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October 27, 2008 11:45 AM

All aboard the Orient Express: "Andy's" reopens

Posted by Nancy Leson

Way back in March, I told you about the sale of Andy's Diner -- closed since January -- and developer Henry Liebman's plans for South Seattle landmark. And in the wake of that post, I had a nice chance to chat with long-retired owner Andy Yurkanin who promised to take me to lunch once the place re-opened:

He'll get his chance soon, because today the famous railcar-diner debuted as the Orient Express, specializing in Chinese, Thai and American food and offering (get this!) on-site childcare. I'd meet Andy there for lunch today, but as we speak he's enjoying his retirement at his second home in Eastern Washington. "I'm sitting here at the duck club, looking out at Toppenish Creek," he said when we talked this morning. No, he's not duck hunting, just hanging out with his pal Gilbert Barthe, owner of the late, great Mirabeau Restaurant.

Meanwhile, over on Fourth Avenue South, the new owner of the Orient Express, Gun Ting (late of Wild Ginger and known as Ed to many of his friends), greets his first paying guests today.

An extra-special thanks to reader Jeri Lloyd, who tipped me off to the opening after she and her husband decided to drive by yesterday to see how the transformation from old to new was coming along. "The parking lot was nearly full and there was a `Grand Opening' banner," she wrote in an email. So in they went. Turns out they'd stumbled in to a pre-opening party, complete with a buffet (replete with clam chowder, lemon chicken and Thai red curry beef) and waiters dressed in black and offering drinks. Invited to join in the fun, Jeri and her husband were warmly welcomed, handed some plates and told to look for seats in an open railcar. "The place still has a warren-like aspect due to the railroad cars, but it's obvious a lot of work has been done," Jeri said. She no doubt speaks for many longtime Seattleites when she said, "I'm so glad someone saved the place that I wish them great success." Amen, sister.

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