Tup Tim Thai means “jewel of Thailand”, but Queen Anne residents for

Tup Tim Thai means “jewel of Thailand”, but Queen Anne residents for 24 years have considered the homey restaurant the gem of their neighborhood. So loyal customers were devastated to learn this week that the restaurant’s lost its lease.

“It’s kind of a shock to everybody,” general manager Nat Chien said. “A lot of people are sad, because the customers are like family. It’s more than friends.”

According to Chien, TTT has never made a late payment since opening on the corner of Second Avenue West and West Mercer Street. But after the restaurant’s landlord bumped up the restaurant’s monthly lease payment by 15 percent in March, he demanded twice as much money in April.

“We said that is going to be too much for us,” Chien says. The restaurant countered with a figure closer to what’s being asked of tenants of the building going up where Easy Street Records once stood. The landlord didn’t respond to the proposal by Apr. 30, meaning TTT needs to vacate the venue by month’s end. The last day of service is May 28.

Chien says the managers of Chantanee in Bellevue have offered to take on some of the displaced staff members, but the restaurant’s future remains uncertain. TTT is looking for a new location, but Chien warned it could be a lengthy process.

“Maybe one month, maybe one year,” he says.

The restaurant’s many fans were heartbroken by the news, first announced via a sign on the restaurant’s door.

“That’s horrifying! There is no Seattle without that place,” cookbook author Shauna James Ahern tweeted.

Although Chien acknowledged the economy could complicate the search for a new location, since renovations and revamps are notoriously pricy, he emphasized that the restaurant’s closing has nothing to do with a drop off in customer traffic or support.

“The business is good,” he says. “Just the one thing is the landlord.”