By Deanie Schwarz
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
The foreclosure more than a year ago of the Seamart building in Highland Park had neighborhood folks wondering whether this “food desert” area would ever again see the life-giving sustenance and high-voltage energy of the previous tenants Zippy’s Giant Burgers (WSB sponsor) – since owners Blaine and Rahel Cook ended up moving to a larger space in White Center.
A bank took over the property at 16th/Holden, and for the year-plus since, anxious eyes have kept watch, wondering, hoping, waiting. Then, last weekend, eagle-eyed tipsters scrambled to let WSB know that apparent tenants were actively on site, so, we were asked, WHAT did we know? We dashed over and were lucky to meet one of two future tenants who will split a three-way triple-net on the property: Athena’s owner Nick Parisi.
Nick, his wife, and their two kids are Highland Park residents, and are stepping up to bat at the charmed former Zippy’s location to bring his road-proven, Greek-themed venture home to the people of West Seattle and beyond – and you will be able to get food there sooner than you think.
He and his wife’s family have years of restaurant and food experience, Nick says, but most recently, he is the owner of Athena’s Gyros food truck. You might have spotted them around town at regional biking events, or at food booths for Bumbershoot or Folklife Festival. His wife’s family also has a number of Korean soup shops around the area, so they are all busy food entrepreneurs in this clan. Nick is excited about getting the Highland Park shop built out and running, hopefully around April 15. He is also equally excited about the emerging food truck industry in Seattle and the opportunities there. “Summers are extremely crazy for us, so I want to get this place up and running before the season begins, “ he explains.
The Greek-themed menu for the brick and mortar shop (which will also serve as the commissary for their truck) will include gyros – lamb and field roast, amongst others – falafel, burgers, gelato AND soft serve. “It’s good food. It is going to be a good restaurant,” Nick said with a big smile. “This is a good neighborhood; we see the growth happening here. I love to think about people walking down here and hanging out this summer eating some gelato here on our benches. I hope we are [loved on] on here.”
Just so you know, prices will be in the $5-$10 range, but there’s no need to wait until the April 15 grand opening to check it out, because their food truck will be open for business at the site this Friday, February 17 at 1:00 PM and every day thereafter from 1:00 – 8:00 PM, if all goes according to a slightly uncertain schedule.
The hard-working truck, a custom-design of efficiency in falafel vending, is at the time of publication in the masterful hands of Glenn Case. He is the muralist for both Easy Street Records stores and many other well-loved West Seattle windows and walls. Nick says the art Glenn is creating on the truck panels is “insane”, depicting the epic contest between Athena and Poseidon for the patronage of the city-state of Athens. For those of you who might have slept through Greek mythology classes, this is the competition ordained by the gods, wherein Athena impressed the judges by planting an olive tree and Poseidon had a major fail by merely providing salty water to the city. The wonders of olive oil and olive branches defeated salty water and so Athena won and the city was named after her; and, she got the Acropolis too, but that’s another story. Nick says he may have to ask Glenn to do another wall mural down the road, but for now, it’s all about the truck, the build-out, and the opening.
When the truck arrives in Highland Park, we’ll check it out and let you know when they are customer-ready. Nick says a website should be up by the Grand Opening.
Meantime, as for the rest of the space, a new grocery store business will be taking over; Nick tells us the owners (who we’re still working to contact) are also very experienced in the convenience-store business and will be specializing in Northwest beers. He thinks they will likely be opening up sometime in the next couple of months. He also mentioned that the owner might be looking for the third and final enterprise – perhaps a coffee stand in the former Jojo’s slot – and that the entire parking lot will be resurfaced, as well as other building improvements. More to come as this all unfolds!