Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe founder Chris Maykut and owner Mohamed Yousef stand outside the new Queen Anne location.
Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe founder Chris Maykut and owner Mohamed Yousef stand outside the new Queen Anne location.

Queen Anne’s healthy-food options continue to grow, with this week’s addition of a Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe offering a variety of vegan and raw menu items in the neighborhood.

Chris Maykut opened his first Chaco Canyon in the University District in 2003, after returning to his native Seattle. He’d graduated from the University of California-Berkeley, and had worked at the vegan restaurant Millenium in Oakland.

“That totally changed my experience of food,” Maykut said.

Maykut expected Seattle would have a healthy number of vegan and vegetarian dining options when he returned, but was disappointed by the actual numbers. Once back in the city, he took a job at the now-defunct Carmelita vegetarian restaurant in Greenwood, with plans of eventually opening his own business.

After opening his first Chaco Canyon in the U District, Maykut opened spots in West Seattle and his Greenwood neighborhood in 2009 and 2015, respectively. He sold the U District location, which has since changed its name and expanded, making the Queen Anne restaurant the third-existing Chaco Canyon in Seattle.

Maykut sold his existing restaurants to Mohamed Youssef in 2017, the two connecting through a broker. Youssef had 20 years of experience in the restaurant business, 10 of those working as a general manager and then district manager for Ivar’s Seafood Company.

Chaco Canyon’s commissary kitchen could support up to four locations, said Maykut, who has stayed on as a partner in the business, so it made economic sense to open another restaurant. The search took months, he said.

“Queen Anne was definitely the first on my list because, just like West Seattle, it’s kind of an island,” Maykut said.

Yousef and Maykut are banking on Queen Anne residents supporting their local businesses, but people have traveled long distances to reach other Chaco Canyon locations, Maykut said. With the closure of the Alaskan Way Viaduct, there is some concern about impacts to the West Seattle location, he said.

Construction activity around Seattle delayed the opening of the Queen Anne Chaco Canyon a little, said Yousef, who acted as general contractor on the build out of the space at 1525 Queen Anne Ave. N.

“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “It took me about four months to get that together.”

Chaco Canyon’s menu includes grain bowls, sandwiches, soups, salads, breakfast options, fresh juices, smoothies and elixir shots. Popular items include the lentil burger, Egyptian red lentil soup and yam and kale bowl, Yousef said, adding there are also seasonal items and chef’s specials throughout the year.

Maykut said only around 30 percent of customers are vegan or vegetarian, and that people come for good food that is sourced from quality local vendors. Most of the produce comes from Charlie’s Produce, and seasonal items from a number of family farms, he said.

Chaco Canyon had a soft opening on Tuesday, Jan. 8, with the hope being that enough interest would be generated in time for the larger weekend crowds that gather on Queen Anne Avenue. The sign hanging above the Queen Anne spot came from the original U District location.

“One good thing about us is we do have great name recognition,” Maykut said.

The allergy-conscious, mostly vegan (milk for the coffee) Chaco Canyon should benefit from those new year resolutions, Maykut said, with business at other locations peaking from January to April.

“We definitely see slowdown in the holidays.”

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