West Seattle restaurants: Pica Border Grill has closed

Pica Border Grill on the north edge of The Junction has been closed for a few days, and tonight, after a tip from customer Franklin, we caught up with owner Miguel Govela, who says Pica is closed permanently after he lost what he says was originally a 6-year lease. He posted this sign in the window:

We reported last year on two houses torn down behind the restaurant at 4151 California SW, with a townhouse and live-work unit replacing them, but the one-story restaurant building was listed as staying. We just re-checked the city’s permit files and still don’t see anything proposed for it yet, and the county assessor’s files do not show a recent ownership change – last one on record was in fall 2013. That was more than a year after Govela bought the restaurant that had been Jonny Bostons; we subsequently reported on his transformation of the space into Pica, with a menu from both sides of the US-Mexico border.

55 Replies to "West Seattle restaurants: Pica Border Grill has closed"

  • Jacob April 3, 2015 (10:15 pm)

    It has been a couple of months since I was last in, but this is something I feared would inevitably happen. I saw this obscure WSB tweet, that linked to this story, and had an immediate gut feeling that it was concerning Pica. Miguel has long fought against the expensive and ruthless tide of change over many decades in the restaurant business here in Seattle, per his stories of the past and present to me. I wish this diehard 12th man, kind soul, and least of all amazing cook nothing but the best down the road. I for one will be emailing him my support as suggested by him in the picture attached above, and hope that I can get a chorizo and cheese wrap with bacon from him, and his lovely wife somewhere down the road. Miguel-let me be the first to publicly say it was an honor to have you set up shop in West Seattle, to get to know you, and never give up the good (food) fight!!

  • i'mcoveredinbees April 3, 2015 (10:18 pm)

    This is the saddest news ever! PICA was the best, had the best fish tacos, truly lovely owners–kind, funny, and I swear there was real love in their food. Unbelievable. WHAT is happening in West Seattle?!


  • nooooo! April 3, 2015 (10:22 pm)

    Miguel: So sorry to hear the news. That torta you guys make is a special one. I’ll be coming to get a fix wherever you end up. Hope all goes OK for you during the transition.

  • Anon April 3, 2015 (10:32 pm)

    Wonder if this is the future site of another apartment building /condo?

  • Anon April 3, 2015 (10:33 pm)

    Sorry to hear the news. Best of luck.

  • Mike April 3, 2015 (10:43 pm)

    Wishing them the best, we would go at least once or twice a week. Hope they open up in west Seattle again soon. Just sad that one of favorite places is no more. Loved their food, passion, humor, and kindness.

  • Melaka April 3, 2015 (10:48 pm)

    Is there anyway in the community design process we can specifically require that small businesses (not franchises etc) to be a portion of the tenants in the building. This is crazy making. I’m sorry pica closed.

  • Keith April 3, 2015 (10:58 pm)

    I had to laugh and cringe every time I walked down this stretch of California Ave and wondered about Pica’s big vent/fan jutting out just a few feet from the windows of the new condos/apartments/whatevers being built right behind that business.

    Figured it couldn’t last but I do hope that Pica finds a new home somewhere in West Seattle. Their burgers and tortas are the bizomb!

    I hope that small, independent businesses like Pica will still be able to operate and survive in The New West Seattle. If all this new development leads only to more chain stores like Chipotle and Starbucks, this neighborhood won’t be what I moved here for in the first place.

  • Jackson April 3, 2015 (10:58 pm)

    I’d finallly just stumbled in to Pica a few weeks ago. Great food served up by nice people. Bummer!

  • cj April 3, 2015 (11:00 pm)

    Sad for us. Fare winds to you Miguel and crew.

  • evergreen April 3, 2015 (11:10 pm)

    They make truly amazing food. Really sad news.

  • mouseman April 3, 2015 (11:11 pm)

    Well, this sucks. Best food ever. Best torta ever. Best tacos. Man what is the world coming to when we can’t keep a place like this around. We will miss you and Sandra very much much. I will be emailing you. Thank you for the great food and friendship. To the new owner of the property, you should be ashamed of yourself. Forcing out of business a great place like this, thanks for nothing.

  • JanS April 4, 2015 (12:40 am)

    greedy developers…I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks so :(

  • Hollie April 4, 2015 (1:31 am)

    Come to burien!

  • m April 4, 2015 (4:26 am)

    We invite you to the Morgan Junction.

  • kevin April 4, 2015 (5:39 am)

    This is terrible. Best sandwich in Seattle. Best of luck Miguel, please don’t leave West Seattle. We need people and businesses like yours.

  • EmilyH April 4, 2015 (7:24 am)

    What a sad story!! I love Pica!! My mom and I loved their philly cheese steaks and torta sandwiches, we can only hope that they find another location and reopen. I will for sure be sending Miguel an email!

  • Ray West April 4, 2015 (7:32 am)

    Sorry to hear this. It sickens me that small independent businesses are being pushed out of West Seattle, paving the way for generic chain-stores and mediocre chain-restaurants to proliferate.

    Just a thought, but maybe Pica Grill could move into the recently vacated Firefly location, if it’s still available.

  • Jon B April 4, 2015 (7:39 am)

    I’ll miss Pica too! Loved your veggie burritos. I hate that Firefly across the street is also closed. I work right around the corner and these were the only “fast” food places within a 2 minute walk.

  • Bill Gehring April 4, 2015 (7:43 am)

    Sorry to hear this. We have been there a few times. Great food. Maybe they can move into the old ” Firefly”

  • Wsg April 4, 2015 (7:47 am)

    Greedy developers? Lol No idea who bought it, but how did it come to be that it was for sale/on the market? Someone wanted to sell it right? How is that a developers fault!?!? If I am selling something, News flash- I don’t have to sell to who I dont want to sell it too!

  • Mike April 4, 2015 (8:41 am)

    So sorry to hear about this. Yet again another property owner destroys local business. Do we have a name of the property owner? I’d love to not do business with them.

  • Mrs.T April 4, 2015 (8:52 am)

    I hate to see you go! I am a connoisseur of all things refried beans, and your recipe is hands down, the best I have ever had. Please let us know where you land and we will come in!

  • JesseD April 4, 2015 (9:03 am)

    Love the food from Pica…Come south to White Center please! We’ll support you like many of the other small shops here.

  • Noelle April 4, 2015 (10:10 am)

    It would be great if they could relocate to Delridge!

  • Westy a long time April 4, 2015 (10:36 am)

    Never had the opportunity, but reading the accolades, wish I had. Yes, please stay local. Amazing places to eat in White Center: Company; Meanders; Proleteriat — you would fit right in!

  • Wsnative April 4, 2015 (11:27 am)

    While I’m sad to see pica go- I find it sad that people blame the developer or owner of the property. As a business owner it is 100 percent on you to read your lease. Lots of commercial leases have clauses in the. To renew by a certain date or you will lose your lease. When you have super cheap rent you should pay attention of course someone is going to re rent it for going market rent as soon as they have a chance.

  • dawsonct April 4, 2015 (12:04 pm)

    DAMMIT!!! I saw jefe Miguel moving things out as I passed by on Thursday. I hoped I wasn’t going to see this news. A real shame and loss to the Junction.
    The man made some great food, I sure hope he finds the desire and location to open again. I’ll follow that torta all over town.
    At least I made it there last weekend; wished I’d known then that he was closing, I WOULD have eaten there every day until he had to close.

  • Jackiepierce April 4, 2015 (12:25 pm)

    PLEASE come to burien!!!

  • Matt April 4, 2015 (1:06 pm)

    Please come to Morgan Junction! West Seattle is so much more than Alaska Junction. You should check out the space that was Red Star Pizza on 35th. With the bars Westies and Locol being 21 over you could capitalize on all the parents that want to have a drink with their kids. LOL. Well, you know what I mean.

  • KT April 4, 2015 (1:25 pm)

    The ‘new’ West Seattle will consume anything with a soul. You knew Pica was not going to be allowed to live with that construction going on enveloping it. “Failed to properly exercise a lease option” – or, the lawyers found a obscure legal technicality to get rid of them.

  • Diane April 4, 2015 (1:33 pm)

    what about the space across the street recently vacated by the crepe biz?

    • WSB April 4, 2015 (1:38 pm)

      That is taken, according to the listing website among other sources. Have not confirmed the new ownership yet.

  • Alki Resident April 4, 2015 (1:46 pm)

    I’ve always thought Alki Beach would be a great location for Pica.

  • Paula April 4, 2015 (2:36 pm)

    JUST discovered PICA last week. Was looking forward to trying everything! Went again on Friday and saw the sign on the door. I’m still in shock. To whoever was responsible for this underhanded behavior ~ your bad Karma will get you. [I do not believe that this is Miguel & Sandra’s fault. I think this situation was helped along by someone with $$ in their eyes.] When they’re open again, I’ll be there.

  • wetone April 4, 2015 (3:12 pm)

    Has nothing to do with greedy developers, as said above it has to do with what this city and DPD are allowing to happen. Developers are going full speed ahead as they know the city really has no clue of what is going on and the effects of what they have and are allowing. If one wants to blame someone start with Mayor Murray and DPD director Diane M. Sugimura. West Seattle junction area will soon be only affordable for franchise type business as the cost of space rises and parking goes away. Not a good combo for family’s and many others.

  • Mike April 4, 2015 (3:41 pm)

    wetone, I’d say it’s more of a McGinn than Murray issue. McGinn’s team of command and conquer zealots changed zoning laws for developers, against what had been agreed on years before. Murray has actually done more to curb those changes enacted during McGinn’s era.
    Wsnative, it seems you are quick to jump to conclusions that Pica didn’t do what they needed. They are in disagreement with the NEW owner of the property. My gut tells me that property is going to be knocked down and the owner was looking for any loophole possible to boot them out.

  • RT April 4, 2015 (3:59 pm)

    So sorry to read this. Agree that incoming tenants seem to be cardboard copies of chains, and that escalating rent is resulting in a market that favors franchises. Urban Village is changing to Urban Pillage. The variety that gave West Seattle (all junctions…from Admiral down to Morgan) it’s edge and appeal is disappearing.

  • Jason April 4, 2015 (4:47 pm)

    I’m devastated. And we all know the owner of the property was just looking for an excuse to get them out, they’re probably turn it into a leasing office for their garbage apartments. I hope the owner of that property is never served a decent burrito or sandwich again for the rest of his life.

  • tina April 4, 2015 (4:53 pm)

    those are the kind of little character filled places that people like..not too.stuffy..just good food and nice people. im sure they will find a niche somewhere even better…best wishes

  • Marcus m April 4, 2015 (5:49 pm)

    this post ruined my day! Only got 2 chances to savor their mind blowing torta. G damnit. I swear if we lose them for a subway I’m moving to white center

  • Craig April 4, 2015 (5:50 pm)

    Terrible news. Loved that place. Really thought it was the spirit of West Seattle – small, friendly, high quality and neighborly. Please, please let’s hope they find a new place nearby in WS. Plus we can then overwhelm them with revenue as a thanks for sticking around our rapidly changing community.

  • junction April 4, 2015 (5:55 pm)

    It’s the circle of life. The food at this place was really not good.

  • FreGirl April 4, 2015 (6:47 pm)

    Very sad to see another small business go, and we liked the food the couple of times we tried it. But frankly that building itself probably NEEDS to go. We didn’t go back anymore because the place reeked horrifically of mildness and mildew, and so did our food wrappings even when we got them home. The building was in ill repair, damp, and possibly dangerous for anyone with asthma. We also witnessed cleaning supplies stored right next to food every time we were in there, and cardboard boxes of supplies on a floor that looked wet under them. Just because a business is small, indie, local, etc. doesn’t make it perfect.

  • JesseD April 4, 2015 (6:52 pm)

    The junction troll…love it…carry on.

  • evergreen April 4, 2015 (7:56 pm)

    Their food was delicious and high quality for a fair price, so I think if it reopened on Delridge, 35th, or White Center, they would actually draw enough business to succeed and attract other independent neighbors. Kind of like Full Tilt. When the quality is there, the people will buy the product and create enough of a following to build a new business district. West Seattle businesses should think about expanding somewhere other than Cali!

  • KM April 4, 2015 (9:19 pm)

    Sorry to hear! Hoping the best for you guys (maybe Morgan Junction?) Hope the developers and the tenants of the “garbage apartments” have the opportunity to enjoy your food somewhere nearby soon, along with the rest of the community.

  • Pigeon Hill Jim April 5, 2015 (10:18 am)

    My family is deeply saddened by the loss of what became our favorite take out in WS. Viva Torta!

  • JesseD April 5, 2015 (7:54 pm)

    I agree with Evergreen.

    If you put out a good product customers will follow. Pho Aroma on Delridge puts outs some great food, too, and have a loyal following. I’m selfish and want them in the DubSea because I love their Torta.

  • Scott and Deb April 5, 2015 (8:25 pm)

    My heart just sank. We were weekly regulars for about a year now. Please open up shop in West Seattle again!!! You’re a true gem Miguel!!

  • Corinna and Dave April 6, 2015 (4:01 pm)

    We are sooo sorry to hear this! Miguel and his family were so kind and the food was fabulous. My son will be heartbroken to hear, as he fell in love with the torta while visiting in February. Good luck and hope to see you guys again in West Seattle!

  • Sad April 7, 2015 (4:33 pm)

    Very sad news indeed. Dufus and Blueprint Capital you should be ashamed of yourselves, driving a hard working family out of business. What is an extra $500 a month of rent to you and your investors? Well to this family it means a whole lot. I am sad to hear this as we are property owners nearby and have seen how hard they have worked to keep the restaurant alive.
    There will be a rent increase and a new tenant in there in six weeks. (my opinion and best guess). There are good people and less than scrupulous in all walks of life (even developers)…Shame on you Blueprint.

  • Adam April 8, 2015 (8:56 pm)

    I work out at CrossFit Loft across the street. I am really disgusted hat Pica shut down. I thought they were out of town for Easter, wrong. Pushed out by the real estate jungle that is Seattle. I loved getting done with a workout and then ordering some awesome tacos. Beyond unhappy.

  • wsgal April 14, 2015 (11:38 am)

    It looks like there’s been some activity in there – any idea what’s happening next?

  • katy April 20, 2015 (4:01 pm)

    this is so sad! We were afraid something happened when we called for our regular order on Friday night and nobody answered. How heartbreaking!!

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