This year was a tough one for local businesses, especially restaurants. About 100,000 restaurants nationwide, nearly one in six, closed long-term or permanently as a result of the pandemic, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Trying to keep a restaurant open this year wasn’t easy. Neither was trying to open one.
Here are 10 of the biggest openings and saddest closings of this year.
🍲 One of the most anticipated restaurants, Communion is the project of Kristi Brown (a.k.a. “That Brown Girl Cooks!”) and her son and business partner Damon Bomar. The Central District restaurant serves up what they call “Seattle Soul” food.
🇵🇭 Melissa Miranda made big waves this year, despite opening Musang at the beginning of an unforeseeably difficult year. Melissa charged ahead, turning the restaurant into a community kitchen at the start of the pandemic, and this month it won the accolade of Restaurant of the Year from Seattle Met.
🦀 You’ve heard of the lobster roll, but Local Tide does one better and gives us hand-cracked Dungeness crab rolls. This Fremont restaurant started as a popup, and — fortunately for us — finally set up shop permanently over the summer.
🥐 You can’t go wrong ordering at Temple Pastries. Their sourdough-focused products will surely inspire you to look at your old sourdough starter at home in a different light. The bakery offers a slew of savory and sweet goodies all made with hyper-local ingredients.
🍛 Chef and owner Preeti Agarwal took over Pomerol a couple of years ago and adjusted the menu to play with the Indian flavors she grew up with. Eventually, after some pop-up Indian dinners, she transformed Pomerol into what is now Meesha 127.
🍵 There can never be enough bubble tea. Taiwan Professional (TP) Tea opened in the Chinatown-International District in September with a bang, offering a BOGO deal that had a line around the block.
🍦 Milk Drunk, an offshoot of the nearby full-service restaurant Homer, is the epitome of a family-friendly establishment. Parents can get slushies with a dose of alcohol while their kids revel in soft serve. And if that wasn’t enough, they’ve got a whole slate of fried chicken sandwiches to indulge in.
🌶 Seattle was lucky enough to welcome an outpost of the California-based Sichuan chain Chengdu Taste back in October. The restaurant has been proclaimed “the best Sichuan restaurant in America” by Serious Eats’ J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.
🍜 Tyger Tyger is another Sichuan-inspired restaurant but this time with local roots. The business team behind Capitol Hill’s Lionhead — Garrett Doherty and Benjamin Chew — opened this neighborhood restaurant in the shadow of what was once Key Arena.
🍝 The space formerly known as Bar Ciudad has been turned into an Italian restaurant by the restaurateur/entrepreneur behind oh-so-many local businesses. Marcus Lalario opened Mezzanotte over the summer and has been serving up northern Italian fare since.
🎵 Cafe Racer, the U-District staple known for its many quirks (the Offical Bad Art Museum of Art or OBAMA for short) and live music, closed down in August. But hopefully, it won’t be goodbye for too long. Its owner hopes to scout a new location in the neighborhood in the future, but until then they’ve started a free online music station you can listen to.
🍪 If I had known that Cow Chip Cookies’ Pioneer Square location would close I would’ve bought an absurd amount of cookies the last time I was there. After 34 years, the location closed up shop, but you can still get their infamous drop cookie at other locations or order them online.
🥃 Jules Maes Saloon — one of Seattle’s oldest bars — shut down permanently over the summer. The Georgetown bar first opened in 1888, and after 132 years, leasing issues and the pandemic ultimately forced its closure for good.
🌮 Manu’s Bodega closed temporarily a while back but recently announced it will not reopen. The Pioneer Square store was known for serving up some spectacular sandwiches. Manu’s Tacos is still open for takeout, however.
🍺 Longtime Capitol Hill staple Bill’s Off Broadway closed its doors after 40 years back in June. The dive bar was around to see the neighborhood transform into the hip destination it is today.
☠️ Vegan favorite Ballard’s No Bones Beach Club closed in October. What started as a food truck grew to a brick and mortar with locations in Portland and Chicago. Unfortunately, the pandemic has permanently closed the Portland No Bones location as well.
🍷 The husband-wife team behind Tarsan i Jane decided to pack things up and sell their successful restaurant to move back to LA. The Frelard restaurant was known for its critically-acclaimed tasting menus with Valencian influences.
🌱 James Beard award-winning restaurant Tilth closed for good at the end of October. Chef Maria Hines couldn’t keep the small Wallingford restaurant going through the pandemic, much to the community’s disappointment.
🇫🇷 Bastille may have closed, but the owners are turning the space into something else. The French cafe and bar is becoming Sabine Cafe Bar and Market instead. So it’s a half-hello half-goodbye, if you will.
🥖 Chophouse Row bakery Amandine shut down at the end of September. The cozy store was owned by Sara Naftaly, who also co-owns the still-open French restaurant Marmite.