Seattle food and drink entrepreneur I-Miun Liu can move slowly, intentionally in his work to create crafted, detail-filled experiences like East Trading Co. But it didn’t take him long to decide to pull the plug on the Capitol Hill bar.
The Chinese zodiac-inspired watering hole styled by the eclectic designers at Electric Coffin closed over the weekend just a little more than a year after it opened last September after months of buildout transforming the old Sun Liquor Distillery space on E Pike.
Liu, who is also part of the Oasis bubble tea chain and the Central District’s small-batch Raised Doughnuts, tells the Seattle Met the pull of his other projects and a feeling that “doing business in Seattle is a lot more difficult than it used to be” were behind his decision to shutter on Capitol Hill.
“We are sad that we were not able to make East Trading a staple on the Hill, but we are looking forward to future adventures,” the Instagram announcement marking the closure reads. You can still catch Liu’s cocktail stylings at the Dynasty Room pop–up in the International District through the end of January.
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We are sad to announce that tomorrow, Sunday Nov. 3, will be our last day of service. We are sad that we were not able to make East Trading a staple on the Hill, but we are looking forward to future adventures. Our pop up bar in Chinatown, @dynastyroom, is still open until the end of January, so come visit us there!
Thank you for all your support and love. -East Trading Co.
East Trading Co. opened with Sheng Xiao-themed cocktails and small plates designed to accompany them in the space left empty when the distillery finally gave up on crowded Pike/Pine to spread out in a new space near University Village. Liu said his first concept for the space was to create a “doughnut bar” but that took a backseat to opening Raised on 23rd Ave. He is known for his methodical pace. CHS reported on his first Capitol Hill project, the E Pine Oasis Tea Zone, when it opened in 2016 and set a “record” by debuting “two years and two days after CHS first wrote about the project taking shape.” East Trading had a total turnaround of somewhere just under two years.
While Liu’s openings might be methodical and Seattle’s business environment a growing challenge, he’s been nimble thus far. Faced with Seattle’s ban on plastic straws, the bubble tea and bar entrepreneur Liu started a compostable supply company.
Doughnuts, meanwhile, were still in the cards for the block. Half and Half Doughnut opened last month in the neighboring part of the old distillery space. Maybe there is still a chance for a Capitol Hill doughnut bar to be born next door.
Liu’s advice for any would-be Pike/Pine bar owners? “I would say that business is hard no matter how busy a neighborhood is,” he tells CHS. “Don’t spread yourself too thin, and make sure all your internal processes are in place before you open.”
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