Travelers making way for gaming cafe on E Pine

Travelers will be leaving E Pine after more than 14 years (Image: CHS)

The writing has been on the wall. On a sign. Above E Pine. Capitol Hill institution Travelers Tea Co. has lived its recent life under a “for lease” advertisement for more than a year. CHS has learned that the time has come for change. Eric Logan of E Pike’s Gamma Ray Games says he will open a new gaming cafe in the Travelers location by mid-August.

“We tried to find a unique space and I decided to jump now before too many others realize what an opportunity this is,” Logan said.


Across the street, the new Terravita apartments and retail spaces are finishing construction. Once a key restaurant tenant falls into place, the smaller spaces will likely fill in, too. Logan’s space on E Pine is secure.

For Travelers, the change comes as fans of the funky provider of thali, chai and good karma have rallied to raise money to help cover medical expenses for one of the cafe’s owners — and one year from our news that the boutique, market and cafe was branching out to Beacon Hill in a bid to start a second location as things became uncertain with their new landlord on E Pine, Ron Amundson

With the “for lease” sign above his head, Travelers owner Allen Kornmesser continued on in the location his business has called home since 1998. Now the days for Travelers on E Pine are officially numbered.

We’ve reached out to Travelers management for more information on the situation but our messages have not yet been returned.

On Tuesday, CHS reported that another of Capitol Hill funkier cafes, Faire on E Olive Way, was also going out of business.

The new gaming cafe will be an offshoot of the original Gamma Ray Games. The store will continue to operate as a retailer of strategy and board games on E Pike but use of its upstairs gaming space will shift over to the new E Pine cafe where Logan is planning things to be very bright and the music, quiet.

Game nights at other area bars and restaurants will also be absorbed by the new cafe.

Inside Gamma Ray (Image: Gamma Ray Games)

Logan, who readily admits he has zero restaurant experience, hopes the menu will be affordable and provide variety for regular gamers who sometimes spend multiple nights a week doing battle with dice, cards and plastic game pieces. Beer and wine will be served. Requests from gamers for a full bar are being considered but are probably not likely. Food will be served on — literrally — small plates to maximize play space at tables.

“The cafe will be basically be a large play space,” Logan said.

He’s still noodling on names. Could be The Raygun Cafe. Could be Game Bar. The plan is to be open by mid-August following an overhaul of the space and just in time for the cafe to host its first big event planned around the start of this year’s Penny Arcade Expo.

“Our three year anniversary is June 15th,” Logan said of biting off the new project. “We’re ready. The first year we had no idea how it was going to go. The second year was going well but we were like ‘We don’t want to risk it.'”

Confidence gained in those three years plus a wave of successful ventures with similar models including Ballard’s Mox Cafe have convinced Logan that he’s ready to advance his Capitol Hill born and bred business to a new space on the board.

“This is yet again a bold risk,” Logan said. “I know as little about opening a cafe as I did about opening a store”

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42 thoughts on “Travelers making way for gaming cafe on E Pine

  1. Nooooooooo this is AWFUL news. First B&O, then Bauhaus, now Travelers? Nothing is going to be left of the neighbourhood I loved, at this point.

    A gaming cafe?? A big “play space” with beer and wine and minimal food? Great, that’s going to be basically another bar, and we already have PLENTY of those.

  2. Oh no. I am so sad to see this go, although the writing has very clearly been on the wall for ages. Lovely, delicious, individual, unfashionable and slightly shambolic Travellers has no place in the bright new yuppie future of Capitol Hill. I will miss them and try to make more effort to get to the Beacon Hill location.

  3. I love Travelers and seeing them go is incredibly sad but at the same time I love Gamma Ray Games. They had the first game store that didn’t make me feel like I was shopping for my Catan fix in someone’s basement. I’m excited to see what they can do with the space and I have high hopes that it will be a bright, clean, welcoming place. Plus, it would be fantastic to not have my friends sitting uncomfortably on my tiny living room floor while we play games.

  4. Travelers was decent but they didn’t serve any MEAT so I never went there. I do play games and drink beer however and Gamma Ray is awesome.

  5. between yesterday’s announcement about Faire (and rumor about the Living Room?) and this, Capitol Hill just got a little less (ok a lot) less interesting. sob.

  6. Traveler’s hands down makes the best chai. I go there frequently to pick up the spice/tea packets to make at home — it makes your house smell AWESOME while it’s brewing. They also had super cheap lunch.

    What a shame.

  7. Eric does a great job at Gamma Ray Games. Over the years he has introduced me and my friends to a lot of great board games – he and his staff are knowledgeable, friendly, and always have great recommendations. For anyone thinking Monopoly or Risk when you think of board games, please visit Eric’s store – there are board games out there that provide an absolutely wonderful evening of entertainment.

    In the cafe arena it would be cool if they served Taiwanese food at the gaming cafe. For inspiration, please try “Hard Wok Cafe” on 12th and Jackson in the ID. Bubble Tea, pork stew on rice, and other small plate Taiwanese treats would be the perfect combination for a gaming cafe.

  8. I am sad to see Traveler’s Capitol Hill shop leave the Pike-Pine Corridor, as it is one of my most favourite spaces in Seattle. Luckily, Traveler’s lives on at the Thali House & Chai Lounge (beer & wine, y’all!) on Beacon Hill. May they live long & prosper!

  9. That’s a shame, Traveler’s is suh a welcoming, delicious little place. It doesn’t surprise me, reading that Ron Amundsen is the new landlord. I lived in one of his buildings above Ballet restaurant and he is by far the worst, heartless, greediest slumlords I have ever encountered in the three states I’ve lived in. I wish the owners the best of luck!

  10. Could you sound a bit more pretentious. It’s everybody’s neighbOrhood. And really there aren’t (m)any bars in that area. I’m not a big fan of a nerd-mecca either, but it beats an empty building.

  11. All of you (myself included) bitch and moan about another thai/sushi/pizza place going in, yet you’re complaining about a locally owned business replacing a failed locally owned business. I wasn’t a huge fan of Travelers but I could see the allure to some people. Though if all of you loved it, and it was such a great place…why did it fail? Shit, I’ve known they were in trouble for the last year (as I’m sure all of you have) and yet I would bet 95% of you didn’t step your patronage up in an effort to save it. Everybody loves something when it’s leaving, nobody wants to love it when it’s here. As the late great Biggie Smalls once sung: “YOU’RE NOBODY, TILL SOMEBODY KILLS YOU.”

  12. Haha, touche. I’m not saying I’m not a nerd. Just a different kind of nerd. I have a lot of friends that game and they call themselves nerds. It is what it is…

  13. I did like going to the Capitol Hill Travelers but once I started going to the cafe on Beacon Hill, I didn’t bother going back to the hill outpost, charming as it is.

    The Beacon Hill Cafe is truly an awesome spot. Its in an old house, the service is excellent, the thalis feel like they are no longer an afterthought, but the main event, and always delicious and seasonal. The cafe is mellow, with wood floors and good music. Its the kind of place you feel very comfortable eating by yourself with a good book. And the price is fantastic.

    I urge everyone to go check it out.

  14. I’m going to miss Traveller’s too – excellent cheap meal, a nother Capitol Hill institution falls by the wayside. You can buy organic spices in bulk at 16th and Madison: Central Coop (Madison Market.) Excellent selection, and they won’t smell like incense!

  15. it’s not a chain retailer moving in! Sheesh people, let’s give the new biz a chance before we get all up in arms about it. And thankfully Travelers isn’t completely disappearing, they’re still operating in Beacon Hill (even if it’s out of the way now).

  16. It’s actually not that easy to find bars to game in. They tend to be too loud, or the tables are too small. It’s a pity that Travelers is leaving, but as others have pointed out, the writing’s been on the wall for awhile. At least we’re getting a local Capitol Hill business moving in & I wish them the best of luck. Though I hope he thinks on names a bit longer – Gamma Ray Games is good, but I don’t care for Raygun Cafe (doesn’t imply games) or Game Bar (too nondescript).

  17. as the owner of TRAVELERS, I heard it here first! We haven’t been told a thing. There has been no notification from our landlord. But he usually keeps us in the dark. For the moment, at least, we are still up and running. We love you all, and value your support. Keep coming in! – Allen

  18. Its very sad that facebook had to tell us that we were losing our space. The owners of travelers have not been notified that the landlord has rented it at all ,let alone in that short of time :(((((((.

  19. I get the impression that his property owner, Amundson, doesn’t really care too much about the neighborhood. Isn’t he the owner looking for higher paying tenants to replace Ballet on Pike? And doesn’t he own the derelict building next door to that occupied by Lobby Bar and The Comet? The guy just seems to maintain his properties in shabby condition while at the same time trying to find high rent-paying tenants.

  20. Allen, are you being evicted by the landlord? ….and, if so, why? Is your business there truly “failing” and therefore it’s your choice to close? Or is there an increasing rent issue that makes it unaffordable for you?

    Your statement implies that this closure is being forced upon you by the landlord. Please tell us the back story. Thanks!

  21. I rented an apartment above Ballet from Amundsen a few years ago, and I cannot begin to describe how terrible it was. He had an on-site alcoholic ‘manager’ who, upon being fired, hadn’t had electricity in his apartment for almost two years. There were cockroaches, a threat from the city to turn the building’s water off because the bills weren’t paid, and junkies shooting up in the hallway. There was garbage lining the hallways until my friend/neighbor emptied it out herself. The drunkard managed to keep Amundsen away, threatening tenants with raised rent. Ron finally decided to check on his apartments. The on-site was let go the same month I moved out (they even had to have cops physically evict him), and since he’d never sent my lease to Amundsen I never got my deposit back, nor a receipt of charges which is legally required. The same friend/neighbor had to have him served just to get her deposit back, as Ron would not respond to her despite various e-mails, phone calls and mailings. I just gave up, glad to be out of there.

    I digress; no, he does not seem to be a kindly building owner, but perhaps I’m biased.

  22. I just thought of something… if the owner of Gamma Ray isn’t sure what kind of food they’ll be serving at this new venture — why not collaborate with Travelers and continue selling their food there?

  23. Wouldn’t it be great if Eric could negotiate a deal with Allen to provide ingredients and instructions so that he could sell the exact same Travelers chai in the new gaming cafe? A sizable percentage of the gaming crowd doesn’t care for wine or beer and there’s clearly an existing market for chai.

    (Pro tip: You have to include some black tea; you don’t just pour hot water over chai spices like they do at Cafe Arabica…)

  24. > And doesn’t he own the derelict building next door to that occupied by Lobby Bar and The Comet?

    Doesn’t appear to be – you can check owner and taxroll information for buildings in King Cuonty online at http://gismaps.kingcounty.gov/parcelviewer2/ – zoom in and click on the property for details. The Comet building (originally the Bluff aparments) have a different owner.

  25. Usurping the location one of Capitol Hills most beloved and unique emporiums is certainly not going to win Gamma any friends. I guess they are getting the landlord they deserve. I’m a gamer, but I know I will NEVER darken their door anymore after this.

    Fairwell Travelers, you were just too good for this cruel world.

  26. Is this the total space or just the restaurant portion of Travelers? I heard Le Frock was once interested in the corner space. That would have been cool. Sounds like a difficult landlord tho.