We’ve been so impressed to see the innovation and determination propelling citywide restaurants through this challenging moment in time. (*Read to the end of this piece for an enlightening chat with some local small business owners.)
If you’re looking for a delicious outdoor lunch in the dreamiest setting, may we recommend the tuna sandwich or heirloom tomato BLT served at Red Arrow Coffee, the brand-new garden cafe at Brimmer & Heeltap.
On August 22, 23, 29 and 30, downtown’s The Nest will be hosting fun-filled Brunch and Bubble pop-ups in collaboration with Veuve Cliquot. Enjoy a rooftop meal-with-a-view featuring creative dishes and bites by Executive Chef Kaleena Bliss. Buy tickets here.
Lakeside Pop-Ups You Won’t Want to Miss
In Renton, Hyatt Regency Lake Washington is supporting the community by opening up its existing outdoor terrace to local restaurants—to help others in the culinary world sustain this tough time and to allow for “pop-up” restaurants in that space.
The first restaurant they have partnered with is Nine Tale on August 28 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The restaurant will serve its modern Korean cuisine with a special customized menu that features soy ginger salmon tartare, kalbi filet mignon and yuzu sherbet with watermelon. Register now.
Looking for some glamp-ready grub for the road? The Tin Table has expanded its take-out offerings, now preparing three daily meals for your next glamping/camping getaway or a Fancy Picnic Basket for two, the perfect solution for adventurous foodies.
A Conversation With the Owners of Capitol Hill’s Spice Waala
If you didn’t already have wanderlust, walking into Capitol Hill’s Spice Waala will certainly set future travel dreams in motion. Between the music and mesmerizing aromas, this vibrant, welcoming space provides a delightful escape. Be sure to try their papdi chaat (Indian nachos), aloo tiki and lamb kebab rolls (“Calcutta-style,” A.K.A. with an egg on top), and mango lassi or masala chai beverages.
We recently chatted with the hard-working owners to hear how they’re navigating this unpredictable season.
Seattleite: If you could sum up what you want the Spice Waala experience to be, what would you say?
Spice Waala: We want Spice Waala to introduce authentic Indian street food flavors to customers in Seattle, and make Indians nostalgic of home. We believe we can do so while also giving back to our employees (living wage, health benefits and profit sharing) and to our community (free meals and donations).
S: How did this passion to share “unapologetically authentic Indian street food” with the Seattle audience come to be?
SW: When we moved to the U.S. we noticed that there was very limited representation of Indian food – mainly North Western (Punjabi) food. This wasn’t what we ate at home most days. And, in Seattle, there is some inspired or fusion-Indian food that was not representative of the flavors we grew up with. Given how diverse and sophisticated Indian food is, we felt this was a disservice that we wanted to expose.
S: Why is community engagement so important to you both, and in what ways are you trying to help others during this challenging time?
SW: Dr. Aakanksha Sinha (Co-owner/Co-Founder) is a Professor of Social Work at Seattle University with a speciality in food justice. So right from the idea stage we knew we wanted to incorporate this expertise into our business model. Pre-COVID, every month we would partner with a non-profit organization to donate food or money to help overcome hunger in Seattle. During COVID, basic access to food became an even bigger problem so we pivoted to open a community kitchen program called #Bhojan (means a feast or meal in Hindi). We receive donations from customers and provide 100+ meals per week to anyone who needs it. So far we’ve provided 6,500+ meals – and we don’t plan to stop any time soon.
S: Can you talk briefly about this idea that restaurants like yours “are too small to fail” right now?
SW: A lot of small businesses have closed due to COVID. In the case of independent restaurants, the business is the livelihood and life savings of the owners and most times their families. There isn’t a safety net or egg nest tucked away somewhere that we can rely on, and we don’t have rich investors willing to bail us out. So, we can’t afford to fail and have to continuously innovate and pivot to survive this pandemic. We are too small to afford to fail.
S: In what ways have you adjusted to meet your customers’ needs–and necessary safety protocols–during this time?
SW: Right from our start we were an open kitchen, wearing gloves 100% of the time, and were focused on take-out & delivery. With COVID, we first made sure our employees felt safe continuing to work (one opted out). Then we took our cleaning protocol to the next level (every surface inside and outside is sanitized every day), asked our employees and customers to wear masks all the time, and have not opened dine-in despite the City and State allowances. That gave our customers confidence to get food from us, and we enticed them every week with a special menu item to get them to come in week after week. We have taken them on a tour of India with dishes from all regions.
S: How can readers best support you?
SW: It isn’t just us but every small business and independent restaurant. All of us are at peril of not surviving what is to come. So, be thoughtful of where you spend your money, try to spend it directly with the business (vs. delivery apps), and try to support those that are supporting the community during this time. But, very importantly, be patient with those businesses because the turmoil in our business is something everyone is still coming to terms with.
S: What’s your personal favorite dish on the menu these days?
SW: We just improved our Chicken Tikka Kathi Roll and believe we’ve taken it to a whole new level – so we’ve actually been craving it every day 🙂