Serving the White Center neighborhood for over 30 years, Young’s Restaurant is beloved for its perfect pairing of American diner fare and Vietnamese-Chinese cuisine. Furthermore, customers and restaurant staff appreciate the close connections made with the restaurant’s owners, Ella and Van T. Young.
In that spirit, it was a single customer connection that led Young’s to become the first ever restaurant and business in Seattle to install green stormwater infrastructure on their property through the City of Seattle and King County’s RainWise program.
A loyal customer, who also works with a local nonprofit ECOSS, lead the Youngs to learn about the RainWise program. Run by King County and Seattle Public Utilities, the program provides rebates that cover up to 100% of the cost of installing cisterns and/or rain gardens on individual properties.
The aim is to control stormwater, prevent sewers from overflowing, hillsides from erosion, and bodies of water from flooding and pollution. The program also trains private contractors and small business owners to install that infrastructure. After learning more about the program, the Youngs decided this was a green, community-centered solution they wanted to be a part of.
Often with programs that involve various levels of inspection, engineering and contracting, communities of color are underserved, especially those with limited to no English skills. ECOSS happens to be one of the nonprofits with whom the RainWise program partners, and thus created the crucial connection between a long-time neighborhood establishment and the program.
By connecting Young’s Restaurant with Vietnamese and Chinese-speaking staff and contractors, the RainWise program was able to build trust with an underserved community and work towards a more collaborative, equitable solution for stormwater management.
After a year’s worth of collaboration between the restaurant, the RainWise program and contractors, Young’s Restaurant installation, which consists of three cisterns, controls an average of 11,145 gallons of stormwater each year.
To celebrate the achievement with their community, Young’s collaborated with ECOSS and RainWise to host a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Community members gathered to feast on Chinese cuisine while they feasted their eyes on the tomatoes, eggplants and other produce watered by Young’s cisterns.
The two contractors who created the RainWise installations, Anthony Pham and Hop Tran were present to explain the process of installing rain gardens and cisterns. Throughout the afternoon and into the evening, the restaurant was abuzz with conversation in Chinese, Vietnamese and English.
Ella and Van T. Young had nothing but praise for the RainWise program: “I have neighbors and relatives who pass by and ask me, ‘What’s this?’ I tell them it’s a tank that collects rainwater I can use to water my plants. The RainWise program helps pay for the cistern and installation, it’s a good program and benefits our community.” Additionally, Ella Young shared that the RainWise installation helped to solve issues of leaks and flooding into the parking lot of the restaurant. Green stormwater infrastructure is not just about protecting Puget Sound waters – the installations benefit communities and neighborhoods, too.
Presently, Young’s Restaurant maintains a sign demonstrating how the RainWise installations help to manage stormwater in three different languages: English, Cantonese, and Vietnamese. The Youngs hope that their enthusiasm for green infrastructure will spread throughout their community.
If you would like to learn more about how you can become part of the RainWise program, please check out the website here.