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Capitol Hill food+drink | Dulces calls it quits (again) on Capitol Hill


White table cloths and a bar couldn't draw Lawrence Lofts neighbors downstairs (Images: Dulces)

White table cloths and a bar couldn’t draw Lawrence Lofts neighbors downstairs (Images: Dulces)

Even for a man who called his restaurant Dulces it’s hard to not sound bitter about burning out on Capitol Hill.

“We had a hard time getting new clientele,” owner Carlos Kainz tells CHS about the sudden shuttering of his 19th and Madison restaurant over the weekend. “Our old clientele were very loyal. But the very young customers upstairs… they wanted a club.”

Kainz and wife Julie Guerrero served their last dishes at the latest incarnation of Dulces Latin Bistro after only 280 days of business in the restaurant space of the Lawrence Lofts building. Kainz said he and Guerrero struggled to grow business on the corner — “The cars go by too fast, so they can’t see we we’re here” — and were given the option to either sell or get out.

Turns out, there were plenty of takers looking for a turnkey, Capitol Hill-area restaurant space. Thudsuan Kitchen and Bar will take over the corner with a start-of-September opening planned.

The second generation venture in the new construction will team some veterans of Seattle-area Thai restaurants in the first operation they’ll run on their own.

Boyd Nguyen says the group is inherently a great restaurant space in a good location — and is taking a no nonsense approach to traditional Thai.

“We’ll be open for lunch, dinner… give it a shot and see how it goes,” he said.

Good enough. A liquor license process is underway. We’ll keep you posted as the new opening approaches.

In the meantime, Kainz and Guerrero begin their long odyssey anew. After their 2011 exit from the restaurant’s original Madrona home, the couple were at one time lined up for Broadway’s Joule building. Next came word that the new Dulces was destined for the Oola Distillery project where Zoe roosts now. Ultimately, after 19 years in business in Madrona, Dulces landed downtown on Western Ave. By summer of 2012, Dulces was shuttered again.

So, does a third closure mark the end of Dulces? Kainz said no.

“If we find a small space in Leschi or Madison Park, or Madison Valley…” he said, “We’re not going to go big and crazy.”

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • The Redwood is not closing. Yet. A recent note in City Arts was off. By about 18 months. CHS reported on the eventual fate of the hidden-away Capitol Hill watering hole here in 2012. Lisa Brooke said the plan remains the same — but that you have plenty of time to say goodbye. “We are actually in our 1 year plus 6 months to go countdown… we hope to start ‘celebrating’ the last year countdown in the new year,” she tells us. Party.

  • The Capitol Hill Zaw, however, *is* closing — but the local chain is looking for a new Hill location to reopen in after six years at 15th and Pine:
    In the past 6 years, we’ve learned a lot about ‘zaw, including how much space we need to operate a store, and what kind of convenience our customers need from us. While we’ve grown, we came to realize that our initial Capitol Hill space was way too big for our concept and wasn’t the most convenient place for our customers to quickly stop by and pickup a pizza. Our new stores have been designed to much better fit our operations. With that, we will be choosing not to extend our lease in Capitol Hill and we will be continuing our search for a more perfect location in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. We’re not abandoning our friends in Capitol Hill as we will continue to deliver to all of our Capitol Hill customers out of our South Lake Union location, which is just a short 5 minutes away. We have revamped that store to better fit the needs of increased delivery and pickup volume.
    Stop by our Capitol Hill location and grab a pizza, or just say hi before our last day on August 24th and you’ll receive a $10 off coupon for your next visit to our South Lake Union location at 434 Yale Avenue North on the corner of Yale & Republican.
  • Kaisho “Chef de cuisine” Kalen Schramke is bringing his Savage Cuisine pop-up back to life at 12th/Pike:
    Hi all it’s Kalen from savage Street cuisine. I’ve got a place on Capitol Hill now called Kaisho on 12 and pike. I’m going to be doing a communal dinner every Monday between 7 and 10pm. Show up when you like and food will be on the table. Tonight’s feast is pork coconut curry, cucumber melon salad and all the fixins. Only 15$ per person. See you all real soon.
  • The Puget Sound Business Journal on the newly opened Kaisho: “Gone are Boom Noodle’s long communal tables and big, rather serene photo of young Japanese women on a bridge looking at their cell phones. In their place are black upholstered booths and a giant wall mural combining graffiti and Japanese animation figures in Day-Glo colors.”
  • Out of the blue, quite a week in Capitol Hill food and drink:
    Inès Pâtisserie opened on the backside of Pike/Pine
    Von Trapp’s became
    Rhein Haus
    We spilled the beans on a new E Pine izakaya from Suika
    We introduced you to Jackson’s Lake Chad Cafe
    Black Coffee called it quits on Capitol Hill
    Nuflours announced a crowdfunding drive to create its new cafe space
    7 Beef plans were revealed
  • Here’s how the Wall Street Journal does Capitol Hill.
  • Here is Food and Wine’s take on Porchlight, Victrola, and Analog Coffee.
  • The new Gamma Ray Games/Raygun Lounge link-up is open:1548169_10152330411102169_1535270587999592040_o
  • Getting beer/wine (according to permits) — Fuel Coffee (19th Ave) and Freddy’s (Broadway)
  • “The bar is cool, but a relaxed cool…
  • Witness is celebrating its one-year anniversary.
  • Restaurant Zoe is throwing an open house:
    Enjoy a variety of appetizers with the farm to table sensibilities and seasonal finesse of Restaurant Zoë’s Chefs while you sip on a custom crafted cocktail from our fully stocked bar and learn about what our space has to offer!
  • Chuck’s Central District is throwing a customer appreciation party:
    Wow. It’s been just about seven months since we opened, and the response we’ve gotten from the community has been overwhelming. We couldn’t have asked for a warmer welcome to the Central District, so as a thank you, we’ll be having a customer appreciation party next Tuesday (the 26th). We’re closing off the parking lot, and Chuck himself will be serving up some delicious homemade Korean barbecue! This is your chance to come out and meet the guy on the shirts–and on that note, anybody wearing a Chuck’s t-shirt that day will get $1 off all their beers that day! We’ll also be offering $1 scoops of ice cream. Plates of food will be $5, with 100% of the proceeds going towards Treehouse, helping foster children get ready for the coming school year. (
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19 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Dulces calls it quits (again) on Capitol Hill” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. For Dulce’s, its too bad but its falls back on target marketing. Sure, the loyals will come once in a while, but when you look at the average age and average income level for a 2 mile radius of the location, you’re not going to get a lot of clientele that are willing to pay an average of $26/plate (or about $90 for a meal for two with drinks, tax, tip).

    • I don’t think it’s just price because the area has Spinasse, Crush, Zoe, Majorie, Luc, Harvest Vine. Price/portion is similar.

      It’s mainly bad location. When the place is open for a year and there are only 6 reviews on yelp, it means nobody even knows it exists. Future owners should ask around where they should open their restaurants before they do it.

      • I worked within 2 blocks of that corner for 6 years. That location is desperate for food options, and I would think the addition of new multi-family housing would create more demand. What is needed there is quick, easy and suitable for takeout food, not fine dining.

        I wouldn’t consider Zoe, Spinasse, Crush, etc to be in the same area at all. Parking is more available in the central Pike/Pine corridor. There are few reasons anyone would happen to be walking by 19th/Madison, and little incentive to go out of your way to head over there.

      • I think blaming on location is easy. It was an overpriced mediocre restaurant that would have failed in most urban areas with discriminating palates. It’s hard to run a successful restaurant in seattle.

  2. There are too many restaurants opening up in in these new developments which are more or less unproven locations for restaurant traffic. My crystal ball sees more closings.

  3. the food and atmosphere were “eh”, they were competing with a lot of good choices in the area. too bad it closed, but they used an outdated formula that didn’t work in the new location.if they could’ve focused on tastey affordable tapas, changed the interior design they’d have a better chance.

  4. Dulce’s was mediocre at best. I had really high hopes when it opened, but everything I had there was meh at best. Plus 19th and Madison gets fucking ZERO foot traffic. Terrible location, meh food – what do you expect?

  5. “Our old clientele were very loyal. But the very young customers upstairs… they wanted a club.”
    This made me laugh. As one of the people living in Lawrence Lofts, I can assure you we did not want a club. I experienced Dulces’ previous incarnation downtown (ironically, they opened in the building I was living in at the time) and had no desire to try them again.

  6. I’m with the “Dulces was ‘meh'” votes. Tried it once (at 19th & Madison), not good enough to go back with so many other options. In Madrona they had more of a captive audience, maybe that helped.

    • Not sure why you think Madrona was a captive audience. I live 4 blocks from their old location and I assure you this neighborhood is anything but captive– in fact quite the opposite. The avg Madrona resident is probably more mobile, more affluent, and more capable of driving anywhere they want to eat than your avg CapHill resident. It looked like it wasn’t any busier in Madrona than it was at 19th and Madison. Since I only ate there once I will leave it to others to speculate as to why, but I feel pretty safe in saying its success or failure had nothing to do with Madrona being a captive audience.

      • i think what ‘M’ was trying to say was, if you didn’t WANT to drive anywhere, in madrona, you didn’t have as many options. whereas on capitol hill, if you don’t want to drive, there are significantly more places to choose from.

        but that’s my guess from their comment. personally, i don’t see either neighborhood as being any more or less mobile than the other. plenty of car owners and bus takers and bike riders on capitol hill willing to travel off hill to eat at the next “it” restaurant.

  7. Dulces had many things going against them in their reboot at the Lawrence Lofts, but the residents were absolutely not one of them.

    The food was poor, the space looks like a converted concrete walled garage, and the drinks were horrible (if you didn’t like wine).

    Complete cop out to say it was the residents when they just weren’t competitive to the many many much better restaurants just a few blocks away. The residents at the Lawrence Lofts didn’t want a club (ok maybe a few idiots that live here did), but I think for the most part all we wanted was somewhere casual, with decent food, reasonable prices for the area, where you could grab a quick bite and a beer. Expecting our corner to become a hot new destination spot on the hill is completely unrealistic (though the cluster of kingfish, molly moons, and Tallulah’s is definitely picking up steam on the other side of 19th)

  8. I am one of those who thinks the closing of Dulces is of their own making. Our initial meal was wonderful, worth the price, and the service very attentive.

    Shortly thereafter we hosted a party of 7 and were disappointed that the food lacked the discriminating taste of our first visit and the service poor. In fact the party Mr. Kaintz was schmoozing with had to point us out to him after five minutes of waving just so we could get our bill.

    No wonder they didn’t get sufficient repeat business.

  9. Dulces is a manageable 15 minute walk from my home but I looked at the menu and, even with a pretty comfortable disposable income, I balked at the idea of paying for $26+ plates of food (ok, $25 for enchiladas but I can just head down to Cactus instead). I had imagined them more a casual tapas place based on what friends had said about their Madrona origins, but I’d rather go to Luc or Cafe Flora instead. If they had been small-plates focused and slightly more affordable than Harvest Vine I’d have been all over it, or if they went to a more casual price point I might have made it on occasion.

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