After months of operating under COVID-19 restrictions and uncertainty, some Capitol Hill-born restaurants aren’t just digging in to survive but expanding with new locations and what they hope will be recipes for long-term food and drink success.
15th Ave E’s Aviv Hummus Bar is opening its sister restaurant Aviv Shawarma Bar in South Lake Union and Broadway’s Due’ Cucina pasta shop has expanded on the Eastside. Both business expansions began as pre-pandemic endeavours, but offer cuisine well-suited for the coronavirus age of relying primarily on takeout.
Meanwhile, a 15th Ave E original has expanded to Ballard and a sibling of Broadway’s Lionhead has risen near Climate Pledge Arena.
Aviv Shawarma Bar
This shawarma-centered street food spot has opened South Lake Union from the creators of Capitol Hill’s vegetarian friendly Aviv Hummus Bar.
David and Jodi Nussbaum opened their hummus and falafel eatery back in 2017 on 15th Ave E and have been waiting for the right location to bring their shawarma vision to life.
Situated in the up and coming South Lake Union tech area and not far from Capitol Hill, Nussbaum believes the new spot will have adequate foot traffic for the authentic shawarma street food experience of “seeing a glorious, large stack of meat slow rotating in front of a vertical flame that slowly cooks the meat with each rotation, dripping the succulent juices down.”
As with Aviv Hummus Bar, he intends for this new restaurant to bring the taste and experience of Israeli cuisine to Seattle.
Aviv Shawarma Bar has a meatier focus, featuring shawarma-stuffed pita sandwiches topped with fresh vegetables, pickles imported from Israel, and amba and tahini sauces, but still offers classic falafel, sabich and hummus dishes.
“If you’re looking for more variety in the hummus toppings, you’ll probably want to check out Aviv Hummus Bar,” Nussbaum said. “But if you want to get down and dirty with a grubby sandwich then Aviv Shawarma Bar is where you’re going to want to head.”
The restaurant has an online order pick-up window and is being designed for some indoor seating as COVID restrictions allow, but will primarily operate as a takeout spot anyway by nature of its street food ambiance.
Aviv Shawarma Bar is open at 1165 Harrison St. You can find more information at avivshawarmabar.com.
Capitol Hill’s very own fast casual, handmade pasta restaurant, branded as “incubated at MIT,” has debuted a second location in Kirkland — and may be on its way to becoming a small chain of restaurants.
Due’ Cucina specializes in classic and contemporary Italian pasta dishes, allowing customers to build their own combinations of pasta shapes and sauces like the bolognese ragù or vegetarian kale pesto.
“Back when we opened up we were very focused on healthy pasta and gluten-free, which is good and which we still have,” co-owner Davide Macchi said. “But we’ve expanded it so we’re making more types of pasta, including traditional pasta.”
Macchi runs the business alongside chef and engineer Filippo Fiori. CHS spoke with Fiori when the business first took off in 2016, learning that he holds a PHD in nuclear science and Macchi earned an MBA from MIT, where their entrepreneurial vision gained its footing.
The eatery has an in-house “pasta lab” where noodles are extruded daily and prices are kept under $15 for all entrees. Over the past few months, Macchi says they worked to make their Broadway location and overall business model more efficient during the COVID era, including launching a mobile ordering app to go along with their delivery program and implementing contactless payment.
The Kirkland location is situated in The Village at Totem Lake, a redeveloped outdoor shopping center where Portland-born Salt & Straw opened another location in November.
Macchi says they have a long term goal of expanding to a few more locations in the coming years, with a third location already underway in North Seattle.
“The idea will be to build anywhere between four and six in the Puget Sound area,” he said. “And then hopefully, if we are good enough, move onto another city and try to grow beyond Seattle.”
Due’ Cucina is now open at 12670 120th Ave NE, Suite 170. You can learn more at duecucina.com.
More Capitol Hill expansions
- Spice Waala: Spice Waala, the authentic Indian street food love child of entrepreneurs Dr. Aakanksha Sinha and Uttam Mukherjee, was born on 15th Ave E in 2019. After a year of making the best of the pandemic with community meal efforts, a new Spice Waala has joined the family — this time in Ballard. You can find the new Spice Waala at 2008 NW 56th St.
- Tyger Tyger: In 2019, chef Garrett Doherty and business partner Benjamin Chew took over Jerry Traunfeld’s Sichuan-spiced Lionhead on Broadway. As 2021 begins, they’ve added a new Sichuan sibling near the Seattle Center. Tyger Tyger is built with Lionhead-worthy flavors but with a menu expanded to cater to what the owners hope will eventually be the return of area crowds.
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