Arabica Lounge ‘hanging out place’ comes to Olive Way

Right down the block from the gutted Olive Way Gaybucks brown paper has gone up inside the old Supercuts that closed shop in January. Behind that paper, a lot is happening.

The baby blue carpet has come up to reveal hardwood floors, the white office ceiling has been removed and paint has been stripped from the high windows. And, most recently, the soon-to-open Arabica Lounge logo has gone up on a previously blank wall inside.

People have been asking Arabica owner Jojo Corväiá what the space is going to be after undergoing such dramatic renovations.

“I tell them, it’s gonna be a girl,” he said.

 Corväiá migrated to Seattle from Miami in 2008.

“As soon as I stepped out of the airplane, I felt like this was home,” said Corväiá.

Miami had no independent coffee shops and he was excited to be in Seattle where coffee was such an essential part of the culture. Corväiá wanted in on it but he knew he would have to bring something unique to the table to be successful. The idea took a full year to take shape.

“I thought, why don’t I just put everything I like together?” he said. “The only thing that’s missing is my dog.”

Arabica owner Jojo Corväiá wants his shop to be a place where people can truly lounge. And it’s okay if you fall asleep in the chair, he says.

Arabica will combine simple food, music, good beverages (the lounge will serve coffee and tea as well as beer and wine) and personal interaction with people. There are no large tables at Arabica. They are all either coffee tables or end tables set to the side of cushy chairs and couches. Corväiá said he wanted the lounge to be a place to come for communal eating and drinking, not a place people come to be to isolate themselves. The focus is on the people in front of and around you, though the shop still has wifi for patrons looking for a place to bring their laptops.

Even the front counter is said to offer proof of Corväiá’s commitment to openness and real social interaction. The opening next to the cash register is wide, two people could comfortably pass each other in it, because he wanted his baristas to feel a connection to the customers as well. He is ultimately trying to create a place where both his employees and customers will enjoy spending time.

“When we do something we enjoy, time takes on an entirely different dimension,” he said.

As suggested by the name, Arabica will only offer arabica beans provided by Stumptown, local brews and simple, high quality finger foods. 

For the menu, Corväiá took a cue from some of his favorite European cafes. All of the edibles will be finger foods but not tapas. These are good, simple foods “combined in nice ways.” One of the lounge’s principle sandwiches will be a brie and honey sandwich on artisan bread. It will also offer cheese and fruit plates, prosciutto, pastries warmed to crispy perfection in an oven Corväiá purchased for just that task and his take on the Egyptian dish dükkah, a mix of crushed hazelnuts and spices eaten with bread dipped in olive oil. 

But Corväiá says this is neither a bar, a coffee shop nor a restaurant. Above all, Arabica will be “a hanging out place” where people can relax.

“And if you fall asleep in that chair, it’s totally cool,” he said.

Arabica aims to open by the end of August but Corväiá has a thing for details, so he says it will open when he is ready. The August opening will be a soft opening with a grand opening planned for mid to late September.

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36 thoughts on “Arabica Lounge ‘hanging out place’ comes to Olive Way

  1. Very excited for this. It’s directly on my daily walking route, can’t wait to give it a shot. That whole 2-3 block radius very much lacks a good coffee place.

  2. Sounds like Arabica is going to be rad. This location of the hill is seriously lacking good coffee and a strong artistic vibe. Can’t wait for it to open!

  3. Looks great! but it makes me miss Coffee Messiah. I know it was a hole in the wall, but damn they poured a great espresso (any chance Corväiá could hang a Pee Wee Herman Doll on a cross upside down somewhere?)

  4. Sounds like a GREAT idea however the owners “chill” vibe in this article doesn’t seem like he is focused on the bottom line…I guess what I am trying to say is that this space is probably very expensive if all your serving is coffee and light fare I don’t know how it will survive a Corner of Denny and Olive Rent price. Im not trying to be negative I just hope it makes it off of coffee, beer and wine with the option for people to sit for as long as they want.

  5. I’ve peaked inside and it really is an amazing space. The attention to detail can’t be emphasized enough. Can’t wait to see this place open!

  6. There’s nothing like this on the hill-or in Seattle. It provides a tasteful, comfortable place to connect-with yourself or with friends. Way to go, Jojo!

  7. This sounds like it’s going to be really great! That block has seen its ups and downs – it’s wonderful to hear that icky SuperCuts will be replaced by something earthy, fun and local. I can’t wait to see it. With the new Canoe Social Club going in around the corner (in the former tailor shop by Pretty Parlor), this is going to become a very social row!

  8. I have seen inside this place and talked to Jojo. This place is going to be great. Pretty excited about it opening up. Who doesn’t like amazing coffee and warmed up pastries?

  9. I have a feeling Arabica will put Mc Gaybucks to shame. We can’t wait to see your beautiful space and taste your morsels.
    Please….open soon. We can’t wait.

  10. There are not nearly enough chill yet classy places in this town and this promises to be the mother of comfort and wicked style! Mr. Corvaia is an incredibly great human being and artist with a uniquely exciting esthetic sense and progressive vision. I hear there will be art! I can’t wait to see Arabica take off on it’s adventures into the artistic unknown!!!!

  11. True style, superb taste and humanity are coming to a very wanting corner of Capitol Hill! This neighborhood, if not the entire city, is lucky to add the Corväiá touch to its palette and palate.

  12. We can’t wait for Arabica to open. Jojo is going to do a great job with the place. Maybe he can use some of the found hair on the floor from Supercuts and turn it into an art piece.

  13. I am so excited for the opening day. I can’t wait to see your beautiful space, and I will try to be the first one to try your coffee.

  14. I love the idea of community eating and enjoying food and drink together. It is so nice when you go out alone and find a place like this.

  15. I’ve peeked inside and it looks gorgeous. For all of Seattle’s coffee shops, we actually need a place like this. It reminds me of being in Europe. It’s beautiful. Can’t wait until it opens.

  16. I’m so happy that this shop is going in. It will be perfect for the neighborhood and I’ll be a frequent patron – as I’m only a couple blocks away. Thanks for opening up such a unique “hang out” joint.

  17. From several peeks inside, the place looks simultaneously cozy, sleek, and hip. I’m pretty excited for its opening, This location needs a spot where neighbors can be neighbors sans the corporate logos.

  18. Having been the recipient of Jojo Corvaia’s hospitality in Miami and in Seattle, I am confident Arabica will be a warm space that welcomes smiles, interesting ideas, relaxing moments and nourishment for the soul as well as the tummy! The neighborhood is fortunate to have Arabica in its future!

  19. probably because they are…
    well maybe it’s just the owner’s friends spamming the comments here but still it’s a bit distasteful.

  20. Maybe because not a single commenter is a registered CHS user.

    And of course universal positive commenting is always suspicious.

  21. supposing they’re all phony, the names are ridiculous and someone is not a very good guerilla marketer. If you look at any other post you’ll never see generic top 10 babynames like

    Dan, Justin, Deb, Mike, Alex, Matt, John M., KC, Chris. . . Hill Girl. . .

  22. plus they’re all positive reviews of something that doesn’t yet exist and no public customer has set a foot in. . .

  23. I have been one of the lucky guys who has had the opportunity to dine on JoJo’s cusine…let me tell you it is delicious! I cant wait to have it available in a great atmosphere on the Hill!


  24. Yes, without the opening of this place, where would people in that 2-3 block radius go for coffee, besides Starbucks, B&O, Victrola or Bauhaus?

  25. Capitol Hill, and visitors to Arabica, will surely benefit from Jojo’s vision, skill, and generosity. Can’t wait to partake. Let the lounging begin!

  26. some of capitol hill’s ancient and FAVOURITE institutions don’t even have thirty positive comments. This place isn’t even open and it’s being spammed shills or, likely, himself. This shit is so transparent. What the fack.

  27. I’m super excited for this place to open! Like some of the commenters, I’m a friend of Jojo. In fact, I think everyone who meets Jojo becomes his friend; he’s that kind of guy. I have been invited inside to see how the space has transformed from a Super Cuts into a really rad space. Jojo’s vision truly is based on building community, serving great coffee and food, and having a chill place to lounge on Capital Hill. I’m totally biased, I’ll admit, and even my boyfriend is involved with some of the art. Regardless, after full disclosure of my friendships here, I can say the space is beautiful, Jojo’s attitude and food are inspiring, and Arabica will be a very welcome cafe in the area. Everyone should check it out and decide for themselves.

  28. This is NOT phony!!!!
    Jojo is such a warm, funny, generous person and Arabica will reflect his personality!!!! He IS an amazing cook and the dukkah is to die for!!! Arabica would be a good addition to any neighborhood — hope all enjoy it and the doubters at least give it a shot!!! Princeton sure would benefit from his establishment.

  29. So i have been there twice. The coffee is good and the service is good. I love the location because its super close to my home.

    However the seating is super limited. The chairs are all really low to the ground. I hated the bad posture the seats made me hunch over in. Also the seating arrangement is very limiting. If you are by yourself and just looking to read a book and sip coffee. There are not a lot of choices. There is one green chair that looked descent. But the red chair in the corner is like your being punished for sitting alone, its like no man or woman’s island.. your really on display and only have a small small table that is taken over by a huge lamp.. and its really not comfy chair.. ( )

    There are no hip level tables so you are forced to kinda hunch over in the short chairs.. over the short tables or hold your book at face level to read. IF you were just sitting around talking with friends it could be fun. But even then the chairs might have you leaving sooner than you would like.

    I really want to like this place more because its cute, has good music, good products, and a great staff. But the seating, tables, and comfy factor is a problem.

    I plan to go back and see if perhaps they get better single seating and comfy chairs!!!!! Don’t get me wrong the chairs look cool.. but they are not something you want to hang around… and its a lounge right?

    I want to lounge :)… funny in the article about the place it says, its the kinda place its not a big deal if you were to fall asleep. But i don’t know how that would be possible in those chairs!!

    So Arabica Lounge i want to love you… please get better seating!!!