Seattle chefs and restaurant owners have faced difficult decisions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which first hit the Seattle area in early March. While some have shifted to takeout and delivery, and others still have outdoor seating during Seattle’s current indoor dining ban, there have been several restaurants and bars that will not reopen at all. Below are some of the places that closed for good in 2020; some had other reasons besides the impact from the coronavirus, although it was still a contributing factor.
These are listed in reverse chronological order, with the most recent closings first. If you hear of any others that have shut their doors for good, please send us a tip.
The Ballard brewery recently announced that it is closing permanently on December 23 after eight years. Populuxe started small and expanded in 2017 with a larger production space and tasting room, complete with pinball machine and enough room to host trivia, art shows, and other events. It steadily gained a strong following for well-balanced beers in a highly competitive neighborhood, and won Small Brewery of the Year at the Washington Beer Awards in 2018. But the economic challenges of the pandemic proved too much to overcome, despite the efforts to adjust to changing restrictions. “Creating a community for beer lovers and their families in our own neighborhood was a dream and getting to serve all of you, a pleasure,” the brewery wrote on Instagram.
The critically acclaimed lunch spot in Pioneer Square — known for excellent empanadas — has closed permanently after seven years, as the Seattle Times first reported. While the pandemic is partly to blame, the restaurant from chef-owner Manu Alfau had been closed since March due to a building issue and never had a chance to reopen. The taco window and truck offshoots, as well as Oro Kitchen (inside Belltown’s Gold Bar) are only temporarily closed at the moment. And Aflau is already plotting a new project — a pizza and gelato restaurant in Bremerton’s Evergreen Park, due to open in 2021 (Manu’s manager Marin Solace tells Eater Seattle chef Adam Paulin, formerly of The Masonry, will run the kitchen).
Looks like Capitol Hill nightlife destination Barça not reopen after being closed throughout the pandemic, one longtime manager tells Capitol Hill Seattle. For 20 years, the bar — co-founded by John Bigley, lead singer of Seattle 80s punk band the U-Men — was a fixture on 11th Avenue, serving up classic cocktails, wine, and beer, and hosting well-attended live jazz and drag shows. There was no kitchen, though, making it nearly impossible to open under the current conditions during the pandemic. Eater Seattle reached out to the bar for more info on what will happen to the space and whether a new project will launch down the line, but did not hear back before this item was published.
This beloved Tukwila diner has closed permanently after nearly 40 years in business. Housed in a former Denny’s (some of the original furnishings are still there) and near the Museum of Flight, Randy’s built a reputation as a reliable spot to get hearty all-day and all-night breakfast dishes, where customers could gawk at some impressive aviation paraphernalia. The dining room is filled with various service artifacts and model airplanes hanging from the ceiling (co-owner Richard Roadenizer is a retired Air Force veteran). Vanishing Seattle says some of the memorabilia may even be for sale once the restaurant fully vacates the space.
Long Provincial Vietnamese Restaurant
After 12 years, Belltown’s reliable Vietnamese restaurant officially closed in late October, per an official announcement on its website. The sibling to well-loved Tamarind Tree, Long offered both North and South Vietnamese food in a handsome, museum-like setting. Dishes such as cognac scallop pomelo salad and the squid stuffed with ground pork were usually hits, and in pre-pandemic times, the restaurant was good for groups in an area typically packed with tourists visiting Pike Place Market or the Washington State Convention Center.
After 14 years serving wonderfully inventive and thoughtfully sourced fare, this iconic Wallingford restaurant from James Beard Award-winning chef Maria Hines closed permanently. Tilth debuted in 2006 with a farm-to-table focus, pushing forward a growing movement for ethical sourcing. When it opened, the restaurant was just the second certified organic restaurant in the entire country, designated by the exacting standards of the Oregon Tilth organization. Hines was among the first chefs to develop relationships with some of the area’s sustainable producers whose names are more commonly known now, and noted on the menu which items didn’t fall under the strict organic category. In 2020, Tilth attempted several different takeout menus, including family meals that featured barbecue feasts and pints of tuna pate, along with roasted cauliflower and apple soup. It also recently opened for limited dine-in service. However, it appears the effort wasn’t enough to keep the restaurant operational longterm.
Bastille Cafe and Bar
This reliable French spot in Ballard — known for excellent open-faced croque madame and steak frites — has officially ended its run after 11 years. The restaurant had been closed since the pandemic shutdown in March and won’t reopen, but there will be a transition to something new soon. In its place, co-owners James Weimann and Deming Maclise opened a counter service restaurant called Sabine.
A&A Cafe Organic Tamaleria and Cider House
After less than a year, the Capitol Hill expansion of a popular Everett tamale restaurant has permanently closed. The small restaurant served a selection of savory and sweet tamales — including beef, chicken, pork, and raspberry — as well as ciders on draft. There’s already a new project called Post Pike Bar and Cafe planned for the space, which Capitol Hill Seattle reports will open in November.
White Center’s newest all-day cafe, which just opened in July, is already closing up shop. The restaurant shared the news via an official announcement on Facebook, citing a number of factors for the decision, including the pandemic, a recent closure due to wildfire smoke, and a vandalism incident that damaged an electrical box. In its brief time, the restaurant served a selection of farm-to-table diner fare, including vegan biscuits and gravy, blueberry waffles, and naan.
No Bones Beach Club
After four years, this vegan tropical-themed bar favorite in Ballard — which began as a pop-up-turned-food truck — has closed its original Seattle location permanently. Known for its potent shark shots and rum drinks, the food menu featured creative takes on vegan pub fare, including excellent cauliflower wings, eggplant fries, jackfruit flautas, and avocado tacos. No Bones expanded to Portland and Chicago as well, but the PDX location recently shuttered for good and the one in the Windy City is still closed temporarily.
The Boar’s Nest
This low-key barbecue joint in Ballard closed recently after nine years in the neighborhood, the restaurant announced on Facebook. The spot was a solid place to get a selection of smoked ribs and decadent sides like fried mac ‘n’ cheese balls on game day, and it even had partnerships in the works with Huskies Football, as well as the axe throwing company Axe Kickers. But the cancellation of events proved too much to overcome, and the restaurant side was unable to make up the difference.
This popular Capitol Hill spot, known for its seasonal juices and healthy brunch dishes, closed in September after seven years. The business was born out of a desire by chefs Kari Brunson and Brandin Myett to eat healthier, as their busy schedules had them turning to junk food after long shifts. But co-founder Brunson has already found a new use for the space: She’s opened up a new natural wine shop called Glinda.
This charming bakery in Chophouse Row announced on Instagram that September 30 would be its last day in business. Founder Sara Naftaly (who co-owns neighboring French restaurant Marmite with her husband, Bruce) served up an array of wonderful macarons, cakes, croissants, and other treats in the cozy space for five years, and cultivated partnerships with well-regarded local roasters such as Dorothea. In the announcement, the bakeshop encourages diners to “stop by and grab a pastry and coffee before we part our separate ways.”
After nine years, the Capitol Hill outpost of popular Korean-Hawaiian fast-casual chain Marination is closing permanently, per an official announcement on Twitter. For almost a decade, the small lunch spot above QFC — the first restaurant that launched from Marination’s popular mobile operation — served up items such as kalua pork tacos, spam sliders, kimchi fried rice, and other snacks. But fans can still seek those items out at the franchise’s other locations downtown and West Seattle, which are still open for takeout. The Columbia City offshoot Super Six is still up and running as well. Co-owner Kamala Saxton tells Eater Seattle, “All other stores going strong, minus the smoke.”
This Capitol Hill drinks den — known for potent cocktails, Southern vibes, Johnny Cash fandom, and a rotating selection of excellent food pop-ups — announced it is permanently closed after seven years. Though restrictions during the pandemic have not been easy for local bars (even with relaxed booze laws), Bar Sue said on Instagram, “it was not Covid that took us, but a building owner unwilling to renew our lease.” Mexican food pop-up Tacos de la Noche, which had been operating out of Bar Sue’s kitchen of late, tells Eater Seattle it’s currently looking for another space.
El Diablo Coffee Co.
After 20 years serving popular coffee drinks in Queen Anne, including a popular Cuban espresso with caramelized sugar, this cafe is packing up for good, per an official announcement from parent roaster Cloud City. Owner Jill Killen tells Eater Seattle the shop — which moved locations after a lease issue two years ago — couldn’t afford to stay open in its current space, but left open the possibility of a revival down the line somewhere else. “We just want to get through the pandemic and keep our staff safe,” she says.
Serious Pie and Biscuit
This Westlake offshoot of Tom Douglas’s pizza restaurant has been closed since March, and won’t reopen at all, since the 10-year lease is up at the end of the month and the chef isn’t renewing it. Instead, Douglas has moved the biscuits and mochi doughnuts that were on the menu to his new Serious TakeOut spot in Ballard, and recently reopened the downtown Serious Pie original. For those in the market for a large pizza oven, food writer Rebekah Denn spotted some equipment for sale at auction from the Westlake spot.
After more than 30 years holding down the fort in Capitol Hill’s Broadway Alley, this reliable Japanese favorite won’t reopen for business, per Capitol Hill Seattle (confirmed by one of the co-owners). HaNa was among the earliest sushi destinations in the neighborhood, before the area became a culinary hotspot, and was known for its accessible, lengthy menu, which included katsu and yakitori dishes as well. It was also the longest running Broadway Alley business, which now includes the more upscale omakase restaurant Taneda, and had been closed since the spring due to COVID-19 measures.
Purple Bellevue, Lot No 3, and Cast Iron Studios
All three of these Bellevue restaurants from the Heavy Restaurant Group are closing for good, the company recently announced in a statement sent to Eater Seattle. They took up three of the four retail spaces at Bellevue Towers (Purple opened in 2009, Lot No 3 opened a year later, and Cast Iron Studios came out of the former Barrio outpost in 2011). Size was a factor, as the restaurants — at over 14,500 square feet total — were meant to meet demand for corporate events and group dining. “This type of business will likely not come back for some time and the current layout and cost structure of the locations makes it too challenging for us to convert them to alternative viable concepts,” Heavy Restaurant Group said in the statement.
After four years, Pioneer Square’s Latin American-influenced restaurant — co-founded by acclaimed chef Matt Dillon — has permanently closed. The taqueria took over the space of Dillon’s previous venture, Bar Sajor in 2016, and gained praise for its succulent barbacoa tacos and smoky pumpkin quesadillas, as well as a selection of well-crafted cocktails. But Pioneer Square has been especially hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic (no sports crowds and very little workday traffic), so sustaining steady business, even for takeout and limited patio seating, appeared to be a challenge. Copal’s sibling bar, Pacifica, also shuttered for good a couple of weeks ago. “I’m very heartbroken for what this means for so many folks as a community and small business as a whole,” co-owner Eric Fisher tells Eater Seattle.
Nate’s Wings and Waffles
After five years, the popular fast-casual restaurant in Central District — co-founded by former NBA star Nate Robinson — is closing permanently, along with nearby siblings Happy Grillmore and Central District Ice Cream Company. Co-owner Darren McGill told Capitol Hill Seattle that the lack of corporate catering orders played a big factor, along with many other COVID-19 impacts. Fans will no doubt miss the breaded and “naked” wings at Nate’s, dressed with distinct sauces, which hit the spot on game days. The restaurant started with a Rainier Valley outpost, which closed in 2016, a year after the Central District expansion.
One of West Seattle’s most beloved dives is no more, According to West Seattle Blog, Tug Inn (once called Tug Tavern) will not be returning after being shuttered since earlier this year. The understated spot was full of deep-fried food and surly bartenders, enduring as a local favorite for years. But the pandemic may have been only a partial reason behind its closure, since the property was sold in February (a plumbing company now owns it).
Bamboo Garden Vegetarian Cuisine
This well-loved vegetarian institution in Lower Queen Anne plans to shutter for good after more than 20 years in business. Among one of the city’s more prominent vegetarian-focused spots before such restaurants became ubiquitous, Bamboo Garden served up a host of Asian dishes with faux meats that would be able to fool most carnivores, including takes on General Tso’s chicken, Mongolian beef, and sweet-and-sour pork. Its final day of operation is July 31.
Pagliacci Pizza Queen Anne
Seattle’s iconic pizza chain announced it would be closing its Queen Anne location after 32 years. The company said the impacts from COVID played a large role in the decision, but it also admits that foot traffic in that neighborhood had been steadily declining year-over-year since “the sale of the Sonics,” who played in nearby Key Arena. The restaurant had a decent run in the neighborhood, with some famous names who came into town for concerts over the decades, including the Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, and Queen. This was also the first location to start delivery service.
Jules Maes Saloon
This historic Georgetown bar — considered, perhaps, the oldest in Seattle — closed permanently in mid-July after 132 years. Jules Maes once served mostly dock workers, fishermen, and loggers many years before the neighborhood turned into a beer destination and a hipster enclave. In its more modern incarnation, it had some craft beer, surprisingly solid bar bites (including rabbit-stuffed ravioli and cochinita pibil), pinball, and live music, but maintained its nostalgically divey atmosphere.
This small, well-loved Chinese restaurant in South Lake Union is closing permanently after three years. Zheng Cafe opened in 2017, after building a following as a food truck. On the menu were fluffy steamed buns filled with barbecue pork and curry chicken. But the main attraction was the “Wuhan style” dry noodles. Co-owner Jing Wetzel says that the restaurant was the first to bring many dishes influenced by Wuhan cuisine to Seattle.
Brave Horse Tavern and Trattoria Cuoco
These two Tom Douglas restaurants have been linked together since opening in the same South Lake Union building nine years ago, but they had much different vibes. Brave Horse Tavern was more of an afterwork gastropub, known for its soft pretzels and extensive beer selection. Cuoco was a more upscale pasta spot more geared toward date nights and family get-togethers. Both are officially closing permanantly this July, as the area has emptied out during the pandemic, with Amazon employees in Seattle working from home.
The Lounge by AT&T and Ada’s Discovery Cafe
This Capitol Hill coffee shop recently announced its closure due to COVID-19 impacts and the shuttering of several AT&T retail spaces. Though heavily branded, the cafe was a surprisingly solid spot, opening in 2018 as a partnership with Ada’s, a local bookseller that recently merged with Fuel Coffee. But the attraction of a chill place to sit and linger for hours in the neighborhood is non-existent during the COVID-19 pandemic, and pop-ups like the Central Perk from Friends recreation are a distant memory.
Bill’s Off Broadway
One of the more popular places on Capitol Hill to catch a game or eat a satisfyingly greasy pizza announced it is closing permanently after 40 years in the neighborhood. Throughout its four decades, the dive harkened back to a time before Capitol Hill was a trendy dining destination. Never the slickest place in the neighborhood — even after a remodel — it was still a welcoming place to watch sports or indulge in a boozy brunch. The bartenders were always friendly, the fans were usually diehards, and the menu included decadent options such as breakfast pizza with scrambled eggs and vanilla Stoli French toast.
Tangletown’s popular gastropub — known for its extensive, carefully curated selection of seasonal brews and satisfying bar bites — announced on Facebook that it would be closing permanently after eight years. Burdgundian, which was originally known as the Publican for a brief time, leaves behind a sudsy legacy that will be carried on now by sibling beer destinations Brouwer’s Cafe and Bottleworks, both of which are still open for to-go orders.
This Southern comfort food restaurant in Ballard said goodbye over Memorial Day weekend after a nine-year run. Known as a neighborhood boozy brunch favorite, the Sexton developed a following for its decadent bacon mac ‘n’ cheese, fried green tomatoes, fish and grits, and bourbon-focused drinks list.
On May 21, star chef Shota Nakajima announced that he would be closing his acclaimed Capitol Hill restaurant permanently. The Japanese-influenced spot, which rebranded three years ago with a more approachable menu after opening as the higher-end Naka in 2015, provided an excellent showcase for Nakajima’s artistic presentation and craftsmanship with seasonal ingredients.
Specialty’s Cafe and Bakery
This California-based chain — which catered to businesses downtown and in Bellevue — recently announced the closure of all its locations across three states, after being in business for 33 years. According to a note posted to its website, “current market conditions attributed to COVID-19 and shelter-in-place policies have decimated company revenues.”
After more than 60 years serving German sausages and other meaty specialties, this beloved Pike Place deli announced that it will permanently close its Market location May 31, partly due to a “lease issue,” according to manager Gabrielle Kessler. However, it’s currently seeking out a new outpost, and will provide details on reopening somewhere else soon.
Biscuit Bitch: Pioneer Square and White Center
The Southern comfort food favorite with colorfully named dishes like “The Hot Mess Bitch” permanently closed two out of its four locations (its Pioneer Square outpost had been for five years, while the White Center one lasted less than a year). The original Caffe Lieto spot near Pike Place and the restaurant on Third Avenue in Belltown plan to reopen for takeout and delivery.
For nine years, Pioneer Square’s daytime destination drew long lines for a rotating menu of wonderful homemade pasta dishes. Recently, chef Mike Easton announced it wouldn’t be opening back up — but COVID-19 was only one factor in that decision. As Seattle Met reported, Easton has been grieving the loss of his wife, Victoria Diaz Easton, who died in April. She managed the restaurant’s day-to-day operations.
This Greenwood Mexican restaurant closed on Cinco de Mayo after five years in business. The spot was a neighborhood favorite serving up a variety of tacos and large plates, with locally-sourced ingredients. Owner Chris Navarra says he’s working on a new restaurant project in the neighborhood.
Pioneer Square’s upscale, critically-lauded Italian restaurant will not reopen in that space, says founding chef and co-owner Scott Carsberg. Bisato shut down in mid-March around the time Washington’s stay-at-home order was implemented. But troubling signs had already emerged the previous month when Carsberg departed the restaurant suddenly. The Pioneer Square location has now become a restaurant called 84 Yesler, and Bisato has since reopened as a takeout and delivery-only kitchen in SoDo.
Roosevelt’s craft beer specialist — the offshoot of a well-respected San Francisco classic — closed its doors permanently in March, per an announcement on Facebook. The pub, which opened in 2014, was well-known for its extensive list of craft beer and whiskeys. There may be some future collaborations with other breweries on a beer called “The Book of Bonney,” a tribute to the bar’s late founder Matt Bonney.
Other Coast Cafe: Queen Anne
One of the best sandwich shops in the city has pared down its imprint, closing its Queen Anne location in April after nearly five years in the neighborhood. This comes a year after Other Coast’s Capitol Hill outpost closed, making way for the natural wine bar La Dive. But the Ballard shop is still open for takeout and delivery orders.
This downtown spot — known for its excellent oysters and happy hour — closed right before Washington’s stay-at-home order was implemented. It had been a longtime favorite for its unpretentious vibe and consistent quality.
Belltown’s beloved Spanish spot, which served a selection of well-crafted tapas and paella, shuttered in early March as the pandemic was on the rise. Business had dropped 75 percent, according to its owners, and the outlook wasn’t good. Sibling bourbon bar Branchwater also closed around the same time.
This Mexican restaurant in Ravenna’ had only been in business for a year before it closed in early March due to the impact of COVID-19. In its brief time, it claimed a commitment to sustainability for ingredients in dishes like smoked queso fundido, salmon agurachile, and short rib tacos. A statement from the owners said, “the impacts of the decrease in business due to the coronavirus has forced us to close our doors for good.”
UPDATED, August 28, 2020, 1:00 p.m.: In addition to the latest closures, this piece has been amended to note Bisato’s new reopening as a delivery and takeout-only kitchen in SoDo, and has removed Americana from the list of permanent closures, since it has reopened under new ownership.
UPDATED, September 22, 2020, 11:24 p.m.: Originally, College Inn Pub was included after it announced its permanent closure in July. But the business was subsequently purchased by new owners who intend to reopen it down the line, so it has been removed from the list.
UPDATED, November 2, 2020, 1:15 pm.: This list once included Local 360, which closed in March. But we have removed it from the list as there are now indications it may reopen.
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