Capitol Hill food+drink | Capitol Cider to open in Pike/Pine, 22 Doors back in business?

Early design renderings for the Capitol Cider project (Images: Lu S Design)

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Capitol Cider, far from being a Portlandia-esque fad concept, will be grounded in the agricultural traditions of the region, the 24-year-old first-time pub owner behind the project tells CHS.

“There’s an opportunity to try something, unique and interesting,” Spencer Reilly said. “The only way to experience is to try it. It’s a chance to explore a lost historical beverage.”


Just don’t get into the four to five gallon a month habit of many of our forefathers and foremothers, Reilly says.

Capitol Cider is planned as a giant 6,000 square-foot, two-level, 20-tap bar and bottle shop showcasing a beverage that has grown in popularity along with an explosion in craft cideries and an increasing market for the drink spurred by greater demand for gluten free products.

“I had the idea for a cider pub for almost five years. I lived down in Portland two years ago and a cider bar opened there. It became an amazing center in the city and a great business,” Reilly said.

The plan is to transform the former Featherston Gallery space into an 1,800 square-foot bar and small kitchen at street level and overhaul the 4,000 square-feet below surface into a speakeasy with booths and a gaming room featuring shuffleboard and darts. And, yes, there will be a bottle shop. Not everything is signed on the location, yet, Reilly says, but with a name like Capitol Cider the project is destined for the Hill. The goal is to be open by “early 2013.”

Reilly’s Capitol Cider will be part of a movement. He rattles off cities across the country where cider projects are already established or underway. His bar will be the first such dedicated to the drink in Seattle.

“Drinking fresh cider from the farm is part of our heritage. It’s a traditional American beverage,” Reilly said. “There’s a culture of cider in almost every small orchard town.”

Where the growth of the craft cocktail phenomenon lead by joints like Knee High and Canon is based in connection to the roots of the cosmopolitan city, the cider connection appears to be rural. Call it Capitol Hill grange or Pike/Pike hickster, you might look at the birth of a cider bar on the Hill as another variant of our connoisseur-ial adoption of the things that have been around for a long timeTM. Only, in this case, the connection is with the small towns many of us call home — either in the places we were born or in our secret small, grubby hideways we run off to for a sunny weekend away from the city.

Reilly says he does not want to create a fad bar.

“My ideal bar is a place for everyone,” he said. “I don’t want it to be the thing that is in the New York Times but nobody [in Seattle] goes.”

He also has good reasons for keeping the place gluten free. “One, I eat gluten free so there’s that,” Reilly said. “Two, it lets us stand out a little bit. And it might open eyes about what gluten free means. Hopefully it becomes a cool place for people to eat.”

Seattle Met, who broke the news on the new project, tallies the numbers:

Cider will flow from 20-ish taps; plans call for more than 100 varieties of cider and at least 70 meads, a wine made with honey. Reilly also promises beer (including plenty of sours), apple wine and brandy, and traditional wine and spirits. The inspiration dates back to Reilly’s travels to England and Spain starting in 2000, back when he became enthralled with good ciders, only to return home and realize that hard cider in the U.S. generally came with a woodchuck on the label.

As the Denny Blaine resident takes on “building his dream,” Reilly will have help from friends — Jordan Sinclair brings the food and drink experience — and family — Reilly’s mother Julie Tall is an interior designer and has provided the design vision for the space. She’s also president of the board at Capitol Hill’s Gage Academy of Art.

The goal is to create a new gathering space in the middle of Pike/Pine’s burgeoning food and drink economy, build a business out of it and, yes, further the cider movement.

“I want to create a neighborhood pub that tries to expose people to cider,” Reilly said. “Tons of places in town are starting to get cider. People like it and want to continue to learn about it. I want to be a part of that.”

We wrote about a planned “remodel” of the restaurant in July. Quick peek in the windows reveals a rather, um, subtle makeover. We do approve of the (possible?) return of the 22 Doors name, though.

But at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, the Eucharist bread is made in the church’s basement kitchen. Five volunteers gather monthly to to bake the 80 loaves the church needs for four Sunday’s worth of services.

 

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19 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Capitol Cider to open in Pike/Pine, 22 Doors back in business?

  1. So someone else is handling the food and drink; Mom is designing the space (and likely fronting a chunk of the capital) – what’s the kid doing?

    I guess we’ve fully completed the circle in the trustafarianization of Capitol Hill. (or maybe its the Williamsburginization?)

  2. hehe.. my thoughts exactly. pretty young to develop a taste for cider. will be cool to have a place with ciders, mead, and more exotic beer styles, but a speak easy downstairs. really? in 2012?!

  3. On the other hand, I guess the Po Dog folks have shown that you can run a successful food & drink empire in this town having little more than some Vegas sizzle and not need much substance. (see Po Dog, see Grimm’s, see “Insert Cheezy Bar for the 20-something set”) – except, I guess, until you hit the wall when substance is required. (see Manhattan Drug)

  4. I’m really tired of hearing about the gluten-free fad. Studies have shown that only a relatively small percentage of those claiming gluten-sensitivity are, in fact, sensitive. It has become a multi-billion dollar business as more and more food producers jump on this bandwagon.

    Why are people such sheep?

  5. I love cider, but gonna hate on a place that is opening up to cater to exactly me! Makes tons of sense there guy!

    Real happy to hear this place is opening, been dreaming about a bar like this in my head for a long time since beer went out the window as an option.

  6. I’m real tired of people complaining about stuff that affects them in no way whatsoever just so they have something to bitch about, like the “gluten free fad” that you clearly no nothing about.

    Is someone force feeding you gluten free food? Are gluten-full products losing shelf space because of this “fad”? Is your favorite restaurant now only doing gf versions of your favorites? No? Shocking!

  7. Aren’t there enough bars that worship at the alter of bread? Is it too much to ask for ONE restaurant in Seattle that us “fad dieters” not be poisoned?oh right, mind over matter, those stomach pains and IBS are all in your head. Shut up and be thankful for your poison.

  8. I know! Damn corn, potatoes, rice, every type of land and sea protein/every vegetable in the store is gluten-free! We need to get rid of all these none-bread items, as everyone knows bread is the only food humans can digest. And no butter! That fucker is gluten-free as well.

  9. Mike,

    Are those all gluten-free? I didn’t know.

    Allow me to clarify. I was referring to all of the gluten-free products that taste like chalk taking up shelf space.

  10. lol: Are you by any chance on a gluten-free diet? (lol).

    Are you denying the medical studies which show that most people who claim to be gluten-sensitive are self-diagnosed and are, in fact, not sensitive?

    Remember the “low-carb” diet of a few years back? That was a very popular fad too, and has gone the way of the Dodo bird, as most fad diets do. The same thing will happen with “gluten-free.”