Popular Express Cuisine to return to its former digs on Vashon

A beloved Island eatery that flourished for 15 years before closing in 2006 will soon reopen in its former space in town.

Express Cuisine, a small and collegial restaurant with a reputation for excellent food, will open in mid-December in the space most recently occupied by Gusto Girls, which closed last month. Before Gusto Girls inhabited the cozy place just south of Vashon Island Print & Design, Express Cuisine put that location on the map, drawing crowds of hungry Islanders and visitors alike during its bustling dinner hours.

Owners Jim Riggsbee and Jocelyne Savoie have decided to jump back into the restaurant business after three years away because they miss the industry and think there's a customer base for Express Cuisine on Vashon, said Savoie.

"It was a success before, and it seems like there's still a need for it here," Savoie said. "We're excited about it."

The restaurant will be similar to how it was before, she said: People will come to the counter to order their dinner and help themselves to silverware. The menu will feature some of its most popular items, including seafood and ethnic dishes, Savoie said, but may also have some new items.

A difference, however, will be the restaurant's tables: Express Cuisine formerly had large tables Islanders could sit around, perhaps being put at a table with acquaintances or strangers from other dinner parties. Because the restaurant owners no longer have those tables, they'll be putting regular single-party tables in the establishment.

Riggsbee will serve as Express Cuisine's head chef, as he did when the restaurant was open before; Savoie will manage the front of the house.

Both owners, partners in business and personally, have a long history in the restaurant industry. Riggsbee began working in restaurants when he was a high-schooler; he's cooked for Island establishments including the Spinnaker and Vashon Island Golf & Country Club. Savoie grew up the daughter of a café owner.

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