One of the most sudden and traumatic restaurant closures this year was that of a certain sandwich shop on Fremont Avenue. No, I'm not talking about Paseo (although you probably think I should be); I'm thinking of Dot's Delicatessen, whose last months were spent under the name Dot's Charcuterie & Bistrot. Its fussy new name belied what Dot's did best: beautiful, meaty sandwiches—specifically their Reuben, spicy pork, and steak with chimichurri (a special I had last spring). I miss that place.
A few of the sadder endings of 2014: Madison Park Conservatory, A&J Meats and Seafood (another family-owned, neighborhood butcher shop gone, this one after 63 years), the Erotic Bakery, Piecora's Pizza, and the strange, gorgeous, dark-wood time warp that was Louie's Cuisine of China. Especially disheartening are the closures of the Central District's Catfish Corner and Philadelphia Fevre, two black-owned businesses in what used to be a neighborhood filled with black-owned businesses.
For all the regrettable closures, however, a new Seattle restaurant trend seems to have emerged: dying in order to live. Although many places shuttered, they were quickly reimagined, revived, or reborn: Capitol Hill's La Bête (which is now Spaghetti Western, but which still offers La Bête's beloved pork rinds, along with barbecue, burgers, and pasta), downtown's Aragona (Jason Stratton's Spanish restaurant, which is now Vespolina, serving Italian just like his other spots, Cascina Spinasse and Artusi), Lark (now a new version of its former self, in a new Capitol Hill location), Georgetown's Katsu Burger (which closed, and was then brought back to life by new owners, who have also added a second location in Bellevue), Fremont's Book Bindery (now called Hommage, with a new French chef), and, of course, Paseo (which was closed and bought, with the promise to re-open).
The New Year will begin, regrettably, with the closure of the Hurricane Cafe, a beloved diner and dive bar and one of the only restaurants still open 24/7. The building will be razed to make more way for Amazon to extend its viselike grip throughout the South Lake Union area. The Hurricane's last day of existence will be January 1. While it's a sad way to start the year, surely things can only get brighter.
And now, a year's worth of regrets from some of Seattle's finest food and drink professionals.
"I regret not eating more juicy pork dumplings. And sometimes I regret eating too many juicy pork dumplings. I regret not making a juicy pork dumpling beer. I regret not inventing juicy pork dumplings. I regret sitting here thinking about what I regret when I could be eating juicy pork dumplings." —Manny Chao, owner and brewmaster, Georgetown Brewing Company
"This has been one of the most challenging, chaotic, and exciting but absolutely the most rewarding year of my life. I regret not having one last Paseo sandwich before they closed. I also regret that Kam Chancellor, Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, and Marshawn Lynch haven't had a chance to sample my desserts yet. Michael Bennett has, though, at Revel. I personally delivered them to his table." —Renee Bolstad, Seahawks fan and pastry chef, Joule, Revel, and Trove
"I regret that there will never be another wine trade tasting like the one when I brought a fart machine to the Riservati warehouse." —Doug Nufer, co-owner and manager, European Vine Selections
"I regret ever challenging my boyfriend at Dr. Mario. I have yet to beat him. I regret that my time working with Chef Tyler Moritz was cut short for such an ugly reason. I regret the times I have ever settled or compromised and accepted less than I deserved—as a person and as an employee. Working for a stand-up employer reminds you of the investment that you are. I regret that it took finally finding the right employer to remind me of that." —Corynn Youderian, general manager, Zig Zag Cafe
"My 2-year-old son now thinks the color purple is actually called 'ube cheesecake.' [Ed. note: Ube is Tagalog for purple yam.] I regret that I didn't correct him as we were reading his colors book and he turned to the purple page and said 'ube cheesecake!' Regardless, I am still hopeful he'll get into kindergarten. It's been one heck of a ride opening up Hood Famous Bakeshop this past November and offering our ube cheesecake at Uwajimaya. I can't express how appreciative I am that so many people dig this purple dessert." —Chera Amlag, co-owner, Hood Famous Bakeshop and Food & Sh*t
"I regret the time, two years ago, when I ate sweet-and-sour pork in my white Lululemon workout top and then spilled the sauce on the shirt. The stain still haunts me every time I'm at the gym. Sweet-and-sour scent all up in my Crossfit. There was also the time when I and two other coworkers were the only people in our office on a federal holiday, so we decided to treat ourselves to some dim sum delivered straight to our desks. We got a little overzealous and ordered $150 worth of dim sum. Anyone who has ordered dim sum can attest to the fact that this was A LOT of dumplings. My only regret? That we didn't finish it all. What a waste." —Katie Okumura, marketing manager, Tom Douglas Restaurants
"Our only regret is planting so damn much kohlrabi. Time magazine declared it the next 'it' vegetable, and we went big on kohlrabi in 2014. Much to our disappointment, despite the good press, people still don't know what it is or what to do with it... just kidding. We didn't plant too much kohlrabi. Our real regret is not spending enough time this year with our family. The demands of a running a small vegetable farm are many, and too often we put work before each other and our kids." —Jason Salvo and Siri Erickson-Brown, farmers, Local Roots Farm
"We regret mislabeling 1,800 cases of beer in September with a 'Best By' date of January 2014 instead of January 2015. Our bad." —Ryan Hilliard and Adam Merkl, owners, Hilliard's Beer