It’s a family effort at the Queen Anne Vietnamese restaurant, The Signature, which opened about a year ago.

Before Tony Ly and his family opened its doors, he worked in the salon business for several years. Ultimately, the Ly family wanted to help their mother achieve her dream of owning a restaurant. To date, the restaurant is doing remarkably well with the support of family members.

The Signature’s “veggie pho”, or Vietnamese vegetarian noodle soup. Photo credit: Nina Huang.

Many of the items on the menu are their mother’s “signature” home-cooked recipes — a description used to headline the name of the eatery. “Signature” dishes inspired by their mother’s recipes include spicy soups and traditional Vietnamese crepes — favorites for Vietnamese cuisine regulars.

Patrons can also enjoy late night munchies without breaking their budget.

Not only is the family-run business popular for dinner, but their happy hour specials offer a variety of affordable appetizers and cocktails.

With a great location and flavorful, health-conscious menu items, the Signature is a hot spot in Queen Anne, packed after hours and on weekends. When most kitchens close around 11 p.m., Ly’s kitchen continues to whip up and dish out steaming noodles and spicy broths until 2 a.m. Some customers come in for a late night snack or drink before they go home, Ly said. Plenty of drink specials allow for swinging times at The Signature – ranging from Singha Thai beer for $2.75 to flavored martinis for just $6.

If food and drinks aren’t enough for a full dining experience, karaoke has become a main attraction in the neighborhood restaurant. Patrons can enjoy their “signature” experience for hours – the eatery stays open until midnight on weekdays.

The Signature’s interior. Photo credit: Nina Huang.

But Ly said, while the current formula is working for their business, he continues to improve the menu and restaurant atmosphere. The family makes a point to offer the freshest ingredients in traditional Vietnamese cooking methods. Ly said his family picks up fresh vegetables every morning from the International District and prepares the food throughout the day.

Neighborhood relationships are important to the family. A patron suggested that Ly open his deck for customers to enjoy the city view and eat in the open air – a tip Ly will materialize this summer, emphasizing his importance on listening to the neighborhood’s preferences.

“We keep the traditions but are open-minded,” Ly said of the restaurant’s dynamics. They also evolve and rotate their menu every six months.

His personal favorites on the menu are the pork skewers which are offered during happy hour as well as the short ribs with vermicelli noodles. Ly emphasized that their dishes are very healthy and lighter than other cuisines. There is also a variety of vegetarian dishes on the menu for the conscientious eaters.

Despite the down economy, Ly said the restaurant has fared much better than when it first opened. By keeping the menu items affordable and healthy, customers stay interested and become regulars.

“We’re definitely happy with everything so far.”

Happy hour at the Signature runs every day from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. to midnight. The restaurant is located in the Queen Anne neighborhood at 530 1st Ave N., Seattle, WA 98109. Call (206) 283 – 6614 or visit their website at www.thesignaturerestaurant.com.