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Closure on 19th Ave E: Ernest Loves Agnes — but only for a few more nights

After just over a year of business and two years to the month when its predecessor the legendary Kingfish Cafe served its final meals, 19th Ave E’s Ernest Loves Agnes will close at the end of January to make way for a new project:

Ernest Loves Agnes owner, Jason Lajeunesse, announced today that he will close his restaurant and bar after service on Tuesday, January 31, 2017.

Jason said on behalf of his business partner, Joey Burgess, and himself: “We will be serving our last dinner at Ernest Loves Agnes at the end of the month to make room for a wonderful new project. We have loved serving our neighbors, and hope that you will join us for our last week of service, ending with our last night January 31, 2017.”

Details about the new project will be released in the coming weeks.

CHS reported in November on the restaurant’s one-year anniversary — and yet another rotation of characters in the kitchen at the Hemingway-inspired Italian and pizza joint.

Owner Jason Lajeunesse declined to comment further on the closure and what comes next for the space at this time.

The restaurant underwent a significant and much needed overhaul after the Coaston sisters closed Kingfish in January 2015. The partnership behind Lost Lake, the Comet, and Big Mario’s successfully won any bidding for the lease and Ernest Loves Agnes debuted that September. The new venture represented an escalated approach for the guys behind a Pike/Pine diner and clubs. “This is a whole other level,” Burgess told CHS in 2015. “We’re stepping up.”

No word on what is coming next on 19th Ave E. Nearby, the Ritual House of Yoga is preparing to expand into a nearby retail space from its former “little theater” home that also opened in 2015. Tallulah’s, born 2013 into the Derschang restaurant and bar family, and 19th Ave E longtimer Monsoon give the intersection of 19th and Mercer a foodie core to build from. Laurie and Leslie Coaston, meanwhile, have yet to return to the Seattle food and drink scene after closing Kingfish despite some talk about new projects as they wound down 18 years on the street. We know what you’re thinking. Don’t get your hopes up.

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18 thoughts on “Closure on 19th Ave E: Ernest Loves Agnes — but only for a few more nights

  1. I know this is wrong and mean but I would feel so much worse about Ernest Loves Agnes going out of business if that wasn’t their name.

  2. Not a minute too soon. Aside from the uninspiring food the real problem was the terrible service. Every visit was an exercise in frustration. We really wanted to support our neighborhood pizza joint, but it just became too painful.
    As for the next place Jason……keep it simple. A low-key bar with Big Mario style pizza and quick service…. the place would be packed every night.

    • Agreed. Biggest downfall here was the atrocious service. It was so bad each time I went that it seemed almost deliberate. It’s something that Lost Lake suffered from for a long time as well. Two hour wait for a table only to be told there is another two hour wait for food (!!!). If these partners want to create successful long-term businesses on the hill, they have to be serious about service standards and better kitchen management. Overall it seems they struck gold with CHBP and have attempted to parlay that into being restauranteurs. They might just be out of their depth.

  3. I really wanted to like this neighborhood spot but it was an unworthy successor to Kingfish. Horrible hipster service and mediocre, overpriced food. I hope they’ll get it right with the new concept. It’s such a stellar space and location that it’s a shame to waste it on anything that’s less than great.

  4. Interesting…the one time I went there with 3 other friends, we sat at a table on the bar side and had dinner and were served by an awesome waiter. He bantered back and forth with us every time he stopped by, making sure we were doing well. He was definitely gay, and since the four of us eating also are, there was that “family connection” that naturally happens in that situation, but I’d like to think he was as good with all his customers. Of course the wasn’t the only server there so maybe the others were all horrible and we just got the luck of the draw. I didn’t think the food was bad either and I liked what they did with the place. The bar side felt nice and cozy.

  5. We’re neighbors and liked the service, but we never returned after we found out they were charging their mandatory gratuity on the AFTER tax amount on the bill, making our gratuity about 25%. Turns out their computer was programmed that way, meaning they were doing it with ALL automatic gratuity parties. I already hate mandatory gratuities. That made me hate those even more.

    • Just curious, Dan……why do you hate mandatory tips? What’s the difference between a mandatory 20% tip and the prevailing rate of about 20% for a voluntary one? Either way, you pay.

      The only problem I have with mandatory tips is that I am suspicious that owners keep part of that and don’t distribute all of it to their employees.

      • Tips are supposed to be a reward for service beyond the basics. Over the years they’ve become a subsidy for underpaid staff. When they become mandatory, there is no more incentive for a service person to provide better service. Judging by the complaints about Ernest, that’s what’s happening.

  6. Decent French toast, but that name never stopped rankling. Not on the level of that “colonial” restaurant failure in Portland, but the “Hemingway-inspired” theme was always pretty retrograde. I don’t just mean politically, but stylistically. Banana Republic was founded way back in 1978, after all.

    It wasn’t hard to come up without about a dozen better literary names over brunch the last time I was there.

  7. I am glad to see this place go — they were awful. The food was ok but expensive but the service was horrible!!
    Can we please just get a basic, good family restaurant that serves home cooked, simple food; does not charge automatic gratuities; and has decent service?
    I would love to have a family restaurant to go to but this was definitely not it. Good riddance!!!

  8. We live nearby and tried our best to support the restaurant because we liked the food and its neighborhood feel. The service eventually just made it too unpleasant: interminably slow, and sometimes just plain rude (I’m glaring at you, surly bartender who clearly hated every human being on the planet). This was a restaurant killed by its staff. What a pity. Fortunately, Cafe Lago is a 2 minute drive away in Montlake, and their food and service are excellent.

  9. I hadn’t been in a while, never felt like it was worth the cost — who skimps on a plate of pasta, really? The ingredient costs for the actual pasta are pennies. Service was lack luster.

    I was just saying, “We should use that gift card we got last March, before they close.” Oh well. At least we got it as part of an auction for a good cause, and it was just part of the auction item.

  10. I only went there once a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed the pizza. The neighborhood could really use a more down to earth(somewhat affordable) restaurant/