After one year on Broadway, Capitol Hill’s Five Fish shuts it down

Five Fish’s fish and chips (Image: Five Fish)

With the anticipation and hype surrounding new bar and restaurant projects on the Hill, here’s a reminder of reality. Food and drink is tough business. Even the best po’ boy sandwiches on Broadway can’t save you.

“It wasn’t as busy as we anticipated,” owner Garnet Pitre tells CHS of Five Fish’s one-year run on Broadway.

The restaurant — born Five Fish Bistro in January 2012 and re-spun as Five Fish and a Burger toward the end of things — was Pitre’s dream project after a career in the food and hospitality industry. It replaced a UPS store with a shop dedicated to fried fish and a few southern turns by way of Broadway.

Who’s to say how the glossy magazines in the city choose who to hype but they never really came calling for Five Fish. Like some other places along Broadway, it was perhaps a little too straightforward and gimmick-free to make for great copy. Pinto Bistro, Panevino and Wedgwood II, we know you’re out there.

While its presence on Broadway along with the most hardcore deep-frying set-up on Capitol Hill, the emergence of Linda Derschang’s Bait Shop  on north Broadway probably didn’t help. But it didn’t kill Five Fish. Pitre said the closure was more about long-term economic conditions for smaller businesses and not getting enough customers in the door. She said Five Fish is shuttered for good on Broadway and gone forever short of “some sort of restructuring,” she said. The Facebook message about a temporary closure went up earlier this week followed by the final word on a paper sign on the door.

Pitre wanted to say thanks to the customers who supported the restaurant and said she is still sorting out what she’ll do next.

Thanks to everybody for the tips about the closure.

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46 thoughts on “After one year on Broadway, Capitol Hill’s Five Fish shuts it down

  1. For the price, this place was very subpar. The small amount of fish and the always overcooked fries kept me from wanting to go back.

    If good food and value is a gimmick then yes, it was gimmick-free.

  2. I tried this place a while ago wasn’t really into it. As I recall, major problems were:

    – Windows made it very hard to tell the place was open/had any activity inside.
    – Interior had absolutely no personality. Lighting was off and design of fixtures seemed stale.
    – Not enough non-fried things on the menu.
    – Mediocre food in general.

    Would love another good lunch place on that block, hope something else can work in that space soon.

    Don’t blame the economy, especially when the place next door is always busy. Take the time to understand what went wrong and don’t repeat the same mistakes again.

  3. I ate there a couple of times. The fish/chips were fine, not great. But the decor had all the charm of a Wendy’s at a highway rest stop. So that didn’t have me wanting to go back. I suppose I could get the food to go, but fish/chips is not the best thing for take-away (only the English eat cold, soggy, fried fish and chips).

    Ooba-Tooba suffers from the same defect of no charm (with the added strike of having only passable food). In in a neighborhood with high foot traffic, you’d think they (and similar) places would come up with ways to make it seem more alluring as you walk by, and make you actually want to sit and enjoy a meal there.

  4. Tried it once. It was good food, but it wasn’t good enough for those prices. I know quality fish is expensive, but there are better value places to eat in the area. Add that to a poor choice for a restaurant and the closure doesn’t surprise me. I hope the owners can try again with lessons learned.

  5. Interior design goes a long way, especially in a district like Broadway.

    Staff was friendly, food was good (they even made their own tartar sauce).

    The look of the place was uninviting though — a cross between a mall version of Ivars and a Dairy Queen. They needed booths, unique lighting that was dimmer, and more earth-tones and a high-end sound system playing subtle background music.

    The place had everything but atmosphere — these days you need the entire package to succeed :-(

  6. It’s tough out there, we all know it. We choose to go places we like and want to support. But there’s one thing several of these places on Broadway are missing; AMBIANCE!

    Five Fish had none. It was beyond horrible sitting in there, despite the fact that the food was good. Samurai Noodle is another one. Besides the food being inferior to the original, the place while new is hollow feeling and always seems dirty. The way it’s set up is completely uninviting. I went several times trying to like it, but won’t be back. I LOVE Wedgewood II but I fear it’s going to go away too because there never seems to be anyone in there. The food is stellar and ambiance is quite inviting. I wish they’d pick up more.

  7. This is how I feel as well. I feel terrible because the food was very tasty, and the staff couldn’t be any friendlier. However, I had a hard time justifying the price for such a casual meal and restaurant, and so I’m guilty of not frequenting them.

  8. Ate here half a dozen times, really great fish, I thought. But, as the others have said, the atmosphere wasn’t great, felt very spartan, fast food almost, which is a shame. Maybe if they had gone hard on the southern theme, like Kingfish does. I think a lot of people compared this place to Pike Street Fish Fry and found Five Fish Bistro lacking not on food but on atmosphere. Broadway is a hard spot, lots of competition, I’m sorry to see this one go.

  9. The only people who do not care about price are druggies with no money or the wealthy who do not patronize most places.

    The food was probably good here but the prices were way too high and Capital Hills resident are not into food like they are into drugs, clubs and coffee. I think this is where a Burger King was located at one time and if a cheap fast food place cannot make it no one can. Too many odd names make me avoid restaurants since I have no idea what they are serving.

  10. This should serve as a good lesson to all the wannabe restaurant owners on North Broadway. You need to study your demographics a little bit more closely. A great ambiance/atmosphere is equally important as serving great food. Five fish suffered terribly from the former. Coupled with the fact that it had a major identity crisis, its fate was sealed. I knew it was doomed when I saw that they changed their name to “Five fish and a burger.”

  11. GODDAMN IT! This was the best place on Broadway. In a neighborhood full of overpriced crap, this was the ONE place where you could get quality food for cheap. The Salmon po boy sandwich would be 15 bucks in any of those other snooty places on broadway with awful service. This seriously puts a huge dent in my food options. Give me a spicy blackened salmon taco; I hate all of you.

  12. I too ate here several times, only because I kept hoping it would get better and I love fish and chips! The owners were super friendly, but for a pretty hefty price (for fast food fish) you got a tiny portion of the greasiest deep fried fish that literally left a tablespoon of grease when you picked one up from the little tray. The breading was too thick and greasy, and the actual fish inside was too small. The fries were amazing though. Still sad to see it go. I really do love good fish and chips.

  13. “Capital Hills resident (sic) are not into food like they are into drugs, clubs and coffee.”

    Ah, that would explain the abject dearth of quality eating establishments on the Hill, then…

  14. The boyfriend and I really wanted to like this place but we tried it twice and didn’t enjoy ourselves nor the food. I won’t get into the ambiance because others have already nailed that issue. I found the food bland. I get that southern fish and chips are different than the British style I grew up with back in Canada but at least put some seasoning in the batter. Like, even just salt. I had to smother every bite with tartar sauce (which, by the way, was delicious!). Boyfriend is from the south and he agreed.

    The staff, however, was incredibly friendly and sweet. I wanted them to get the food and atmosphere situations straightened out so they could stick around for a long time.

  15. You have to love the internet when everyone can remain anonymous and point fingers after the fact and say “I told you so..”
    How many of these posters ever actually expressed their disappointments prior to their closing? I liked Five Fish and I am sad that they are leaving.
    Price was a bit high but it was not designed to be fast cheap food.
    Quality: At times the food was soggy but with the Hill residents wanting fast food I can understand their trying to both provide value and convenience and missing the mark but the choice should have been fast or quality.
    As for the Decor that is just the dumbest complaint ever. What does your apartment look like? Does it look like a page of Decor or the leftovers from Goodwill? Did it ever occur to you that they may have saved money on the decor for better quality of food or they may have even thought that the Fast Food decor would work, it is fish and chips after all.
    I will miss them but this nit picking is getting old.
    They took a chance and it did not work and I feel bad but if all of these complaints and judgements were expressed prior they may have had a better chance. Complaining after the fact will not change anything and now a Local Broadway business is closed. Way to encourage Local, but it is easier to complain after the fact. Its kinda like complaining about your meal when the check is dropped and not when the server asks you!
    This is just more proof of Capitol Hill and their I want, I want but not that or that either but I want, I WANT!

    • I don’t live on Capital Hill, but I do work there. My old man and I ate there once and I was very disappointed with the food and the service. And for the record, I wrote a review of my experience. You shouldn’t speak of things you don’t know.

  16. Huh?? Capitol Hill has some of the best restaurants in all of Seattle in all price ranges. In fact Altura a few streets down on Broadway won the freaking James Beard award for the Pacific NW this year.

    In addition, from the post I saw yesterday we are about to get a shitload more eateries of all kinds. Bring them on, only the best will survive.

  17. I’m with you guys. I liked the place and thought it was good, but not spectacular for the price. It’s definitely a tough biz, especially in a weak economy. Best of luck to the owner in the future.

  18. As long-winded and condescending as FistBump’s post is, he has a point. Perhaps there is a need for a “Kitchen Nightmares” feature on CHS in which readers vent or rave about a new restaurant three or six months after its opening. There could be a ranking system on a three-point scale (love it, hate it, haven’t tried it) for registering initial feedback on how much traction a new joint is getting. Those that aren’t getting the love can receive proactive feedback from readers.

  19. I did love that place. I liked the owner and hoped the place would go, and whenever I went by there and it was empty I worried a little. The food was kinda pricy so I couldn’t go often, but it was always a treat for me. The breading was fine with me and the fish had a fishy character that you don’t get with Ivar’s. And they always had great music on: one time I ate there (during a bad afternoon) and they played Howling Wolf and “This Must Be The Place” by Talking Heads, which improved my day greatly.

    Here’s my observation, though: when a restaurant that specializes in one type of food introduces another specialty, that place is doomed. Like, when the ice cream place on Broadway suddenly started selling baked potatoes. When they introduced burgers at Five Fish, I knew the end was imminent.

  20. oooh, they made their own tartar sauce? you mean they stirred up some mayo and pickle relish…all by themselves? why did they close with such a gimmick!

  21. NOOOOO! We loved this place and were going 1-2 times a month. :*( The comments are pretty bizarre as they complain about price and “ambiance.” It wasn’t expensive, the food was GREAT, and I actually liked the decor. The latter was simple and understated-maybe folks wanted gaudy or faux bohemian? You’re going out for fish and chips and you want “ambiance?” Srsly? Aside from the food, I’m usually focused on the people that I’m with as opposed to the environment. I’m also really surprised that folks found it expensive-we’re just renters off of Broadway…although we do have jobs. We wished they gave us warning that they were closing so we could have stopped in one last time.

  22. I have to agree with the comments regarding the ambiance. The atmosphere was plastic, but the food was worse. I live closer to this place than Pike Street Fish. I’d rather spend the time and energy to walk to Pike Street Fish than eat here again. The fish wasn’t great, but the fries were worse.

  23. Dick’s and Ranch Bravo. Those places are busy pretty much every time I walk by, and they’re killing it late nights on the weekends.

    If there is a segment for growth in this neighborhood, it’s tasty, fast CHEAP food. I know that’s not the vegan gluten free peanut allergy sensitive earth conscious hip tack a lot on this blog would prefer…but that’s the one segment that doesn’t seem completely saturated.

  24. Well, there is Yelp as a venue for feedback already. Skimming over those reviews, the food seems to be well-received, and no one really mentions the decor. Perhaps the people who consistently ate there didn’t really care about the atmosphere, and perhaps that just wasn’t enough of a customer base regardless.

    I like the idea though! I’m sure a restaurant would benefit from specific criticism that’s meant to be constructive. A lot of Capitol Hill Yelpers (and I’m one of them) often refrain from writing negative reviews for fear that they’ll harm a small restaurant; this is our neighborhood and we do want to see places succeed. Strongly negative reviews are often from infrequent writers/disgruntled customers/people with no clue so aren’t typically helpful or well-intended. It would be a fun CHS feature!

  25. That’s a fact. There is a HUGE demand for late-night after-the-bar food that isn’t nasty, stinky hot dogs. Especially if it’s cheap. Big Mario’s and Lil Woody’s also get big late-night business too. If these places prove anything, it’s that CapHill needs more late-night food options– even if it’s just fast food.

  26. Roger that. Since the Gyro World closed, we’ve been down one other inexpensive place to go.

    What we could use: inexpensive breakfast places that open early. Remember when we had places like Ileen’s to go to? Glo’s is great but always crowded; Charlie’s is OK but they don’t open until nine.

  27. Never been to FF. Never had a reason to. It was an unremarkable space in a remarkable location. I also don’t really like Fish ‘n’ Chips, however I’ll go to Pike St. Fish Fry–for pulled pork; it’s so good!

    As for Wedgwood, it’s a good spot, and it’s weathered the curse of some other Thai restaurants down the street. Hopefully it’s here to stay. A HH might help draw more people.

    It would benefit any new restaurant/bar owner with their sights on Capitol Hill to read through the CHS obits of fallen restaurants. So many haven’t made it past the 1 year mark. It’s always sad to hear, but often not surprising. The posts/comments here provide a good amount of insight that otherwise requires a whole lot of sifting on Yelp: The MySpace of Review Sites.

  28. :) It’s a continual abuse of my ego to learn how many business owners in the ‘hood don’t read the site or have never heard of us. Lots of Hill owners live outside the ‘hood.

  29. Went there about three times over the last month and was about to go there again when I saw the sign that they were closed. Each time I went I had the blackened salmon tacos and the fried zucchini and it was the bomb! And everyone was always super nice and friendly – really feeling as if they cared – walking around to ask you how everything was. Fortunately I didn’t realize they were there until about a month or two ago. In any business the first two are the hardest. But it’s a difficult business and I wish them the best.

  30. I was in there a few days before closing a really liked the food. The fish was cooked perfectly, the batter was crisp and flaky, and the portion was quite decent for the money. The fried pickled were a good value for the price. My only complaint was that the slaw was bland. Perhaps consistency was the real problem?

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