Capitol Hill food+drink | Ba Bar drama, Altura Beard, IHOP flips free pancakes, Molly Moon reveals

Eat your Capitol Hill food+drink notes. They’re full of vitamins. Got a tip? Lay it on us.

  • The theatrics at Ba Bar are keeping Seattle’s foodie press fully sated. This weekend, Eric Banh’s 12th Ave restaurant displayed a peculiar message — for only a few minutes — on its Facebook feed apologizing to customers for an incident reported blow by blow by Seattle Weekly:

Ba Bar’s Eric Banh’s bar manager troubles picked up again this Saturday night when bar manager Evan Martin publicly confronted the owner in the restaurant’s dining room, claiming he’d had too much to drink. Banh, who strenuously denies Martin’s charges, then fired Martin for failing to demonstrate the proper work ethic.

Ba Bar quickly pulled the post Sunday evening after CHS asked the restaurant about the message. Banh said that somebody with the restaurant’s credentials had logged in and posted the note.

We asked Martin about the rogue Facebook update but haven’t yet heard back. The ousted bar manager did offer up his take on the Ba Bar bar drama:

Bottom line, countless employees have worked and left ba bar. 3 chefs are gone and 2 bar managers are gone. He likes to run the place like a sweat shop, that’s why everyone’s stay there is pretty short. He is a very cold person when you get to meet him, but he’s great at first. He is a very hard person to respect. It wasn’t any fun showing up to work everyday and knowing something stupid happened while you were gone, they owe you $10,000 and your paychecks are being messed with. Any claims he makes don’t make me sorry for him. Running a restaurant is extremely difficult, not providing any help to your staff and always being in the way isn’t a way to help the situation. I was there to help make Ba Bar a great place, I did some things well. But I’ve always felt I’ve only been able to do 70% of what I’m capable of. I got tired of him making a mockery of my skills and know-how. He has a few loyal employees somehow, but any strangely ran restaurant is like that, I mean different strokes, different folks.

Banh confirmed Martin’s dismissal and tells CHS that he wasn’t satisfied with his bar manager’s work ethic — especially on busy Friday and Saturday nights. “As a bar manager, it is your duty to ensure the bar is well serviced on these nights,” Banh said.

Banh said he thinks of his role at his restaurants as coach and said dismissing Martin was the best move for the team. Martin joined Ba Bar this summer after the bar manager the restaurant debuted under was let go after it was revealed he had padded his resume. Seattle Weekly also reports that Ba Bar’s chef will resign but says that matter is related to Kevin Burzell’s decision to start a street food venture.

Meanwhile, a Craigslist posting for a pasty chef for Ba Bar isn’t related to yet another departure. Banh said Karen Krol — who we profiled here — is looking for an assistant.

Banh’s Ba Bar and Monsoon are CHS advertisers.

  • Congratulations to Altura for the big nomination in this year’s batch of James Beard Awards action. Seattle Times looks at the city’s surprises here. Altura is nominated for “best new restaurant” and is up against 19 restaurants from across the country. You can view the nominations here (PDF).
  • Free pancakes tomorrow at E Madison’s IHOP, one of the few chain restaurant survivors in the neighborhood.
  • Visit Volunteer Park Cafe on Friday to pick up a sack lunch in a benefit for programs to improve nutrition in schools:
  • What’s Molly Moon planning for her new space adjacent the current E Pine location? Not a candy store:

Plans are still very much in the air, but Neitzel does intend to assume the space in its entirety. She envisions patrons being able to watch workers as they prep batches of Balsamic Strawberry or waffle cones. Neitzel said she believes strongly in transparency of ingredients, so it “feels only fitting we should show more of that. To make what we do in our kitchen more visible.”

  • We celebrated 10 years of Top Pot on Capitol Hill a few weeks back but tipster Jeff delivers the really good — though unconfirmed — news:

I talked with a counter person at Top Pot yesterday and he said that they plan to start baking donuts at the Capitol Hill location again as they did when they opened originally rather than baking them at the location on fifth then delivering them the night before they open the next morning. He said it would be happening very soon.

  • No big updates following our report last week on Thomas Street Bistro running into troubles with daily-deal slinger Groupon but we did hear from Thomas Street owner Adam Freeman (a few times) in comments:

People only hate on you when you are doing something well. Personally for me, haters add petrol to my hustle and make me succeed even quicker in what I do.Do not be upset when someone tries to put you down, be content knowing they do this becasue they already know you are above them. Take the satisfaction they already know they can NEVER be where you are or do what you do.So… for everyone who has been hated on make sure to keep your head up and succeed in flying colors, do not allow ANYONE to spoil your day or your dreams. Keep doing what you do!Intelligence follows knowledge and ignorance follows ignorant, so love your haters foolishness and cretinous faults as I do, it makes your success just that bit sweeter when you reach your goals.


This week’s CHS food+drink advertiser directory

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

13 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Ba Bar drama, Altura Beard, IHOP flips free pancakes, Molly Moon reveals

  1. Just read that yelp review (as well as another one on yelp about mice in the kitchen). I have to say that my husband and I went to Ba Bar last Thursday night to take advantage of their happy hour, the Pho was really good, and our waiter (can’t recall his name) was extremely friendly. After hearing so much negative things about the customer service there we went with low expectations, so we were pleasantly surprised by our waiter’s friendliness. But after reading this, it makes us not want to go back there. A boss or a manger needs to treat their staff right, and their staff in turn need to provide each customer with stellar customer service. There’s too many restaurants in this town to choose from.

  2. @ernest tee bass

    In some places, it’s not even legal to serve ground beef cooked to less than well-done.

    canada maybe. but i’m all for respecting a person’s right to decide for themselves what they think is safe and what isn’t. personally, i’m not giving up rare to medium-rare burgers, a rare rib-eye steak or steak tartare.

  3. @leem

    yes, because some (one) random yelp review (which was posted today, after all the drama was aired online, and is likely fake) should determine whether or not you return to a place where you yourself had a good experience.

  4. One of the biggest problems with food in Seattle is the state of “doneness” of the burgers here. Being from the Kansas City, I know the difference between a medium rare burger or steak and one that is well done. It’s too bad so many chefs in this town don’t.

  5. @zeebleoop, you sound like a charming one. I guess you missed the point of my comments, which is this: I had ONE good experience recently, which I had to put out there; however, reading not just that ONE detailed review of Saturday night, but the many other Yelp reviews thereafter about mice sightings in the kitchen and rude workers AFTER I read that yelp comment, made me view the restaurant differently. If you read the reviews, you will see that there are issues with staff. And yes, with the amount of restaurants that offer both good food AND good customer service, I would perhaps think twice before supporting this restaurant again. It’s inexcusable, whatever the situation, to fire an employee in front of the customers. I’ve worked at many restaurants and I know that it’s just not professional, which makes me question the character of the owner.

  6. Gary, this is going to be my last comment to you since I’m sure we both have better things to do than long, drawn-out bickering with people we don’t know. Review sites like Yelp are extremely popular for a reason: because unlike restaurant reviews written by one or two food critics, you get an overall perspective on a place based on multiple experiences. I am far from wealthy, so I tend to like to support my hard-earned money the few times I eat out at restaurants where folks running it are just as nice or at least professional as the food they put out. Your angry tone of voice via your words here make me feel like you are either just a very grouchy, unhappy person or you have ties to this restaurant. Either way, relax a bit and let people have the right to their own opinions here. Really, please have a good day.

  7. @leem
    My comments weren’t directed at Yelp, your opinion or the restaurant in question. They were directed at the absurdity of your logic. By your own account you had a pleasant experience at this restaurant, and yet you won’t go back because of what you read on Yelp AFTER the fact. That is ridiculous. But sure, I’m just a grouch.

  8. @leem

    no, i got the point of your comment and that was, “i can’t think for myself, so i’ll let yelp do it.”

    you had one good experience out of one. that sounds like a win to me. but then you post on here that you read the one negative comment about what a stranger CLAIMS to have seen on saturday night and suddenly ba bar is run by pol pot. nice way to think for yourself.

    i went through the yelp reviews. out of 126 reviews, 77 (61%) were four or five star reviews. if we consider four stars to be very good and five excellent then by all accounts most people think ba bar is above average. in all, ba bar has 80% three star (or better) ratings. of the negative reviews (25 two star or lower), there are only 6 (5%) one stars.

    you reply to @gary that yelp is popular because it gives the restaurant patron the chance to get an overall perspective on a place. but how are you doing that when you dismiss the majority of positive reviews and just focus on one or two negative ones?

    you totally have the right to your opinion of where you want to eat. but, again, it doesn’t sound like you were using your opinion; instead you were relying on that of a few strangers (not even the majority). i’m totally fine with you never going back to ba bar. and hopefully you’ll stay away from any and all capitol hill restaurants that have even one negative review.