BIZNOTE: Lee’s Asian Restaurant has a closing date too

With the redevelopment project at 4508 California SW getting ready for construction, both restaurants on the site now have closing dates. We’ve already reported on the impending closure of Kamei Japanese Restaurant – which set March 15th as the date a few days ago – and now we’ve confirmed the plan for Lee’s Asian Restaurant next door. It, like Kamei, has been in The Junction for 20 years, and Lee’s tells us they’ll be closing at the end of March. (Thanks to Tom for the tip; we went by to confirm today.) The future mixed-use building also includes the vacant storefront that previously held Naked Crepe. The new development finished going through Design Review more than two years ago; it was described at the time as a project with 58 apartments, 12 lodging units, 17 underground parking spaces, and ground-floor retail space. City permit files indicate demolition and construction could start as soon as April. It’ll be the first major construction project on California in the heart of The Junction since Junction 47 and 4730 California were built 7+ years ago. (Image: Google Maps Street View)

71 Replies to "BIZNOTE: Lee's Asian Restaurant has a closing date too"

  • C February 20, 2022 (4:21 pm)

    Sorry to see Lee’s go… been a staple of the junction for a very long time (and a staple of many Friday night dinners in our house). The times are a-changing. 

    • Yep February 21, 2022 (5:29 pm)

      Is there any plan for Lees to reopen elsewhere? They have the best fried rice around. 

  • Lynda B February 20, 2022 (4:37 pm)

    Sad to hear about this news.  Maybe the Bed Bath and Beyond space can become a place like the Spice Bridge in Tukwila where there is a global culinary experience! (Nevermind my previous suggestion of a trampoline place as in a prior posting.)

  • Michael Waldo February 20, 2022 (4:42 pm)

    I will truly miss Lee’s. Best Chinese/Asian food in West Seattle. Not sure where to go now.

    • Jay February 20, 2022 (4:59 pm)

      Agreed. My favorite Pad Kee Mao anywhere. And I crave their General Tso’s fortnightly.

    • james lee February 21, 2022 (1:14 pm)

      dumplings of fury

      • Lolo February 22, 2022 (1:19 pm)

        Dumplings of Fury not the same as Lees. Really saddened by the closing!

  • JW February 20, 2022 (4:58 pm)

    Did they say if they were going to relocate ? 

    • WSB February 20, 2022 (5:22 pm)

      The person we spoke with there today didn’t have anything further to say. We hope to follow up for longer stories on these two local institutions before they go. Meantime, tipster Tom says the person with whom he spoke said they were going to take some time off to consider what’s next.

  • Asian food fan February 20, 2022 (5:01 pm)

    Very disappointing news. I liked Lee’s and Kamei

  • Auntie February 20, 2022 (5:06 pm)

    What is a “lodging unit?”

    • WSB February 20, 2022 (5:18 pm)

      Short-term rental.

      • Dale Ross February 21, 2022 (8:53 am)

        So how can they put in that many short term rentals when the city only allows residents to have one short term rental, not on primary residence plus one on primary residence for a total of 2??

        • WSB February 21, 2022 (9:46 am)

          It’s zoned for mixed use. Is the land you’re asking about zoned that way?

  • Kathy February 20, 2022 (5:18 pm)

    So bummed to hear Lee’s is closing. We’ve been fans of their amazing food and team since they opened. Their Seven-Flavor Beef is one of my favorite dishes in all of Seattle.

  • I. Ponder February 20, 2022 (5:22 pm)

    Question is will they re-open at a new location?

  • Cobra February 20, 2022 (5:31 pm)

    Does anyone know if they are looking for a new location? Is this the final closure and we will never again sample their delicious food?

  • Keith February 20, 2022 (5:41 pm)


  • Mj February 20, 2022 (5:55 pm)

    Auntie – a lodging unit is another term for hotel room.

    • WSB February 20, 2022 (6:29 pm)

      And further, it was described at the first Design Review meeting as “corporate-suites-type lodging.”

      • Auntie February 20, 2022 (7:35 pm)

        Is this the first apartment building in West Seattle to include “lodging?” There is The Grove motel over on 35th & Alaska, but don’t know of any other daily rentals.

        • WSB February 20, 2022 (7:54 pm)

          No, the same owner (Leon Capelouto) built lodging into one of his other projects, AJ Apartments, at 42nd/Oregon. At least, that was part of the plan.

          • WS resident February 22, 2022 (7:45 pm)

            Leon owns whole lotta real estate in the junction. I don’t mind new apartments, but hope that enough underground parking is also built to support the folks that will move in and own cars, which I assume will be a majority. Sad to see restaurants closing down, however. 

  • River February 20, 2022 (6:28 pm)

    Agree on the seven flavor beef being a favorite. Hopefully they relocate.  Sad news otherwise.

  • Beto February 20, 2022 (6:30 pm)

    That makes me VERY sad!  Lee’s was our favorite place to eat.  My spouse passed away almost two years ago and all these closures and changes…and his absence are just too much to bear.  EI I understand that verything changes, but  is not always easy to adjust to those changes.  

  • tini February 20, 2022 (6:42 pm)

    NOOOOOOOooooooooohhhh…..Two of our families’ favorite places to eat!  Best food and West Seattle Staples.  Please relocate!!!  If not commercially you are welcome in my home kitchen anytime!  Both restaurants will be missed!

  • TM February 20, 2022 (6:42 pm)

    My wife just said “what?! I love Lees”. We love their food, just had it last night. Agreed on the seven flavor beef, also love the kan gai and walnut shrimp. Such great food and really nice people. We’ll be looking out for news, hope they reopen! Though I’m sure it will be nice to have a break too. We’ll be back several times before they close.

  • c-tini February 20, 2022 (6:43 pm)

    NOOOOOOOooooooooohhhh…..Two of our families’ favorite places to eat!  Best food and West Seattle Staples.  Please relocate!!!  If not commercially you are welcome in my home kitchen anytime!  Both restaurants will be missed!

  • WS resident February 20, 2022 (6:47 pm)

    Hugs to you, BETO.  We will all miss Lee’s.

    • Beto February 21, 2022 (6:31 am)

      Thanks so much.

  • WSGal February 20, 2022 (7:13 pm)

    This is really disappointing and makes me feel as though all the buildings in the junction are doomed for “redevelopment”. I’ve lived here for 40 years and seeing all these changes is very disheartening. All the charm is getting taken away by greedy developers. What’s next? 

    • WSB February 20, 2022 (10:57 pm)

      If you’ve missed the previous coverage, the next development likely to go forward is the former Keller Williams, now Doll Parts Collective & mortgage office, just north of Shadowland. And then there’s the project somewhat idling for the Sleepers/Hot Yoga site (aka “future Husky Deli new home”). The heart of The Junction has actually been zoned for much taller development for decades, but only since 2010 has it started to happen, albeit somewhat slowly.

    • Jort February 21, 2022 (7:53 am)

      The people of Seattle, both politicians and the people who elected them, decided that all housing growth in this city must take place within extremely small, narrowly-defined “urban villages” like the Junction. In exchange, “single family” home zoning was to remain largely untouched and growth-free. If you don’t like seeing Lee’s Asian closing, remember that this is the exact trade-off that was going to happen. If you allowed mixed zoning types throughout the entire city, there wouldn’t be so much pressure on the few small places where growth is allowed to happen. Cities change, but in Seattle, only the Urban Village is allowed to. 

      • WSB February 21, 2022 (11:28 am)

        Just the periodic history reminder that the heart of The Junction has been zoned for this kind of redevelopment (80’+) for 35+ years, as noted in this HistoryLink summary.

      • Pessoa February 21, 2022 (5:00 pm)

        Its a valid argument, though junction development would continue anyway due to the amenities that can be offered  to buyers. And, unmentioned, is that development will follow the light rail extension. I am not bothered by the changes, personally. 

  • McD February 20, 2022 (8:59 pm)

    Oh no! I love the honey walnut prawns and 7 flavor beef! They have been the go-to restaurant for my family for many years. Will miss you! This is really the end of an era with both West5 and Lee’s leaving, so sad

  • Sarah February 20, 2022 (9:40 pm)

    58 Apartments,12 Lodging units,17 Parking spaces. Wait, what? Is that logical? How can that be permitted?

    • WSB February 20, 2022 (10:09 pm)

      For some years now, the city has not required *any* parking for development close to frequent transit, which this is.

    • JN February 21, 2022 (10:58 am)

      17 Parking spaces!!! Why so many?

  • Morgan Graham February 20, 2022 (10:13 pm)

    Bummer. We love Lee’s and eat there several times per month. +1 to the Seven Flavor Beef and Honey Walnut Prawns. I also recommend the Thai Curry Vegetables 😋Hope they find another spot.

  • Maria Sarco February 20, 2022 (11:23 pm)

    That’s  so sad where  em i gonna go  get  seafood  pa ki mao my family favorite  and the seafood  fried  rice.

  • anonyme February 21, 2022 (6:27 am)

    This is absolutely terrible news.  One of the things I love about Lee’s (aside from the food and reasonable prices) is the welcoming atmosphere.  I’m just going to go ahead and say it – development is destroying the Junction.  Valuable, long-standing, family businesses are being driven out to make room for expensive apartments, and I doubt that this type of business will be able to afford the new retail spaces – once they’re completed in several years, that is.  Much of the Junction is going to be a construction dead-zone due to the multiple projects in the works.  I’m sure many more businesses, already suffering due to Covid, will cut their losses and leave as well.  As usual, this benefits no one except for developers. West Seattle has lost its heart.

  • John Smith February 21, 2022 (6:56 am)

    Argh. I just discovered Lee’s Asian Restaurant (5 sttars).

  • Wsresident February 21, 2022 (7:43 am)

    I wanted to love Lee’s because the food was yummy but the one and only time I ate there, two roaches crawled across my table while we were dining. 🤢

  • Robert Becker February 21, 2022 (7:55 am)

    Noooooo. Our whole family has been going to Lee’s for 10-15-more … years. A true go to for us all for great food and service. The staff and family there know us and are always so welcoming. The Pad Kee Mao, Seven Flavor Beef, Honey Glazed Walnut Prawns, Pocket Tofu…. their whole menu is delicious. We have had many celebration dinners there over the years for family events and pre Covid would take out of town visitors there for dinner. For the last several years Lee’s has been our Christmas Eve family dinner. Please please relocate and reopen. I am happy to sign any petition or donate to any fund to help facilitate a move. Lee’s has been a true foundational part of West Seattle life for us and many. If they do close for good they will be sorely missed. 

  • Jay February 21, 2022 (8:01 am)

    The junction needs more density, but if the X/1 buildings have business rents so high that only big chains like Starbucks and the Cheesecake Factory move in then the community will lose a lot. There needs to be a plan to move local businesses into the new developments.

  • Rara February 21, 2022 (8:25 am)

    Sure will miss Lee’s. Such a bummer. Building apartments with only 17 parking spaces below seems shameful. Parking is already getting horrible in the junction. At least we have the two pay lots. If those go away we are going to be in trouble. People are not going to give up their cars. Especially families. It’s unrealistic. 

  • Alki Joe February 21, 2022 (8:55 am)

    This is something that is very unrealistic at this time. 58 apartments, plus 12 lodging units. That’s 70 living units plus all the street level retail spaces, with owners, employees etc. But ONLY 17 parking spaces. With all the parking lots behind the Junction being converted to even more housing and the Rapid Transit Rail many many years off in the future, where is anyone going to park to shop or eat in the Junction? I sure hope Lee’s finds a new home in West Seattle so I can continue to get my “Seven Flavor Beef”.

  • James February 21, 2022 (9:05 am)

    I really hate that we’re losing the charm of these older businesses and buildings in exchange for more of the same you can get everywhere else and uninspiring mixed material buildings. It’s just disheartening. Portland keeps its charm and character and it makes no sense why Seattle has to destroy everything for these soulless buildings.

    • Kevin on Delridge February 24, 2022 (10:02 am)

      Portland had a much lower percentage zoned for exclusively single family (Seattle is roughly 75%), this was prior to the recent law eliminating exclusive SFH zones in cities with a population over 10,000.

      When you restrict building non-single family homes outside of arterials and collectors (where businesses happen to be generally), you end up with big soulless buildings and you lose the charm you desire.

      I hope your voting record matches with your desires.

  • DFox February 21, 2022 (10:29 am)

    So sad to see Lee’s go. We regularly grab take out and will miss it.  

  • Admyrl Byrd February 21, 2022 (10:59 am)

    Sorry gang, this isn’t progress.  Junction completely losing it’s charm and authenticity (along with all the good restaurants – let’s not forget West5 as well).  If you think converting all good storefronts to residential and – perhaps – first floor corporate franchise retail (a la the Dominos, Starbucks, Chipotle) you’ve sadly lost sight of what made WS worth it.  Have a feeling 5 years from now, this will look like a place I wouldn’t have chose to move to in 2014 – just another Bellevue neighborhood.Yen Wor is gonna have to up their game – perhaps they merge or hire the cooks.

  • Doug Leary February 21, 2022 (11:54 am)

    Let us join the Seattle City Council and raises our voices in praise of DENSITY, their One True God! All hail DENSITY!!! We’re so desperately short on high-rent apartments here in the West Seattle Urban Village. Save us, O Great Density! Bless the landlords and real estate developers for driving out the affordable restaurants that have plagued us for so long! Bless the traffic, the higher prices, the nightly alley cruisers and car lock testers who make urban village life so much better and tax revenue-generating than the quiet, low-crime “neighborhood” we endured back in the low-density dark ages. Thank you, Seattle City Council, and the horse you rode in on.

    • WSB February 21, 2022 (12:01 pm)

      As noted above, the City Council of 1986 is who you want to credit with the upzoning (though it wasn’t as much as the local business organizations of the time had campaigned for). According to the city website, they were:

      Jane Noland
      Jim Street
      Virginia Galle
      Dolores Sibonga
      Norm B. Rice
      Paul Kraabel
      George Benson
      Jeanette Williams
      Sam Smith (President)

      • rocket February 21, 2022 (8:57 pm)

        Sick Burn

    • Kurt February 22, 2022 (11:09 pm)

      Dudnesss, you nailed it. Damn.

  • natinstl February 21, 2022 (12:21 pm)

    My husband and I moved here 15 years ago in large part because we loved the feel of the junction and the small businesses that have been there for so long. I always thought this would be our forever home, but the more it turns into the next soul-less Ballard, the more I think it may be time to go. I hope Lee’s will re-open, but they had told me they were going to take time off to consider whether they might just retire. 

    • Fun While It Lasted February 22, 2022 (3:54 am)

      I moved here from Austin almost 20 years ago, primarily because most of the unique and interesting places were closed, demolished, and replaced by condos anchored by chains.  Now I’m leaving Seattle partly for the same reason.  Oh well, my realtor is happy to have the housing inventory to sell.

  • Noelle February 21, 2022 (1:18 pm)

    Sad to hear, That is 2 of 3 of my old fave Asian restaurants closing.  How is good old Yen Wor Village doing these days?

  • Buck February 21, 2022 (1:32 pm)

    Nooooo! We need our Honey Glazed Walnut Prawns!  Please re-locate Lee’s!

  • T Rex February 21, 2022 (2:36 pm)

    Another contributing factor is the people who own these buildings. Years ago, they invested in a half block or an entire block of property to invest in their retirement, and their time to retire is now here. They are not to blame but I have always wondered how they may feel. Knowing they need to sell, with right now being the time to do so. Yet also knowing they will contribute to the change of the entire neighborhood.  Sad for us who have been here or are just moving in. I am thankful for my time here and will miss West Seattle when I stop working. Progress is progress, but it does not make it any easier does it?

    • WS Res February 24, 2022 (11:58 am)

      This is an under-rated comment.

  • James Clark February 21, 2022 (2:52 pm)

    When they first announced Lee’s was going to have to close I asked if they were going to look for another location and at that time they said no.

  • Pessoa February 21, 2022 (3:33 pm)

    Please bridge, open soon.  

  • Lina February 21, 2022 (5:47 pm)

    Too sad!  Our family loves everything about Lee’s.  I do hope they open in another spot.

  • Doug February 21, 2022 (11:34 pm)

    I rate Lee’s and the Kamei as the two best Asian restaurants in town. When I lived in West Seattle I was at one of them at least once a week. Now it is more like once a month. The junction businesses have been a favorite of mine for 80 years and now that is quickly going away. BTW. you do know Huskie’s will be moving in the near future to another location and that area will be torn down.

  • TJay Farley February 22, 2022 (5:04 am)

    Things like this are why I left Seattle (living in West Seattle off Delridge for years). Poor understanding or a deliberate lack of care for the existing communities who have residing there for years, and all out GREED marketed under the name of creating more living spaces. As a former Human Rights Commissioner, long term data sets show that when one looks at the rental amount, we see the lack of available low income housing is due underlying and covert discrimination.The median income view is just another way White Privilege is used to restrict the housing to Whites, because few Persons of Color income comes even close enough to be able to afford this arbitrary and capricious ideation of fairness.  

    • Pessoa February 22, 2022 (10:08 am)

      There are Americans of all skin colors who can’t find affordable housing.  If there is discrimination it must be addressed on a case-by-case basis.  Let’s try to find solutions to a very real crisis, rather than pitting one group of Americans against another.  

  • Conjunction Junction February 22, 2022 (9:01 am)

    Thank you to the Lee’s Asian Family for taking care of our family. 
    Feeding us, giving us a gathering spot,  letting us appreciate really
    yummy food, often for our special celebrations.  I can’t count how many
    Mother’s Days and Birthdays.  We don’t want you to go, but after a
    pandemic and a heat wave (in that kitchen!) you deserve a break, if
    that’s what you want.  We’ll be very happy if you come back,  but if you
    don’t, know that we are grateful for all the time we had with you!

  • moonsboog February 22, 2022 (10:36 am)

    There goes the Junction’s aesthetic. And I bet it will totally be “affordable housing.”

  • MR MONSTER March 13, 2022 (3:12 pm)

    Best Hong Kong Pan-Fried Noodles in the city.
    Name one place better.
    No, seriously, we need to get our fix somewhere …

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