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Aloha means goodbye: Capitol Hill’s Marination Station announces permanent closure as Seattle’s catering business dries up

(Image: Marination)

Marination Station, the first foothold in what may have been Capitol Hill’s most successful blossoming of a food truck into Seattle brick and mortar street food empire, is shutting down after nearly a decade of business above Pike and Broadway.

“Our team was small and mighty as was that store,” Kamala Saxton tells CHS about the decision to permanently close the longest running fixed-place location in the Marination food and drink family.

Saxton says the Station, while known to neighbors and weekend nightlife visitors as a place for fast Hawaiian-Korean style chow, also was the company’s catering core with the busy kitchen supplying lunches for Seattle’s voracious corporate appetites. As catering opportunity has all but disappeared in the city, Saxton said it didn’t make sense to keep the Station open.

Saxton in the truck in 2010 (Image: CHS)

“That team handled $5,00 lunch catering orders ands still opened on time for our guests,” Saxton said. But now, “there aren’t 100-person team meetings.”

A lack of business empathy from the Marination Station landlords at the Harvard Market shopping center also didn’t help, Saxton says.

Saxton and Roz Edison’s healthy relationships with landlords has been an important part of keeping their other locations open across the city including its centerpiece Marination Ma Kai in West Seattle and offshoot Super Six in Columbia City. Station employees who wanted to come back to work after the summer shutdown for COVID-19 restrictions are still working with the company, Saxton said.

Marination was born as a food truck and first grew its reputation as a player in the Pike/Pine street food scene as it took the then coveted spot in the Shell station parking lot at Pike and Broadway. After a few years in the trenches of the Seattle street food battles, Saxton and Edison moved into the fixed-space food and drink economy with Marination Station opening in 2011 just across the intersection above the Harvard Market QFC.

Saxton said growing up as a business on Capitol Hill included some wild times on the street and at the Station including the time an unwelcome visitor crashed through the ceiling and into the kitchen. “Thank god I was younger,” Saxton says.

“We’ve been incredibly lucky coupled with phenomenal support and love from the Seattle community,” she said.

Along the way, Marination has also fostered a relationship with its neighborhoods — something else besides SPAM sliders and kimchi fried rice that Capitol Hill will miss. In Columbia City at Super Six, Saxton said the current next project is to try to find a way to put the restaurant’s outdoor tented area to use to help give neighborhood kids a place to login and do their schoolwork. “How do we ramp up and execute the takeout and delivery?,” is one business problem she says Marination is focused on in the coming months. “How do we continue to deepen roots in the community?,” Saxton says, is the other.

Capitol Hill and Central District COVID-19 Crisis Closures: CHS has tried to confirm all reported statuses. Please let us know if any information needs to be updated [email protected] -- LAST UPDATED: 3/23/21

Food and drink

  • Little Neon Taco, reported 3/1/2021
  • By Tae, reported 3/1/2021
  • R Place, reported 2/2/2021
  • The Wandering Goose, reported 12/29/2020
  • Barca, announced 11/11/2020
  • Suika, lease issues, announced 9/27/2020
  • Juicebox Cafe, announced 9/28/20
  • Heritage Distilling Capitol Hill, announced 9/25/20
  • Amandine, closing 9/30/20 announced 9/25/20
  • Bar Sue, announced 9/25/20
  • Marination Station, announced 9/14/20
  • Ha Na, announced 8/27/20
  • Intrigue Coffeehouse, announced 8/21/20
  • Nates Wings & Waffles, Happy Grillmore and the Central District Ice Cream Company, announced 8/6/20
  • Americana, Broadway, announced 7/23/20
  • The Lounge by AT&T and Ada’s Discovery Cafe, E Thomas, announced 7/7/20
  • Bill's Off Broadway, E Pine, announced 6/24/20
  • Stumptown, 12th Ave, announced 5/26/20
  • Adana, 15th and Pine, announced 5/21/20
  • Tougo, 18th and Union, announced early April, Yesler location remains open
  • My Thai, 10th Ave E, closed but we're not sure when it shuttered

Retail and more

  • Rocket Fizz, reported 3/23/2021
  • Drizzle and Shine, BurnCycle, and Blue Sky Cleaners, reported 3/1/2021
  • Everyday Music, 10th Ave, June 2021
  • QFC, 15th Ave E, 4/24/21
  • Sameday Testing, 15th Ave E, February
  • GameStop, Broadway, 2020
  • Velocity Dance Center, 12th Ave, will continue as organization but leaving Capitol Hill space, announced 12/4/20.
  • Stock and Pantry, E Pine, announced 10/14/20
  • Take 2, 15th Ave E, announced 9/30/20
  • No Parking, E Pike, announced 9/5/20
  • Ritual House, 19th Ave E, reported 7/15/20
  • Totokaelo, 10th Ave, reported 7/13/20
  • Mode of Fitness, E Pine
  • Urban Outfitters, Broadway, youth fashion chain's exit began last summer as Broadway Market began search for new tenant
  • Le Frock, E Pike, consignment shop announced permanent closure in April

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Jonathan Zwickel
Jonathan Zwickel
1 year ago

Fucking goddammit. A truly original–and truly delicious–product served up by genuinely good humans. Glad they’ll carry on in WS and CC but Capitol Hill was their birthplace. That summer of 2010, when Marination was parked at the Shell, remains one of the best in recent memory.

1 year ago

:( love you guys please come back when covid is over

Nick Rotterboch
Nick Rotterboch
1 year ago

Still find it strange that they closed this location and not 6th and Virginia. I’d guess regrade/SLU is gonna keep being dead for a while but the hill is already half alive again. Odd the former would be the location to save.

Also fuck the Harvard Market owners, for this and other reasons.

1 year ago

I never really understood why this location closed, with so many working-from home people nearby (like me). That’s five more lunches a week where it would have been the easiest, tastiest, cheapest option…

1 year ago
Reply to  DB

Exactly. For remote workers both before COVID and now, Marination was the obvious cheap-but-not-pizza lunch. I must have had it twice a week at least.

I wish I could support their regrade location more, but (avoiding buses still) that’s a long lunch walk.

1 year ago

I am guessing their lease is up at the this location and they are locked into their lease at 6th and Virginia. Most business leases are on 5 or 10 year increments. If they are working with more sympathetic landlords at other locations and have an out here, good for them for taking it. I love their food and will order from their SLU location.

1 year ago

It happens. Covid strikes another.

This is capitalism folks.

1 year ago
Reply to  Derek

An artificial, enforced closure of business and the economy by the government is “capitalism”? Have you perhaps confused centralized economic control and capitalism?

turn your brain on
turn your brain on
1 year ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Artificial? The gov closed things to save human lives. Fear would still have deterred the underlying business (catering) for this biz — companies (*cough* not the gov) are opting not to have conferences, large meetings, etc. That IS capitalism — supply & demand.

1 year ago

I love you Marination!! Have to go a little further for my kimchi fried rice now but god damnit i will make the trek! You will be sooooo missed on the hill