SEATTLE -- Taking a cue from events like Seattle Restaurant Week, restaurants in one Seattle neighborhood are creating two weeks of combo deals they hope will boost a flagging local economy.
Organizers say the first-ever "Plate of Nations" event will offer international cuisine from Chinese dim sum to Vietnamese sandwiches to Philly cheesesteaks to Cajun crawfish, all from restaurants along Martin Luther King Jr. Way South in Rainier Valley.
From March 27 to April 9, the restaurants are offering special $8, $15 and $25 group meal deals.
"Everything. Every little thing and every big thing helps out," said Charles Humphrie, who owns Original Philly's. "You know it gets tougher and tougher, prices, everything goes up."
The neighborhoods along MLK Way boast some of Seattle's most ethnically diverse communities. It's no surprise it also boasts such a variety of restaurants, said organizer Asari Mohamath with the MLK Business Association.
But Mohamath's decision to really the restaurants comes from something more personal. He sat down with us at the Cajun Crawfish restaurant because his restaurant no longer exists.
"We used to have a restaurant just a couple blocks north of here," he said, "but because of the light rail construction, it really impacted our business, construction- and traffic-wise, so we ended up closing it."
"It was difficult during that time period, lot of construction, people couldn't get into the restaurant," agreed Humphrie.
Linda Mao, whose family owns Tony's Bakery, will tell you the downturn started earlier than Link Light Rail construction.
"The light rail, the economy, our customer base moving away from the area," Mao said. "Even before the construction of that started, our numbers already had started going down."
So now they band together with an event whose name evokes international cooperation.
"The ultimate goal is really to drive traffic back to this area." said Mohamath. "Hopefully they will learn that there so many gems in the area."
And light rail seems to be starting to fulfill its promise.
"Never been here if it wasn't for the train, never would have been here," said West Seattle resident Eric Linxweiler, who was eating crawfish with his son. "This is good. He's got two siblings who are going to have to try this."
"We got very crowded around 3 o'clock, because of the Plate of Nations," said owner Kim Nguyen. "It's a very good turnout."
Participating restaurants and their cuisine are:
- Original Philly's (American East Coast)
- Café Ibex (Ethiopian)
- Joy Palace (Chinese)
- Rainier BBQ (Vietnamese)
- Q Bakery (Vietnamese)
- Tony’s Bakery (Vietnamese)
- Karama (East African)
- Huarachitos (Mexican)
- Venus (Chinese)
- Thai Palms (Thai)
- Olympic Express (Southeast Asian Halal)
- Cajun Crawfish (American South).