Category Archives: Features

Mexican American Family Restaurant — and Only Gay Bar on Beacon Hill — Making a Comeback

by Mark Van Streefkerk 


Baja Bistro is coming back. For almost 25 years it was North Beacon Hill’s longest-running neighborhood Mexican restaurant — and eventually became its one and only gay bar. But Baja was forced to close last summer during the pandemic. Now they’ve secured a new location: the ground floor of the new Colina Apartments. “The ball is rolling,” said owner Oscar Castro.

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Beacon Hill Restaurants Baja Bistro and CheBogz to Reopen at Colina Apartments

by Mark Van Streefkerk


Family-owned Beacon Hill restaurants Baja Bistro and Kusina Filipina were known for more than just their delicious, authentic recipes. Their customers and neighbors were welcomed like family when they came to dine. That was partly why the loss of both restaurants was so painful. After a change in building ownership led to a rent hike, the Paraiso family closed Kusina in 2017, and Baja shuttered after 25 years in 2020 due to the pandemic. The closures also reflected the decades-long trend of displacement and gentrification in Seattle. With the support of the Beacon Business Alliance (BBA) and a community-minded developer, these two legacy restaurants are planning to reopen in the same neighborhood they were previously forced out of. 

Baja and CheBogz — the latter is owned by Paraiso family sisters Trixia and Paula — are returning to Beacon Hill, splitting a storefront space in the new Colina Apartments

“It’s almost kind of like a fairy-tale story for People of Color,” Trixia said when reflecting on moving the restaurant back to Beacon Hill. “You don’t really get this opportunity to have a landlord say, ‘We want you guys here so that we can keep this community as diverse as it was before.’” 

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Award-Winning Entrepreneur KD Hall Aims to Take Her Businesses to the Next Level

by M. Anthony Davis


Local business owner KD Hall has been on fire this year. As CEO and principal consultant of KD Hall Communications and president and CEO of the KD Hall Foundation, Hall has received nine awards this year including South Sound Business 40 Under 40, Puget Sound Business Journal 40 Under 40, and a nomination for a Northwest Regional Emmy Award

The Emerald caught up with Hall to learn a little more about the woman behind the awards and successful businesses. 

Hall, who has been operating out of Seattle for the past eight years, is originally from Detroit, Michigan. She met her husband and business partner, David Hall, in high school. The two attended Oakland University in Michigan together and moved to Washington when David joined the U.S. Air Force.

“I remember at that time, it was difficult and there was a lot of tension in our country and we were at war under George W. Bush in 2006,” Hall says of her husband’s journey in the Air Force. He looked at it as a tool and as an opportunity to be able to give him a chance to do more in his life and to provide for our family that we planned to create. David excelled in the Air Force snagging many awards including Airmen of the year. 

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Weekend Long Reads: Asset Income

by Kevin Schofield


This week’s “long read” is a research report from the Economic Innovation Group looking at Americans’ different sources of income and in particular focusing on the one most closely tied to wealth: income from assets.

The report categorizes income into three types: “transfers” such as Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and food stamps; wages and earnings; and income from assets. An asset can be a financial investment such as stocks and bonds, but it can also be the housing that a landlord rents out, an apple orchard generating produce, or a manufacturing plant used to create goods.

Over the past fifty years, there has been a steady shift in the sources of personal income from Americans. In 1969, 77% of income was from wages and earnings; as of 2019, it was only 63%. Income from assets, however, has grown from 15% to 20%. 

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EMERALD EATS: Theary’s Kitchen

Emerald Eats is a bi-monthly documentary series featuring chefs, farmers, and entrepreneurs who are building a more diverse, meaningful food culture in South Seattle and South King County. This series will focus on local businesses and the role they play in the fight for more sustainable and equitable food systems in our communities. We’ll bring you behind the scenes — and into the lives — of the people transforming what we eat through community, culture, tradition, and innovation.

by Dylan Cate


Can cooking reconnect us to loved ones we’ve lost? Can changing our relationship to food also change our relationship to our parents and our past? 

Theary Ngeth’s relationship with food has always been complicated. When she was a young child in Cambodia, her family escaped the Khmer Rouge, bringing only what they could carry.  They ate only what they could find along their long journey to a refugee camp in Thailand.  When her family ultimately settled in the U.S., Theary’s mom was a prolific and accomplished cook — but the food was always for someone else. As the wife of a buddhist priest, she fed the community at weddings, social gatherings, and a community center for Cambodian elders. So as a teenager, Theary rejected cooking, doing whatever she could to avoid the kitchen when her mother prepared big meals. For Theary, these meals were the reason her parents spent plenty of time and attention to nourish the community but never enough time with her.  

Everything changed for Theary, however, when her mom passed away. Now, running her own Cambodian food kiosk in South Seattle, Theary isn’t just trying to reconnect with her community. She’s forging a new relationship with her mom’s memory and taking up the legacy her mother left behind. Watch her story here, on Emerald Eats

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COVID-19 Forces Pro Sports Teams to Mandate Vaccine Proof for Fans

by Sally James


A late summer surge of the COVID-19 delta variant has schools scrambling to adjust to in-person learning, parents worried about the safety of unvaccinated kids, and sports fans on edge.

Local professional sports teams, including Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders FC, and Seattle Kraken all announced that they would require proof of vaccination from fans who want to attend games. Following those announcements Tuesday, Sept. 7, the Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, and Seattle Mariners also announced similar rules to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

The rules don’t apply to fans under 12 years old, who cannot yet be vaccinated. In a story this week, the Emerald outlined the updated guidelines for student athletes.

For participants in outdoor sports and fans of all ages, the delta variant continues to spread throughout the community, requiring changes to fall plans and public health guidance.

Off the field, the Washington Hospital Association (WSHA) reported an almost 7% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide over the previous week. Some of that press conference is in this video from television station KIRO-7. WSHA leader Cassie Sauer explained that overcrowded hospitals anywhere are a problem for all hospitals, because patients are sometimes shifted to other facilities.

King County Executive Dow Constantine said the County is trying to create some vaccine verification standards that could become effective in October. These would help businesses and others quickly verify a person’s vaccine status.

In this week’s Q&A, we hope to help you make sense out of the latest COVID-19 health and safety headlines with links to credible sources.

Send your questions to us at editor@seattleemerald.org.

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Intentionalist: Enjoy the Final Days of Summer on the Patios at These Local Restaurants

by Kristina Rivera

Intentionalist is built on one simple idea: where we spend our money matters. We make it easy to find, learn about, and support small businesses and the diverse people behind them through everyday decisions about where we eat, drink, and shop. #SpendLikeItMatters


Fall is around the corner and we can’t be the only ones in denial. 

Chilly September mornings have started and pumpkin spice everything has begun to emerge from its yearly hibernation, but we’re not ready to let go of summer just yet. 

The first day of fall isn’t until Sept. 22, so we’re taking every moment until then to enjoy summer’s final days before the inevitable cold settles in. And what better way to enjoy the sun than by enjoying a meal outside?

Skyway Nonprofit Forms CDA to Revitalize Community

by Alexa Peters


For decades, the close-knit and diverse community in Skyway has been striving to flourish on their own terms.

As an unincorporated part of King County, Skyway does not have a local government entity, like a city council or mayor, working on behalf of the majority BIPOC community, making it harder for residents to preserve the parts of Skyway they love and execute much-needed additions, like a long-awaited community center. At the same time, residents like Jeannie Williams, who’s lived in Skyway for 36 years, say incorporation wouldn’t be worth the cost to the heart and soul of the neighborhood.

“Skyway has its own quirky personality all its own. It’s kind of like being out in the country but in the middle of the city. There’s cool little family-owned restaurants and it’s a good place to raise your kids. It’s very diverse,” said Williams. “All of those things make Skyway its own community.”

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30 Years of MFPA: Advocating for Police Transformation

by Kamna Shastri


Reverend Harriet Walden has dedicated decades of her life to holding police accountable for their conduct, since long before slogans of “defund the police” echoed along city streets. In 1991, she founded Mothers Against Police Harassment, now known as Mothers For Police Accountability (MFPA). She is admired and respected for her work — and rightly so. A power-house with clear vision, Walden has been advocating for law enforcement to be held accountable for thirty years. Her legacy is powerful.

The incident that sparked Walden’s activism took place on a mid-summer evening on Aug. 5, 1990. One of Walden’s sons was riding home from a community festival with two friends. As the boys were rounding the corner at 29th Avenue South and South Jackson Street, Seattle police officers stopped them, saying they were looking for drugs. Walden’s other son was in the house nearby and came outside because of the noise. The four boys — all high school graduates on their way to college — began to argue with the police, explaining that they had no drugs in their possession, and the argument escalated.

In a 1995 interview on Network X, Walden recounts how the police held guns to the boys’ heads and that all four were beaten up and arrested. Walden was rightfully angry at how the police had treated her sons and their friends, especially as they were found wrongfully charged. Walden was able to get the charges dropped for the youth but sued the City of Seattle for misconduct.

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Weekend Long Reads: The Evolution of Our Health Care System

by Kevin Schofield


This weekend’s “long read” focuses on two medical research papers exploring how the U.S. health care system has changed over the past two decades: the money going into the system and the outcomes for individuals. And it’s not a pretty picture.

Let’s start with a paper from a group of researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation here in Seattle, looking at health care spending from 2002 through 2016 and broken out by race and ethnicity. Total spending has grown dramatically, from about $1.5 trillion annually in 2002 to over $2.4 trillion in 2016. The amount spent per person increases as they age, from a low of about $3,000 per year for children in 2016 to more than $15,000 per year for those over the age of 65. There are some significant differences in spending across racial and ethnic lines, with Asians, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and Hispanics seeing some of the lowest levels of spending across all age groups and white and multiracial individuals seeing the highest spending.

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