Pho favorite Than Brothers moving into new, slightly used home across the street on Broadway

IMG_20140420_193727IMG_20140420_193714CHS has been a little rough with Broadway’s Joule building even using it recently as the poster child for “why Capitol Hill’s big mixed-use developments look, um, the way they do.” But a Broadway food and drink favorite likes the building just fine, thank you very much, and is about to show that, if you don’t love the first generation of new retail that pops up in some of Capitol Hill’s developments, maybe you just need to wait for the second.

“We are very excited to move to new location, nicer, brighter, more windows and open kitchen,” Chi Dang tells CHS about the plan for Broadway’s Than Brothers to make a very Capitol Hill-style, less-than-two-block move — across the street.

Dang said Capitol Hill’s outlet of the local pho chain will be ready to dole out the complimentary cream puffs and steamy bowls of broth and noodles by June. The exact logistics of the move’s impact on business as Than Brothers shuts down on the east side of the street and re-opens on the west in the massive apartment building are still being worked out.

We don’t have any clues about what is to become of Than Brothers former home at 516 Broadway E. Owned by a real estate investor, the 1923 masonry restaurant is part of a line of odd little parcels with different landowners now semi-surrounded by the large Brix condo development to the north. Local businesses like The Vajra and India Express remain. Broadway Video abruptly shuttered in March. The single-story buildings neighboring All Pilgrims Church remain mostly unimproved following the Brix-led wave of development and the construction of the Joule, built in the late 2000s where the old Broadway QFC used to stand.

Than Brothers will take over the space in the Joule left vacant by national chain Qdoba’s 2013 closure amid continued challenges for Broadway “limited service” restaurants. While recent new Capitol Hill restaurant projects tend to gravitate toward concepts and cocktails, Than Brothers represents a moderately priced, good bang for your buck option and, thus far, has apparently been able to buck the street’s downward trends for “limited service.” Also, Capitol Hill children may have staged a mini-revolt should another kid-favorited restaurant have left the Hill. With the move, it looks like Than Brothers is here to stay on Broadway.

Thanks to tipster Andrés for the pictures and vigilance!

24 thoughts on “Pho favorite Than Brothers moving into new, slightly used home across the street on Broadway

  1. too bad. one of the redeeming qualities for this place was the no frills grimey ambiance reminding me of real cities back east like new york or philly.

    • I wish people from the east coast would stay in their authentic, grimy restaurants that serve awesome pizza, stop moving here, and leave us in peace in our clean, sterile establishments.

        • I always find it amazing when I hear people rave about the Pho here. It’s pretty much the most tasteless, bland Pho in town. Certainly on Capitol Hill, anyway. The only thing you can say about them is cheap. I guess that’s enough for some people. Even so, I’m glad somebody’s renting spaces in these “6 floor/ground floor retail” aquariums we seem to have sprouted everywhere. CH is plenty over-supplied with this excess retail space for now.

          • People are dazzled by the cream puffs (because they’re very tasty!) and are somehow led to believe Than Bros make good pho. They don’t. Pho Cyclo is pretty good. Monsoon is my favorite pho in the city. Yes, it’s $10, but you owe it to yourself to try it if you like pho.

  2. One thing that’s always impressed me about Than Bros is how big it feels. For a place where you can get a big dinner for $8 with tax and tip, it seemed oddly cavernous. I wonder how the rent and space differ from their old place to the new.

    When I first saw the headline I assumed they were moving into the old Saizen Sushi place. That restaurant was cavernous, although maybe it only felt that way because it was so empty …

    • I like the old space for that reason too, spacious. If they want to have the same number of tables in this new space, they will have to cram them in.

  3. I’m pretty relieved, actually. On my most recent trip to this specific location I was was punched in the face with the stench of urine in their doorway. Seems to me that someone had been spending the night there to stay warm. Sad as it is that some people sleep on the streets, I don’t want to have pee be the last smell in my nose before I have a meal here. No doorway like that in the new location.

    And ya know, complaining about the style of existing buildings isn’t going to get them torn down. If people can’t quit whining about the way Capitol Hill looks now, they can move out. This neighborhood, like all neighborhoods, is changing. Even 20 years ago people hated the “new stuff.” It’s always going to be changing and that’s just how it is. Do what all the other folks did 10-20 years ago and move to Columbia City, Beacon Hill, and Georgetown. But don’t be surprised if those ‘hoods get major facelifts too. Happens in every city. I don’t have a problem with new construction. New buildings bring new people and new money to our local economy. We should be proud to live in a safe, desirable, hip neighborhood in such a safe, desirable city.

      • Also – I hate to make it sound like I’m glad people can’t afford to live in Capitol Hill. It’s true that people are being pushed out and gentrification is not just a plague hitting Seattle or even specific neighborhoods in Seattle, but it’s definitely upsetting a lot of longtime residents of Capitol Hill. It’s abso-fuckin-lutely a major bummer that some people are finding that it’s harder and harder to afford to rent in this area. But simply put, where there is a demand, someone will supply. People want to live here and it’s causing developers to invest, buy land and make that happen… At a cost. If you wanna be in the ‘coolest’ hood, you have to have serious money.

        At some point there will be a shift in people moving to less expensive areas and then those neighborhoods will experience the same growth and evolution. Pioneer Square is undergoing incredible changes. And look at SLU today compared to 5, 10, 15 years ago? The whole city is evolving. It’s crummy that we have to share such an awesome place with so many people that want to move here. But it’s good for our economy, our egos, and our pockets if we own property. It also keeps Seattle on the map as a city people want to visit and learn more about. At the end of the day I’m ok with that.

    • Does the new location have a doorway? If so, how does the newness of the building keep someone from peeing there?

      I saw the new signage from Vivace this weekend. Not crazy about losing the drab charm, but if the pho (and the price) stay the same, I’ll keep coming back!

      • The entrance to the door is not inset in the new space like it is in the current space. As in, you can literally sleep in the little alcove that exists in the space they’ve been in for years. But across the street in the new building there exists no such space. The door is not inset and it’s practically flush against the exterior of the building. If you’re familiar with the area it’s easier to picture.

  4. I think this is a great move. People who want their Than Bros. won’t be thrown off, and the new place might be more accessible to newer residents and visitors who may overlook the more humble original location and signage. The new place will probably be easier to maintain and keep clean- should be a great fit. Developers may have had stars in their eyes, dreaming of attracting deep-pocketed national chains to occupy these units for steep rent, but this is how they’ll learn their lesson. I’d bet Than Bros. isn’t paying quite as much as Qdoba did in rent.

    • It’s also entirely possible some sinister developer has plans for the chunk of Broadway between Brix and the church. Seems funny that Broadway Video left and now without warning their neighbor the Pho place is moving across the street to what is likely a more expensive place. Especially since they were closed not too long ago for what they described as remodeling.

      yeah, I think we can expect a story in the not too distant future about something big coming for that chunk of Broadway

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