Tag Archives: Rainier Beach

New Mural Brightens Pho Van Restaurant Building in Rainier Beach

by Elizabeth Turnbull


Earlier this month, volunteers and community members painted on saturated oranges, blues, and pinks to warm the abandoned Pho Van Restaurant building on Rainier Avenue South and to bring some light to the Rainier Beach area through art.

The idea for the mural was spearheaded by the Rainier Beach: A Beautiful Safe Place for Youth initiative (RB:ABSPY) which partners with the Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, the Seattle Police Department, the Rainier Beach Action Coalition, and others to reduce neighborhood violence in Rainier Beach.

Instead of fighting crime with arrests, the initiative identifies certain physical spaces, such as the Pho Van Restaurant building, where crime happens and then works to change the physical environment, increase supervision, or change policies, rules, and/or other approaches.

“Our objective was to transform [the Pho Van building] space into a positive space to uplift and beautify our community,” Cathie Wilmore, the project manager of RB:ABSPY, said in a statement. “Community murals have the opportunity to tell a community’s story, create a unique experience, engage the community, and increase appreciation for the arts and artists.”

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‘Back 2 School Bash’ Pivots to Walk-Through to Provide School Supplies

by M. Anthony Davis


The annual Rainier Beach “Back 2 School Bash” is back this Saturday, Aug. 28, in the Rainier Beach Plaza. This annual event, which started in 2003, has become a staple in the community. This year, even with a few COVID-19 restrictions, the Rainier Beach Action Coalition (RBAC), led by RBAC organizer Danielle Jackson, will present an event full of entertainment, school resources, and the backpack giveaway that has supported students for the last 17 years.

“Because of COVID, we decided we were going to do a drive-through this year,” Jackson tells me. “But because of the bus stops and the layout of the street, we weren’t able to because that would cause traffic to be backed up. So instead, we decided to do a walk-through.”

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Student Activists Reflect on Long Overdue Rainier Beach High School Rebuild

by Ari Robin McKenna


For decades, the Rainier Beach community watched as other better-resourced high schools got major building renovations, waiting for their turn. Yet as various Seattle Public Schools’ (SPS) building levies passed them by, many members of the student population at Rainier Beach High School (RBHS) — which is currently 97% students of color — began to speak out.

From within a building built in 1961, students have been mounting pressure on the district for more than a decade. Finally, in 2019, the school board approved a replacement building as part of the Building Excellence (BEX) V Capital Levy. With RBHS set for a rebuild beginning next summer, the Emerald spoke to four students who were active in different waves of the push to make that happen.

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Rainier Beach Chess Park Pop-Up Brings a Vision of a Future Permanent Home for Chess

by Susan Fried


It didn’t take long for chess lovers to fill the tables at the future site of Detective Cookie Chess Park in the Rainier Beach neighborhood on Saturday, Aug. 21. Members of Detective Cookie’s Chess Club, volunteers, and even the president of the Washington State Chess Association (WSCA) showed up for the second of three Chess Park Pop-Up events to be held this summer. 

Seattle Police Detective Denise “Cookie” Bouldin started the chess club in 2006 for Rainier Beach youth. Today, the club serves community members of all ages. The outdoor park, at the corner of Barton Place South and Rainier Avenue South, will eventually be home to built-in chess tables and a giant in-ground chess board. Community leaders and volunteers who formed the Friends of Detective Cookie Chess Park group began fundraising in 2015 and are on track to have the park fully funded by the end of 2021. 

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Rainier Arts Center Hosts Weekly Porch Festival Showcasing BIPOC Artists

by Chamidae Ford


This Wednesday, Aug. 11, the Rainier Arts Center will be hosting its second installation of the August Porch Festival. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. you can find local BIPOC artists taking the stage to perform music for their community. Each week offers a wide range of styles and genres of music and performances. 

The Center was opened in 1997 and has served as a gathering space to support the arts for the Rainier community since. Throughout the summer, the Center hosts a wide array of events and activities located in Columbia Park. As a part of that, the Porch Festival aims to provide local artists the space to demonstrate their talents while keeping everyone safe and socially distanced. 

“We primarily wanted to showcase South End artists that were BIPOC,” said Ben Leiataua, manager of the Rainier Arts Center.

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PHOTO ESSAY: Fathers and Sons Together Barbershop Event Encourages Hope

by Susan Fried


About a half dozen barbers volunteered their services last weekend so people could get free haircuts at Rainier Beach Community Center plaza. In addition to the cuts, there was food, entertainment, and free COVID-19 vaccines. The event was held in partnership with the Department of Neighborhoods and hosted by Fathers and Sons Together (FAST) — a youth development organization that aims to nurture the relationships between fathers and sons. It also featured three panel discussions around significant issues affecting the community, including one on health and wellness — in particular how they relate to COVID-19 — one on the recent surge in gun violence, and a third to discuss ways to help youth and create positive change in the community.

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King Donuts Takes a Much-Needed Break and Unveils Plans for the Future

by Mark Van Streefkerk


When it comes to Rainier Beach landmarks, King Donuts is one of the most easily identifiable. Located in a bright blue-and-pink shop at the southwest corner of the Safeway parking lot on Rainier Avenue South, King Donuts houses a laundromat, a teriyaki kitchen, and a donut shop. 

It’s a unique and ambitious business model for a relatively small space. Almost as if to reassure passersby, the sprinkled, crowned King Donut mascot painted on the side of the building exclaims, “It’s a Real Place!” from his perch atop a washing machine, a bowl in one hand and chopsticks in the other. 

Owned and operated by the Chhuor family, King Donuts will continue to be a special place in the community far into the foreseeable future, but after weathering a pandemic and assessing what they can realistically sustain long-term, the family had to make some hard decisions. 

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PHOTO ESSAY: Northwest Tap Connection’s Third Annual Gullah Geechee Festival

by Susan Fried


Melba Ayco, the founder and artistic director of Northwest Tap Connection is a Gullah Geechee and Creole storyteller and last Friday and Saturday, July 16 and 17, Northwest Tap celebrated their third annual Seattle Gullah Geechee Festival. Ms. Melba told stories about Gullah Geechee traditions around food, culture, and heritage. She talked about the importance of family and the practice of lifting the baby up during a Gullah christening, the significance of the conch shell in Gullah spirituality, and the history behind the “Emancipation” maypole. In-between the stories, Northwest Tap dancers and instructors performed numerous dances inspired by Gullah Geechee heritage.

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PHOTO ESSAY: First Weekend of ‘Reopening’ in South Seattle

by Susan Fried


The Fourth of July weekend was also the first official weekend that King County dropped all COVID-19 restrictions, and many people in South Seattle were excited to finally go to their favorite places, sit down across from friends and family, and take their masks off (as long as they’d been vaccinated). 

Individual businesses could ask customers to wear masks, but many allowed those who had been vaccinated to go mask free, trusting them to be honest about whether they’d been vaccinated or not. Some businesses chose to ask patrons to continue wearing masks while others opted to not fully open.

For many South End residents, things almost felt like they were back to a pre-pandemic normal.  

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Creamy Cone Cafe Brings Local Ice Cream to Rainier Beach

by Mark Van Streefkerk


South End ice cream fans have good cause to celebrate — Creamy Cone Cafe officially opened in Rainier Beach on Memorial Day weekend. The Black-owned, family-run ice cream cafe at 9433 Rainier Avenue South features root beer floats, sundaes, in-house-made waffle cones, coffee drinks, and 12 rotating ice cream flavors from local creameries. 

Decked out in playful neon colors, including a small selection of outdoor seating, Creamy Cone Cafe brings sweet treats to a community that was in need of  another ice cream shop, especially as the summer heats up. Creamy Cone Cafe is one of two ice cream destinations in Rainier Beach, in addition to Filipino American-owned Laina’s Ice Cream in The Stonehouse Cafe on Lake Washington.

For owner and South End resident Ashanti Mayfield, her sister Alexis Jones, and their families, ice cream is a regular part of family time and celebrations. But getting to an ice cream shop can be a bit of a drive for people in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. Ashanti and her family would frequent Full Tilt Ice Cream in Columbia City or Cold Stone Creamery in Tukwila. “Between those two, those were our cheer-up moments — going to get ice cream and just having a family outing together,” Ashanti said. “As far as ice cream goes, the South End needed [a shop].”

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