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Tiny Resto seeking new ways to turn Capitol Hill neighbors into customers

With so much of the city’s attention this week on the light rail tunnels to the heart of Capitol Hill, one of the smallest, more off the beaten track players in the neighborhood’s food and drink scene is marking three years of staying alive in the restaurant business with plans to do even more to draw in its neighbors and make them customers.

“It’s going to be the same place, just more chances to enjoy,” said Johanna Robinson of her plans for Resto, on E Thomas between Summit and Bellevue.

For these first three years, Resto has kept things exceedingly simple, open only for dinner service, with typically 20 or so customers per night from 6  to 10 PM, Tuesday through Saturday. Patrons make a reservation on the restaurant’s website and pay a flat $60 fee per person for the restaurant which prides itself on steak and seafood. Then they show up and eat whatever the chef feels like making — no menus.

IMG_2059“It’s spontaneous, improvisational cooking,” Robinson said. She was quick to add they often work with people who have dietary restrictions, whatever they may be. “We just have fun cooking for people, and we like to do it right.”

Robinson and chef/owner Jang Cho opened Resto in April 2013, replacing the quirky Thomas Street Bistro. Robinson said they’ve enjoyed their first three years. The first two especially. Though she noted the past year had been a bit challenging from a management perspective, she said they now have the right people in place to keep things going into the future.

That future will start April 1 with some changes for the neighborhood joint. Resto plans to open an outside area that will have a casual, street-eats vibe, Robinson said. They plan to start doing street food and a bar in the area, no reservations required.

The food will be “street meat” style, likely served in a paper bowl that customers can take along with them. But she hopes they’ll stay and find out what John Cairns mixes up behind the bar; Resto is applying for a liquor license and they hope to start serving along with the new patio.

Once the patio opens, Resto plans to expand its hours to start opening at 2 PM and the restaurant may also start opening on Mondays, as well.

Resto is located at 421 E Thomas. Find out more about it at

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11 thoughts on “Tiny Resto seeking new ways to turn Capitol Hill neighbors into customers

  1. “It’s going to be the same place, just more chances to enjoy,” said Johanna Robinson of her plans for Resto, on E between Summit and Bellevue.

    E what?

  2. I gotta say the yelp reviews are a little ominous on this one. Maybe J can have dinner and provide a definitive verdict – some say 5* some 1*.

    And no, I don’t have $55 to sponsor it :)

  3. $60 should make for a truly excellent dinner….especially since it doesn’t presumably include wine, tax & tip. I’d be interested in knowing if the food justifies that price point. I’m also not inclined to go to a restaurant which doesn’t offer some choices, but that’s just me.