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Monday, December 3, 2007

What Happened to 1200 Bistro?

posted by on December 3 at 12:45 PM

I’ve heard from at least two people today—both asked not to be quoted—that 1200 Bistro unexpectedly closed for business over the weekend. Employees who had shifts got calls telling them that not only did they not have to come in to work during the snowstorm, but that they no longer had jobs.

Here’s what we do know. The ownership of 1200 Bistro recently changed hands. When Barry Rogel, who also owns the Deluxe, bought it in August told the Seattle Times he planned to revamp the wine list and make the menu cheaper.

The new menu wasn’t a hit. The most recent review of the 1200 Bistro in The Stranger’s reader reviews—posted a couple weeks ago—reads:

Went to check out the new 1200 and was very disappointed. Bad service, even bad host service. The waiter said the soup of the day was a “terrific beet borscht.” What arrived was hamburger stew, no beets with an oniony beef broth. The waiter put it down on the table and with out even a hint of apology declared the soup was the way “peasants made borscht” and turned on his heel and left before I could even say “Where’s the beets?.” I am sure he thought he had pulled a fast one on some rubes. Things went down hill from then on. The waiter’s smugness was amusing.

I just called the restaurant to find out what happened and got an outgoing voicemail message saying: “Thank you for calling the 1200 Bistro and Lounge. We regret to inform you that the restaurant is now closed. We would like to thank our loyal customers for their loyal support while we were open, and we wish you happy holidays. Thank you, again.”

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WHAT THE FUCK!!!???? That was the only nice restaurant on Cap Hill to eat at!!! Shit, I made it a point to eat there a couple of times a month at least! This really really sucks. One less reason to go to Cap Hill.

Posted by Just Me | December 3, 2007 12:49 PM

True, I have not been there since July...

Posted by Just Me | December 3, 2007 12:51 PM

Good riddance! I hope a more Manhattan style restaurant opens there with local sustainable produce and boutique gin. I'll pay more for decent food. In Manhattan I thought nothing of spending $200 on a good dinner. In Seattle there are not enough fine restaurants for people like me who have the money and refined palate.

Posted by Issur | December 3, 2007 12:54 PM

I wasn't a fan, (mediocre service and food/waaaaay too fagtastic for me, and I'm a fag), but still, it's sad to see a neighbor go belly up.

maybe Pony can move THERE!!

(rumour: I heard that Kincora was looking at the Sugar it RUMOR/FACT?)

Posted by michael strangeways | December 3, 2007 1:11 PM

Barry Rogel ruins another.

Posted by DOUG. | December 3, 2007 1:13 PM

@5: yep. All he touches turns to lead.

Posted by gnossos | December 3, 2007 1:15 PM

It probably had something to do with the lack of service after the first thing you order.

Posted by Mr. Poe | December 3, 2007 1:16 PM

Has anyone noticed that Issur's troll personality has gone from Orthodox to Manhattan snob?

Anyways, on to the issue at hand, considering that the owner is the owner of the Deluxe, I'm not surprised it failed. The food at the Deluxe is okay, but definitely not classy, and the service has always been poor, right down to the damn menu. "Separate Checks? No problem! 15% service charge." It's been too long for me to remember all the other slightly bitchy things that peppered the menu, but I just remember feeling really unwelcome.

Posted by Gitai | December 3, 2007 1:17 PM

Just because I'm Orthodox doesn't mean I can't have refined taste in food. Most locally grown sustainable produce happens to be kosher. FYI!

Posted by Issur | December 3, 2007 1:22 PM

Went there once since it had changed ownership.

Can't say I'm surprised.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 3, 2007 1:23 PM


I've been there twice since it opened.

The service = horrible. Actually horrible is too nice a word.

The food = mediocre and overpriced. Actually even if the food had been half priced it would have still been mediocre and overpriced.

It's a great location. Someone could do great things with that spot.

Posted by monkey | December 3, 2007 1:23 PM

@8, someone earlier suggested Issur get back into his oven. Horrible to say but in his case....

Posted by Just Me | December 3, 2007 1:25 PM

TEAR IT DOWN!!! I see condos!!!!! RIGHT ON!!!!

Posted by Condo Guy | December 3, 2007 1:26 PM

Too bad about 1200, but really, what was once an anomaly in Cap Hill is now ordinary. Perhaps the space could revert back to being a cafe/diner. It's what the neighborhood really needs, not another high priced pretentious swankhouse.

Posted by genevieve | December 3, 2007 1:26 PM

@12 This is just the kind of anti-semitism that runs rampant in Seattle. This town is full of Christian sex perverts and it disgusts me that only The Stranger has the guts to call out Christianity for being a cult for perverted idiots.

Only Judaism is a true religion of artists, scientists, writers and righteousness. Happy Hanukkah!

Posted by Issur | December 3, 2007 1:29 PM

#14. Right on! A diner, where one can get pancakes 24 hours a day. If I wish hard enough, perhaps it'll happen.

Posted by Jonathan Golob | December 3, 2007 1:40 PM


My thoughts exactly. Maybe something like the southern place that preceded 1200; they had one of the best breakfasts in town going there.

Posted by COMTE | December 3, 2007 1:41 PM

I'm afraid Pike/Pine/Cap Hill is UPscaling not DOWNscaling.

I'm surprised that building hasn't come down has doomed written all over it, like every other building in that 'hood.

Posted by michael strangeways | December 3, 2007 1:45 PM

Yeah, bring back Sammie Sue's. A little more lard and other animal parts (particularly piggie parts) never hurt anybody.

Posted by DaiBando | December 3, 2007 1:47 PM

I for one am glad for all the people who actually like good food.

As to upscaling - of course it is. That's what is happening to all of Cap Hill, but you're there so you can't see it as much as those of us who see it off and on.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 3, 2007 2:16 PM

It was Emil's before it was Sammy Sue's. A REAL diner.

Posted by Fnarf | December 3, 2007 2:19 PM

i don't think that's actually Issur.

I hope Kenny made a bundle - would Barry Rogel have bought it just to shut it down? It wasn't exactly competition for the Deluxe.

Posted by max solomon | December 3, 2007 2:30 PM

As a former employee who was told I have no job on such short notice I feel extremely dissapointed that the Rougel's didn't do some research before reopening the place! I mean come on! They could have atleast changed the name and started an entirely new establishment. The staff told them many times about what needed to be changed. It's just unfortunate to see that place go...the bar was beautiful!

As far as the reader review, the server mentioned there was unfortunately mistaken with the beef soup. Anyone staff who asked to try a sample would have described it much differently. My appologies to whoever was subject to such bad service!

And, yes, Sammy Sue's rocked!

Posted by former employee | December 3, 2007 2:32 PM

Rumor has it that Kenny was forced out by his business partners--he didn't want to sell.

It's too bad--I think he was the only one holding the place together.

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 3, 2007 2:39 PM

Barry of Deluxe fame bought the building as well.

They need to re open with new name and better concept.

The old 1200 Bistro was built into a good business. Food was very pricey and over rated. Friendly, nice bar. Became a hangout for older Queens who had nothing to go home to.

Takes some time and talent to buy and keep the crowd. Suggest high end Red Robin, with stiff drinks and mixed crowd.

Less pretentions, and simple moderate priced dinners - or PIZZA and Italian.

Yes to pancakes and a real good brunch.

Posted by PHENICS THE SMART | December 3, 2007 3:14 PM

@9 I question your Orthodox credentials. All unprocessed produce is kosher, regardless of organic status, as long as it's free from insects.

Posted by Gitai | December 3, 2007 4:01 PM

@26 my point exactly. Organic, local, sustainable food is kosher. That's why we need more restaurants for Seattle's Jewish population serving only organic.

Posted by Issur | December 3, 2007 4:24 PM

@24 Kenny was real first class, especially the way he sabotaged the wine inventory before turning over the keys. Then there was the little lie he spread about all the employees were going to be fired by the new owners so don't bother showing up...of course he had Bo (the chef) do that deed...yup. First class.

Posted by ex-emp | December 3, 2007 4:59 PM

@25 - if the new owner bought the building as well, there is no question his intention was and is to knock down the existing building and develop. Fuckin' shame. i love those janky apartments!

fnarf - I LOVED Emil's. Of course, I also loved Andy's Cafe on B'way.

Posted by genevieve | December 3, 2007 5:03 PM

I'd only heard vague rumors to that effect.


I didn't say he went easily. ;)

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 3, 2007 5:12 PM

I don't know Issur -- since you have such a high disposable income, specialized diet and seem to be sure your idea would fly -- shut up and put your money where your mouth is. Opening up the place and quit bitchin' (or move back to Manhattan).

Posted by mouth meet money | December 3, 2007 5:58 PM

@27 correct me if I am wrong but any food prepared in a non-kosher establishment is treif. No matter how local, sustainable, organic, minimally processed, good for song birds… If non kosher milk or meat has touched the spatula, salad bowl, pan, refrigerator, oven etc. renders said spatula, salad bowl etc. treif unless one goes to the trouble of having it re-kashered. If that wasn’t true why did my grandmother go to the trouble of keeping 2 sets of everything?
I suppose we could have a few more milhig, organic, sustainable restaurants, or vegan ones but baring that I am not sure what you are hoping for? And let’s be honest the number of observant Jews in Seattle “Folg mikh a gang”

Posted by Treif | December 3, 2007 6:33 PM

@32 You are correct. Without a hechsher, even if prepared in a kosher manner, all food prepared in that kitchen is treif.

Regarding marketability, yes, there are too few observant Jews to sustain more kosher restaurants than currently exist in Seattle, but there are also so few halal restaurants that observant Muslims also patronize kosher butchers and restaurants, as well as some odd hippies who are under the mistaken impression that kosher food is healthier. The other thing is, if it's done well, kosher food tastes just as good as treif food, as my husband proves each time he cooks. Even goyim would patronize a restaurant where they couldn't get a cheeseburger if it was done right.

And besides, the Chabadnikim are breeding like crazy, so another two or three generations, and the market will be ripe.

Posted by Gitai | December 3, 2007 8:07 PM

I wouldn't mind a nice cafe w/ some yummy soups. we don't need more pizza, there is already plenty w/in walking distance. I'd like to see a dive bar go in at the 1200. Bring back Ileens, and the Ernie Room.

Posted by Oh Well | December 3, 2007 9:07 PM

Well, if you're going to go, go all the way OW - might as well just bring back Ernie Steele's.

Better yet, bring back the Doghouse. CapHill could use a really good 24 hour greasy spoon.

Posted by COMTE | December 3, 2007 11:17 PM

Where to begin...

Nearly five years ago, I began to date a guy. We ate there a lot because it was close to his house. When I asked him to be my life partner, I proposed to him there -- in the table in the corner, by the front door. We had our wedding reception there, as well as our first anniversary dinner and perhaps three or four dinners a week thereafter.

Brian, Chet, Bo, and the "new guy" -- I had all their food. IMHO, Chet is a genius -- he fed me more meals than any single person aside from my mother. And word is he's working for a local luminary as a personal chef -- personally I hope he opens his own place again.

Kenny, Keith, Jim -- all golden. Great people who ran a wonderful restaurant.

Mark, Blake, Bennie, Fred, Jose, Alfredo, Matthew, Jeanie, Jocelyn, Kent, Ian...all you guys were wonderful.

The patrons I saw there so many nights -- The Starer, The Lizard, Shakes, Diaper Man, Bob The Barrister, Rob the Internet Millionaire, Porsche Matt...the list goes on and on and on. God love you all.

The horrible Mary Tudor art LOL Then the even worse "Berlin punk headshots." Oh, Kenny...LOL

The new owners just wrecked the place -- and one of the worst things they did was to put a fat, mean, ugly old bartender behind that lovely bar. They needed a succession of young hotties -- boy or girl -- to bring in the straights, gays and Stranger staffers (you know who you are -- I met Tim Fucking Keck there!).

1200 is woven into so many of my memories and fat cells. I hope everyone who was part of the old 1200 knows how much they touched my life and how much I appreciated their service, their kindness, their friendship.

You created a very special place in time, just because that time is now over does not mean it will not live forever.

Bartender -- a glass of Chateu Thieully, please!

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | December 3, 2007 11:32 PM

And how could I forget Tom -- who tried to twist my nipples every goddamn time I ate there? :-)

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | December 3, 2007 11:34 PM

This is sad. The 1200 bistro had some of the best food in Seattle. I'll especially miss their beef tartare, a simple dish done perfectly with flair. I don't understand the complaints about it being pricey since it was not anywhere near the truly overpriced (and overrated) places you find downtown or in Belltown for example

It'll be missed by us. You might remember seeing us there - we were the token straight couple...

Posted by Scientist guy | December 5, 2007 11:16 PM

I couldn't really afford it more than once a quarter - but I thought 1200 Bistro (with Chet as cook) was truely one of the all-around best restaurants in Seattle. The staff and owners were so incredibly warm and welcoming. The ambience simple and cozy. Fantastic location. Great bar! The food. Oh my god, the food. Some of the best soups I've ever had. the short ribs. the pastas...the salads! Out of this world. Chet - please come back somewhere and delight this city again. Open your own restaurant in the same spot! You are going to have all those fancy-pants people in the Trace Lofts and other such places to support you.

Posted by pinguina | December 6, 2007 2:34 PM

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