It’s a common refrain among restaurant owners: Seattle-area rents are expensive — often prohibitively so. That reality puts an even heavier burden on would-be restaurant owners in lower income brackets, especially immigrants and refugees — two populations for whom restaurant ownership has long been a way to gain a toehold in their new home.
The nonprofit Food Innovation Network works to give these businesses a leg up through its Food Business Incubator Program, which provides rent subsidies, permit assistance, marketing guidance, and more. The organization is launching a new arm of its program next Tuesday, September 8, in Spice Bridge, a “global food hall” inside the Tukwila Village development.
Spice Bridge will open initially with four food stalls; four more are coming October 1. When it’s realized in its entirety, the Spice Bridge project will span 2,800-square-feet, including a commercial kitchen with four cook stations, four food retail stalls, and a community dining area. All told, the project will be able to accommodate a maximum of 20 businesses renting kiosks in the main dining area, and catering and farmers market vendors operating out of the commercial kitchen.
For now, there won’t be any indoor dining, pandemic realities being what they are. But the food hall has outdoor dining and takeout options.
Here are the first four businesses scheduled to open September 8.
Specializing in a fusion of Somali-Kenyan-Tanzanian cuisines, Moyo Kitchen will serve sambusa (fried pastries filled with meat and vegetables); okra stew; cornbread with kale stew; a main dish of bone-in fish, served fried, curried, or baked; shish kebabs; and chai tea.
This Argentinian-owned bakery will sell a variety of sweet and savory pastries, including beef, chicken, and vegetable empanadas; flan; cookies; and rotating specials like Argentinian pizza and an asado plate piled with an empanada, chorizo, beef ribs potato salad, and bread. There are also chicken, beef, and cactus paddle sandwiches topped with either pizza sauce or chimichurri.
Taste of Congo
Congolese dishes are front and center: beef or chicken stew; grilled bone-in goat; fried tilapia; mayonnaise-covered, grilled half-chicken; fried plantains; boiled fermented cassava; and beignets.
Afella Jollof Catering
Gambian and Senegalese food will make up the menu at Afella Jollof Catering. Dishes will include peanut stew, samosas, okra soup, and beignets, washed down with hibiscus juice, ginger juice, or herbal tea.
And these are coming October 1:
Theary’s Cambodian dishes will range from som law ma hew kroeung (tamarind-lemongrass soup) and bi cha kroeung poong tia (Khmer-spiced fried rice with a crispy fried egg), to slabb monn bouwk (stuffed chicken wings wrapped in bacon), and a burger topped with chicken pate and mango salad. Diners scan customize every dish’s spice level with homemade chili oil.
Organic and locally grown ingredients will take center stage in Afghan dishes at Jazze’s. Menu options will include lobia (Afghan red beans served with rice and salad); burani kadu (squash cooked in tomato sauce, topped with garlic yogurt, and served with warm bread or rice and salad); overnight-marinated cilantro chicken; and cauliflower cooked in a tomato-turmeric sauce and served with warm bread and salad.
Branding itself as Ethiopian-American cuisine, Wuha will have both Ethiopian dishes as well as American dishes laced with East African spices — aiming to offer a gateway to the cuisine for the uninitiated. There will be a black lentil veggie sandwich, Ethiopian beef curry sauce with injera, ground split peas and collard greens in a flatbread roll, and Ethiopian-style stuffed jalapenos.
Filipino food will be the focus at Wengay’s Kitchen, which will serve dishes like chicken, beef, or vegetable lumpia; pancit bihon, thin stir-fried noodles with vegetables; beef kaldereta, a hearty tomato-based stew with potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, and olives; and ube ensaymada, a sweet bun filled with ube jam and covered with butter, sugar, and cheese.