Last March, Hitoshi Nishitani was bidding goodbye to Broadway after his long tour of duty behind the counter at Aoki Sushi, a restaurant that has been part of Capitol Hill’s dining scene since 1986. Yao Huang, meanwhile, was preparing on E Pike to open his contribution to that scene, Chuan on Capitol Hill and its Szechuan menu of meaty chili pots and spicy soups.
A year later, Aoki’s new ownership appears to have shuttered the 34-year-old restaurant.
Meanwhile, with a new gigantic neighbor now resident across the street, Huang is also saying goodbye to Capitol Hill and making way for a noodle-filled new restaurant to fill the E Pike space.
On Broadway, information is limited. A “five (5) day notice to pay rent or vacate premises” went up last week showing $10,000 in unpaid rent for January and February plus another $1,500 a month in “triple net” charges for real estate taxes, building insurance, and maintenance. The north Broadway restaurant has been dark in recent days and nobody is answering the phone.
That’s not entirely unusual, though. When real estate investor Alex Bae took over the business from Nishitani last year, CHS never did connect with the restaurateur to learn more about his plans. Bae has not responded to our inquiries about the current situation. The corporation the Aoki business is licensed under, meanwhile, now shows as delinquent in state records.
CHS reported on Nishitani’s retirement from Aoki last March.
It appears to be a happier situation on E Pike where a first time restaurateur has found a successful exit after only a year of business. Biang Biang Noodles is set to move in later this year, joining tiny Qin in supplying noisy noodles to Capitol Hill.
Yao Huang, a Chinese immigrant who began his education in the United States at Seattle Central 20 years ago, beat out Portland-based sustainable sushi concern Bamboo for the corner restaurant space in The Cove building at Pike and Belmont long before Amazon confirmed any plans for its new grocery store directly across the street. He opened Chuan last May.
Now Huang is leaving the space to make way for the next taker. Chuan will continue to operate inside for the next month or so for delivery service orders as the interior of the restaurant is upgraded for the new tenant.
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