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A new aroma in Tacoma as the restaurant scene booms

TACOMA — As rent in Seattle continues to skyrocket, people continue to move further south. To keep up with demand, the restaurant scene in Tacoma is booming!

Since last year, nine Seattle-based restaurant groups have opened, or announced plans to open a restaurant down in T-town, which leads us to ask the question: ‘Is there a new aroma in Tacoma?’

“I think that aroma is gone. It’s been pretty mild. It’s been replaced with burgers and whiskey in the air!” Stack 571 General Manager Jake Melvin said with a smile.

Tacoma is finding its new identity. No longer does the smell of smelters and pulp mills dominate the air. Manufacturing is being replaced with urban business and it tastes – and smells – a lot like success.

Rhein Haus – the Capitol Hill Bavarian beer hall with a scratch kitchen - has been open for a month at its new Tacoma location and they’re doing $10,000 a night in food alone.

“In Seattle and Capitol Hill you have a lot of people eat the bar but not necessarily buying food.” Rhein Haus Executive Chef Kelly Wilson explained. “Come out here and there’s families and platters of food on the table and people having a great time.”

The location has already surpassed their Seattle counterpart, pumping out nearly three times the amount of food and they are not alone.

“Nobody expected us to be this busy. It’s not a competition but we’re busier than Seattle,” Wilson added.

Also beating out the Seattle competition: WildFin.

“This location is our busiest by far.” WildFin President Attila Sabo explained. “There’s a tremendous draw, the affordability of Tacoma is really something a lot of people are finding attractive.“

The Point Ruston location just made its year anniversary and has out-produced their Issaquah and Renton restaurants. In fact these Issaquah-based restaurateurs have expanded – opening up the brand-new ‘Stack 571’ a few doors down.

“We’re on a wait from Noon until 10 o'clock at night. Saturdays and Sundays have just been very busy for us. It’s always full,” North Moore, Bar Manager at Stack 571, said.

 The menu at stack isn’t the only thing that’s local. Most of the staff has relocated from Seattle too.

“I moved because of the opportunities that the waterfront here especially presents,” Moore added. “Tacoma is just expanding and it’s just getting so much fun with everything that’s opening up.”

Sixth Ave might not be Capitol Hill yet, but its on its way. Joining the likes of Matador, Capitol Hill and Ballard hot spot ‘El Borracho’ is duplicating itself down south too, taking over the former Marrow space.

Fans of Sam Choy's poke to the max no longer have to drive to Seattle. Its Pacific Avenue location opening this month. Seattle’s Casco Antiguo will also open a Tacoma restaurant this year.

“I think [Tacoma] is its own brand and own location and own identity. And that’s what we’re learning as we’ve been open for a month just seeing what people want our role in going to be in the community,” Wilson said.

A new aroma and a new claim on the fastest growing restaurant capital in the northwest.

The restaurant industry no longer looks at Tacoma as an untapped market, but a very, very lucrative one.