Story and photos by Doug Petrowski
Red Onion Burgers owner Seaun Richards not only has his sights set on a Dec. 1 opening for the second incarnation of his restaurant, but he is talking about moving the first location a few blocks south and reopening the original Mountlake Terrace Red Onion with an entirely different name and menu.
Richards is spending much of his time now at the Albertsons’ shopping plaza at 212th Street Southwest and Cedar Way overseeing the remodeling work happening at the site that will be his new Red Onion restaurant. Crews have gutted the space that used to be the Wok-In Teriyaki Restaurant, moved in some equipment and completed some framing for walls and counters.
The new 1,600-square-foot unit is larger than the building that housed the Red Onion at 23209-56th Avenue West, which now sits vacant due to a kitchen fire on October 1.
Richards feels fortunate to land the new location considering he wasn’t the only one wanting to move into it. “The landlord said there were two or three others expressing interest in the space,” he said. The landlord offered the unit to Richards after seeing the Red Onion website and all the work in the community that he does.
The second Red Onion location was in the works before the first building because unusable because of the fire. Many who had been working in the restaurant are now helping with the renovation of the second site, and will then resume their cooking and serving positions upon its opening.
Richards plans on reopening the first Red Onion, but most likely at a new location. Tens of thousands of dollars in upgrades would be necessary to move back into the first location on 56th Avenue West, and neither Richards nor the building’s owner/landlord is interested in completing them. So Richards is looking at possibly moving into the ground floor corner space of the new Arbor Village development being built at 236th Street Southwest and 56th Avenue West.
“We are in negotiations,” Richards said. “We want to stay in the downtown core because we know where it’s going.”
Richards hasn’t given up entirely on utilizing the original Red Onion building for some kind of business; he is considering creating a soup and salad establishment that could operate in the building without all the code upgrades that would be required for a hamburger restaurant.
Richards is now relying on face-to-face encounters and social media to stay connected, admitting it is harder to pursue all his community service projects while he doesn’t have a restaurant to work out of. But he was satisfied with the results of the resent “Trunk R Treat” and Crab Feed/Comedy Night events that he oversaw. The Crab Feed/Comedy Night brought in about $10,000 for the Mountlake Terrace Senior Center, about four times the funds raised last year. He now is trying to raise $5,000 for “Shop with a Cop,” an event that pays for 100 kids from domestic violence-affected households to complete some Christmas shopping with the help of police, sheriffs and other first responders.
Richards hopes to run a fundraiser at the Albertson’s shopping plaza this Saturday, Nov. 17, to benefit “Shop with a Cop.” He doesn’t quite know what it will be yet, but is determined to collect for the cause. “We have done this for the past three years and will keep this annual event going,” he recently wrote on the Red Onion Burgers Facebook page. “No fire will stand in our way.”