Our Story

History (continued)

He worked there for two years, and then pursued a job at the well-respected Saleh Al Lago restaurant on Green Lake in Seattle. This job firmly established Pauls interest in opening an Italian restaurant in his hometown of Kent.

Paolo’s began taking shape in 1989. Paul’s parent’s, Don and Darlene Raftis, were ready to sell their burger place, the Bum Steer. Paul thought it was the right moment to turn his dream into reality, and with a location right next door to his parents’ restaurant, Paul knew he would always have support and free “tips” from his dad.

Before opening Paolo’s, Paul traveled to Europe with his parents. Paul’s goal was to enjoy a wonderful vacation before remodeling the burger joint into Paolo’s, but also to experience as much Italian food and culture as possible. He collected many recipe ideas and a sense of the Italian passion for food, wine and hospitality that he wanted to re-create at Paolo’s.

After a six-month closure for remodeling, Paolo’s opened on October 1st, 1990. The beginning years were filled with challenge as he worked to find the right niche for Kent diners. There were nights when Paul would leave the restaurant as the sun came up and return in time to work the lunch shift.

Over the years, Paolo’s has continued to evolve. The deli was replaced with a dining counter, the linen tablecloths gave way to casual vinyl, and a children’s menu was added. In 2005, Paolo’s received an extensive interior remodel, giving it a more Tuscan feel, with textured walls and warm earth tone colors. Paul wanted the new atmosphere to reflect the authentic Italian style of his cooking.

Throughout the transformations, the heart of Paolo’s has remained Paul’s cooking. Paul’s love of cooking shows in each dish he creates. If he could cook all day, with no phone calls, paperwork, ordering, staffing or cleaning, he would consider it a perfect day—well, maybe throw in a break for a Mariner’s game, a long run, and family time with Jordon and Kaylene! Most of Paul’s hours are joyfully spent in the kitchen preparing fresh, mouth-watering meals for his guests. He enjoys the open kitchen because he can chat with guests as he works. He never tires of hearing “It smells so good in here!”

Please feel free to say “hello” or wave to Paul when you come in. Paul feels honored each time a guest walks through the door. The staff enjoys meeting and getting to know the many wonderful customers and takes pride in serving them. Paul thanks each of you for choosing to dine at Paolo’s so often over the years.


All of us at Paolo's Italian Restaurant