Capitol Hill food+drink: Spinasse expands, Artusi at side, Skillet’s crazy start, ‘G’ for Grubwich

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  • This Friday will be a peculiar day for Spinasse. The restaurant with perhaps the most consistently coveted seats on Capitol Hill will suddenly have twice as many to fill. CHS visited the new spaces for the expanded Spinasse and its coming-soon little sister, Artusi, last week and found two separate whirls of activity underway at Pine and 14th Ave. The Spinasse expansion showed off to CHS by Jason Stratton is a mirror of the current dining room right down to the re-claimed flooring.

    Artusi’s under-construction bar (Image: CHS)

    When it opens Friday, the second northern wing of Spinasse will adjoin the first through a doorway between the two dining rooms. The new room will become Spinasse’s main entry as Stratton says he has decided to add a host station to help newly arriving guests. Stratton’s goal for the expansion is simple: The new space will make it less likely he’ll have to turn away diners eager to experience Spinasse’s award winning Italian fare. An expanded kitchen also means a better area to showcase the restaurant’s pasta making, a new space dedicated to antipasto preparation and, Stratton was excited to note, a huge walk-in refrigerator that will allow him to keep even more fresh produce on hand.

    Artusi, on the other hand, is something else altogether. The space is connected to the new Spinasse dining room by a ramp but Stratton says he wants Artusi to be its own space. A large center bar made of pattern-burned presswood dominates. A second bar and small kitchen area fills the back along with a secluded section of space for more intimate parties. The menu will be completely independent of Spinasse when it opens sometime the following week, Stratton promises. “It’s an Italian bar,” he said. “It’s not Spinasse.” He says when the former retail space at 14th and Pine became available he decided he didn’t want to try to fill the entire corner block with one giant restaurant. Artusi, Stratton said, will be his opportunity to experiment with creating a neighborhood bar.

  • Another neighborhood culinary experiment had a crazy first weekend. Skillet Diner is off to an amazing start but it’s also been so slammed that the new joint can barely keep up. There was a two-hour “time-out” on Saturday to let the restaurant re-group — and another is scheduled for this afternoon. We heard that Josh Henderson is sleeping on a cot in the office it’s been so busy. It wouldn’t be the first time a hot new Capitol Hill venue had to take a TO. Recall Poquitos shut down its lunch service for a week to re-tool after its debut.
  • When Pita Pit suddenly shut down on Broadway owner Brian Kun’s shop posted a sign instructing: “Watch this space for something awesome!” Well, Kun has been hush hush about it but we can tell you what’s on its way in. The big “G” we saw last week? Stands for Grubwich. Coming soon. UPDATE: Eater Seattle follows with more details: “a sandwich shop, offering a list of eight to 10 specialty sandwiches, hand cut fries, and even ice cream sandwiches.” UPDATE x2: We heard back from Kun, too, confirming the Eater details. “Trying to come in at the lower end of things – don’t want to be a $10 sandwich place – shooting for closer to $6. I’m confident that we’ll be different enough from other places in the neighborhood that we won’t be stepping on any toes,” he wrote.
  • Who was that leading the debate against new laws designed to make Seattle more conducive to street food operators? Rancho Bravo’s owner Freddy Rivas. Turns out, Rivas is finding company in his argument as “street food” backlash begins
  • ‘G’ is for Grubwich (Image: CHS)

    Speaking of street food, this is the kind of stuff that reminds CHS that we’re all living in the future. Pretty cool.

  • Grim’s has a patio. Inappropriate, perhaps, but this *has* been a pretty grim spring, no?
  • A Craving Capitol Hill food tour. $59. Or you could do it yourself. For free.
  • Cheesecake provider The Confectional opens up shop on Broadway on June 4th, they say.
  • CHS advertiser High 5 Pie made it into People magazine.
  • All Pilgrim’s Church is home to Sprout Seattle dinners and, judging by this, they sound very cool.
  • How Yelp gets gamed thanks to Amazon.
  • Elysian launches the ‘Dickipedia’ http://www.elysianbrewing.com/blog/
  • Q&A with man behind coming-soon Capitol Hill distillery Oola
  • Volunteer Park Cafe continues to work its way toward approval of its application for a change of use that will allow it to continue operating as a restaurant. According to the City, VPC owes around $6,800 to pay for fees and work hours associated with its permit. A rep for the cafe says that by the time the process is complete, it will have put more than $50,000 into the application including more than $10,000 in fees to DPD. If the DPD’s decision when it’s finally published is appealed, by the way, we’re told VPC’s costs could end up tripled.

14 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink: Spinasse expands, Artusi at side, Skillet’s crazy start, ‘G’ for Grubwich

  1. Did you actually read what they guy from Rancho Bravo wrote? It would help. He doesn’t oppose street food. He opposes the proposed legislation.

  2. Went on Friday – and despite the crowds, the food was fantastic and the service was better than anyone would expect from such a big opening. Great addition to the neighborhood!

  3. I gotta feel bad for anyone looking to open a new restaurant these days…because the traditional “soft” opening is now essentially impossible in the age of non-stop food and neighborhood blogs, social networks, etc. If you’ve got a buzz built up (as Skillet certainly has) you’re going to be slammed the minute you open the door. Better be ready!

    (Just to be clear, I’m not singling out CHS for doing anything “bad” here…this is a huge phenomenon and if you weren’t covering this beat someone else would.)

  4. My friends tell me they were open Friday and Saturday handing out samples and selling cheesecake! They told me it was a-mazing!

  5. @streetfood

    yes, he opposes legislation that would allow street food on streets and vacant lots; the very same place he’d be had the kfc not shut down. sounds like a load of sour grapes that he got caught in a high priced lease that he likely can’t get out of while better taco trunk perveyors come in and sell decent tacos at lower prices.

    improve your product sir and maybe you’ll survive. this is capitalism and if you can’t handle it then don’t open a business.

  6. I was also there on Friday night around 8:30. it was bumpin’ and the service was better/faster than I expected on opening night. The guy hosting was a hoot and very accommodating for my 86 year old grandma. It was a really great experience.

  7. I agree with the main points here… but anecdotally, I haven’t found a taco truck yet that serves better tacos than Rancho Bravo. I don’t think they’ve got anything to fear, they’ll do just fine.

  8. Hats off to Brian Kun for trying to hit the $6 price point on sandwiches at Grubwich. We all know there’s no shortage of excellent $12-15 sandwiches on CapHill. Creating good ones for $6 will be a great and welcome accomplishment.