Siam on Broadway, the first of several Seattle-area Siams — and the one closest to the hearts and stomachs of many longtime patrons on Capitol Hill — closed late last week after more than two decades in business. Back before I threw the place over for other tempting Thai joints, I often made myself comfortable at the crowded counter where woks blazed, take-out orders were dispatched and a line of hungry characters eyed my barstool — and my tom kah gai. It’s been 15 years since I recounted this scenery in a Seattle Weekly review:
At busy Siam, four women move with utmost grace in a space the size of an apartment kitchen. Faces expressionless, they exchange amazingly few words while dipping into salty potions, portioning meats and vegetables onto metal trays. Adeptly working the wok and grill, they look for all the world like they’d rather be on the beach in Phuket. But then, so would we. Meanwhile, the counter at Siam will have to do, and the scents of garlic, ginger, galangal and lemongrass wafting in the air makes you forget that you’re in Seattle — at least for the time it takes to finish your phad Thai.
Today, customers calling Broadway for phad Thai will be disappointed to find a phone message-farewell from owner Lynda Siriwatnarong, thanking them for their patronage and noting, “You will all be missed.”
Looking for answers regarding the closure, I put a call in to Chai Asavadejkajorn, owner of Siam on Lake Union and Siam Thai Cuisine in Bothell. Chai was one of Siam on Broadway’s original owners and explained that Lynda won the restaurant in a divorce settlement with Chai’s former business partner — with whom he opened the Capitol Hill location in 1986. The restaurant’s closure came, he said, as the result of a sale of the property. “Her lease was good for just another year, and the landlord bought out her lease.”
It’s worth noting that the adjacent building to the south, long home to the Jade Pagoda, is ripe for redevelopment, and the storefront to Siam’s north sits vacant, the “For Lease” sign that once sat in its window gone — fomenting speculation on Capitol Hill’s north end. Perhaps the Swanson family, owners of the handsomely rehabbed building housing Poppy (at one end) and the site of the old Jade Pagoda (at the other) have an interest in owning the entire block?
Staring across the street at the shuttered Siam early this morning, Barry Rogel, owner/operator of the DeLuxe Bar & Grill speculates, “It’s a neat, classic red-brick building. Maybe something’s going to happen.”