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December 27, 2010 at 10:08 AM

Get it while it’s hot: Roy’s BBQ in Columbia City to close

Corrected version

Got Georgia on your mind? Well, you’d better get down to Roy’s BBQ for lunch says owner Shane O’Neil, as he and his family are preparing to close up shop. Their final day of business is Saturday, January 9, when they’ll serve their last Georgia Gold (Roy’s signature pulled pork sandwich) and call it “the end of a great run.”

That run, for O’Neil and company, began when he and a friend bought the place from original owner Young “Roy” Kim in 2005. Kudos followed for the skinny hole-in-the-wall in the heart of Columbia City, but things aren’t what they used to be, he says.

Last call for pulled pork (and fish tacos) at Roy’s. Open Monday through Friday this week and next, then closing after the food runs out on Saturday, January 9th. [Seattle Times/John Lok/2006].

“We’ve been kind of limping along for a year,” admits O’Neil, who’s lived in the neighborhood for 15 years. “There’s been a change in the clientele over the last three years or so. More middle-income families moving in, as opposed to the rich cultural heritage we’ve always had. If I was on Capitol Hill or downtown, I’d be killing it, but we don’t have that kind of density around here. It’s all single-resident and small families.”

Competition from neighbors like Jones barbecue and the new sandwich shop the Chelsea Deli (courtesy of Dave Harris, who opened — and later sold — the original Other Coast Cafe in Ballard), likely didn’t help matters.

Economics certainly played into his decision, but there are personal reasons too, O’Neil says. “It’s just time. It’s the right thing to do.” He’ll be taking his recipes with him, and may someday reopen elsewhere. In the meantime, “I’m thinking of just making sauces and selling it at the farmers market.”

So, what’s next for the 360-square foot restaurant space, which has seen its day as a teriyaki shop, a meat-pie stop and — more famously — as Betty’s Grill (legendary, says O’Neil, “because Betty did a hamburger bigger than your head”)? That’s up to his landlord, but having worked in the narrow confines at 4903 1/2 Rainier Avenue South, he’s got an idea. “We’re such a little boat, a narrow space 6-feet 5-inches wide by 63-feet: a taco bus would fit here.”

Narrowing down ideas for this skinny space, ‘Q man Shane O’Neil suggests a bricks-and-mortar version of a taco bus might be just the right fit. [Seattle Times/John Lok/2006]

Information in this article, originally published Dec. 27, 2010, was corrected Dec. 29. A previous version said O’Neil hoped to sell sausage at the farmers market. I heard that wrong. What he said was [barbecue] “sauces”!

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