The Eastern Cafe Is Weathered but Not Distressed
Eastern Cafe inhabits a ballroom-like space in the International District that stood vacant for three years before owner I-Miun Liu signed the lease. I-Miun hired a contractor who removed the drywall and carpet to reveal beautifully weathered mint-green and yellow cement walls and the space's original fir floors. With simple lighting and changing local artwork (currently a mixed-media show by Aung Robo), the place is appealingly industrial without any distressed-jeans-esque overkill. The building is more than 100 years old, built as a hotel for railway workers; the rooms upstairs are now rented as apartments.
I-Miun, whose background is in economics and banking, also owns a nearby bubble tea shop, Oasis. He wanted to open a type of business that doesn't exist anywhere else in the neighborhood—Eastern Cafe serves espresso, sandwiches, crepes, and gelato from Gelatiamo. Though intrigued by the "beermosa," I was perfectly happy with Eastern's regular mimosa. I also tried a lusciously avocado-stacked and reasonably priced ($5) veggie sandwich and an exceptionally fresh pear turnover from Le Fournil. The cafe is next door to the Seattle Pinball Museum, which I-Miun finds fun and educational—he likes the Wizard of Oz machine and mentioned that he learned that pinball parlors were historically associated with organized crime.