Earlier this month, the space where Capitol Hill restaurant great Jerry Traunfeld built Poppy into one of the neighborhood’s most enduring favorites debuted its new showcase resident as Carrello from the Altura restaurant family introduced its carts of meatballs and salumi to North Broadway.
In the midst of Traunfeld’s retirement from the Seattle restaurant business, CHS noted that Poppy’s next door sibling Lionhead would live on — but under new ownership.
With the deal done and the restaurant moving ahead in its new life, new owners chef Garrett Doherty and Benjamin Chew are ready to make the takeover official.
The new owners will be building on Lionhead, born in August 2015 as Traunfeld’s play space for the flavors of the Sichuan peppercorn, and its menu of Southwest Chinese dishes including Rose Bud Dumplings, Dan Dan Mein, 5-Spice Pressed Tofu and Leeks, and Ma Po Doufu.
“When Jerry brought me into Lionhead, I was excited to work with him and learn about this complex cuisine,” Doherty said in an announcement of the takeover. “Ben and I are thrilled at the chance to improve upon an already great restaurant and with our 30 years combined industry experience, we recognize the untapped potential in Lionhead and are excited to share our interpretation.”
Doherty steps into ownership after helping start Lionhead’s run as executive chef. Previously, he owned Kraken Congee in Pioneer Square and says he will now bring the savory porridge to Lionhead’s menu.
Co-owner Chew comes to Lionhead with bar and restaurant management wisdom and the bonafides of an upbringing in “a Chinese-American family that owned and operated Chinese restaurants.”
“Being able to come on and improve the project Chef Garrett has been developing for the last few years is a rare and welcomed opportunity,” Chew said in the announcement. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to host an outstanding experience from start to finish. Sichuanese kitchen, elevated libations, and gracious hosting with a warm and welcoming ambiance is what will continue at Lionhead.”
The new owners also point out that the bar at Lionhead should not be overlooked, boasting, in addition to cocktails, and Chinese and local beer, “the largest selection of Baijiu (known as the fiery Chinese spirit shaojiu) in Seattle” and bartenders “available to walk guests through the varieties.”
Pair with the coming Korean Soju Anju on 12th Ave, the Japanese-whiskey focus planned at the soon to open The Doctor’s Office on E Olive Way, and the highballs to be served up at coming soon Rondo on Broadway, and you can take a trip around Asia’s liquor varietals within a few blocks across Capitol Hill.
Meanwhile, Lionhead’s North Broadway food and drink investments are trending up with Carrello’s opening, work underway to reopen the old Broadway Grill space as Olmstead, a new sibling to nearby Witness, and work starting soon on a new “self pour” beer and wine cafe in the former Roy Street Coffee space.
At Lionhead, in addition to a few changes on the menu and in the kitchen, the new owners say they are also planning a “subtle renovation of the restaurant,” and “an exciting lineup of programs and events.” A new happy hour is also being launched November 1st.
Founder Traunfeld, meanwhile, also used the announcement to say goodbye.
“Creating Lionhead was a labor of my love for Sichuan food and I’m proud of how it’s become a favorite spot for so many in our neighborhood and beyond,” Traunfeld said. “Garrett has been the Executive Chef for nearly two years, and I’m thrilled that he and his business partner Ben have taken over ownership. I can’t wait to see how they steer it into their own restaurant and the exciting direction they will take with the bar program. Whatever the changes, we can all sigh in relief that they will definitely keep North Capitol Hill hot and numb!”
Lionhead is located at 618 Broadway E. You can learn more at lionheadseattle.com.
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