These year-end farewells to fallen restaurants have taken on a somber new tenor since the pandemic. I couldn't bring myself to quantify 2020's losses, to be honest. This year, we said farewell to some stalwarts, some shooting stars, and some places whose decision, more or less, had nothing to do with our current inhospitable hospitality hellscape. Other places merely made permanent the shuttering implemented at the start of the pandemic. Either way, raise a glass in memory of the following places that won't be coming with us to 2022.
Sun and Erin Hong’s tiny counter in Chophouse Row hit Seattle with gale-force creativity in 2019, earned a James Beard semifinalist nod, then demonstrated admirable hustle in the era of pandemic takeout. But the Hongs announced their final service February 23. As of early December, they were still looking for a new location.
The collective sigh of thousands of parents in need of children’s birthday cakes doesn’t reverberate nearly as much as losing one of the few remaining anchors from the Italian community that once anchored Rainier Valley. Remo Borracchini’s was a tangible connection to the days when that part of town was known as “Garlic Gulch.” On March 20, the century-old bakery announced its pandemic closure was permanent.
Technically it shut the doors back in March 2020 with all its fellow Tom Douglas restaurants. But one year later, the restaurateur announced that one of the restaurants that gave the Northwest a signature style of cuisine wasn’t coming back. Now the space holds Douglas’s Serious Pie and an expanded Dahlia Bakery. It’s a deeply enjoyable evolution, actually. But here’s to three decades of five-spice rotisserie duck, black cod, and coconut cream pie (okay, you can still get that over at the bakery).
Little Neon Taco
Fans shed actual tears to lose this 17-year-old Mexican restaurant. Though, in a slight silver lining—at least it wasn’t for pandemic reasons? Co-owners Andres and Maria Rodriguez wanted to retire, thus the April 25 farewell. The space recently reopened as Jackalope, serving Tex-Mex fare under the care of Jack Timmons.
The permanent closure of this handsome house of manly meat inside Hotel Max leaves a hole in that highly visible pocket of downtown at the edge of Denny Regrade. The Seattle Times parsed its evolution in ownership after cofounders Jason and Nicole Wilson split up.
After attempting takeout and even a burger, Edouardo Jordan shuttered his very first restaurant July 3. The Seattle Times investigation into the chef was published less than a week after his announcement. Preeti Agarwal opened Kricket Club here this past fall.
Not a closure so much as a pivot, from avant garde beer bar to chillax-ready neighborhood tavern, complete with sports memorabilia and Big Buck Hunter. (And some great cocktails on draft, in keeping with owners Chris Elford and Anu Apte’s broader bar universe.)
Another one in the annals of pandemic-era pivots. Restaurateur Michael Mina overhauled his wine-focused French restaurant downtown to become the seventh location of his Bourbon Steak concept. Bourbon Steak opened in October with a softly revamped dining room and chef Adam Reece in the kitchen.
Luc (and Loulay)
Madison Park (and Downtown)
This summer, Seattle found itself without a Thierry Rautureau restaurant for the first time since 1987. The Chef in the Hat closed his satisfying French bistro with a merry bang. He and his wife, Kathy, had already announced that the shuttered Loulay downtown would not be returning.
One of the town’s smallest, but mightiest, culinary forces served its final tasting menu after four years. After sustaining the business through the pandemic’s darkest days, owner Mark Schroder was ready to see his family and travel a bit. The tremendous upside: Schroder’s longtime lieutenant, Paolo Campbell, now runs the Chicken Supply here, dishing out superb Filipino-style fried bird.
Totem House Red Mill
As the 10-year lease drew to a close, Red Mill’s fish-and-chip outpost bade farewell to one of the town’s most memorable, historic restaurant spaces. New occupant Pagliacci is in the midst of a remodel that does, alas, strip away the building’s distinct character—but also moves us forward from a world where we’re using Native American iconography to sell burgers or pizza.
This ambitious house of charcoal-grilled meat on skewers was a crisp-skinned surprise this year. And sadly it wasn't with us for long; co-owner Andy Tsang said he closed due to a family situation (it's hard to replace a guy who trained in this tricky art in Tokyo's Ginza district) but he hopes to open another Aki in the future.
Aviv Shawarma Bar
South Lake Union
Owner David Nussbaum made official the deeply disappointing news that four-foot towers of succulent turkey meat will no longer rotate at his Tel Aviv–inspired bar. At least his original spot, Aviv Hummus Bar, remains open on Capitol Hill.
Hoist an exceptionally well-chosen Washington ale in memory of this remarkable deli-bar hybrid, with its expertly stocked butcher case and food menu that balanced trophy proteins and seasonal vegetables with thoughtful aplomb. The Shambles didn't renew its lease, and bowed out (hopefully on a tide of IPA) before Christmas.
Chicken-fried mushroom and waffles, we hardly knew ye. Allyum opened at the start of this year with an impressive vegan menu that embraced themes and applied meat-like treatments to produce (still thinking about that carrot lox). Covid's sinkhole of difficulties made it too difficult to expand, and the restaurant had its final service on Christmas Eve.
Ostensibly an unassuming wine and coffee cafe, in practice a light-filled neighborhood cornerstone ready to fuel you with savory porridge and beautiful lentil bowls. Vif will close its doors at the end of the month so its funky low-slung building can prepare for redevelopment.