West Seattle restaurants: Pan Africa Grill closes, Chopstix coming

If you try going to Pan Africa Grill at 5905 California SW tonight – that’s what you’ll find. We’d heard rumors they were closing, but no confirmation until the sign went up. It had only been open a year and a half, taking over the space that was home to Ho-Win Chinese Restaurant for 12 years. At the time Pan Africa opened here, it had an original location at Pike Place Market, but the owners closed that last April.

So what will happen to the West Seattle space, you ask? We do have the answer. It will be a Chinese restaurant again – called Chopstix. No, the former owners aren’t coming back; this is a brand-new venture, says proprietor Mark Lam, whose family has been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years in South King County. “West Seattle has a little bit more population density, it’s more diversified, a great place for any kind of business,” he told WSB’s Katie Meyer in a phone conversation this afternoon. He says Chopstix won’t be exclusively Chinese – it’ll veer toward Pan-Asian with “a little bit of Vietnamese, some teriyaki as well, some Japanese tempura.” No grand-opening date just yet – he just got the keys to the restaurant this week and expects to know more next week, after some cleanup, changes, and menu development. We’ll follow up, of course.

62 Replies to "West Seattle restaurants: Pan Africa Grill closes, Chopstix coming"

  • jvp March 7, 2013 (7:11 pm)

    Too bad about Pan Africa Grill, but if Chopstix delivers (like Ho-Win used to), they’ll have our business for sure.

    • WSB March 7, 2013 (7:20 pm)

      I have some indication they plan to, but confirmation will wait till they finalize some things …

  • Ducky March 7, 2013 (7:19 pm)

    Hmmm, I’d love to know what happened. I thought Pan Africa was doing well, and I’ll miss their tasty food.

  • Desertdweller March 7, 2013 (7:22 pm)

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE deliver to the Westwood area!

  • Happiness March 7, 2013 (7:30 pm)

    Last week’s 1/2 price Groupon offer was a sure sign that they were having trouble.
    It was delicious food, but their prices were triple what it costs if you drive across the bridge to any of dozens of other Seattle Ethiopian restaurants.

  • Andrea March 7, 2013 (7:48 pm)

    Sad to read that. I really enjoyed their food and it was nice to have a more interesting option in West Seattle than pizza, faux mexican, and fried chicken. Clearly should have gone more often, instead of just thinking about going. Best of luck to them.

  • Brenda March 7, 2013 (8:01 pm)

    We will miss you Mulu and the team at Pan Africa! So sad that there is no other place for my injera fix in WS.

  • Sue March 7, 2013 (8:13 pm)

    I really wanted to like Pan Africa – well, I loved their food, but the service just sucked. (And yes, I spoke to management about it and they offered to discount our meal, but it was a prepaid groupon we had.) We just never went back as a result, especially when our bad experience was echoed in many reviews. I’m sorry to hear they’ve closed, and hope they find another location that works better for them.

  • twicksea March 7, 2013 (8:13 pm)

    I’m sad to hear this. We just got take out from Pan Africa last week and it was delicious as always. I thought it was priced fairly, especially for the generous quantities. Inconsistent and slow service made us a little wary to dine in, though. But I’m sorry to lose them in WS.

  • E March 7, 2013 (8:26 pm)

    Not surprised at all. No one was ever there.

  • Que March 7, 2013 (8:38 pm)

    I went and got TERRIBLE service that was excruciatingly slow, with no apologies, and the food that I got was kind of meh. Never returned. Looking forward to what is next.

  • cjp March 7, 2013 (8:59 pm)

    Yeah there was no reason to ever go to PAG more than once with that terrible of service. I am not surprised they closed. Everyone I know said they’d never go back. Fine food, not worth the ridiculously bad service.

  • ws_suzanne March 7, 2013 (9:05 pm)

    This is such a sad loss for West Seattle. I loved their food and enjoyed one of the very best cooking classes there, bar none.

    Their service was always friendly and recommendations for just the right dish were consistently exceptional.

    I’m going to miss them, and now wish that I had a larger budget for eating out. I always felt their prices were excellent. That was a lot of great food for the price, with leftovers easily stretching into two or three more meals.

    Good luck to all of you who were part of Pan Africa. I hope to enjoy your food again soon somewhere in Seattle. In the meantime, I’m going to miss you.

  • WTF March 7, 2013 (9:10 pm)

    I echo @Desertdweller, ChopStix pls. deliver east of 35th.
    Can’t wait….

  • Laura March 7, 2013 (9:14 pm)

    Is this Chopstix at all related to the one in Kent? Fingers crossed that it is.

  • Marianne March 7, 2013 (9:19 pm)

    The employees were friendly. The food was ok. The prices were comparable to other Ethiopian restaurants in the Central District. But the portions were small.

  • Sara March 7, 2013 (9:35 pm)

    Aw, so Chopstix isn’t the piano bar? Darn. Would’ve been a fun addition.

  • toodles March 7, 2013 (10:16 pm)

    Another one down another one up…

  • Jeanie March 7, 2013 (10:23 pm)

    Glad I didn’t purchase that groupon like thingy I saw just a few days ago. Too bad as I was planing on going soon.

  • B-check March 7, 2013 (10:49 pm)

    Never did make it to Pan African Grill – so while saddened to hear a business fail in WS, I am so excited to hear a restaurant that serves Chinese food is coming back. Please, Chopstix, focus on the Chinese food. There’s a lot of good Pan Asian food in WS, but it’s a Chinese food desert! It will be nice not having to go all the way to the International District for take out!

  • kate March 7, 2013 (11:25 pm)

    Sad news. I never had bad service and I ate there at least ten times, if not more. I thought the service was great and the prices were comparable to other Ethiopian restaurants. The cooking classes were spectacular! I have two Groupon coupons- one for dinner and one for another cooking class. Bummer. Good luck to Mulu and family. You’ll be missed and I look forward to your next venture.

  • Ray West March 8, 2013 (5:11 am)

    Sorry to hear this. I always get excited when a different type of restaurant opens, but after going twice, I just found the food was rather pricey for what you got, and a bit spicy for my taste–and I mean spicy in that it was overly seasoned, not flames shooting out of you mouth. It was something I could only eat once in a while.

    Can’t say I’m thrilled about another Asian restaurant, there’s already too many. I just hope this one is better than Ho Win. They’d gotten so bad I stopped ordering from them completely.

  • Sue March 8, 2013 (6:33 am)

    I’m with B-check – I wish Chopstix would focus more on the chinese food. Whenever I lament no good chinese food in WS, people always tell me to go to Lee’s. Lee’s is good, but it’s not “chinese food.” I hope Chopstix isn’t going to be a repeat of that. Although if they deliver, that’ll be one up on Lee’s. BTW, Chopstix isn’t related to the food truck of the same name, is it?

  • Bonnie March 8, 2013 (7:08 am)

    I went to one of their cooking classes they had and was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it a lot. I’m sorry they didn’t make a go of it.

  • Jack March 8, 2013 (7:28 am)

    They’ve issued thousands of Groupons over the last couple months to take the cash in run. This is a common practice for businesses facing imminent closure. Groupon will get stuck with the bill I suppose, calling to get my refund now.

  • marty March 8, 2013 (7:30 am)

    Not a surprise. Some of the poorest service I have ever experienced.

  • AG March 8, 2013 (7:46 am)

    I’d kill for some good (or even just passable) Chinese food in the area. Please oh PLEASE deliver to Westwood. Even if you add an extra charge for it, I’ll gladly pay and tip well on top of it. Even moreso if the food is good and doesnt use MSG or it’s equally evil substitutes. :)

  • onceachef March 8, 2013 (8:16 am)

    Sorry to see you go Mulu…it’s a difficult location to operate from (no foot traffic).

    As far as ChopStix is concerned, I agree with all the other “please deliver” posters..please deliver at least a five mile radius! Make a good kung pao and I’m your forever customer ( lots of green onions and peanuts, less celery if any!).

  • Donna Lawson March 8, 2013 (9:12 am)

    I agree with @Desertdweller – we would love some great Chinese delivery to the Westwood area.

  • Ben March 8, 2013 (9:22 am)

    if my family had had overall positive experiences the three times we tried Pan Africa Grill, we would have returned many times — it’s walking distance from our house — but instead it was a major disappointment.
    i hope the new place focuses on the basics: good service, good food, nothing fancy, reasonably affordable. if so, i predict they will get all the business they can handle.

  • Sillygoose March 8, 2013 (9:31 am)

    Oh this is awful the food was delicious, and we were happy to wait for freshly cooked meals.

    Another Chinease resturant yuk no thanks!

    Good Luck Pan Africa I hope you can reopen soon!

  • Vanessa March 8, 2013 (9:44 am)

    Chinese Food? PLEASE, NO MSG options!!!!!

  • NeoYogi March 8, 2013 (9:53 am)

    Loved Pan African Grill. I will miss them…best of luck to everyone and to the new business moving in.

  • Mongo March 8, 2013 (9:53 am)

    I’ve been lamenting the complete lack of good “real” Chinese food in West Seattle for years. Sure hope this will be the fix for that.

    By the way, any recent news of the French bistro that was rumored to be going in down on Alki?

    • WSB March 8, 2013 (10:06 am)

      Nothing reportable, no.

  • East Coast Cynic March 8, 2013 (10:07 am)

    To reiterate what B-Check and Sue said, I would like Chopstix to focus exclusively on Chinese food: There are plenty of other Pan-Asian options and the Chinese options are unacceptable–Lee’s food is on the bland side and the Yen Wor is absolutely wretched.

    Hopefully Chopstix will be tasty enough to save me the trouble of driving to Burien for decent Chinese food.

  • A. March 8, 2013 (11:23 am)

    Yes. Please focus on Chinese food. Lee’s is an amalgamation of ridiculous “Pan asian” food. I would love something decent and Chinese in West Seattle. Delivery would be a plus but I would pick up and wouldn’t care.

    Also, Pan African Grill was awful. The food was beyond bland and boring.

  • Top Secret March 8, 2013 (11:44 am)

    Another one bites the dust!

  • Jack March 8, 2013 (11:46 am)

    They still have a deal running on Groupon, they need to tell Groupon to pull the deal and refund those that purchased it. http://www.groupon.com/deals/pan-africa-market-4

    They surely knew they were closing before running this deal, not cool. Buyer beware.

    • WSB March 8, 2013 (12:03 pm)

      Jack, thanks. I have to say it because I’ve been wanting to say it through this whole thing – but buyer beware in almost *any* daily deal. You can do lots of Web research to find out why. Saving yourself a few $ is not worth what it costs the small local business, enriching only out-of-town zillionaires. I could go on but will get off the soapbox because there’s more news to write. I do hope that you and anyone else with those coupons are able to get reimbursed … TR

  • NT March 8, 2013 (11:54 am)

    No MSG, great food, a lot of vegetarian options and delivery to Westwood, please!!!

  • wsMama3 March 8, 2013 (11:54 am)

    Can I get some non-MSG delivery?! PLEASE!!!

  • kenyon March 8, 2013 (11:57 am)

    @East Coast Cynic – Where in Burien?? I need some good Chinese. Thanks

  • East Coast Cynic March 8, 2013 (1:32 pm)

    Kenyon–Happy Garden on Ambaum Blvd SW in Burien

  • Desertdweller March 8, 2013 (2:22 pm)

    Apparently I’m not the only one in the Westwood area that wants some yummy Chinese food delivered! Let’s hope it happens!

  • Karla March 8, 2013 (2:41 pm)

    I’m going to miss this place. I love their good. I still have 2 groupon. I always felt their prices were excellent and the people where really nice.

  • Amy March 8, 2013 (2:45 pm)

    I just want to pile on to those asking that Chopstix focus on Chinese and offer delivery. Down to Westwood works for me because then the delivery area would include my hood, Sunrise Heights. :-)

  • West Seattle Hipster March 8, 2013 (4:48 pm)

    Love to see a Tat’s Deli or Gorditos in that spot.

  • charla March 8, 2013 (5:43 pm)

    Very sad news for us — we loved the food; the service — they even gave me samples of things that I wanted to try but not enough to buy a whole serving (mac and cheese????? delish!)

    Now we’ll have to go back to Queen Sheba (on Cap Hill) which is just Ethiopian until someone else opens up closer.

    Hope they open the cooking classes somewhere else — another one of those things we were always going to do. Lesson: Don’t Wait.

  • Jack March 8, 2013 (7:39 pm)

    I submitted a refund via Groupon’s site and they gave me a credit for what I paid. Their reply was within a few hours and hassle free.

  • Jack March 8, 2013 (7:43 pm)

    FWIW, I use groupon et. al. To check out new places, have found a lot of good local businesses that way and have become a regular. Not going to be the case for Pan Africa :/

  • Erica March 8, 2013 (10:53 pm)

    Ditto the request for focusing on Chinese. I’m so desperate for good hot and sour soup.

  • anonyme March 9, 2013 (6:14 am)

    Another vote for REAL Chinese food. I’m craving some good MaPo tofu and Szechuan string beans…Chopstix, please take note!

  • Elizabeth March 9, 2013 (4:44 pm)

    I love Pan Africa. I’m so sad to hear that they are closing! And yes, there are lots of places in CD and Columbia City but Pan Africa’s food used particularly nice quality ingredients and was less greasy. Their service was slow but never rude, in our experience.

  • Ajax March 9, 2013 (11:11 pm)

    The restaurant that moves into this space will no doubt manage to disappoint those in West Seattle who expect 3 Michelin star food and service at $8 per plate along with a play area for their children. I had great experiences at Pan Africa Grill and look forward to trying the new restaurant as well. Good luck to the former and new proprietors.

  • Tuesday March 10, 2013 (9:00 pm)

    I wanted to try Pan Africa, but every time I drove by there was no indication that it was open!

  • Ruth March 11, 2013 (7:24 pm)

    Hey Jack,
    Why don’t you check Groupon’s policy, before accusing someone of taking the money and running? Group keeps a portion of the money, until the Groupon purchase expires; so that they can refund the money if a customer is dissatisfied or if a business closes. You should research and find out the facts before destroying someone’s reputations.


  • jd March 13, 2013 (5:18 pm)

    Agree with most of the comments…please stick to Chinese food only and make it good. We have enough hodge podge restaurants already! I hope the new owner is reading our posts and making adjustments!

  • kate March 14, 2013 (1:30 am)

    Groupon credited my account for two of my Pan Africa coupons; one for a dinner $25 and the other for a cooking class for two $50. No problem.

  • vger March 18, 2013 (10:08 am)

    I’m really really sad Pan Africa is closed. They served really wonderful food and I found the folks who worked there SUPER friendly. I went about 10 times and two times I did wait a bit longer than normal for my food…but I didn’t mind one bit… good people and good food at good prices….I’m very sad to see their business not work out for them.

  • KatieH March 27, 2013 (8:22 pm)

    Is this part of a chain of southern California restaurants with the same name?

    • WSB March 27, 2013 (9:15 pm)

      Locally owned. The owner’s family has been in the restaurant business in South King County, mentioned, I believe in our first story (linked in this one).

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