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Toscana to Itto’s to A La Vida — New owner on Summit part of ongoing wave of Capitol Hill food+drink deals

Change coming to Summit Ave (Image: Itto’s Tapas)

2018’s year of mergers and acquisitions in Capitol Hill food and drink has continued into 2019. Another new owner on the Hill is hoping to take the take over and transition route to food and drink success.

Manager Jody Claggett tells CHS he has purchased Summit Ave’s Itto’s Tapas from longtime owner Khalid Agour and will set about a quick transformation and overhaul of the restaurant and bar into a more Spanish flavored A La Vida.

Claggett said the name for the tapas, gin, and wine bar was inspired by a customer who turned him onto new music and a song about the joy of life.

“Everybody that I meet, it’s just a great conversation,” Claggett said of life behind the bar and the counter after a career in tech.

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First time restaurateur Claggett’s purchase of Itto’s is part of a series of transactions picking up in 2018 with established bars and restaurants changing hands with injections of new energy and a little new money. For Claggett, he said he was ready to do his “own thing” away from a big company.

He also said part of his own experience might explain part of the larger trend of recent purchases.

“Having this opportunity where something is already established makes this immensely easier,” Claggett said. “Building a restaurant from scratch is very, very difficult.”

In late 2017, CHS wrote about the transformation of Summit pizza joint Toscana to match Agour’s original Itto’s Tapas in West Seattle. Agour has owned a restaurant on Summit since 1999. The original Itto’s will continue as always on California Ave SW.

Not all of the Hill deals involve newbies getting into the mix. Last month, CHS broke the news on Seattle restaurant veteran William Belickis transforming Chavez into the new Violet on 12th Ave.

On Summit, Claggett said he’ll put his experience of working as a manager at Itto’s over the past year to use improving the menu, the space, and the business. Favorites like the paella and the octopus will stay as will the much loved boquerones. The bar program will be overhauled with more of an emphasis on gin and vermouth, and Spanish wine. And there will be more options for dessert.

Expect a swift turn around. Claggett and crew will close Itto’s starting around February 25th and begin the clean up and upgrades for the new look with a plan to be reopened by March 1st. The opening will put Claggett’s plans for becoming an owner on a much faster track than he originally imagined.

“I had a longer timeline but the opportunity came up,” he said.

“We can raise the level and grow.”

A La Vida will open at 601 Summit Ave E in March.

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2 years ago

Itto’s is a great place — delicious food, casual, no reservations needed. I hope it changes just enough to survive under new ownership.