Customers fight to keep Queen Anne's Tup Tim Thai from closing

by: John Knicely Updated:

SEATTLE - Workers at Tup Tim Thai in Lower Queen Anne are preparing their last meals. 

A sign on the windows explains the 24-year-old restaurant is closing at the end of May because the owners can't renew the lease.  Customers aren't happy and they're letting the building owner know. 

"What's a shame is it makes the neighborhood special, places like Tup Tim Thai," said Shelly Shay who works down Mercer Street from the restaurant. 

The owner of Tup Tim Thai, George Lertkentithum, told KIRO 7 Eyewitness News they were paying $4,000 in rent per month and the owner asked them to double it to $8,000.  He said they counter offered with $4,500 and couldn't go any higher. 

We reached out to the building owner who lives in California and haven't heard back. 

Lertkentithum told KIRO 7 that the building owner said he'd read a business article saying people in Seattle are eating out more, which made him think he could get $53 per square foot.  

An analysis of restaurant and retail spaces in that same area listed by Cooper Jacobs Real Estate show most vacant spaces rent closer to $30 per square foot.

It's not hard to find vacant retail space in Queen Anne.

Another restaurant is closing in Upper Queen Anne, but that building owner said it's a different story.  Calva Café is also closing its doors at the end of the month, but building owner Michael Ramage said his rents aren't behind it.

"We do very well with this building as it is," Ramage said.  "We don't really need to raise rents to be competitive with new construction." 

KIRO 7 asked Ramage what he makes of the number of vacancies in Queen Anne. 

"It's hard to tell," he said. "Sometimes people will hold a hard line to try to keep the prices up and not look at the mathematics, advantages of having a full building at a discounted rate.  My fellow building owners are fully capable of making those decisions themselves."

As customers eat their final meals at Tup Tim Thai they're not going down without a fight. 

The Queen Anne Alliance, a neighborhood activist group, sent a letter on Friday to the building owner in California.  Click here to read the letter.