Capitol Hill Community Post | Beloved Seattle restaurant to close

From Poppy

Today, James Beard Award–winning chef Jerry Traunfeld announced he will be closing Poppy after 11 years of service as a staple of the Seattle restaurant scene.

After 17 trailblazing years winning awards and making headlines as the executive chef of The Herbfarm in Woodinville, Jerry Traunfeld left in 2007 to open his own restaurant. Poppy opened in 2008 featuring a reinvention of the thali, a tray of 10 harmonious dishes served at once, infused with Traunfeld’s signature seasonal, herb-inspired culinary style. Over the next decade, Poppy went on to garner numerous awards and accolades, including James Beard semifinalist nominations for Best New Restaurant and Best Chef of the Year (nationally) and 1 of 50 Top New Restaurants in the World by Condé Nast Traveler.

Traunfeld and his husband Stephen, who just celebrated their 39th anniversary, have worked together at Poppy since opening day. As a couple, they have decided to make a lifestyle change. Stephen will be retiring, while Jerry plans to take a step back from the demands of being a restaurant owner but will continue to do some of the things he loves most: cooking, food writing, teaching and gardening. They are also planning a move to Palm Springs, California.

“Closing Poppy and leaving our beloved Seattle community was not an easy decision,” said Traunfeld. “Stevie and I came to this decision together. We always thought we would move to Palm Springs at some point, and we intuitively felt like this was the right time. A restaurant is a dynamic entity with a distinct lifespan, and we felt like this was the time to appreciate the run we’ve had with Poppy and end on a good note. Now is the time for us to say goodbye to our Poppy family and explore what’s next.”

Rebecca and Nathan Lockwood, who own Altura Restaurant across the street, will open a new restaurant in the Poppy space in the fall of 2019. “We are very excited for the opportunity to step into the space at Poppy,” said Nathan Lockwood. “Chef Traunfeld has been an inspiration to so many cooks over the years, and we hope to continue to honor that legacy for years to come.”

Jerry and Stephen would like to recognize the talented and dedicated employees who have helped create a strong community at Poppy and the many loyal customers who have become their friends over the years. In particular, they would like to thank Kate Johnson, Poppy’s dining room manager, who has been with the restaurant for all 11 years and made so many close connections with guests since the day it opened; and Sydney Clark, who started in Poppy’s kitchen as a line cook six years ago and progressed through all the stations until she became sous chef and then chef.

“I owe so much to my employees over the last 11 years,” said Traunfeld. “They have helped make Poppy a home away from home for us and have helped my concept for this restaurant thrive for over a decade.”

Poppy has served as the springboard for some of Seattle’s most talented culinary professionals, including:

  • Jason Stratton, Poppy’s first chef and now executive chef at Mamnoon
  • Dana Cree, Poppy’s first pastry chef, who went on to Alinea and Spago (Beverly Hills) and earned two James Beard nominations for Outstanding Pastry Chef
  • Kevin Burzell, who started as opening cook at Poppy and went on to found Kedai Makan
  • Matt Bumpas, former Poppy pastry chef, who went on to found Sweet Bumpas ice cream
  • Dionne Himmelfarb, former Poppy pastry chef, who is now executive pastry chef of Ethan Stowell Restaurants
  • Joe Ritchie, former Poppy chef, who went on to be executive chef of Goldfinch Tavern
  • Madeline Puckett, who worked front of house at Poppy and went on to found Wine Folly

“Thank you to our customers and our regulars who have been so supportive of Stevie and me since the beginning,” added Traunfeld.

Poppy’s last day of service will be Sunday, August 4. The last Thali Tuesday will be July 16, and happy hour will end on July 18. Jerry and Stephen will be moving to Palm Springs later in the year.

Accolades & Awards for Chef Jerry Traunfeld:

  • James Beard Foundation
    • 1996, 1997: Nominee, Best Chef: Northwest/Hawaii, The Herbfarm
    • 2000: Winner, Best Chef: Northwest/Hawaii, The Herbfarm
    • 2001: Nominee, Single-Subject Book, The Herbfarm Cookbook
    • 2009: Semifinalist, Best New Restaurant, Poppy
    • 2010, 2011, 2016: Semifinalist, Outstanding Chef, Poppy
  • 2008: 1 of 50 Top New Restaurants in the World, Condé Nast Traveler Hot List
  • 2008: 1 of 50 Best New Restaurants in the US, Travel and Leisure
  • 2008: Hottest Table in Town, Seattle Magazine
  • 2009: 10 Best Restaurants of the Year, Seattle Met
  • 2011: Best Restaurants of the Year, Seattle Met
  • 2012: Best Northwest Cuisine, Seattle Magazine
  • 2015: Best Chef of the Year, Seattle Met

About Poppy
In a warm, modern dining room overlooking North Capitol Hill’s streetscape, Poppy serves James Beard Award–winning chef Jerry Traunfeld’s seasonal cuisine, highlighting herbs from its extensive urban herb garden and spices from around the globe. The always-changing menu offers small and large plates, creative cocktails and killer desserts, and features a daily thali, a tray of 10 small, harmonious dishes served at once. For more information go to

A downsizing Linda spins off Capitol Hill’s Smith

(Image: Smith)

Almost one year to the day that CHS reported on the sale of Tallulah’s and twelve years and one month after the quiet side of Capitol Hill Linda’s joint broke the “Jake’s to Mango to Mcguire’s to Kozak’s to Cypress curse,” a deal for new owners at 15th Ave E’s Smith is about to be completed.

Linda Derschang confirmed the sale this week and said the plan is for the new, first-time restauranteurs to take over and “not change a thing.” As for Linda, she says don’t read too much into the transaction.

“If you look in any city, you see people opening restaurants, closing restaurants, selling restaurants,” she said Monday.

Instead, the paring down of the Derschang Group empire is about getting older, wanting a smaller company, and, Derschang says, New York City. Continue reading

Team behind Altura eyeing new project on Broadway? — UPDATE: Welcome Carrello and a fond farewell to Poppy

(Image: Poppy)

A liquor license application for the north Broadway home of one of the key early chef-driven restaurants in the Capitol Hill food and drink boom appears to involve the team behind the neighborhood’s most ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ of its 💲💲💲 offerings.

According to the application filed Friday and already making the rounds in Seattle’s food and drink social media, Nathan and Rebecca Lockwood have applied for a new liquor license for a project titled Carrello at the address of Poppy, the fresh herb and Thali inspired restaurant from chef Jerry Traunfeld.

Neither the applicants or Traunfeld have yet responded to our inquires around the application. Such filings are common around Capitol Hill when a new owner is preparing to take over an existing venue. The applications must be approved in a process that can take months and not all deals close over issues around money, leases, and more. It’s a hugely sensitive transaction involving people’s lives and their livelihoods and, often, lots of money.

UPDATE 8:15 PM: Sounds like an ambitious project is being born in the process. “Carrello: noun, singular, a small cart usually consisting of two or three trays used for serving food, tea etc.,” the press release starts. Here’s the word on Carrello from the Lockwoods.

  1. Diners will be greeted by numerous carts (carrelli) carrying a wide array of small plates including stuzzichini, antipasti, salumi and seasonal vegetable dishes. These items will be priced individually from three to twelve dollars and guests may choose as many or as few as they wish. A meal could be made of these bites alone. Continue reading

CHS Pics | The Cookie Counter brings pink walls and sweet vegan treats to E Pike’s Gay City

Need an E Pike vegan treat? The Cookie Counter is now open on Capitol Hill inside Gay City.

CHS reported in June on the new partnership at the LGBTQ nonprofit’s headquarters that brings the Greenwood-born dessert shop and café for vegan pastries, cookies and ice cream to the 500 block of E Pike. “To be in that space will be nostalgic for us,” Chelsea Keene, who co-founded The Cookie Counter with her husband Chris Olson, told CHS in June. “When Chris and I lived on the hill, the previous Kaladi Brothers Coffee space at Gay City was our favorite coffee shop.”

You can now find Kaladi Brothers down the street where it has returned to its overhauled original Capitol Hill home.

Meanwhile, there has been plenty of Capitol Hill-area cookie news. 19th Ave E’s Hello Robin announced expansion plans in University Village and Lowrider Baking joined the food and drink scene developing around 23rd and Union’s new construction. Continue reading

Eat at E Madison’s Little Uncle soon — the Franks are ready to move on

At least you will have time to say goodbye. Born at the farmer’s market and raised in the E Madison walk-up now home to Westman’s Bagels before eventually opening in the compact but space at 16th and Madison, Thai jungle curry and khao soi specialist Little Uncle is up for sale as the couple behind the business are set to take new paths.

Wiley and PK Frank say they wanted to be as transparent as possible for their small team of employees and large contingent of dedicated customers about what comes next as they search for a buyer:

After almost 9 years, we have decided to move on to do other things with our lives. PK has been enrolled in carpentry school for the past 9 months at Seattle Central’s Wood Technology program. Her interest in carpentry and construction will inevitably lead her away from the restaurant life. Wiley will pursue other food related avenues, such as perfecting french dip sandwiches, pies and parker house rolls.

“It is important to note that we currently do not have a buyer, so we will continue to be open until a buyer arises,” they write. “We just feel the need to put our decision out into the public so that you all can hear it from us.” Continue reading

After 19 years of tapas and date nights, Capitol Hill’s Tango has closed

(Image: Tango)

One of Capitol Hill’s most popular date spots — and a throwback to turn of the millennium Seattle — has closed leaving more big shoes to fill along the Pike food and drink scene.

Tango Restaurant and Lounge has shuttered. The closure of the 19-year-old restaurant at the base of Capitol Hill at the corner of Pike and Boren was announced via social media to start the month: Continue reading

I drank this on Capitol Hill: Florida Man at Liberty

Will Burnett loves to cook and ride his bike, but we found him slinging drinks at Liberty on 15th. When we asked for a patriotic cocktail, Burnett’s immediate choice was “Florida Man,” a cocktail made with rum, orange juice, banana liqueur, and it’s carbonated with “our fancy carbonation machine” with some lime and simple syrup. A touch of Cappelletti, “a classic Italian herbal liqueur,” is added, then stirred with ice, and strained into the glass. Continue reading

With a prescription for Japanese whiskey and yakitori, The Doctor’s Office to replace Blue Stone on E Olive Way

A scene from The Doctor’s Office pop-up (Image: Drivers Club)

The doctor is in and a small but loved E Olive Way restaurant that has been looking for an exit has a deal in hand. The prescription has been written for The Doctor’s Office, a new Japanese-inspired, compact 12-seat tasting room and bar with a yakitori takeout.

“Let’s see if we can create that environment where people end up in a conversation about what whiskey they’re drinking,” Matthew Powell, MD said as the first-time bar owner described some of the vision behind the new project that will team him with Seattle food and drink expert Keith Waldbauer, an outgrowth of the relationship the men started over pours when Waldbauer was part of the ownership at Liberty on 15th Ave E.

Blue Stone Bistro owner Chong Kim announced the closure Monday and set off speculation about the “high-end bar” set to replace the 2015-born Korean joint. Powell said he found out Blue Stone was available in a chance conversation over the counter with the owner of a nearby bar. A lunch meeting later a few months back, and Kim and The Doctor’s Office had a deal. Continue reading

Birds of a cask ale feather will flock together as Machine House’s Central District taproom becomes the Capercaillie Pub

Celebrate the 4th of July by drinking English ales

Capercaillie Pub will continue Machine House Brewery’s quest of serving English beer on E Jefferson. The new project is a result of a shift in ownership, and the pub will be taking over the brewery’s bar space, making a few smaller changes in addition to the name change and change in ownership.

“Our vision is the Capercaillie will be a neighborhood pub featuring cask ale, and a place where people can hang out and feel comfortable,” said Alex Brenner, the pub’s owner, “I really like the layout of the space, the staff are great with customers, and the beer we serve is spot on.” Continue reading

The Meinert letters a bid to deny former Pike/Pine bar owner’s efforts to re-grow nightlife empire off Capitol Hill

Dow Constantine at 2011’s Capitol Hill Block Party with then-producer Dave Meinert (Image: CHS)

Some believe it was the letters documenting allegations of sexual misconduct and rape posted outside his Pike/Pine venues that ultimately drove David Meinert off Capitol Hill last summer. The nightlife entrepreneur has continued to do business in Seattle at his 5 Point bar and is now preparing to begin rebuilding his empire of cheap beer and barstools with his purchase of Lower Queen Anne classic, the Mecca Cafe.

But letters could again be an issue.

Wednesday night, a group is planning to meet for a writing party at Capitol Hill bar Corvus and Co. Others have promised to hand out form letters on the streets for neighbors to sign and send in. Templates have been passed around and traded on social media. Here is one simple, straightforward example:

To Whom It May Concern,
I would like to strongly urge the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to DENY a new liquor license to Queen Anne Diner LLC/David John Meinert for the Mecca Cafe (license number 350217). Mr. Meinert has had 11 credible sexual assault accusations levied against him recently. In many of these assaults, Mr. Meinert had been drinking alcohol and/or assaulted women in bars he has owned. Please deny this new liquor license application.

Thank you,
(your name here)

Thursday, June 20th, public notice was given that Meinert had applied for a new liquor license for 526 Queen Anne Ave N, the home of the Mecca, as part of the process of acquiring the legendary hangout. For 14 days, the notice must be posted at the place of business. The Meinert letter writers hope they can convince the liquor board to deny the the new owner the vital license.

But the odds are stacked against them. Continue reading