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With an owner returning to the community that first welcomed him, Tamarind Tree will reshape R Place building in 2023

 

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Tam Nguyen (Image: Friends of Little Saigon)

Little Saigon’s Tamarind Tree restaurant is coming to Capitol Hill in the former R Place building in 2023.

“Our hope is to serve our Vietnamese foods in the culture we adopted to and the culture that gave us so much opportunities to reach our dreams.” said Tam Nguyen, owner of the popular Vietnamese restaurant that has been part of the International District for nearly 20 years.

CHS previously spoke with Nguyen early this year about his interest in expanding to Capitol Hill. King County property records show the former E Pine home of R Place finally sold for $2.5 million.

The Nguyen family is going it alone in the major real estate deal. CHS previously reported that Capitol Hill-based tech firm Add3 was eyeing a deal for a new headquarters, and space for a new venue in the former R Place building but CHS learned the company decided to move on over concerns about the cost of seismically retrofitting the 1917-built Bothell Motors garage building. Add3 founder and nightlife entrepreneur Brian Rauschenbach turned his attention instead to E Olive Way where he partnered in a deal to purchase the buildings home to his Captain Black’s as well as the Stumbling Monk, The Doctor’s Office, and the former Glo’s.

The R Place building deal comes together now years following the loss of the gay club’s lease after 37 years of business and queer partying on Capitol Hill. The Comeback, a project from manager Floyd Lovelady, now carries on the R Place heart and soul in SoDo.

In Nguyen, Capitol Hill is adding a business and property owner who has experience going toe to toe with the city over issues like public safety and homelessness as a longtime board member of the influential Friends of Little Sài Gòn group. The group has had Mayor Bruce Harrell’s ear on issues around crime and disorder in the International District and has successfully pushed back on the county and the city over facilities and resources in the neighborhood. The area was the location for the first emphasis effort from Seattle Police as Harrell and Chief Adrian Diaz pursued a ramped-up “hot spot” approach to tamping down street and property crime in the city.

The arrival of Tamarind Tree on the Hill is helping mix together the International District and the Broadway and Pike/Pine core the First Hill Streetcar already connects. And there are plans for another International District original to come to the neighborhood. Pink Gorilla, the longest running retro video game store in the Pacific Northwest, is expanding to Capitol Hill at 613 E Pike.

At Pine and Boylston, Nguyen’s overhaul of the old building is moving forward. City plans show that the third floor of the  building will be residential. Nguyen plans to have a couple living units instead of one and is waiting to hear back from the city about the planned tenant improvement to move forward with this new design.  The lower floors of the building will host the new Tamarind Tree location and will have a mezzanine. The expansive venue could also provide space for a project similar to Nguyen’s past efforts to create an indoor market with food and clothing.

After the city’s approval of the tenant improvement permits and finding a contractor to work on the improvements, Nguyen hopes to open this new location by the end of 2023.

Nguyen first arrived in the United States as a teenager from a refugee camp in Malaysia in October 1980. He previously lived in Saigon. When he arrived in Seattle, he lived in a small studio on Summit and John with five brothers and didn’t know how to speak any English.

As a teenager, he dreamed of being a part of American culture and hoped to open up a restaurant with his family.

After opening up his first Tamarind Tree location in the International District, Nguyen said he wanted to expand to the neighborhood and share a piece of his culture with the community that welcomed him with open arms.

“It is an honor for us to share our Vietnamese culture to the community where we first arrived and opened its arms without any conditions or boundaries,” Nguyen said.

Tamarind Tree is planned to open at 619 E Pine by the end of 2023. Learn more at tamarindtreerestaurant.com.

 

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Urbanist
Urbanist
2 months ago

Tamarind Tree is the best Vietnamese restaurant in town and a great addition to Capitol Hill. Thank you Nguyen family for making this investment in the neighborhood!

Jonathan
Jonathan
2 months ago

Wow, so they kick out a gay bar to build another restaurant owned by straight people? Interesting.

Food 4 Thought
Food 4 Thought
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Who are “They”? The building sold. So yeah they didn’t renew a lease so they could sell the building. You were free to purchase it and do what you like with it.

CHRes
CHRes
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Lol

lar
lar
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

R Place was not kicked out, they chose to move. Nice narrative though.

Capitol Hiller
Capitol Hiller
2 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

R Place closed almost 3 years ago because of the pandemic. The club has since reopened in SoDo. It’s fantastic that the building will be used abd a great restaurant is coming to the neighborhood.

louise
louise
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Wow. I think you owe the very hard working and kind Mr. Nyugen and his family a huge apology. Before you try to construct a victim story to something like this do your research.

Chris P. Pata
Chris P. Pata
1 month ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt, am I right?

Picture_this
Picture_this
2 months ago

Great news!!! Tamarind Tree a great restaurant!

Fred Mcdaniels
1 month ago

I love Tamarind Tree – really rooting for their expansion to do well!

Hillery
Hillery
1 month ago

Yes they have Pho! At least the current one does anyway. Hope that carries over when they open by 2024.

Drock
Drock
1 month ago

Yassss! I hope they put a dance floor in just for fun!!! Would be perfect for karaoke or live music/open mic on slow nights! 🥂🥂🥂

Andrea
Andrea
1 month ago
Reply to  Drock

Great idea!!!

Ross wellian
Ross wellian
1 month ago

Haven’t you noticed? It costs $20-$30 to eat lunch there, never mind dinner. It’s not somewhere I could afford to go but once a year. Maybe you guys are a lot wealthier than I am.

I’m happy for the family, I’m unhappy as a 35 year long Capitol Hill resident that finds it hard to find anywhere reasonably affordable for practical things.