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July 20, 2009 at 3:46 PM

Hello, Fresh Bistro! Farewell, Ama Ama

There’s been reports of yet another restaurant closure in a month all-too-full of them. West Seattle’s Ama Ama Oyster Bar & Grill will close July 25. “Economic conditions, being what they are, have reluctantly forced our hand,” owners Rob Coburn and Paige Crandall told friends and patrons via email.

Back when things were looking up at Ama Ama (John Lok/Seattle Times)

“It’s pretty scary out there,” says Mark Fuller, Food & Wine’s 2009 “Best New Chef” and owner of West Seattle’s much-lauded Northwest bistro, Spring Hill. “It’s real close to home.” Is he worried for his young restaurant’s well being? “We’re not as well-established as people who’ve been around for 10 or 15 years,” he said today. “But I think we’re fine, I think things are looking up.”

Around the corner from Ama Ama, 2-month-old Fresh Bistro — a spinoff of West Seattle’s long-running catering company Herban Feast — is coming off a busy Sunday brunch. “It always makes me nervous when restaurants close,” says co-owner and chef Dalis Chea, who’s saddened by the loss of Ama Ama for personal as well as professional reasons. “I didn’t see it coming, though I’d heard rumors.” He and his co-workers like to stop in for late-night happy hour when they’re off the clock.

Dalis Chea, co-owner and chef-exec at Fresh Bistro

Dalis has worked at such high-end restaurants as Canlis (as did his chef de cuisine, Jeff Taton) and for two years at Oceanaire Seafood Room, whose abrupt closure, he says, was “another shock.”

“There aren’t too many great restaurants up here,” notes the Fresh young chef, who gives the nod to Fuller at Spring Hill as an example of someone who’s attempting to change that. “We’re trying to make West Seattle a destination place for our food,” he laments. “People think it’s a trek from I-5, but really, it’s just minutes away.”

Describing his menu as “my international take on bistro food, common dishes, not your off-the-wall stuff,” he looks back over his fledgling restaurant’s early months. There was the to-be-expected slowdown around July 4th, and the Bite of Seattle took a bite out of business last weekend, but he’s optimistic for the long-term. “We’re meeting our sales goals and seeing lots and lots of regulars” including longtime clients from Herban Feast. For that, he and his business partner BJ Duft are truly thankful.

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