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December 13, 2011 at 8:14 AM

Ballard’s Thaiku and Fu Kun Wu to close December 23

The end of the year inevitably brings a long list of restaurant closures. Far too many come as a surprise. So I extend my thanks to Jon Alberts and Graham Graham for announcing the planned closure of their 10-year-old restaurant Thaiku and its bar and lounge Fu Kun Wu. The last full day of operation will be December 23, so get in there while the getting is good.

According to Monday’s news release, the closure will idle 25 employees: cooks, waitstaff, bartenders and dishwashers including some who have been with the Thai restaurant since it opened. In a follow-up phone conversation, Alberts explained “the building has been for sale for about three years, and because it was for sale the landlords were reluctant to give us a long-term lease — so there was no real security for us.”

Quick! Get over and bid adieu to Thaiku and Fu Kun Wu (5410 Ballard Ave. N.W.) before the closure.

Alberts said the landlords were unwilling to pay for building improvements he deems necessary and “it wouldn’t have made [financial] sense for us to do them” if the building were to sell in the next two years. In addition, continued rumors of the restaurant’s imminent demise (thanks to “For Sale” sign on the building) and a considerable spike in rent meant “we couldn’t come to terms, and decided to vacate.”

So, is that the end of Thaiku and Fu Kun Wu?

Nope. Expect another reincarnation sometime in the coming year, insists Alberts, and stay tuned to Thaiku’s Facebook page. He reminds me it’s been a decade since he was forced to close his Fremont Noodle House when the building that housed it was demolished. The popular Thai restaurant quickly relocated to Ballard, where it was rechristened Thaiku.

The partners are actively looking for another space, but they’re in no hurry to re-open right away, Alberts said, adding they haven’t exactly been idle lately, given the fall debut of their second Mexican restaurant, Queen Anne’s Mezcaleria Oaxaca — an offshoot of Thaiku’s neighboring La Carta de Oaxaca.

“I’d love to be in Ballard,” said Alberts, a jazz pianist who also owns the neighborhood’s lusty Scandinavian watering-hole the Copper Gate (soon to be the relocated home of Fu Kun Wu’s weekly jazz nights), “but we’re open to a few other spots — possibly someplace you’d never think of.”

Jazzman and restaurateur Jon Alberts (on piano), with the Fu Kun Wu Trio, Tad Britton (drums) and Jeff Johnson (bass).

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