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Capitol Hill food+drink | 22 shuts doors? Also, Herbivoracious pop-up, Bourdain at Melrose Market

(Image: 22)

We’ll take rumors. We’ll take suggestions. We’ll take pictures of your half-eaten dessert. Hit us here.

  • CHS fielded a selection of tips email this weekend along the lines of this first in the series sent by reader Trent about the goings-on at 15th Ave E’s 22:

You may already be aware of this, but our waitress at 22 doors just told us they were closing on Sunday. She said it will reopen two months later with a different restaurant owners.

CHS contacted the bistro’s ownership and were told the rumor isn’t true — though 22, Josephine Wong, said, will be closed “soon” for “remodeling.”

“So, you’ll be closed?” CHS asked. “I don’t really want to talk about this right now. Don’t write about rumors,” Josephine said. UPDATE: Josephine Wong called us back to today to emphasize that the closure is temporary for a remodel and said the current owners have no plans to sell 22.

Claim to fame at one point? Smoking!

For now, however, that’s what we have to go on. While the staff may be talking about the situation as a closure, restaurant owners CHS has spoken to say there are reasons for 22’s ownership to play things closer to the chest. We’ve seen similar situations on the Hill before — and likely will again. Why does it play out this way?

One reason can be the logistics around transferring a liquor license. Here’s what one owner of a different struggling Capitol Hill restaurant told CHS:

Actually, the reason why having it out there that there’s a deal might scuttle the deal is because of a loophole in the liquor laws. If XXX temporarily buys a percentage of XXX, he can get a new D/B/A liquor license in as little as 2-3 days. Then he can “sell” that percentage back to us. If we closed XXX and he bought the business and opened a “brand new” place, it would take 30-60 days to get a new liquor license, along with a lot more red tape to deal with. That’s why we don’t want all this closure stuff out there in the press. 

To be 100% clear, we have no idea if that’s what is happening on 15th Ave E — but if you’ve ever wondered why these situations can play out this way, here, apparently, is one answer.

Josephine and Ricky Wong are active in the Seattle-area restaurant community. In addition to 22, they operate Lake Washington Blvd’s Sabai among other ventures. They acquired 22 in a rather quiet transaction in 2008. 22 opened as 22 Doors back in 2005 and was known for its use of old doors from the shuttered Camlin Hotel and other salvaged material from around Seattle. It also — for a short time — made its mark as a venue where you could enjoy a cigarette “indoors” on its covered patio in the early period after Seattle’s smoking ban.

The rather lovely patio in question (Image: 22)

Founders Mike Brown and Mark Edmison moved on from their investment and the Wongs took over, introducing a remodeling of the space and, eventually, a simplified name. Recent experiments including a quickly abandoned lunch service were not successful though the covered patio area remains one of the nicer places on Capitol Hill to enjoy an outdoorsish drink.

We haven’t been able to scare up any information on what comes next for the space other than the latest “remodel.” There’s one rumor about a Seattle chef who could be in the mix — but we’ve added enough to the mill for today. A few business owners in the stretch said they hadn’t heard about any new tenant. By the way, digging through the DPD files for the address reveals an interesting note for an alternate history of 15th Ave E: In 1984, plans were filed for a small tenant improvement for an ice cream shop.

22’s block of 15th Ave E is due for some major changes in coming weeks as both The Wandering Goose and Rione XIII wrap up construction and prepare for openings. Heather Earnhardt’s Goose bakery and cafe continues to work to raise capital through its founder club, while Ethan Stowell’s homage to a suburb of Rome is envisioned as a neighborhood-style trattoria. CHS also wrote about changes at two more 15th Ave E restaurants here.

  • June was a cruel month — or month of opportunity and change depending on how you look at things. We reported on the closure at E Olive Way’s The Elite last week:

Last month, CHS reported on the final days at Faire Gallery.Faire’s closure has been part of a small wave of turnover on the Hill to start the summer. Chao Bistro can be included along with video store Third Man’s closure (and liquidation sale), and the final weeks of Travelers on E Pine.

  • Speaking of opportunity, this guy is looking for some space on the Hill:

Hey, I see you guys have done some great “matchmaking” in the past. I write Herbivoracious (, and my first cookbook ( came out in early May. I’m looking for a longer-term popup space to do lunches, probably 3-4 days week of high end vegetarian food. I’m open to a dinner-only restaurant that would like to make some money from lunchtime, or a restaurant that is going out of business and would like to temporarily sublease to me, or a shared kitchen that can host private events, or even a partner that wants to create a restaurant with me where they run dinners and I do lunches. 


  • Here’s Travelers’ Beacon Hill Home, via Facebook:
  • CHS visited with the guys from Black Coffee Co-op prior to their Sunday open house. They’re looking for a female spirit to add to the mix, by the way:

    The co-op’s open house (Image: Black Coffee via Facebook)

“We’re looking for a female with good organizational skills” should read “We’re looking for a female with good organizing skills.” We’re speaking about community organizing, not collating or something like this.

(via Facebook)


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5 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | 22 shuts doors? Also, Herbivoracious pop-up, Bourdain at Melrose Market

  1. Ouch! I’ve always liked that spot, think its been underutilized for a long time. Jacks bistro? Was that the name in the early 90’s? Had my eye on it ever since. Time after time they miss the mark… Someday, someday!

  2. I honestly thought 22 Doors had already closed over a year ago. The lack of eye-catching eye-level signage and the closing of that curio shop right next to has often left me confused about that.

  3. When 22 Doors first opened it was fantastic and I went there all the time. It was really the only place on 15th that I truly enjoyed on all levels. I loved the food and the atmosphere. When it ‘quietly changed hands’ there was a palpable change in that atmosphere and in the food. It was a big turn off and its good energy faded completely. Let’s hope this next change brings some of that back.