“I definitely have mixed emotions but this is an opportunity we couldn’t pass up”.
For Gregorio Rosas, or “Uncle Greg”, as he’s known to many of his long-time customers, 2023 is starting off with some big news. A reopening of his beloved downtown Seattle restaurant that shut down some four years ago after losing its lease.
“I was supposed to be retiring, but I guess I am back (laughing) ,” said Rosas, who emigrated to the US from the Philippines in the late 70’s.“But really, it’s going to be my daughter, Rita, who will be running the place and we are all excited to see it open”.
The new location of Ludi’s Restaurant will be on Second Avenue & Stewart, just 2 blocks north of its old location. The original spot, on the 200 block of Pike Street, gained quite a following as a casual old-school diner, offering all day breakfast and Filipino specialities like silog (garlic fried rice with eggs and cured meat), lumpia and Ube pancakes.
“People do miss those pancakes and I have actually been working on a few new variations during the pandemic so they will likely be seeing them on the new menu” said Rita Glenister. She and her dad, Greg, have been working hard over the last 8 months to make this reopening a reality. First, they had to secure a new space (with a lease they could afford). They ended up signing the lease in May (to coincide with Greg’s late mother’s 100th birthday) at the building where Long Provincial Vietnamese Restaurant used to be. Once that happened, the father & daughter team had to decide how to use this new space which is twice the size of Ludi’s former location.
“This place will be a bit different from how our customers remembered us,” said Glenister.
“The new location will have a much different feel and will no longer have a lounge or a jukebox. Yes and the ATM, those are all going away. The hours will be shorter from 7AM to 3PM. But we will be bringing back all the great food that people love”.
Glenister said aside from the all-day American & Filipino breakfast menu, the new Ludi’s will still serve alcohol but the drinks and cocktails will be served alongside the meals, instead of at a separate bar area. The challenge, according to Glenister, has partly been about fitting the old familiar diner concept into this new location.
“We have been in our old spot since 2012 and even before that. People had an idea of what Ludi’s was all about,” said Glenister “But we know the spirit. My dad is the spirit and he will be there when we reopen, saying hi to everyone!”
Glenister said they had planned to bring back as many of the former employees as they could. But unfortunately some of the former staff had either retired or passed away in the last few years. During that time, downtown Seattle had also seen lots of changes due to the pandemic. Many eateries and other businesses had shut down and safety is a growing concern. But, Glenister said that hasn’t stopped Ludi’s regulars and others from stopping by the new spot since December, when news came out that the restaurant was reopening.
“People do miss us. They have been asking when we will be back,” said Glenister. “We really want to make that happen soon. I know my dad is excited. At one point, we did look at some locations in other parts of town. But I know his heart is here. Downtown is home for him and he doesn’t want to be anywhere else”.
“I have been getting texts from friends from as far as San Diego, LA and even Hawaii. They are asking when they can come and see me and eat the food again,” said Rosas.
Even as he works to reopen the restaurant, Rosas has also been busy at home. In the last 3 years, He become a first-time grandfather with the arrival of his 2 grandsons. As his family grows, he hopes to see his restaurant’s family expanding again as well with Ludi’s reopening set to happen in the next few months. He said it’s the support and friendships of his downtown community that keeps him going.
“It’s been tough for a lot of people down here, but we have been through hard times before and we will get through it,” said Rosas. “The tourists will help but it’s really all about our neighbors. It will be nice to be around familiar faces again. We can’t wait to come back”.