Bush Garden is slated to reopen in spring 2024, after closing at its old location during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The Chinatown International District (CID) institution and the city’s first karaoke bar, will be back in business at its new location on the ground floor of Uncle Bob’s Place, a subsidized housing complex developed by neighborhood organization InterIm CDA and named in honor of late community leader Uncle Bob Santos, who passed in 2016.
“I remember distinctly after we organized one of these big events, everybody would gather at the Bush Garden afterward to celebrate and to hang out and Uncle Bob was always there,” said Carina A. del Rosario in an interview with the IE in June 2023. “It would be multiple generations of people rocking the mic.”
For many years, community members gathered at Bush Garden served as a beloved home base for celebrations, organizing, and business meetings. It also played a key role as a popular gathering space during the resettlement period following Japanese incarceration during World War II in the 1940s.
The mixed use commercial space of the building, which includes Bush Garden’s new location, can hold approximately 140 guests and will feature “Asian-style woodwork, shoji screens, overhead lighting and seats wrapped in warm, orange décor, according to design renderings from architecture firm Suyama Peterson Deguchi,” reports the Seattle Times in an article published Oct. 26, 2023.
“We’re trying to pick up where we left off,” Karen Akada Sakata, the owner of Bush Garden, told the Times. “It feels like a chance to refresh, renew and go deeper into being part of the community.”
The karaoke restaurant’s new interior remains under construction at the corner of South King Street and Eighth Avenue, mere blocks away from its previous location on Maynard Avenue South. That site, it was announced in 2019, will become a residential tower project called The Jasmine, led by developer James Wong. “It was so heartbreaking for so many of us,” said Bush Garden regular Soya Jung to the Times, but the plan to reopen is “like a phoenix rising from the ashes. It’s a great rebirth.”