Capitol Hill food+drink | Wandering Goose raises funds from the flock, Li’l Woody flips free burgers

Heather Earnhardt is taking a slightly unusual path to build The Wandering Goose (Image: CHS)

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  • In a new era enabled by technological ubiquity and a healthy skepticism about old ways of starting a business, Heather Earnhardt is putting financial faith into the community she loves — and that loves her (biscuits) back.

Her goal is to create a home for The Wandering Goose on 15th Ave E by depending on the very customers that have come to love her work over the years in Seattle and most recently at Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park Cafe.

“I love the idea that the future Wandering Goose customers, (a lot of them already know me and what I did with VPC), people that I have trusted relationships with, can help to fund the business by prepaying what they intend to buy in the future! What an amazing concept!” Earnhardt said of The Wandering Goose Founders’ Club.


Under construction, aiming for June (Image: The Wandering Goose on Facebook)

“While helping to put something unique and beautiful in their own neighborhood, when the doors to The Wandering Goose open it will be because of them,” she said.

Those doors and the buildout creating two new food and drink spaces around them won’t come cheaply. Earnhardt must raise more than $200,000 to get the Goose off the ground. She has a traditional investor involved for a portion of that and Dani Cone of High 5 Pie and Fuel Coffee is also in the mix. But the rest, Earnhardt hopes, will come from neighbors, friends and long-time customers.

The concept of a founders’ club is based on getting customers involved in the business early — before the first biscuit comes out of the oven. For most of us, it is, for all intents and purposes, the process of raising capital by selling gift cards with a built-in bonus. In the case of the Goose, founders will gain 25% for their investment. So, if you put in $1,000 today, you’ll gain $1,250 in value at the Wandering Goose doled out in $100 monthly increments until your value has been returned. For those that buy in above 5 grand, there are exclusive perks including private dinner parties, baking classes, and your own personal founder’s layer cake.

You can imagine the challenges faced in trying to find people to step up to that level of support. But you might also imagine a few families in the area doing the math and taking Earnhardt up on her offer. It’s a route Skelly and the Bean recently used to open its doors on 10th Ave E and it’s a path you’re likely to see more and more as payment systems and online services ease the ability to scale out founders’ programs.

Beyond the utilitarian calculation of value, there’s also the excitement of adding a new morning destination to your neighborhood. We’ve posted a sneak of the menu preview provided by Earnhardt to prospective founders. You get a peek at the biscuit sandwich page. You can also expect a BYOB “build your own biscuit” menu as well a breakfast offerings like grits and grillades and house salads. While envisioned mostly as a breakfast and cafe joint, Earnhardt says she is also toying with the idea of adding special dinner menus to the Goose’s offerings.

We first told you about the bakery and cafe involving an all-star cast of Capitol Hill food+drink mavens back in January. Ethan Stowell’s participation has been cemented since we talked to him in March before the paperwork had been signed. On one side of the under-construction re-working of the old Tilden Gift Shop (and one-time Piggly Wiggly) will be Earnhardt’s The Wandering Goose, described as a “thirty seat Southern influence cafe in the heart of Seattle’s North Capitol Hill neighborhood.” Neighboring and separated only by a wall of a “demising wall” of “vintage leaded glass” will be Stowell’s more secretive production. We weaseled it out of him in March that the space was being planned as a trattoria. “The idea is to be more sit down with a full bar program and a more involved menu,” Stowell said at the time. “There will be some viewing between the two spaces, some cross marketing, some crossing over of energy.” On the paperwork, he lists the company name as Fifth Quarter, LLC, by the way.

There’s no word of a founders’ club for Stowell who already operates restaurants in Seattle including Capitol Hill’s Anchovies & Olives and Staple and Fancy in Ballard. The latter’s symbiosis with The Walrus and the Carpenter is a similar model for what to expect in the physical space, at least, on 15th Ave E.

In addition to turning to a founders club to fund her cafe, Earnhardt is also taking a route-less-trafficked to getting the place built. While Stowell’s side is being built out by the larger, more established Dovetail (a CHS advertiser), Earnhardt went with the “little guy.” Dolan Construction also finished High 5 Pie and Little Water Cantina so they’re not totally green. And, apparently, they’re a handsome bunch. “They guys are all super cute, super fast and have been working with me every step of the way to save money and still make The Wandering Goose look beautiful,” Earnhardt said. “These guys rock.”

To get involved and learn more, check out thewanderinggoose.com.

  • No Facebook link for you. No Twitter. Just a big vinyl banner. And hundreds of windshield wiper flyers in the neighborhood. 15th Ave’s Samui Thai is now The Patio. Also Thai. New owners.
  • Hey, it’s still Beer Week.
  • Crumble & Flake’s consistently sold-out-by-11a debut makes CHS think one thing: You other Capitol Hill bakery types are doing it wrong.

    The C&F line. Thanks for the pic, Sherwin!

  • A new Mexican restaurant with long-time Eastside roots is destined for E Pine. Meanwhile, Tango is about to spin out a rum bar on Pike. We set the stage for both, here.
  • Splurge. You’ll have a little extra in your HAMBURGER budget this month thanks to Li’l Woody’s celebration of National Hamburger Day on May 28th. But you’ll have to pay for any toppings:

“It’s National Hamburger Day, not National Cheeseburger Day,” Lalario explained.  “You can add cheese, or anything else on the menu, but you have to pay for it.”

Anyhow, free burgers at Li’l Woody’s on the 28th, 2-5p. One burger per person, piggy. Inconveniently, Free Fry Friday at Pike St. Fish Fry is this week.

  • 95 Slide is nearing home plate. We told you about Marcus Lalario’s sports bar here back in March.
  • Three of Seattle’s four happiest bar tenders do their thing on Capitol Hill.
  • Central Co-op is adding spirits to its E Madison offerings. We reported in April that the co-op was weighing the matter. State’s liquor biz goes private starting June 1.
  • The empty retail space left behind in the Odd Fellows Building won’t be put to use anytime soon by Molly Moon’s, the ice cream shop now says.
  • After getting slammed by the Stranger, Zoe doesn’t have an easy go of it with the Seattle Weekly, either: “At a tauter restaurant, polysyllabic descriptors might well be harbingers of blissful dishes that couldn’t possibly be conveyed in simpler terms. But when a celery-root soup with Dungeness crab and pumpkin-seed pistou turns out to be a cream-sodden, ocherous puddle with a faint curry flavor, it’s clear the million-dollar words amount to little more than sound and fury.”
  • Healeo says:

We feel obligated to help the citizens of North Carolina who as of yesterday live in a state where discrimination is part of their state constitution.

100% off all profits from today, Tuesday, & Wednesday will go to LGBT youth services in North Carolina. I will then personally match that donation.

If there are any other businesses that want to join please do.

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20 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Wandering Goose raises funds from the flock, Li’l Woody flips free burgers

  1. OMG the fried chicken and greens…I WANT TO GO TO THERE.

    I am not getting the Zoe hate. I went a month ago and thought the food, service, and setup were all fantastic, and I say that as a fan from their old location. Not that I’ve ever lent much credence to what Hanna Raskin has to say.

  2. we love the idea of another great restaurant on 15th, but would love some Gluten-Free options and healthier fare…. since the days of Gravity Bar on Broadway, the Cap HIll neighborhood has been sorely lacking a healthy, organic, G-free restaurant…. im sure Heather can whip something delisch up for those of us that wanna keep it clean and healthy!

  3. Meh, not a fan of Kingfish although their drinks are good and the women that work there are all beautiful. IMHO Ezells still has the best fried chicken and probably the cheapest as well. I find Ma’ona fried chicken to be too greasy and overbreaded.

  4. I can see the Wandering Goose being a good investment. 15th is ripe for better dining options, this is probably just the beginning. We got an invite to the Corson Building dinner but were out of town. After reading your post on what she is offering I think I will look into contributing.

  5. they can, but just because something has gluten doesn’t mean it’s not ‘clean and healthy’ – we’re not all digestionally challenged.

  6. So sad they’re closed, where will I find delicious Ba Me Hang now? Their Tom Ka was ambrosial, too. Such a shame Jamjuree doesn’t have better food, for all the business they do.

  7. Jamjuree has fabulous food, that’s why they have tons of business! They are also a locally-owned-family run business that is unbelievably generous and community minded.

  8. You want fried chicken, prayers answered!
    Heather’s new place, aka: The Wandering Goose is going to have it and it’s fabulous! I tried it two weeks ago at the Corson building tasting party. I also tried the Mac and Cheese and biscuits and “bob’s last meal” chocolate cake.
    It’s all very good. Very, very good. And definitely not Gluten Free, Fat Free or vegan.
    (Isn’t there a vegan or gluten-free option on 15th already? Sage Cafe? Also Remedy Tea has stuff for those in need.)

  9. Want money? This is America. Get it the way everyone else gets it: paying a real return commensurate with risk and put it in writing.

  10. I call moron.

    This is America. Where banks are incompetent and financial markets are poorly regulated casinos. (Thanks to the economic policy ideas of conservatives like yourself.) US banks are in the business of taking free money from the government and gambling it at the casino. Not making loans to small businesses with said free money to create job growth. If you weren’t a moron you may have noticed this.

    You also may have noticed, Heather is offering a clear return on investment. A return people not stuck at the mental age of two can decide to take or leave.

    Further, you may have noticed other much loved small businesses have used such schemes to get started, thanks to our non-lending banks. (Hint: the reporter tried to make it easy for you by mentioning one in the story.) Oh, and while you are doling out superlative investment advice and chest thumping know-nothing bon mots about what The Real ‘Murica and business are, you may want to check out a little site called Kickstarter.

  11. Gluten sensitivity is real, but it has become the “medical problem of choice”(aka a “food fad”) for those that really don’t have it. Most people who claim this problem are self-diagnosed, as opposed to a real diagnosis from a physician, which is actually pretty simple to confirm.

    I’m really sick of hearing from people who claim various food-related sensitivities. It’s very boring and self-aggrandizing.

  12. I do not get why so many startup businesses are soliciting funds from individuals. Are business loans no longer available from banks? What about the federal Small Business Administration, which has been a source of funds for decades?

    As promising as the Wandering Goose sounds, I would be extremely reluctant to invest in this scheme. Many restaurants fail after only a year or two, and investors are left holding the bag.

  13. In my opinion, Hanna Raskin is an excellent food critic…she tells it like is and doesn’t pull punches. She’s a welcome relief after the previous Weekly critic, who only talked about himself and not the restaurant.

  14. The owner turns her chin up to anyone who doesn’t look like her customer base. Bad vibes. I was interested in donating until she wouldn’t look me in the eye. Let this be a lesson to seattlites: learn eye contact.