Friday, April 18, 2008

Same Old, Same Old

I was excited to hear about a new restaurant and bar coming in at Beacon and Columbian where the old and unwelcoming Tan Tuu Quan used to be. Even if we didn't get the cute little pizzeria we've all been wanting, I still thought that any change at this litter-strewn, dump-truck-dominated, dingy old corner would be an improvement.

Then I heard that the name was going to be Saigon Nine. OK, that could be cool, especially if it were a family Vietnamese restaurant with a separate bar area, like Tamarind Tree.

Then I checked out the storefront and saw that they're tolerating graffiti on the property -- never a good sign -- and they haven't removed the bars on the windows.


There's been no talk of this place on the neighborhood mailing list -- which has been dominated with complaints about traffic and dogs lately -- so I looked up their business license information.

And that's when I realized that we're not really getting a new restaurant -- we're just getting the same old place with a new name and a full-service liquor license.

Saigon Nine, owned by business entity "P & H RESTAURANT, LLC," whose firm name is -- you guessed it -- "TAN TUU QUAN."

Licenses Held:
Tobacco Product Retailer, Active, through 10/31/2008 from 09/08/2005
Cigarette Retailer, Active, through 10/31/2008 from 11/13/2003
Spirits/Beer/Wine Service, Hold, through 10/31/2008 from 01/10/2005

Governing People:

(Saigon. Shit. I'm still only in Saigon.)

I've heard unofficially that the North Beacon Hill Council is working on a Good Neighbor Agreement with items like more visibility from the street, no prostitutes, immediate graffiti removal, new ashcans outside (they are selling tobacco, after all), no impediment of police investigations, etc.

I kind of wish that the North Beacon Hill Council would reach out to those of us south of the golf course without expecting us to attend all their meetings, especially considering that anyone south of Graham isn't even allowed to be an official member. I'd love to see just an occasional note to the mailing list, like "Hey, we're working on a Good Neighbor Agreement for a new bar in your area -- do any of you normal citizens have any suggestions on what you'd like to see in it?"

Instead, we just hear things like that the Beacon Hill Garden Walk organizers have "reached out" to the community about their next event. Huh? If you do a Google search for "beacon hill garden walk," you'll find that the first result is a dead page for a Boston group, and the second and third returns are for this website right here. And I hadn't heard a thing about it. I guess you have to attend all the community group meetings (the horror, the horror) to be informed on what's up. Oh well.


Anonymous said...

Hey - it's me again: anonymous from the post after this one who commented on this bar going in. Yep, I'm pretty steamed about it, too. There's NOTHING on that corner there I need - golf clubs, rhinestone pot-leaf belt buckles, a 3-tiered wedding cake, a dangling duck... sheez. My neighborhood is a drag; if I didn't love my house so much, I'd leave.

And here's another reason I don't want this full bar to go in there: I had to leave my house at 5 a.m. one January morning and as I was pulling out of the garage, I was horrified to find a woman passed out in the alley. The paramedics got there quickly and took her to Harborview. She was in her 20s or early 30s and had been drunk and dumped in the alley by someone.

Anonymous said...

Fellow South Beacon Hill resident here. I too have often wised the more organized BH groups reached out to the south more (i.e. how about the staircases at our end of the hill getting a cleanup now and then too - I'd volunteer for that). I did try to go a South Beacon Hill Community meeting once, that only had a few people show up, and really just discussion of the recent windstorm and nothing really long term planning. It was basically, really discouraging. The garden tour is pretty cool though. I've been here 5 years and the first few years it was a combined Georgetown/Maple Hill (i.e. south BH) Art and Garden Tour. Since Georgetown has so much going on now, they've made it the GT tour, but it seems like the former Maple Bill folks are trying to get a similar tour going on Beacon Hill. They had it last year and a few people near me were on it, it would be great to see it grow.

Anonymous said...

Ok, first off let me give a warning that I’m going to vent. This SAIGON NINE business has put me over the edge! I love this site and my neighbors and their hard work in trying to make this community a better place. You all get a standing ovation!
That said, here I go: My husband and I have lived on BH for over 10 years. We rented then bought a very small dumpy fixer upper in the neighborhood across from that unbelievably crappy corner of Beacon and Columbian. Here is a lowdown of what we’ve had to endure at that corner:

1. LAUNDRY MAT - Dirt, garbage, stolen clothes, our clothing locked in the washing machines never to be retrieved, drunken freaks, and…drum roll pleases – HUMAN FECES IN THE BROKEN DRIERS. The owners show up to collect their quarters then promptly leave. Thank god for our laundry room remodel.
2. SEATTLE SUPERMARKET -Huge amounts of overflowing, stink to high heaven garbage in the parking lot (this was several years ago and I think they have cleaned it up a bit). A disgusting rotten food smell that hits you like a ton of bricks when you walk in the door, a tank full of mud cover toads piled 4 layers high(no, I’m not kidding)– YUM!
3. THE EVER EXPANDING CAKE, FLORAL, BALLOON, FAKE FLOWERS STORE – I have nothing to say about this place as I have never entered their establishment so maybe they have great fake flowers, balloons and cakes – who knows? Very unappealing from the outside. I do know there used to be a great tiny diner called the Kitchen Korner that had really good simple diner food and wonderful friendly folks. When I was a stay at home mom I would go there almost everyday and have coffee and talk with the owner and waiters. Then all the sudden it was gone. Also, in that area was a little tiny clean thrift store owned by a guy named Mickey. He still sells his stuff at the Fremont Sunday sale. He informed us that he and the Kitchen Korner folks lost their least because his race and that of the Kitchen Korner folks differed from the building owner. I have absolutely no idea if this is true but that’s what he told me.
4. FOU LEE – I really have to control myself on this one. I used to fight with their parking lot attendant almost every day. While pushing my daughter in her stroller passed their establishment on Beacon Ave. their parking lot attendant would direct their customers’ cars to park on the sidewalk causing all pedestrians to enter the street into oncoming traffic. I would complain everyday and they would either shrug their shoulders and claim they didn’t understand what I was saying or they would act like they were going to come after me in a threatening manner. (Yeah, nice – I’m a mom pushing a 6 month old in a stroller!) I called the SPD every single day and at some point Fou Lee changed their parking standards and now they are not blocking the sidewalks. I watched children, disable veterans and others forced to walk into oncoming traffic to accommodate their wretched store. I’m stopping now. I’m getting way to upset just remembering this episode.
5. I have nothing to say about the MC gas station. Just a standard 7/11 type joint.
6. LINDA’S HAIRSTYLING PLACE (or something like that) – In more that 10 years I have never seen a person in there and I’ve never seen it open.
7. The barber shop is funny. From what my husband can tell it’s a bunch of old men drinking booze, talking and thumbing through Playboys. Why not?
8. DIM SUM - place looks too dirty on the outside to make me investigate. It used to be a great Vietnamese Bakery – the owners were very nice. No idea what happened to them.
9. GOLF STORE -I’ve never golfed so I’ve never entered the golf store but maybe there is a need for it since the golf course is right down the street. No complaints – though a new sign might be in order.
10. DRY CLEANERS – I don’t dry clean so I couldn’t tell you if it’s any good. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it open. Did Mt. Rainer exploded on their roof…..
11. SAIGON NINE (or whatever the hell stupid name they’ve come up with) – as soon as we saw their sign yesterday my husband and I both said, “Same place as before”. I think there was a shooting in that bar several years ago. It seemed like an Asian gang banger type place.
12. BUS STOP – I’m almost finished….I rarely ride the dreaded 36 anymore but about 7 years ago I would catch it in the morning on my way to work. The stop in front of the now Saigon 9 was always covered in trash, dog crap, human waste, etc. Do you think Seattle Metro would tolerate this for one moment on Queen Anne????

Please excuse my bitterness and I’m sorry this is so long. My husband and I have said over and over we wanted to post our experiences. We’ve dealt with these places for oh so long and nothing changes. Just more of the same. I’ve lived all over the world and for a time lived in NY on 42nd between 8th and 9th before Disney moved in (NYers will know what I’m talking about) and I’ve rarely seen such disregard by merchants for the cleanliness their own establishments or their impact on the surrounding community. I just don’t get it.

I’ll end on a good note – We have the most wonderful neighbors and have made great friends in our neighborhood – like you. Thanks for taking the time….

chad said...

Can we form our own south beacon hill group? I'd be happy to help clean stairs and work to clean up our hood. It would also just be nice to meet up with neighbors that care about our area!

Anonymous said...

That bus stop is also a haven for sleeping drunks. It's a depressing corner; I wish someone would come in and rescue it.

Anonymous said...

I hear there is someone looking into opening a pizza place on Beacon Hill. It's a couple from Portland looking to expand.

David said...

Neighbors in the Middle-

Below are links to the local community councils, each covering different and overlapping areas and different local concerns. Be critical of the councils if you like, but last time I checked, these and other local community groups are made up of citizen volunteers. Generally, community groups that are successful either have one or two determined leaders who for whatever reason, choose to spend most of their evenings and weekends attending meetings, sending emails and chasing down people or answers within the city bureaucracy. Once in awhile, a fun community activity happens (BBQ, litter pick up, public gardening project, etc). Other groups put together a strong organization with a broad membership that takes an active role in the group.

Just to contrast, take a look at the Mt Baker Community Club webpage at the bottom of the list. They have been in existence for 99 years and own a building!

My long winded point, it takes people to make a community council, and those people are YOU. If you know someone who goes to meetings to learn about the minutia of the liquor control board, what a SOAP or SODA order is, zoning issues, getting Metro to empty their garbage cans, etc, please say "thank you." The biggest thank you would be to make some effort of your own, much as JvA has with this great blog, and all the follow up she is doing for all of us here on the Hill.

I personally believe a well organized, broad group is more successful because it is more durable and resilient, rather than dependent on one amazing individual, who could land a job somewhere else, or just burn out and quit with no one to carry on the effort.

So, please check out our councils and consider lending a hand, lending your talents, lending your time.

DG from the North

South Beacon Hill Council Web Page

North Beacon Hill Council Webpage

Sign Up for North Beacon Hill email list

Beacon Alliance of Neighbors Web Page

Sign up for BAN email

Mt Baker Community Club

Anonymous said...

Hi David - I'm the bitter one from a few posts back regarding my 10 years enduring the Beacon/Columbian corner of hell. Thank you for this information. It's a starting point.

Keith said...

RE: Anonymous's rant (April 18, 2008 12:19 PM)...

I feel like I need to come to the defense of the Dim Sum restaurant. We've eaten there a few times, and while not amazing, the food was decent enough to bring us back. They don't sell Dim Sum in the traditional sense (rolling carts), instead you order off a menu which contains many items that you would normally find on a Dim Sum cart.

You should try it out before lumping it in with all the rest of the (admittedly shabby) neighboring establishments.

Also, is there still a little Bubble Tea place about a block south of this intersection? I've never been inside, but from the street it looked like a step up from the rest of the nearby places from the standard of external cleanliness, etc.