So long for now, Suika. by Rich Smith
The bad news: After nearly six years of slinging Toki highballs and playful Japanese pub food on Capitol Hill, Suika Seattle will close up shop “probably sometime this week,” according to owner Makoto Kimoto.
But don’t blame the pandemic. Kimoto said he wanted to keep the place alive, but his landlord refused to extend the lease.
“I didn’t want to lose my first baby, my first restaurant,” he said.
Neither did I!!! That place filled to bursting with vibrant color, energy, and enthusiasm—all in short supply during our dark, drizzly winters—and so I’m deeply, soul-shatteringly bummed to see it join the growing list of the Hill’s restaurant closures.
The good news:
Suika’s sister restaurants—Tamari Bar and Rondo—will keep kicking, and Kimoto said he plans to reopen Suika “sometime in the near future,” though the ongoing pandemic makes it difficult to say when.
More good news: As he searches for a new location, Kimoto will keep part of Suika’s menu live online, using Rondo as its “ghost kitchen.” Patrons who love signature dishes such as the Creamy Udon, the Hellz Ramen, the Miso Ramen, and the Battera Sushi will be able to order through Uber Eats and/or Chowbus (he’s not sure which yet) and then pick-up the food at Rondo, or else have it delivered.
When the pandemic broke out, Kimoto closed Suika in March to focus on Rondo and Tamari Bar. At that point he said he lost 25 to 30 employees. Ten of those employees have since returned to work at the two remaining restaurants.
With a short staff and only two months left on the lease, a couple months ago Kimoto and a longtime employee decided to reopen Suika as a pop-up with a focus on curry. The tagline: “No curry, no life.”
This return, Kimoto said, has felt bittersweet. Opening up the other two restaurants has kept him away from his baby for a few years, but now that he’s back and putting it to bed he’s swimming in the good memories.
“We were supported by so many people and so many nice employees. I just want to say thank you to everyone who supported us,” he said. “I almost cried yesterday. I just miss Suika.”
On October 5 and 6, Kimoto will host a flea market in the restaurant to sell off glasses, chairs, plates, some of the art, and to say bye to customers. However, he’ll save for Suika’s next incarnation the Nintendo cartridge art, the stunning sake bottle chandelier, and a few of the other big pieces of interior decor that distinguished the place as a 1980s-kid video game fever-dream. Look for more details closer to the date on Instagram.