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‘We are the staff’ — Taurus Ox will bring Lao food, chef-centric business model to Capitol Hill

(Image: Taurus Ox via Instagram)

After a couple of recent examples highlighting the challenges of big, expensive leases in Capitol Hill food and drink, a smaller player will join the scene Friday in a tight, efficient space that made Little Uncle a popular part of the neighborhood.

Starting Friday, Taurus Ox will bring Laotian food and drink — and a new also tight and also efficient, chef-centered business model — to the restaurant space below the Mad Flats microhousing at the corner of E Madison and 16th.

“It’s a small enough space for first time owners to succeed,” Janessa Sneva tells CHS. “We are all bringing our own expertise.”

Chef Sneva is teaming up with two more chefs to create the new venture — Sydney Clark and Khampaeng Panyathong. Sneva met Clark when both worked at Broadway’s Poppy and Clark first teamed up with Panyathong — or KP, as he is known — in the kitchen at Manhattan, the 12th Ave steakhouse concept that ultimately sputtered out in 2015.

Informed by those experiences, Taurus Ox will have a lean, mean business model. Three chefs in the kitchen is a lot. But at Taurus Ox, the trio will combine for even more of the experience. Sneva tells CHS the plan, much like plenty of other small businesses, is for the owners at Taurus Ox to also be the workers.

“We are the staff,” Sneva said. “We don’t have to rely on others to deliver our experience. We won’t have a “front of house.”

The lean “launch strategy,” Sneva, Clark, and Panyathong hope, will give the first time owners the boost they need to be successful despite expensive leases and a perpetually tight labor market.

The restaurant is replacing Little Uncle which enjoyed a calm and steady end to its three and a half years in the space in September after announcing its plans to close over the summer as owners Wiley and PK Frank said they were ready to move on to new things.

Taurus Ox also will benefit from Panyathong’s Laotian roots and experience gained cooking with his family.

Eater Seattle reports Taurus Ox will center on Laotian dishes with “some Pacific Northwest influences” including “produce from local farms, and a whole animal approach” producing a menu including khao ji sandwiches, featuring sour pork, ham, liver paté, and naturally pickled vegetables, and dishes like khao soi or soop pak. In addition to night hours, Taurus Ox will be open during the day for lunch. A liquor license is also in the works with plans for batch cocktails.

“Khampaeng has had his concept for Lao food for years now,” Sneva said. “I have cooked his food with his family. I think the main thing is we’re confident that us being partners and our business model will lead us to success. Why not use Lao food as a catalyst?”

Taurus Ox is planned to open Friday, December 6th at 1523 E Madison. You can learn more at

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