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January 6, 2009 at 7:15 AM

Opal has closed. What’s next? How about some suggestions for Orrapin

After dinner service New Year’s Eve, Orrapin Chancharu shuttered Opal — her pricey not-quite-two-year-old restaurant and bar atop Queen Anne Hill. Despite raves like mine, centered on the creative food offered upon Opal’s debut, business, she said, hasn’t been so hot. “We’d get some regulars, but they’d come in like two or three times a month — and it was a small group of people. I don’t think people are into fine dining,” says the woman whose 15-year-old Orrapin Thai Cuisine remains a solid fixture on the Queen Anne dining scene. “They don’t want to spend money.” No kidding, sis.

Lack of neighborhood support did the place in, says Orrapin. That and a revolving-door of young chefs moving in and out of her kitchen. Close proximity to other warmly-received dining venues like Portage (which sits directly across the street), and How to Cook a Wolf (next door to Opal) surely didn’t help her cause either and rather than limp along into the new year, she just pulled the plug. So, what’s next for the handsome corner space occupying prime real estate at the crossroads of Boston Street and Queen Anne Avenue North?

Orrapin hopes to reopen in a few weeks offering a new concept, a new menu and possibly even a new name. “We’ll try to figure out what to do to make it work,” she said, noting she’ll be doing the cooking this time rather than hiring imaginative young chefs schooled in the fine art of fussy food.

Anyway, while Orrapin toys with ideas, menus and potential concepts over the next coupla-few weeks, what say we help her out with our own wish-list for a re-imagined Opal. Here’s my two-cents: I loved Opal’s bar. Keep that as the centerpiece, for sure. Mix great cocktails and don’t charge too much for them. After all, there are only so many seats at tiny Portage and How to Cook a Wolf and both places could use a swell perch where wannabe diners can hang out waiting for a table. OK, now it’s your turn. Ideas, anyone?

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