Two decades of ‘American beer and American comfort food’ at the Hopvine

Bob Brenlin and Michael Congdon in front of Hopvine's evergrowing photo wall (Images: CHS)

Bob Brenlin, left, and Michael Congdon in front of Hopvine’s evergrowing photo wall (Images: CHS)

WP_20150312_004Bob Brenlin loves to talk about beer. He has spent nearly three decades in the business of selling suds as a co-owner of three pubs in Seattle, including 15th Ave East’s Hopvine, celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2015.

When he opened the Hopvine in September 1995, he had already been running the Latona Pub in Green Lake since 1987 (the third pub is the Fiddler’s Inn in Wedgwood), so he had time to get the business model down. When he opened, he said he hoped to accomplish two goals.

“We wanted to be part of a local community, a nice neighborhood, and introduce them to interesting craft beer,” he said.

Brenlin has no sense of how many different beers he’s been able to introduce to the neighborhood over the years, but with 12 ever-rotating taps multiplied by 20 years, the number is well into the thousands. In particular, all of his pubs feature what he called “creative, hop-forward” beers, particularly IPAs which he called the perennial best sellers from all of the craft breweries.

Brenlin always tried to focus on breweries from Washington and Oregon, he said, and it has been fun watching the number of small breweries grow. When the Hopvine opened, there were around 12 craft breweries in the state, now there’s more than 200 with more added regularly, he said. And when one of his bartenders pours one of those beers, Brenlin said they have one goal.

“Try and get the best pint as possible. Try to pour a beer as close to what the brewer intended as possible,” he said. Continue reading

Even the corner stores are getting into the Capitol Hill food+drink boom

It wouldn’t be the first time a scrappy Capitol Hill corner market has set its sights beyond snacks and soft drinks.

Benson’s Grocery, a corner store staple at Bellevue and E Pine Pike, is planning to shrink its market sometime this summer to make way for a new Japanese restaurant inside the shop. According to plans filed with the city, the $500,000 project will include adding a kitchen, dining area, and a restroom.

The move undoubtedly signifies that the Capitol Hill food and drink boom being watched ever so closely by pundits on all sides of the $15 wage debate is as strong as ever — or is about to pop. You choose!

Benson’s owner Hun Lee confirmed the plans with CHS, but declined to reveal specific details on the project. CHS did learn that sushi will be part of the restaurant offerings, but how the paired down market will function remains to be seen. Lee said work would start this summer.

Plans seen by CHS show a sushi bar-like setup added to the back of the current space with restaurant seating to take over the north portion of the store that neighbors the Seattle Eagle gay bar and the E Pike Victrola..

Over the years, Benson’s has been busy finding ways to generate more revenue out of the neighborhood bodega. At one point, a large advertising banner for Oregon’s George Fox University hung above the store. Benson’s again made sign news earlier this year when street artists put up a Starbucks apology banner on the side of the store.

Creative Blueprint artist work studios coming to Pike/Pine

11060845_725808247539881_4842954540878777262_n 2147012275_20110629_230345By way of Toronto, Capitol Hill is about to get a new space for artists and entrepreneurs to create.

Creative Blueprint, a gallery and artist work space concept with Canadian roots, is making plans to open its doors to the Capitol Hill creative class in a 5,000 square-foot subterranean space on Boylston Ave just around the corner from Pine.

“It’s an expansion of the vision and the project,” Creative Blueprint’s Ashley Proctor tells CHS.

The affordable and flexible studio spaces will be operated in conjunction with Capitol Hill coworking concern Office Nomads which in 2012 doubled its size by taking over both the ground and second level of the old Heath Printers building above Creative Blueprint’s new basement space.

CHS is a longtime Office Nomads member.

Proctor says she started Creative Blueprint in Toronto nearly a decade ago to solve a problem familiar to many Capitol Hill artists finding it increasingly difficult to find affordable work space. Proctor says that in Toronto she started the original Creative Blueprint in an affordable area of the city only to see that area develop and rents push higher. Creative Blueprint moved, then, gain, development came. It’s a cycle Proctor said happened quickly enough in Toronto that she was able to learn how to deal with it. Eventually, she said, she was able to purchase the building where Creative Blueprint now lives. Her Toronto operation in The Foundery building also includes a coworking business that she also operates.

In Seattle, Proctor is working with Office Nomads founders Jacob Sayles and Susan Dorsch.

“It seems so easy to run one company instead of two,” she said.

Proctor tells CHS that the success of Office Nomads helped convince the building’s owners that a shared art space was a viable tenant for their investment. Proctor said that having the support of the new Capitol Hill Arts District was also key as Cultural Space Liaison Matthew Richter wrote a letter to the building owners on Creative Blueprint’s behalf.

As she works this summer to open the new space, Proctor is also meeting with artists and coworkers to find out more about the needs of the Capitol Hill community.

Proctor said that it doesn’t necessarily require artists owning a building to preserve and protect art space in a neighborhood.

“Making sure that property owners and landlords understand the value can also work,” she said.

Still, Proctor said that, eventually, purchasing a building to secure homes for Creative Blueprint and Office Nomads could be part of the plans.

Creative Blueprint will be located at 1617 Boylston Ave’s lower level. Proctor said pricing and membership plan structures will be similar to how she has set up her Foundry coworking space. You can learn more at facebook.com/CreativeBlueprintSeattle/.

With better reporting, new tools, Seattle hate crime totals continue rise — UPDATE

Seattle Police Department officials say an increase in reports of bias crimes on Capitol Hill and across Seattle is actually progress and that more tools are coming to help the LGBTQ community report crimes and hate incidents.

In a report to the City Council public safety committee Wednesday afternoon, Lieutenant Michael Kebba said the rise in reports reflects an increased effort to encourage victims to tell police about bias incidents. “I don’t really see a lot of attack issues,” Kebba said.

Overall, there were 126 reported bias incidents in Seattle in 2014 up from 110 in 2013. In the East Precinct covering Capitol Hill, reports jumped to 34 “malicious harassments,” “crimes with bias elements,” and “bias incidents.”


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On the List | Memorial Day weekend brings Garden Party Theater to Cal Anderson, free burgers to Li’l Woody’s

GardenPartyTheatreJpegArtist Paul Kuniholm Pauper believes firmly that the value of art is thoroughly misrepresented when cost is a factor. He cites the sale of highly priced works like Picasso’s $139 million piece,“Le Rêve,” in 2013 as an example of how thinking of art in this way is a “closed loop.”

SIFF 2015 continues this weekend and includes a set of films depicting the lives and issues inside the changing Yesler Terrace neighborhood. The Faces of Yesler Terrace film set includes Even The Walls, "an elegiac journey inside the homes and memories of nine Yesler Terrace residents as they wait to see what will become of their neighborhood."

SIFF 2015 continues this weekend and includes a set of films depicting the lives and issues inside the changing Yesler Terrace neighborhood. The Faces of Yesler Terrace film set includes Even The Walls, “an elegiac journey inside the homes and memories of nine Yesler Terrace residents as they wait to see what will become of their neighborhood.”

Thanks to the Seattle Office of Arts, citizens of Seattle have access to art events Pauper finds much more valuable: free ones. This Friday his work will be displayed — and worn at Cal Anderson Park during the Garden Party Theater:

Providing dozens of wearable sculptures for attiring of attendees, snacks will be provided and the community is encouraged to mingle and move as whims dictate. No formal organizing principles other than nurturing community interaction, contact with art and a group food experience sum the parameters of Garden Party Theatre.

Save room. Free burgers again this Memorial Day at Li'l Woody's

Save room. Free burgers again this Memorial Day at Li’l Woody’s

The event will start at 6 PM and feature Pauper’s wearable sculptures that attendees can put on themselves, as well as snacks that encompass his themes of tea parties and outer space.

The event gives attendees the rare opportunity to “become part of the artwork” according to Pauper.

“No other effort in my life has been as excellent as making art. It has the singular effect of supplying beauty and provoking thought,” he said.

Pauper said the garden party is for everybody — almost. “The joy and happiness of my artwork can be experienced by any warm-blooded animal, but humans with a heartbeat are my target audience. Birds, fish and reptiles will not enjoy my artwork.”

For more things to do this Memorial Day weekend, check out the CHS Calendar. Continue reading

CHS Community Post | Capitol Hill Community Council’s last call for officer candidates

1794549_10153396491788696_276564671098180380_nAs many of us in Capitol Hill focus our attention on Seattle City Council District elections, Shell in our port, teacher strikes, and the beautiful weather, there are also important neighborhood-specific needs to be attentive to — the Capitol Hill Community Council officer elections.
Each year in June, the Capitol Hill Community Council holds an election for officers that seek to represent the neighborhood and lead the community group for the next year. Over the last few years, through turbulent, exciting times to quiet, continued public service, many of the familiar neighborhood names and faces have sat on the community council. Continue reading

In nod to Socialist Alternative Sawant, 43rd Democrats give no endorsement in District 3 race

It was a night for “non-establishment” candidates Tuesday as the 43rd District Democrats made their ritual endorsements in this year’s local elections, which included votes on six City Council races.

Democrats in the 43rd Legislative District, which includes Capitol Hill and downtown, made no endorsement in the Council District 3 race where de facto incumbent Kshama Sawant has disrupted an otherwise Democratic stronghold. The vote is a clear blow to the hopes of Sawant challengers including the Central District’s Pamela Banks, seen by many as the favorite to make it through August’s top-two primary after a raft of City Hall endorsements. The victory, of sorts, continues a string for the Socialist Alternative candidate. Sawant also brought out a swell of supporters and was the crowd favorite in last week’s District 3 candidates forum.

Other incumbents and “establishment” candidates also failed to get a nod during the event, although the vote only represents a tiny fraction of the most politically active Democrats.

As the non-Democrats in District 3, Sawant and Lee Carter were technically ineligible for an endorsement from the roughly 150 party members gathered inside the University Heights building in the U-District. Sawant supporters in the party, including King County Council member Larry Gossett, urged a “no endorsement” vote for the District 3 race as a procedural vote for Sawant. Continue reading

Five taken into custody after armed hold-up, beating at 11th/Olive — UPDATE

A group of teens and one possible adult suspect were taken into custody after an early morning armed robbery reported on the eastern edge of Cal Anderson Park.

According to East Precinct radio dispatches, at least two victims suffered facial injuries and were robbed near 11th Ave and E Olive St around 12:40 AM Wednesday. Witnesses said as many as eight or nine people could be seen fleeing the area southbound on 11th Ave after the holdup in which at least two guns were brandished.

A witness who heard the melee called 911 bringing police quickly to the scene.

UPDATE: SPD has posted a brief on the incident including details of the reported hold-up:

Several witnesses called 911 around 12:30 AM when they saw a group of teens assaulting a man and woman in Cal Anderson Park. One witness told police an armed teen had a gun pointed at him when approached the melee. The group of juveniles then fled the park before police and medics arrived.

The victims told officers they had been sitting in the park when the group of suspects approached them and offered to sell them drugs. When the victims rebuffed their offer, the juveniles punched and kicked them and pointed a gun at the victims before fleeing with the man’s cell phone.

A group of five males was spotted minutes later a few blocks away walking on Pike at Boylston. Police contacted the group and brought witnesses to the scene to identify the assailants.

Police took five males into custody — four juvenile males and an additional male suspect. Police recovered two guns — one was an air gun, the other was found to be a “real gun,” according to police radio. The five taken into custody were transported to East Precinct. Additional police units were called to the scene following a disturbance involving at least one of the males as the suspects were taken into custody.

UPDATE: Police say all five suspects are teenagers:

Officers found the suspects near Pike St and Harvard Ave and took them into custody. Officers found a handgun on one teen, a BB gun on another and the victim’s stolen cell-phone on a third suspect. Two of the suspects are 13-years-old, the others are 14, 16, and 17.

SPD says all five were booked into King County’s Youth Services Center for investigation of robbery. One of the 13-year-olds was also booked for unlawful possession of a firearm.

Seattle Fire was called to the scene to provide aid for the victims.

Pike/Pine businesses and community groups have voiced concerns about the annual warmer-weather spike in crime that typically plagues the areas around Cal Anderson and the neighborhood’s nightlife district but 2015, so far, has been relatively quiet. East Precinct has rolled out “emphasis patrols” and officials have said they plan to apply tactics used to quell street crime downtown.

Taking on the likes of La Marzocco, MAVAM Espresso crafting custom machines in Pike/Pine

As one longtime Pike/Pine coffee roaster plans an inter-neighborhood move, a business involved in another aspect of coffee manufacturing is making its debut just down the block.

“I wanted to build a machine that was designed by a technician, not an engineer”

Two well-established espresso experts quietly launched their custom commercial espresso machine business MAVAM Espresso last month underneath Vermillion on 11th Ave amid Pike/Pine’s fertile coffee roasting grounds.

MAVAM co-founder Michael Gregory Myers is no stranger to working under the hood of coffee shop espresso machines. He spends his days servicing coffee appliances as the second generation partner of Seattle’s Michaelo Espresso parts and service company.

For two years, Myers has spent his free time in the 11th Ave underground shop building a machine that comes as close as possible to maintaining perfect temperature stability. The key, he says, is ensuring that the machine’s boiler, piping, and head components all maintain an even temperature to ensure maximum consistency pour to pour.

As someone who spends his time servicing machines, Myers said designing an easily serviceable product was also a top priority.

“I wanted to build a machine that was designed by a technician, not an engineer,” he said. Continue reading

Testing, testing: First Hill Streetcar makes surprise Broadway appearance

(Image: @TheStreetcar via Twitter)

(Image: @TheStreetcar via Twitter)

Either the plan has changed or the First Hill Streetcar testing is ahead of its delayed schedule. Monday night, Broadway — apparently — had a surprise visitor.

“Did you see #TheStreetcar on Broadway last night? Low speed test completed as we continue startup prep,” the streetcar’s promotional Twitter account bragged.

(Image: @seattledot via Twitter)

(Image: @seattledot via Twitter)

“Hey All, Did you see Streetcar on Broadway last night?” SDOT’s account teased.

CHS didn’t see it. So it’s possible the First Hill Streetcar’s landing on Broadway was faked. But here’s what CHS wrote in March as we got a look at the new trains under construction and being prepared for testing at their International District trolley barn:

Don’t expect to see the streetcar on Broadway until very late in the testing process this summer. SDOT officials say the testing won’t make it up the Hill until there are three or four cars ready for service conditions. At that point, SDOT can begin a process of mimicking standard service. An official said at that point, the streetcar needs to perform as planned for about two weeks. Once it passes that test, the new trams — including our special hot pink car — will be ready for business.

There’s been no announcement of an acceleration in the plan to start service so we’re betting the low-speed test was just a little more ambitious than how planners described the process back in March. Continue reading