Yalla Seattle Celebrates 2nd Anniversary on Capitol Hill

On March 19, the Middle East Food Take-Out Window on Capitol Hill in Seattle, Yalla, is celebrating two years in business, and Chef Taylor Cheney thanks Chef Taylor Cheney for deviating from her original business plan.

The celebration features dessert specials, belly dancing and an Arabic drum performance that can be streamed live both from the outdoor seating in the neighboring Revolver Bar and online. It will be different from the crowded group event last year, right before the pandemic, which was so much about Palestinian line dancing.

Other than that, little has changed in Yalla over the past year. “I had originally planned something with seating,” says Cheney when she came up with her first restaurants after more than seven years of pop-ups. When Rachel Marshall and Kate Opatz, the owners of the Montana Bar, offered her the space next door that previously housed Tortas Condesa and Kedai Makan, Cheney made some quick changes to her business plan. Within two months, she scrapped her shawarma-centric concept and focused on wraps made from thin saj bread.

Yalla Seattle is located on Capitol Hill

Courtesy Taylor Cheney / Yalla Seattle

When it opened, she loved the tiny concept of the take-out window and saw the similarities to the stores she loved in the Middle East. “One place only sells one type of dessert – rice pudding,” she recalls. Just when she really figured out how to get as much out of the little shop as possible, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and she realized it was a blessing in disguise.

“Thank you Kate and Rachel all the time,” she says of her landlord, shuddering at the thought of what could have happened if she’d only been in a bigger restaurant for a year. The little shop that was already a takeaway had a lot of airflow and was almost like working outside, which means it only had to close for routine repairs this year and during the smoky summer days.

Yalla Seattle is located on Capitol Hill

Yalla Seattle is located on Capitol Hill

Courtesy Taylor Cheney / Yalla Seattle

As she was preparing to serve her food out the little window of the Olive Walk for two years, Cheney knew she wanted to do something fun but still safe to honor the occasion and got tabla player Ihab Nakamoura and the Belly dancer Amira Jade. It will be outside, but since Yalla does not have a dining room, this is less pandemic and more a part of how Yalla works. “It has become what I hug,” says Cheney. “I really like it.”

But that doesn’t mean that it rules out doing something bigger one day. “Seattle is missing something when it comes to Arabic food.”

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: