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Capitol Hill food+drink | Boom sets own course on E Pike as Blue C goes big– Plus, Bluebird Brewery

Boom E Pike’s bar at lunch time (Image: Boom Noodle)

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  • In the world of restaurant concepts, Boom Noodle is being moved to a backburner. When it comes to lucrative expansion, its family, it seems, will put its focus behind brother Blue C.

“The three Booms are all going through changes,” Madison Holdings president Dick Dalton tells CHS. “Some more so than others.”

On the surface, the changes will percolate into E Pike’s first Boom with a changed menu. Over time, Dalton, who heads the company currently operating the Boom chain, says you’ll see a slow transformation of Boom E Pike and its Bellevue and University Village little sisters as the quest for a scalable, expansion-friendly concept gives way to a new focus on building the individual Boom businesses.

“They will have a lot more freedom,” Dalton said. “We’re not going to be managing them as part of a chain restaurant.”

Sean Klinger currently serves as general manager of the E Pike Boom and will be on hand to guide the transition.

Blue C, meanwhile, is poised to be part of the newly-formed Sempai company’s great leap into a national focus. Four Blue C sushi restaurants are currently slated to open in California, Dalton said.

Preparing the company to make this leap was why Dalton says he was brought on to replace two of three founders in the original group that created the restaurants. Dalton had decades of experience growing the chains of the Back Bay Restaurant Group on the East Coast. HIs Sempai board now includes tech titans from Seattle-based Marchex. Marchex founder Russell Horowitz who has been involved as an investor since the inception of the Blue C and Boom chains. “He’s an accomplished businessman and provides a lot of very good input,” Dalton says of his dot com board chairman. Full disclosure: Your reporter briefly worked at Marchex on a short-lived project. Nobody ever took me to eat at Boom.

But CHS has definitely eaten its fair share of Boom. The E Pike location serves as one of the default Capitol Hill family restaurant experiences. Children are into the kid-friendly bento boxes and the table set-up lends itself to a more comfortable sprawl that wrangling rug rats sometimes requires. Meanwhile, CHS has heard some early — negative — feedback on the changes already evident at the University Village location. Thanks for the tip, M & L. It’s why we called Dalton in the first place. Dalton said the full shift will take more time to play out.

Boom Noodle, originally uploaded by ERIK98122.

The transition is an unusual moment in the Capitol Hill food and drink economy. CHS has covered investment-focused concepts on the Hill in the past — most miss the mark of significant expansion and others implode completely sucking away thousands of dollars of investors’ money.

Boom seems like, for now, at least, a different recipe.

“This week we start to roll out a new menu,” Dalton says.” We’re doing it in phases to make certain for our existing guests are satisfied.” 

It will mean new items and what Dalton says should be an increase in quality.

“We want to be sensitive to existing customers but get away from what Boom had been relegated to which is a glorified noodle house.”

We’ll see what those kids think of those bento boxes now.

  • From the people who brought you Poquitos , the Austrian beer + bocce Von Trapp’s opens… soon. 
  • We never posted all the January birthdays! We’ll have to do a double January and February bullet point in the next column.
  • The Shop Agora closes original location, keeps 15th Ave space going.
  • We posted last week that Thomas Street Bistro was for sale. Already snapped up, someone in the know tells CHS.
  • Bourdain at Melrose Market — “I tend to like runny and smelly…”

  • Porchlight Coffee is moving to a new home… around the corner 
  • Oddfellows has changed how you order lunch. (Oh, Smith has a refinished bar.)
  • Liberty has a new lady behind the bar and Seattle Weekly explains some hokum about why you should drink there on a Monday night. He’s a mixologist…
  • Cherry Street Coffee puts up dumb signs, gets Slogged, takes them down.
  • Lucky 8’s now serves lunch. Opens at 11:30 AM.
  • The Chinese food lord giveth and taketh away. Little Shanghai — upstairs in the Harvard Market neighboring Marination Station — has suddenly shuttered.

    Closed! (Image: CHS)

  • More burgers on Capitol Hill? Great idea!
  • More Josh Henderson/Skillet action in Seattle? Sure! Wait, what? “We’ll have space for boats to come up and either come to the restaurant or grab a six-pack or bottle of wine.” Whatever, Josh! Enjoy your yachting!
  • Tuesday is National Pancake Day at IHOP. Free short stacks all day. You can give to support the Children’s Miracle Network.
  • Starting Thursday, Bluebird Brewery is kicking into gear along with the E Pike ice cream shop. Here are the details on the grand opening:

Following a very successful first few months at Bluebird’s PhinneyWood store & brewery site, Bluebird Brewing will premier on draft at our Pike Street location this Thursday 2/7/13.

We’ll have a happy hour from 5-7, with all 8 taps flowing.

Bluebird’s 2bbl nanobrewery (located at the site of our PhinneyWood store) will provide Bluebird Ice Cream shops with craft sodas and dessert-focused beers. This means that your favorite ice cream shop will also be your favorite soda fountain, (including adult sodas.) 


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12 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Boom sets own course on E Pike as Blue C goes big– Plus, Bluebird Brewery” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. I must admit I haven’t eaten there much lately, but I’m sorry to see Little Shanghai go. The family that ran it was so nice, and it was so cute watching their little daughter grow up (so fast!). I hope they’re heading for something else good.

  2. I would agree that the U Village Boom menu change has been for the worse. While they offer a few new items, their other mainstays now have less ingredients and flavor. Too bad, I don’t think I’ll be going there as often in the future.

  3. I love Boom Noodle! it’s the perfect neighborhood place for consistently good, fast, and reasonably priced food. I’d hate to see the focus change to something more akin to all the other concept restaurants in the area. Plus, their happy hour menu is fab. Here’s hoping management recognizes what’s working and doesn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, as it were.

  4. Dalton’s Bay Bay Restaurant Group specialized in corporate concept chains, mostly in the “upscale casual” format, along with a TGIF Fridays ripoff and a Ruth Chris Steakhouse ripoff. The kind of places that have a veneer of being unique but are completely unremarkable. With a clintele skewing hard to middle of the road suburban sensibilities.

  5. wow. old menu was awesome. spicey beef udon was the the best. new menu not so much. in fact new menu is not awesome. boo. weaksauce.

    btw the other week before they changed the menu tom douglas was in the booth next to me.

    i wonder if he likes the new menu?

  6. We already have some of tastiest little sushi joints in the country. Southern California, now that seems like an appropriate target market for them considering they are all about spending big money on flashy buildouts. It’s all about the Benjamins.

  7. This chain is a joke in terms of quality food, since sushi is a very straightforward format, not a cheesy belt-run plastic plate, canned tuna sushi. I don’t think Capitol Hill will respond well to low-grade canned sushi and frozen fish. Good luck in Cali!

  8. Went there for lunch. It was AWFUL. I did not get a sense that anything was higher quality, despite being told that was the deal by staff. The rice was especially bad, it was like Minute Rice. The kids menu is a disaster. What was wrong with with the old chicken pho? We go there regularly with family parties of up to ten people and are disappointed to have to give up such a tried and true place, but it’s really not worth it.

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