After 30 years on Broadway, The Byzantion makes way for ‘slightly mystical’ Spirit Animal

Images of the old Greek joint and a “hipster” meme graphic that currently provides the only mysterious clues to what Spirit Animal is all about. (Images: The Byzantion and Spirt Animal)

Following big changes for neighborhood institution Charlie’s, another longtime Broadway restaurant is closing its doors after decades of service to make way for a new player in Capitol Hill food and drink.

North Broadway’s The Byzantion and owner Sotiris Bekris are slated to serve the Greek restaurant’s final meals on Sunday, September 6th:

After over 30 years of owning and operating the Byzantion restaurant in Capitol Hill, Sotiris Bekris has decided to close its doors on Sept. 6th and retire from the restaurant world. Thank you to all our loyal customers who supported us throughout the Byzantion’s long and happy career. We would not have been able to do it without you!

Spirit Animal, a new cocktail bar with a mystical bent from two first-time owner, is lined up for the space after purchasing the business from Bekris. The sale was good news for the longtime Capitol Hill restaurant owner and the start of a new opportunity for two Seattle bartenders.

“It’s always burning back in the back of an aspiring young bartender’s mind to have their own place,” Paul Berryman tells CHS.

Berryman said he and business partner Izzy Guymon met while working behind the bar at Percy’s & Co. in Ballard.

They’re planning a full “tear out and rebuild” of the Byzantion space with hopes for a bohemian look and tarot card feel in the new bar that meshes with the “slightly mystical” half man, half beast spirit of Spirit Animal.

The partners have visions of an exciting north Broadway scene.

“I think this end is going to have a little bit of a renaissance,” Berryman said. “It feels more like a neighborhood than an entertainment district.”

Spirit Animal is planned to open by the start of 2016 at 601 Broadway E. You can say goodbye to The Byzantion through Sunday.

Blotter | Delirious man on I-5 snarls morning traffic, parking garage break-ins continue

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • Excited delirium on I-5: State troopers, SPD, and Seattle Fire were busy on the side of I-5 below Olive Way Friday morning following a report of a man believed to be experiencing excited delirium. The incident snarled highway traffic around 8 AM as the man was taken into custody after being reported running into freeway lanes during the morning commute. The suspect was wanted on a felony warrant, according to the WSP.

  • First Hill bank robbery attempt: Police arrested an unsuccessful bank robbery suspect Tuesdaymorning after he reportedly passed a note to a teller at a First Hill bank near Madison and Minor demanding cash but fled empty handed. The incident was reported to police around 9:10 AM. Thanks to a relatively complete description and some unique fashion choices — a blue plaid fisherman’s hat – sunglasses, hoodie — short dreads, full black beard — the suspect was spotted by police outside Harborview and taken into custody less than 45 minutes after the alarm.
  • Burglary wave: Capitol Hill residents continue to report problems with parking garage break-ins. Earlier this summer, SPD warned of a rash of burglaries of apartment building parking garages in the area. While the issue may be on SPD’s priority list, residents have continued to report break-ins like this series of burglaries at 19th and Madison’s Lawrence Lofts. SPD has said it will have more information about plans to deal with the burglary wave soon.

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The Central District gets a second pot shop as Ponder opens at 24th and Union

10408718_956712814387781_7547585377064894305_nAs the 15th Ave E pot drama rolls on, a second pot shop in the heart of the Central District has quietly opened without protest or video arcades.

Since August 14th, Ponder has been open sporadically inside a revamped retail space at 24th and Union. Owner John Branch tells CHS he wanted to get the store well stocked before hosting a grand opening, ideally sometime in the next month.

With many shops selling products from the same growers and manufacturers, Branch said he’ll make Ponder stand out through tried-and-true small businesses practices.

“It comes down to good old fashioned retailing,” he said. “Do I like those guys in there, do they carry what I like?”

Ponder will be open for part of the day Friday and most of the day Saturday, Branch said. Look out for more regular hours after Labor Day.

As of this week Ponder holds the bottom sales spot among I-502 retailers in King County with $20 in August sales. Just up Union, Uncle Ike’s reported $1.3 million. The shop, which opened one year ago this month, is the top store in the county by sales and was second in the state overall in August behind only Vancouver’s Main Street Marijuana, according to 502data.com. Uncle Ike’s is a CHS advertiser.

In King County, $3.6 million in pot tax was collected in August (Source: 502data.com)

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Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 9.33.54 PM

Ponder makes 19 retail marijuana shops operating in the city and it is the 34th in the county. Continue reading

Seattle teachers lined up to strike if no new contract before Wednesday’s first day of school

More than 2,000 were reported in attendance at Thursday night’s vote (Images: SEA)

Biennial. B-I-E-N… N? I-A-L. Biennial. Every two years. That’s the schedule for end-of-summer parental freakouts in Seattle.

In 2013, the Seattle Education Association, the union that represents the nearly 4,000 teachers at the city’s public schools, negotiated a two-year deal with Seattle Public Schools that won its members two years of 2%+ raises. That deal came on a Tuesday night. School started the next day.

This September, the sluggish contract negotiations have again lead the union’s members to authorize a strike should talks not bear fruit before Wednesday, September 9th’s first day of school. The authorization vote went down Thursday night in Benaroya Hall.

The stakes are higher this time around, according to the Seattle Times:

The Seattle Education Association (SEA) bargaining team proposed a raise of 18 percent over three years, down from the originally proposed 21 percent over the same time period. The increase would be in addition to the state-authorized 3 percent cost-of-living raise to K-12 employees over the next two years, plus an additional temporary 1.8 percent increase that expires in 2017.

Seattle Public Schools has countered with an offer of an 8.2% increase “over the same time period, not including the cost-of-living raise,” the Seattle Times reports.

This spring, teachers in Seattle joined others across the state for a one-day walkout to push for Olympia to increase state funding for the school system and pound out a $1.3 billion education budget.

According to SEA, “the sides remain far apart on”–

  • Professional pay
  • Guaranteed student recess
  • Fair teacher and staff evaluations
  • Workloads for counselors, therapists, school psychologists and other education staff associates
  • Office professional workload relief
  • Reasonable testing
  • Student equity around discipline and the opportunity gap
  • The district’s proposal to make teachers work more for free

Parents probably wouldn’t mind if the two sides could also focus on a longer deal.

On the List | Final days for Darryl Ary show at Vermillion, Labor Day free burgers at Li’l Woody’s, bonus movie in Cal Anderson

Darryl Ary (Image: Vermillion)

Darryl Ary (Image: Vermillion)

If you’re in town this weekend — and not going to Bumbershoot — here are a few ideas for going out and about around Capitol Hill. Happy Labor Day Weekend.

You have through Saturday night to see the exhibition of Capitol Hill street artist Daryl Ary at Vermillion:

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 2.56.21 PMIf you’re a Capitol Hill proper resident, you may have seen Darryl Ary painting outside of the City Market. Few of the new residents are aware that he’s a decorated artist, with Basquiat like tenacity. His perspective is terse and unforgiving; the images are emotionally evocative and speak poignantly to the gentrification of Capitol Hill, the Central District and the Greater Seattle Area. His work will register with any Seattle native. His exhibit is only up for 3 more days, so please don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to see one of Seattle’s rarest gems.

You may recall in August we share a call for Hill folk to share Ary’s works.

Take a jog and make some friends as Fleet Feet hosts a Thursday Pub Run through the streets of Capitol Hill.

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 2.58.01 PMTour the Harvard/Belmont district on a Saturday Rich Life on Capitol Hill walking tour with the Seattle Architecture Foundation.

Saturday, score some used books at great prices at the rescheduled Pistil Books’ Annual Outdoor Book Sale.

And save some room — and a little patience for the long line — as Li’l Woody’s hooks you up once again with a free Labor Day hamburger.

And don’t forget — your Capitol Hill summer is not over — Adventures in Babysitting screens in Cal Anderson Friday night.

(Image: Three Dollar Bill Cinema)

One of the largest crowds ever kicked off Three Dollar’s 2015 summer movie series (Image: Three Dollar Bill Cinema)

For more Labor Day Weekend things to do on and around Capitol Hill or to add your own, check out the CHS Calendar.
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Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce seeks new leader as Wells steps down

Wells at a Capitol Hill candidate debate pitting McGinn vs. Murray (Image: CHS)

Wells at a Capitol Hill candidate debate pitting McGinn vs. Murray (Image: CHS)

With a significant change in its purpose and culture on the rapidly approaching horizon, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce is looking for a new person to represent its more than 300 members.

In a Thursday morning announcement, the business community and advocacy organization said that Michael Wells is leaving the organization after serving as executive director at the nonprofit for five years.

Like our thriving neighborhood, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce continues to evolve. And, today, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce announces Michael Wells, the Chamber’s Executive Director, has decided to leave the organization. Michael’s departure comes after nearly ten years of distinguished service as president of the board and more recently as Executive Director. Michael advanced many of the neighborhood and the organization’s goals and helped strengthen Capitol Hill community by connecting leaders from organizations across the Hill. We are incredibly proud of the work that Michael has done for the neighborhood, and his legacy with this organization will live on.

“Michael will be sorely missed, but with the strength of our partners, our incredible members, and our diverse and representative board, we believe the future is strong, and we look forward to continuing to serve you and Capitol Hill,” the announcement reads. Wells will leave his role at the end of the month, according to the statement from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

The chamber board is currently co-chaired by Jill Cronauer, director of property management at Capitol Hill developer Hunters Capital, and resident representative Meghann Glavin who works at Starbucks.

In a letter accompanying the statement, Wells recalled his days as a Broadway business owner at Bailey Coy Books and the “astonishing decade of change” in the neighborhood.

It’s time to move on.  After over a decade of working for the Capitol Chamber of Commerce – first as a volunteer and the first President of the Board of Directors, then as staff – I’ve decided to pursue other opportunities.  It’s been an astonishing decade of change for me and for Capitol Hill.  As a small business manager and owner (Bailey/Coy Books, R.I.P.), I struggled and celebrated with all of you in the good times and bad as an indie, locally owned business.  And after the closing of the store I made the economic health and prosperity of this neighborhood that I love so very much my work.

Wells tells CHS he is taking time to assess his options before announcing what comes next. Continue reading

With Central District I-502 retail a $1M+ a month business, 15th Ave E pot shop maneuverings play out

The free-play Capitol Hill Family Arcade has to be one of the more peculiar manifestations of Seattle's pot economy (Images:  Capitol Hill Family Arcade)

The free-play Capitol Hill Family Arcade has to be one of the more peculiar manifestations of Seattle’s pot economy (Images: Capitol Hill Family Arcade)

There will not be a pot shop ready for business in time for the 15th Ave E Merchants Association’s 2015 Sidewalk Fest. The ongoing saga of who will open Capitol Hill’s first recreational pot shop has hit a bureaucratic lull. Two competing potreprenuers on 15th Ave E are waiting to obtain licenses from the state as two other businesses in the mix — a third generation cobbler and a punk rock arcade/ice cream shop — await permits from the City.

Ian Eisenberg tells CHS he plans to apply for a new I-502 license next year to open a second Uncle Ike’s pot shop in his building at 15th Ave E and E Republican.

“The more time I spend on 15th, the more I love it,” Eisenberg said. “I really want to open second shop there.”

The 15th Ave E Merchant Association has an interesting year ahead

The 15th Ave E Merchant Association has an interesting year ahead

For now, Eisenberg is operating the Capitol Hill Family Arcade — a business that he says was a quick and fun way to activate the space while he waits to open a pot shop.

But for Sam Burke, an I-502 permit holder who’s attempting to open tok pot shop across the street, the arcade was simply a maneuver to keep his doors shut. Under state zoning regulations, I-502 shops cannot be located within a 1,000-foot buffer of places where children gather, like schools, parks, and arcades (those rules could soon change with new zoning authority available to local municipalities). Continue reading

SPD investigating after shooting victim dropped off at Harborview

Seattle Police are investigating another shooting after a victim was dropped off at First Hill’s Harborview Wednesday night with a gunshot wound to his neck.

The incident followed reports of gunfire in the Central District but police believe the shooting may have been unrelated. A witness told police about a disturbance in North Seattle where the shooting may have taken place, according to SPD radio dispatches.

SPD says the victim suffered a gunshot wound to his neck. A Range Rover delivered the man to the First Hill hospital. Police were interviewing the vehicle’s occupants following the 10:45 PM incident.

The incident is part of a wave of gun violence hitting Seattle this summer. Sunday afternoon, a man suffered serious injuries when he was shot in a reported gunfight outside the Douglass-Truth library near 24th and Yesler.

UPDATE: Earlier in the day, gang unit detectives arrested a 24-year-old felon at 26th and Columbia who unlawfully had a loaded gun in his possession. According to SPD, the man led police on a brief foot chase through the Central District.

Gang Unit detectives were driving near 25th Avenue and E. Jefferson St. around 4:30 PM when they spotted the man walking down the street. When detectives tried to stop the man, who had several warrants for robbery, weapons and Department of Corrections violations, he took off running. Police chased after the man on foot and in patrol cars  and caught up to him at 26th Ave and E. Columbia St.

After arresting the 24-year-old, officers searched the man’s backpack and found a loaded handgun wrapped inside a Seahawks jersey featuring the name of one of the team’s safeties.

Police booked the man–who is a convicted felon and prohibited from handling guns–into the King County Jail for unlawful possession of a firearm and three warrants.

Capitol Hill food+drink | The intriguing Harry’s Fine Foods project

(Image: King County)

(Image: King County)

Neighbors around Bellevue and Mercer received an intriguing land use notice recently:

Land Use Application to change the use of an existing multipurpose retail, sales and service (store) to restaurant.

That existing multipurpose retail, sales and service (store)? That’s Harry’s Fine Foods — or, at least, the two-story building the grocery store called home before clearing out earlier this year.

The restaurant? That’s the most intriguing part.

CHS has learned that one of the biggest behind-the-scene names in Seattle food+drink is behind the Capitol Hill restaurant project involving a secret chef and an ambitious buildout set to transform the old neighborhood bodega into a new culinary destination.

Harry’s Fine Foods, LLC, a company run by real estate broker to Seattle’s food and drink stars, Laura Miller, purchased the property in the summer of 2014 for $560,000 according to county records. Miller “wields great power within Seattle’s close-knit restaurant community because she helps chefs navigate the abstrusely touchy process of securing a restaurant space,” as Seattle Met put it in a profile of the real estate pro last year. We’re not aware of any previous instances (on Capitol Hill, at least), where Miller stepped up and bought a property destined for food and drink transformation. But we also haven’t had a chance to speak with her. The busiest woman in Seattle’s food business can be difficult to connect with. We’ll keep trying. UPDATE: Miller tells CHS the building is the fourth such that she’s developed in Seattle — but first on Capitol Hill.

“It’s just too competitive up there,” the real estate ace said.

Miller said she likes to find candidates to rehab, not tear down. She pointed to a property in Greenwood now home to a Caffe Vita, Blue Bird Ice Cream, and Cornuto as an example.

We did connect with the chef all of this fuss and hullabaloo is about, however. Continue reading

A very Capitol Hill wedding for Rep. Brady Walkinshaw

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(Image courtesy Brady Walkinshaw)

“We share the same core values for a more just society and community, we just work toward it in different ways.”

As marriage equality swept the nation this year, we were treated to a flood of touching images showing older gay couples getting married after spending decades in committed relationships.

But normalcy is the true sign of progress. 43rd District Rep. Brady Walkinshaw met his now husband Micah Horwith six years ago on a blind date at Summit’s Sun Liquor. On August 8th, they got married on Capitol Hill in a ceremony officiated by Ed Murray, Seattle’s first openly gay and Capitol Hill-residing mayor.

“It was incredibly meaningful for someone who has lead so much on the marriage equality fight to officiate the wedding,” said Walkinshaw, who helped work on the campaign along with Horwith.

Walkinshaw, a Whatcom County native who lives on Capitol Hill, took office in 2014 to replace Sen. Jaime Pedersen as he replaced Murray upon his move to City Hall.

Horwith is a marine biologist with the state’s Department of Natural Resources. His dissertation title (because dissertation titles are windows into the soul) was “Plant Behavior and Patch-Level Resilience in the Habitat-Forming Seagrass Zostera marina.”

Politics can be tough for the families of elected officials, but Walkinshaw said his husband is up for the challenge. “We share the same core values for a more just society and community, we just work toward it in different ways,” Walkinshaw said.

While on break from Olympia, Walkinshaw is gearing up for more criminal justice reform in the next session. He told CHS he is working with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office on reducing prisoner reentry.

He’s also hoping to push through a bill held up in the Senate that would make it easier for people coming out of prison to find jobs. The program would allow judges to issue a certificate that proves ex-prisoners have fulfilled the conditions of a sentence.

Earlier this year, the legislature passed two of Walkinshaw’s bills with Capitol Hill ties. Joel’s Law would strengthen involuntarily commitment guidelines for people suffering from mental illness. The bill was inspired by Joel Reuter who died on Capitol Hill in 2013. Walkinshaw’s other bill expanded access to naloxone, a drug that can reverse the deadly effects of a heroin overdose.