The Vibe: Unlike many of the other light rail stations, Rainier Beach isn't such a bustle of commerce. There is that strange Polynesian Deli, where you can buy a type of canned meat called Camp Pie Luncheon Loaf; but if you're looking for a variety of dining options you really need to hoof it down to Rainier Ave., several blocks toward Lake Washington.
The Café: Just up from the corner of Rainier Ave. S. and S. Henderson St., we find the Rainier Beach Deli & Café (8738 Rainier Ave. S., 760-4494). The owner apparently thought long and hard about Americans' consumption habits before opening what just might be the greatest hybrid business idea in the city.
Hanging outside the entrance in greater prominence than the "café" sign is a banner announcing "Rainier Beach Auto Sale."
Inside it seems all deli. There's a small counter with a sandwich-making station and several tables--no easily apparent loan officer.
As the woman behind the counter makes my barbecue banh mi, I ask about the sign in front. "So we could buy a car in here?"
She nods: "yes."
That explains the group of men hanging out in the dining area playing cards and watching football on one of the many televisions. They are used car salesmen, but without the bad outfits and overzealous banter.
And really, it all makes sense. Waiting for customers or finishing paperwork on a car purchase in a Vietnamese deli sounds far more enjoyable than the offices of most used car lots for both buyer and seller.