-final” extended month of service. Owner and chef Aki Woodward didn’t want that, according to the guy who took over the space on the Ave, Kekoa Chin-Hidano. “She couldn’t stand that people would be sad,” he said.

And, uh—people are sad. Nook, in its tiny two-year life, garnered more adulation from more quarters than any ridiculously undersized restaurant that only serves biscuits, or mostly serves biscuits, has any right to expect. Lines formed. Biscuits sold out. (Those things just about daily.) Anthony Bourdain vaulted Nook into the gastronomic stratosphere—alongside, you know, Canlis—when he and his Layover crew came to call.

For our part, we came often for biscuits that were fluffy and crisp-edged and substantial, slathered with jam or Nutella and bananas or sausage gravy or, God help us, brisket. They were so good we sort of designed last spring’s New Breakfast cover story around them. (That chalkboard in the shot you just clicked on was Nook’s.)

Now they’re history.

“She was burned out,” Chin-Hidano reports, saying that when Woodward's partner Alex Green left to take another job, she resolved to carry the whole Nook enchilada herself. “She didn’t want to hire anyone because she was unsure about whether this newfound popularity would last, and she wasn’t willing to risk someone else’s future just to eliminate stress.” Chin-Hidano, who had for a few months been operating his coffee business within Nook, stepped up as buyer. “She kept the biscuit recipes and the name,” he says. “I couldn’t afford those!”

The new spot, Sound Coffee and Morsel, also serves biscuits, off a recipe its owner and his chef worked hard to develop. They’ve only been open a couple of weeks, so we’re not reviewing them yet.

But old habits die hard. Here’s what appeared not long ago on the online petition site, change.org. “We, the people of the University District, petition the owners of Nook to recognize the community support and reopen.”

The petition by UW student Kartik Rishi continued: “The Nook has been a staple in the University District for quality artisan biscuits and coffee and we’ve had the distinct pleasure to see it grow in popularity both locally and nationally. It’s hard to imagine a world without Nook :)”

Now I’ve seen some obsessive restaurant love in my day—fans who made the closures of institutions like Adriatica and Saleh al Lago and Le Gourmand big soppy love-fests. But a petition is something I’ve never seen—especially one with a happy face.

R.I.P. Nook.

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