The quest to transform the north end of Broadway into a dining and drinking destination is about to get a major boost. CHS has learned that Linda Derschang — these days, the queen of the Hill’s food + drink economy — has acquired the space that has been home to modern Cantonese restaurant Bako and is planning her next venture for the location.
Derschang declined to comment on her incoming “Tools & Tackle” project saying more information would be available soon but Bako founder Keeman Wong confirmed to CHS that his restaurant served its final meal Thursday night.
“There were just so many restaurants that all opened at the same time,” Wong said. “We didn’t even know about Altura across the street [opening the same night].” CHS documented that September 2011 week in Capitol Hill restaurant openings here — Bako, Altura, Momiji and Oola Distillery each took a bow. An impressive wave has continued.
Derschang’s arrival on Broadway is a neighborhood first for a woman who has been driving the nightlife industry on the Hill for nearly two decades. No details on the project have yet made it our way but Linda will be starting with the relatively expensive buildout Bako leaves behind in a building with a colorful drinking history.
We wrote about the Redside Partners (site) overhaul of the former Jade Pagoda here in 2010. Wong described the space he was creating as modern — “Not Jestons but not red lanterns, either” — and said he has spent more trying to make the design as sustainable and as green as possible while preserving much of the old building — including a section of the Pagoda’s dome ceiling and a brick wall he had to haggle with the city over due to rules around energy conservation.
For Derschang, the new venture will give her outposts encircling the Hill starting with the E Pine base of Linda’s, ranging up the Hill to Pike/Pine’s Oddfellows, farther, then, to 15th Ave E’s Smith and completing the loop on north Broadway where she will neighbor Poppy, the aforementioned Altura, Olivar, Joe Bar, DeLuxe, Rom Mai Thai and Aoki. Meanwhile, demolition is slated to begin this week on 19th Ave E of the old craft shop what will make way for the development home to one more piece of the growing LInda empire. Talullah’s is destined to be part of the four-story mixed-use project at 19th and E Mercer:
Tallulah’s is planned as a restaurant and bar cut from similar cloth to Derschang’s Smith and Oddfellows but with a lighter, brighter take and more of a focus on the simple, rustic food the sister locations have specialized in. It will start as a dinner and brunch restaurant — no lunch — with plans to be open seven days a week in the eastern reaches of Capitol Hill’s leafier, quieter and more wow there are a lot of kids in here-ier end of things. Tallulah’s will have around 75 seats and what is being described as an enormous patio.
We’d expect a similar recipe on Broadway but who knows what surprises are in store. The new project, after all, will be the first In Derschang’s empire to share an entryway with a “high energy” workout studio.
The area around north Broadway continues to transform. The massive Joule apartment building now dominates the neighborhood while the older 700 Broadway building was snapped up for a tidy $20.25 million earlier this year illustrating the financial enthusiasm for the area. The push continues to extend the streetcar through the neighborhood to a northern Aloha terminus.
For Bako, Wong hasn’t been the only restaurant rookie to struggle in the ongoing waves of new food and drink ventures coming to the Hill. Wong said he feels like much of Bako worked and that his decision to close now was based on opportunity. But episodes like this marked the restaurant’s short history. It closes just short of its first anniversary. No word on whether Tom Douglas was a potential bidder for the space.
“I really loved being in Capitol Hill and I met a lot of great people,” Wong said. “I’m keeping my options open. I really enjoyed working with a lot of the folks that I worked with on this project.”