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Tallulah’s on its own as Linda bids farewell to Capitol Hill’s 19th Ave E

Brunch on Tallulah’s patio reportedly sealed the deal (Images: CHS)

Linda Derschang has put a member of her Capitol Hill food and drink family in new hands. The proprietor behind OddfellowsLinda’s and Smith has sold her 19th Ave E project Tallulah’s and has something new — but typically Linda — cooking in Belltown.

The new owner at Tallulah’s is Brad Haggen, part of the family behind the Haggen grocery chain. The entrepreneur and investor tells CHS that the Linda Derschang creation represented a “no brainer” opportunity as was looking for businesses to start or buy following his family’s 2016 sale of their interest in the grocery chain.

A brunch visit with his wife to the busy restaurant at the corner of 19th and Mercer reportedly sealed the deal.

“No changes,” he said Monday. “It will continue to operate as is.” Haggen said he’s brought in a new general manager with Capitol Hill experience and that many of the staff have stayed though the change.

Haggen is also president and CEO of Naples Best Restaurants. The Bellingham corporation is “a franchisee of MidiCi – The Neapolitan Pizza Company” and “owns three MidiCi territories in Washington State and is currently looking to secure three A+ locations.”

Derschang opened Tallulah’s in the new construction 19th and Mercer building late in 2013 in a more modern, less vintage take on her signature style and a more ambitious food and drink program than her more bar-focused ventures. “I’m a little tired of vintage,” Derschang said at the time. “I wanted something new for this.” The restaurant was also only blocks from Derschang’s Interlaken home.

It was also the start of some serious restaurant investment on the next block to join the expanding effort at longtimerMonsoon. After the legendary Kingfish Cafe closed to start 2015 and an expensive overhaul of the space, Ernest Loves Agnes lasted just one year in the building across from Talullah’s before shuttering to start 2017. Owner Jason Lajeunesse’s attempt to reboot the project with a collaboration with Brian Clevenger called Contadino lasted only six months. Family-friendly Rocket Taco may have finally sorted out the recipe after landing at the corner earlier this year. Meanwhile, a Zeeks Pizza is set to open across the street.

It’s probably not exactly the food+drink recipe Derschang envisioned when she opened the restaurant, but Haggen now acquires a venue in its fifth year on this quieter side of Capitol Hill where the buzz of new food and drink options is steadily increasing.

For Derschang, leaving behind Tallulah’s, a restaurant she named for her daughter, represents another big shift for the veteran entrepreneur. In 2016, Derschang sold her “Northwest nautical”-themed Bait Shop to longtime Derschang Group admirals Mike Leifur and Jonah Bergman. She also moved off the Hill for a smaller, simpler condo downtown.

For the Tallulah’s sale, she says the timing is not connected, but Derschang’s latest move shows she didn’t head downtown to retire.

Derschang confirmed Monday that she has purchased the former Queen City Grill and plans to reopen it after a freshening-up as Queen City.

“I wanted to create a place like Smith in my neighborhood,” Derschang says of the project. “The Queen City Grill is such a classic. It’s the oldest bar in Seattle… maybe.”

Derschang said photos show a watering hole has been part of the 1st Ave corner since the 1890s. The plan, she says, is to do a little redecorating, and update the menu — including the addition of the Smith burger.

“This old bar has been on that corner for 100 years,” Derschang said. “I love old buildings. I love the romance.”

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