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Mar 17, 2010 12:26 PM

Seattle Restaurants: Closing Too Early?

In a recent 10-best list of new restaurants, the GQ critic said:

"Anchovies & Olives stays open until midnight in a city where everybody is in bed by 10 p.m. I arrived an hour before closing time. I not only ate alone, I also drank alone—even the bar was vacant. The place, as you might expect, was dark, quiet, and still."

I heartily agreed with this observation about Seattle's late-night dining nightlife being limited, but I further thought: I'd be downright elated to see some of my favorites extend their hours until 10 PM!

I have harangued the owner of El Quetzal over the phone when he told me that he was about to close at 7:30 PM (while posting 8PM); had to cajole the reluctant counterman at DaPino into serving me at 6:50-something; frowned in dismay over driving down Rainier at quarter 'til ten to find taco vehicles Asadero and El Portillo both closed; and simply shook my head in disgust at the advertised cut-off hours at the popular Hey Paison in Burien: 7:00, 6:00, 4:30!!??

I understand that business may get prohibitively slow after 9-ish on a weeknight, but IMO one can't really make a go at serving dinner when closing at 8:00 or earlier. There are means and methods for pairing down staff and starting closing duties without turning out the lights and turning paying customers away.

To me this practice seems to be derivative of the overall lifestyle-driven business philosophy in Seattle that puts other priorities over making money each day, which is a both a commendable blessing and an inconvenient curse. But I digress.


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  1. I'd love it if places, other than bars, stayed open later. Don't you find, though, that this is somewhat seasonal? It seems like a lot of places have longer & later summer hours when more people are out and about until 10 or 11pm...

    1. Over on the Eastside, it's even worse. 75% of the non-chain places are closed by 9, and whatever's left is usually closed by 10 (maybe 11 on a Friday, but that's more the exception than the rule.)

      1. I don't know, man...
        I feel like people talk about all this great stuff that we want (or at least would be really nice) and when some one does it, it doesn't get the support.

        Case in point, there was no one else at Anchovies & Olives at 11, when you were there.

        I remember all the talk of people wishing for more 24 hour options and the initial buzz that Whym would be opening. It was pretty good (and definitely the best you could even think of doing at 3:00 AM) but it went out of business a little more than a year after it opened. I don't know how Night Kitchen is doing, but I hope it's better.

        You gotta remember that at it's heart Seattle is still small town and provincial in some ways. You still meet folks around here that have traveled much outside of the NW and like it that way. It's as much Utica as it is NYC. We're not small town, but we're no metropolis either.

        101 Denny Way, Seattle, WA 98109

        Anchovies & Olives
        1550 15th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122

        7 Replies
        1. re: GreenYoshi

          Also...people here just eat so early! I've never lived anywhere where people eat dinner so early, but even on weekends it's often impossible to find tables at 630 and easy at 830. Is it because everyone is so healthy, and wants to get up early the next day? I don't think it's a provincial town thing, I lived in Austin, very much a provincial town, and people ate late and there were plenty of late night places. It's something basic to the culure here.

          1. re: pusherman

            I agree there is a sort of common Benjamin Frankin-esque rhythym of life for alot of people here. Maybe the early evening darkness in the winter is a factor, and it seems alot of people plan to start work early and leave early. People like to rise early on the weekends to get to the mountains to hike, ski. Still, there should be an option in every neighborhood to eat dinner around 10 every night. I just think the marginal cost of staying open another hour or two can't be prohibitive.

            1. re: equinoise

              Let's compile a list of restaurants open past ten.
              Anchovies and Olive Capitol Hill- Sun-thurs till 11pm, Fri-Sat till 12
              Palace Kitchen Downtown- Open til 2 every day
              Hing Loon- ID- Till at least 1 every day
              Cafe Presse- Capitol Hill- till 2 every day
              Honey Court- ID- Till 1am at least
              Odd Fellows- Capitol Hill- Till at least 1 am
              Umi Sake House- Belltown- 1am
              Night Kitchen- Downtown- all night

              That's what I got for now. Most are concetrated in downtown/ID/capitol hill area. Not many neighborhood places.

              Palace Kitchen
              2030 5th Ave, Seattle, WA 98121

              Cafe Presse
              1117 12th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

              Umi Sake House
              2230 First Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121

              Hing Loon Restaurant
              628 S Weller St, Seattle, WA 98104

              Odd Fellows Cafe
              1525 10th Ave, Seattle, WA 98122

              1. re: dagrassroots

                It's hard to complain given that impressive list of restaurants! I guess my only comment is that many CapHill places (Oddfellows, Presse, + some you didn't mention like Elysian, Smith, Hop Vine) are kind of more bars than restaurants late, at least on weekends...and can be crowded and loud. But you're right, those are some pretty good places. I'll stop whining now.

                1. re: pusherman

                  Good list dagrassroots. I would add Jade Garden in the ID, which is open till 3 on weekends.

                  Regarding the places on 15th in Capitol Hill, I have gone into both Smith and Hop Vine looking for food around 10-ish and was told "the kitchen is closed".

                  I guess my main gripe is not so much that there are a dearth of destination places in the ID or belltown that are open after ten, but just that many, many good restaurants--especially neighborhood restaurants--serve dinner but close BEFORE ten, often at 8 or 9.

                  Jade Garden Restaurant
                  7th S King S, Seattle, WA 98101

                  1. re: equinoise

                    I hear you. I live mainly in portland now but still spend a lot of time in seattle. Portland is in a similar situation, where their is a good selection of places open late but a lot of good ones do not stay open past 10.

                2. re: dagrassroots

                  Stellar Pizza in Georgetown is a good pie, and a fun bar, and is open until 11 or midnight, depending on the night. Smartypants, in the same general neighborhood, fills the same role (roll?) but with sandwiches rather than pizza.

          2. My feeling is that people on the west coast tend to plan their evenings as 'dinner first, outing second' while people on the east coast are happy either way. It's a common complaint leveled against San Francisco restaurants as well. Compare this to my experience in Washington DC last weekend: even at 9:30 PM on a weeknight, it was no trouble to find a place willing to serve us dinner.

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