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Quebecois-styled cafe Resto to replace Capitol Hill’s infamous Thomas Street Bistro

It’s old news at Thomas and Summit where the restaurant has been closed for weeks but reporting the seeming happy ending for the Thomas Street Bistro just a day after the ouster of Groupon’s CEO seems like a delicious pairing. And if we add a third course including information on what comes next, well, there’s a meal.

Thomas Street, the tiny, heavily marketed six-year-old cafe creation of entrepreneur Adam Freeman, is gone. Infamous for a never-ending stream of daily deals and interesting tales of unique service, peculiar menu issues and mysteriously appearing dishes, the bistro was put up for sale earlier this year. The space found a taker — opening by late March or early April will be Resto, a casual, Montreal-inspired dining spot being opened by a couple working on their first restaurant project together.

“I’m not going to do any Groupon,” first-time restauranteur Johanna Robinson tells CHS. “No Living Social. it’s basically going to be word of mouth.”

Robinson and her “sweetheart” — and chef — Jang Cho will maximize the limited assets of the bistro’s small kitchen with a menu of simple but satisfying dishes. Resto will be a place for toast — open-faced sandwiches — and soup. You’ll even find a Montreal hot dog in the mix.

“So many people live nearby,” Robinson said. “We want this to be a place people go every day and have a beer.”

A Craigslist posting for the Thomas Street sale CHS reported on here

In the start, that every day will mean six days a week, happy hour and dinner service only to begin. There will also be Saturday/Sunday brunch. Lunch service will hopefully follow. Cho — who CHS found hard at work overhauling the bistro space last week — and Robinson will be working at Resto every hour it is open to get things started until managers can be brought on. That leaves Monday as a day of rest, Robinson said. The lean start-up strategy is informed by Cho’s long experience operating a bar and then restaurants in Richmond, Virginia and then with family in Snoqualmie before packing it all up and moving to Montreal for a 10-year change of pace. Now he’s back in the Pacific Northwest and brought some Montreal with him. A resto, you’ll find on a cruise around the Internet for those of us who have never been to Quebec, is Montreal slang for restaurant.

The Quebecois-styled cafe will be cozy. Robinson said the plan involves knocking out a wall to open the kitchen and incorporating one large table to create more space for seating. They’re also working in three booths. Counters will also provide room to perch. In the warmer times, the bistro’s patio space will happily come into play. “We had to put our design know-how and ingenuity to the test,” Robinson said.

Finding the bistro space at the corner of Thomas and Summit available was fortuitous — Freeman wanted out just as the couple wanted in. 

“We had been looking for six months. We wanted a small space. We wanted it to be manageable. We wanted to do it right and grow from there,” Robinson said.

As for Freeman and Thomas Street, the days of Groupon being forced to cut off the bistro because of too many daily deals and the strange aura that sometimes seemed to surround the restaurant are over.

Resto should be part of a new growth of every-day living additions to the area with Analog Coffee in its third year of business and the Thomas Street Market .

This post has been updated to correct our misspelling of the restaurant’s name.

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20 thoughts on “Quebecois-styled cafe Resto to replace Capitol Hill’s infamous Thomas Street Bistro

  1. I’m so glad to hear they’re not using any Groupons or Living Social. I think that was half the reason Thomas St. floundered. There will be plenty of people in the neighborhood pulling for them to succeed and voting with their feet (and forks).

  2. I am SO GLAD Groupon registered the complaints (including mine) and cut off TSB. Good riddance. Hands down the worst dining experience of my life. Hope Resto is better!

  3. I was thinking the same thing….and hopefully not the faux poutine served by another notable CapHill establishment (which, while it may be tasty, isn’t the “classic” poutine, in all its gut-bomb glory!). Now, if only someone would sell junky-good poutine on Broadway late-night.

  4. Not to put a damper on the general celebration, but Montreal restaurants, whatever the quality of the food, are famous for terrible service. I spent four days there and can confirm it.

  5. Is it me, or does this sound like a rather boring interpretation of Montréal’s fabulous cuisine? I hope it winds up being more exciting than it sounds. That space needs something special to exorcise its demons.

  6. Care to elaborate? The Thomas Street Bistro was a failed restaurant, but how was it a “nightmare” for the neighbors? Or are you being sarcastic?

  7. It seems to me that this tiny place really works against any possibility of a successful restaurant there….that, and the location, which gets very little foot traffic. Buy, hey, I wish them luck!

    I hope the new owners will refrain from putting up hundreds of flyers and also illegal sandwich boards, as the TSB did repeatedly.

  8. Thomas St Bistro wasn’t all that bad. They had $5 crepes and unlimited coffee for breakfast/lunch. Where can I get that now when I’m too lazy to make breakfast myself and am on a budget? Spoke with Adam a few times too and he’s a very nice guy, although I had the feeling he was a little worn out.
    For this new Resto, yeah, I was expecting to read ‘poontang’ somewhere. I hope they put that on the menu since there’s plenty of cheese curds to be found in this lovely area.
    I’ll be stopping by once it opens.

  9. Pingback: Capitol Hill food+drink | Montreal-inspired Resto debuts, Li’l Molly Moon’s does Ballard | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  10. The owners have made well planned use of the space. It feels much larger. More light coming in, the visible kitchen, high backed booths, and cosmopolitan decor have done wonders. I was very pleased with the meal and friendly atmosphere.