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With a prescription for Japanese whiskey and yakitori, The Doctor’s Office to replace Blue Stone on E Olive Way

A scene from The Doctor’s Office pop-up (Image: Drivers Club)

The doctor is in and a small but loved E Olive Way restaurant that has been looking for an exit has a deal in hand. The prescription has been written for The Doctor’s Office, a new Japanese-inspired, compact 12-seat tasting room and bar with a yakitori takeout.

“Let’s see if we can create that environment where people end up in a conversation about what whiskey they’re drinking,” Matthew Powell, MD said as the first-time bar owner described some of the vision behind the new project that will team him with Seattle food and drink expert Keith Waldbauer, an outgrowth of the relationship the men started over pours when Waldbauer was part of the ownership at Liberty on 15th Ave E.

Blue Stone Bistro owner Chong Kim announced the closure Monday and set off speculation about the “high-end bar” set to replace the 2015-born Korean joint. Powell said he found out Blue Stone was available in a chance conversation over the counter with the owner of a nearby bar. A lunch meeting later a few months back, and Kim and The Doctor’s Office had a deal.

There will, indeed, be plenty of “high-end,” expensive whiskey on hand but that isn’t really the point, Powell said. With the limited seating and small space, The Doctor’s Office is intended to give its patrons detailed attention from hot hand towels to a bit of bubbly to start the night, along with a tighter, more personal experience, and access to rare and special pours. Eventually, the hope is the interest will grow to a point the new bar can become reservation only.

Powell said the result won’t necessarily be hugely expensive. The tiny square footage and limited staff will keep overhead low, he hopes. That’s why the Blue Stone space works so well, Powell said.

“A lot of the spaces that come open are big square footage,” he said. “They’re big concept. But not the kind of place I want to hang out in.”

Speaking of big concept and closing Korean joints, Blue Stone’s exit paired with the closure of Trove has quickly eaten into the neighborhood’s Seoul-flavored options.

For Waldbauer, The Doctor’s Office will put the writer slash bartender slash educator back into motion on Capitol Hill. He became a co-owner at Liberty in 2010 before departing the 15th Ave E craft cocktail bar about five years later as plans for expanding the business were iced.

Waldbauer and Powell began percolating on the project centered around Japanese whiskeys and grilled skewers and watching for a space that could work for the project. In addition to bedside manner, Powell brings experience in whiskey and mezcal education to the project. The two teamed up on a pop-up earlier this year with car collecting venture Drivers Club to gauge interest and further refine their ideas.

The Doctor’s Office will be part of a small trend of smaller scale, more exclusive food and drink experiences popping up around the Hill. Earlier this year, Taneda debuted in the Broadway Alley building with only nine seats. Expect a few more to squeeze in.

Powell said, in part, the desire for a more personal experience is about creating a place he wants to go as he ages. “As I get older, I want to be able to have that conversation,” he says

But don’t expect The Doctor’s Office to be quiet and antiseptic. Do expect elegance. Powell said Hiroshi Matsubara of GM Studio, creator of the gorgeous Momiji space among many more, will be designing the overhaul of the E Olive Way venue.

It’s too early to say when The Doctor’s Office will open. Construction will depend on permits and contractors, of course, but Powell said the hope is to debut this fall.

As for Dr. Powell’s role as a first-time bar owner in his home neighborhood, he says he is planning to keep his day job.

“The reality is, it’s all a hospitality business.”

The Doctor’s Office is planned to open later this year at 1631 E Olive Way.

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22 thoughts on “With a prescription for Japanese whiskey and yakitori, The Doctor’s Office to replace Blue Stone on E Olive Way

  1. soooooo sorry to see Chong & Blue Stone leaving (very low prices for the hill!) and this class-snobbish crap replacing it. I hope a homeless person vomits in the window every night as they get drunk in style.

  2. I’m the owner of The Doctor’s Office and for everyone sad about Bluestone closing please know that I was bummed to hear he was closing too – I loved his bibimbap – so good! The reality is that he was closing regardless of what came after it, so as someone who lives in the neighborhood I’m 100% committed to keeping delicious and inexpensive food in the space. The article didn’t go into it much, but on the other side of the kitchen (toward Stumbling Monk) will be a casual take out space for the grilled skewers (yakitori), and I intend for that to be open late since we all know that the options for late night food on the hill are minimal. Like, painfully minimal.

    As I said, I live here too, so the last thing I want to see is a bro-y space with attitude. That quote about the places that open lately that aren’t the kind of place I want to hang out? Yeah – that was about not wanting my whiskey served with a side of pretention. This is about making a space where, even on a Friday night, if you care to learn about the people who make what you drink it’s not so crazy busy that you can’t still learn about the mezcalero who made that tepeztate you just tried for the first time.

    All that to say, I’m really going to miss Chong’s bibimbap, and if he was going to leave anyway at least I can make sure that what ends up here isn’t just another bro-y bar.

  3. I don’t think the late night food situation is painfully minimal. We have Pettirosa, Big Marios, Bait Shop, Dinos, Lost Lake, St. John’s, Honeyhole to name a few. But if you want a walk-up counter, I guess it’s minimal.

  4. Keep in mind you can get a full meal at Blue Stone for $13. If you’re selling single skewers for $7 . . . you’re not affordable.

    • Wait; what? Where did you see that they’ll be selling skewers for $7? That wasn’t anywhere in the article.

  5. Very sorry to see Bluestone go. The owner and his wife are two very kind people, and their service was spectacular. A loss for Seattle to be sure.

  6. this sounds beyond fucking terrible and pretentious. hoping to go to reservation only?! replacing a great cheap food spot. how much of a stuck up piece of shit do you want to be? cool, we’ve got that and can one up you….

  7. Surprised to see all you haters, yeah it looks like it’s going to be expensive so I wont go, but I wont get all butt hurt about it either
    Shame on you *old lady finger wag* for knocking another man’s passion just because you cant get your cheap bimbimbap no more

    • Yep, you nailed it. This thread yet another example of the typical snobby, elitist Seattle response: “the stuff I like is not only superior to the stuff other people like, but those other people are ruining everything for ME ME ME”

      It’s even worse than the way Evangelicals approach things, because these people pretend to be liberal, tolerant and accepting. Instead, they want us to know The Hill is a private country club, and they are the ones who decide who can visit and who who can stay.

      • Or, locals (both liberal & conservative) could just be unhappy to see a useful business that caters to a large, diverse clientele leaving and being replaced by a business catering to a much slimmer (and richer)client base and/or tourists. It’s typical of the gentrification in large iconic cities around the world: business that are useful to locals being pushed out in favor of business useful to the elites and tourists.

      • @Seattle native

        Yeah but Blue Stone wasn’t “pushed out;” it was going to close regardless. So it would have been an empty space that wasn’t useful to anybody. Not everything has to be about gentrification.

        I get that people have feels for Blue Stone and will miss that it’s not there. But, maybe, wait until this place opens and you know more about it, or (gasp) have experienced it, before going off with criticisms.

      • What’s so snobby and elitist about being unhappy to see an expensive restaurant replace a cheaper one? Wouldn’t that be the other way round?

  8. Loved Blue Stone, sad to see it go, but sounds like they weren’t forced out so that’s nice.

    I’m a fan of small intimate spaces, but mostly excited about the late-night yakatori option. Interested and hesitant. Good luck, I’ll at least spot by once!

  9. Wow, this thread. 😱 Sad to see Blue Stone go, excited to see it replaced with a unique, interesting small business, especially from someone with long standing ties to the neighborhood.

  10. Rich people gotta have their expensive obscure whiskey! We cannot forget who this town is for!! RIP Seattle