McDonald’s is coming to Capitol Hill – but there will be no Chicken McNuggets in Pike/Pine

We have some good news for a group of Pike/Pine business and land owners ready to fight to keep an international fast food conglomerate out of the neighborhood.

“There will be no Chicken Mcnuggets at 10th and Union,” Kya Aatai of Seawest Investment Associates tells CHS.

The developer behind the 10th and Union mixed-use apartment building Thursday called word that a McDonald’s fast-food outlet was destined for his building “a crazy rumor.”


CHS has been receiving tips on the global burger slinger coming to Capitol Hill since summer. Apparently Ronald McDonald is rather conspicuous about his interest in the Hill. The rumors reached Big Mac proportions this week with one business owner telling CHS he and others were ready to oppose the fast-food restaurant opening at 10th and Union.

The future 10th and Union. Not married, by the way

But Aatai’s six-story, 79-unit apartment building with heavy commercial square-footage is still a long way from completion and, at this point, talks with interested commercial tenants — mostly food and drink, Aatai says — are in only early stages. McDonald’s is not on the list.

That doesn’t mean Capitol Hill won’t get its first set of Golden ArchesTM in 2013. People familiar with the project say the worldwide burger king may have its french-fried heart set on Broadway.

Joe Klarman, handling commercial leases on behalf of Russell Jones Real Estate for Broadway’s new The Lyric apartment building, said the only businesses signed for the spaces at this time are Einstein Brothers and Bank of America.

“A myriad of other companies, some big, some small are looking,” he said. “We’re not close enough to comment on any of them.”

Broadway’s new The Lyric could be home to Capitol Hill’s new McDonald’s (Image: CHS)

Klarman said most of the interest in the remaining Broadway frontage on the south end of the building has been from restaurants. The Thomas commercial side of the building has drawn interest from retail and fitness focused businesses, he said. We talked to Klarman about the project’s commercial prospects earlier this year. The building will open to residents in November.

McDonald has not confirmed its interest in Broadway or Pike/Pine or both or neither. The company has not yet responded to our inquiry. Its closest locations are on First Hill and downtown at 3rd and Pine and on 5th Ave.

Meanwhile, Capitol Hill has developed a burger economy of its own in recent years. Marked by the arrival of Blue Moon, 8oz Burger Bar and Li’l Woody’s, the neighborhood suddenly finds itself very well provided for on the hamburger end of the party people food + drink pyramid. And there is more to come.

Pike/Pine’s developments moving into construction phases will undoubtedly bring more rumors — and more concern to a neighborhood that has branded its business ventures with an emphasis on independence and local. CHS reported on another rumor that spread rapidly thanks to a marketing survey asking about a possible grocery store at 11th and Pine. Brace yourself for more. Pushing back on big chains has been done in places like San Francisco’s Mission District. But even the Mission has a McDonald’s.

Capitol Hill, on the other hand, has been rough on global chains lately — especially in the food and drink space. The coffee end of things suffered two dings in recent weeks — Peet’s Coffee announced it would shutter its Broadway location while the re-organizing Tully’s chain abandoned its Pike at Broadway outlet last month. We’ve also processed a Taco Bell, a KFC, a Jack in the Box and two Burger Kings in recent memory plus a few you might forget like Boston Market, Sizzler and a Skipper’s. Global chains will come and go with some replacing themselves. But, apparently, not at 10th and Union.

The old Broadway Taco Bell, now buried deep ‘neath the Joule (Image: Ella Li via Facebook)

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52 thoughts on “McDonald’s is coming to Capitol Hill – but there will be no Chicken McNuggets in Pike/Pine

  1. I don’t know how well a sonic drive-in would work on the hill; we have enough cars. But I sure would like one. I’d be happy with a Jack In The Box or Wendy’s tho. Def not a McD’s.

  2. Activism against legitimate retail tenants is absolutely ridiculous. There’s no reason a McDonald’s shouldn’t open up in every neighborhood that McDonald’s wants to open up in. If you don’t like McDonald’s, don’t spend your money there, it’s that simple! :-)

    It reminds me of the vocal activists who were fighting a McDonald’s location at SeaTac Airport recently. McDonald’s offered to lease some unleased space and pay millions of (much needed) dollars to the Port of Seattle as well as create dozens of much needed jobs, and some smug activists had the gall to oppose it. Luckily, the Port changed its mind and is allowing the McDonald’s at SeaTac to go ahead.

  3. I agree – market forces will carry the day. If people want to go to McDonalds, then let them. If they don’t, then they’ll spend their money elsewhere and McD’s will close up shop. I know I would much rather spend my money at Lil’ Woody’s.

  4. I think it’s ridiculous to push back on big chains but to have Starbucks, Panera, Bank of America, Einsteins, etc here/coming in. I say let the residents choose – let’s either push back all big chains and be a neighborhood that supports the small and independent businesses or be open to all commerce that brings money and people up to the hill. None of this we’re against big chains except the ones we like to patronize.

  5. Sonic could be a walk-in store–it doesn’t have to be a drive-in. Or it would be nice to have Kidd Valley back in the neighborhood. Or an In-and-Out Burger, or a Fatburger. I get that people don’t want Broadway to turn into a strip mall, but I’ve never understood this insane, rabid animosity toward chains.

  6. @Jimbo

    Chains are pretty much the enemy of local distinctiveness. Do you value character, or do you long for a world where everything is the same, everywhere you go? I’m not judging your preference, but that’s where the animosity comes from. Some people would prefer their neighborhoods maintain some semblance of individuality.

    More critically, though, they are the generally enemy of local living. Developers are trying to paint those of us with skepticism of their mixed-use projects as against density, but that’s just not the case. Capitol Hill is already dense. However, if we keep building high-rent buildings that only add minimum wage jobs in their retail space, we’re creating a scenario wherein the only people can afford to live on the hill will most certainly not be working here.

    This is tangentially related to one of the very same reasons people are wary of the apodment infestation. Nobody here is really against density or cheap rent. Apodments are raising the bar of what ‘affordable’ actually means and pushing out the people that actually work on the hill.

    These developers are trying to paint this picture that they’re champions of density and urban living, and creating jobs, but they’re only contributing to commuter culture. Frankly, I would guess that many people with animosity toward these developments are concerned that current development trends are leading to an eventuality that they’ll be priced out of their homes.

    I know this is probably a little bit of a long-winded response to your possibly rhetorical question, but it doesn’t really seem like anybody is willing to plainly call out these developers for what they’re really doing.

  7. I’m not particularly averse to Jack in the Box. Their menu is certainly more diverse than most of the big chains, and I must confess to a morbid attraction for their perfectly disgusting little tacos…. BUT, what IS it about JitB, they always have the trashiest crowd around them, even in nicer locations? I’m not sure I’d like another one on CapHill.

    Now In-and-Out Burger— that’s another story.

  8. Be sure and tell us when you’ve secured your new property and lined up all the funding for it. I can’t wait to see all the great local-based business you’ll be renting to in YOUR development.

  9. Capitol Hill’s character and soul are long dead. Sold to yuppie East Side realtors for a buck and replaced with ugly ugly condos and cookie cutter Asian restaurants. The artsy, independent, local vibe that made Capitol Hill what is was is gone. Just another boring suburban neighborhood more interested in catering to tourists and hate mongering yuppies. Locals be damned! So why not bring in a McDonalds? The new Capitol Hill is all about being a sheep and following the crowd, and that crowd in America is a bunch of fat asses who are so fat they need scooters to get around. So let’s start with McDonalds. Then we can build a WalMart in place of Cafe Vita and Big Marios for all the anti-gay fat asses to roll their scooters to. Then we can tear down Neighbors and put up a bunch of military recruitment offices because we love murdering for oil now that we’re like everyone else. Yea!!! Let’s be like everyone else!! Long live cookie cutter preppy sheep who love hate crimes and blubber!!

  10. 1. it’s not ‘activism’ to simply oppose the presence of a business practice. there are no legal rights afforded to fast food businesses allowing them to set up shop wherever they choose. someone has to lease to them. fast food presence (or a lack thereof) reflects local forces (again, or, lack thereof), and social pressures really do matter and make the difference.

    2. claiming ‘legitimacy’ is a non sequitur.

    3. opposing specific business practices is in no way ridiculous. in fact, doing so is a genuine exercise in civil liberty. what could be more american that having a voice and being heard? what’s more important than participating in the shaping of one’s community?!

    if you genuinely feel that a neighborhood based social opposition to commercial fast-food presence is unfair and/or undesirable, try living awhile in locales where people believe the same as you. i.e. phoenix, az, southeast houston, redding, ca, or my hometown – aberdeen, wa.

    much of what makes cap hill unique and special (imho) is that so many businesses are locally owned and operated.

    this creates a multitude of desirable outcomes – not the least of which being a web of employees, patrons, owners, landlords, customers, and vendors who enjoy relationships that extend well beyond the simple slinging of a factory-farmed animal body part sandwiched between two genetically modified corn/wheat handles.

    cap hill has culture, community, and kickass food offerings already.

    fast food franchises offer/support/create none of these. in fact, publicly traded, multinational fast food franchises serve to directly undermine these phenomenon. they pay the lowest possible wages then ship profits out of our community. they serve the cheapest and lowest quality foods legally permissable – in fact the industry creates the lowest denominator of food grading. ever heard of ‘USDA Grade D but edible’ beef? outside of fast food you have to go to prison to get some of that…

    anyway, i digress. but, i did watch the shift happen to my hometown. it’s a sad process. you should visit there sometime. all the fast food you could want. try the golden arches in the walmart!

    then send us a follow up reply on how cap hill is being unfair to the meatclown…

  11. Those who would fight a McDonald’s coming to the hill should just not eat there if they don’t like it, because though they might not like it they do not speak for every citizen who resides on the hill. As rents have risen and the hipsters moved in some of our lower income residents have been forced out but many of them would like a McDonald’s where seniors can get a cup of cheap coffee and sit with their friends to gossip. The hill has one “fast food” place and that is Dick’s. It used to have 5 with two open late or 24 hours. Some of us miss that convenience of getting something to eat after going out to the bars. Sure McDonald’s probably would not be open 24 Hours but it’s getting to be like the hill is no longer for the working class and that sucks!

  12. There is no shortage of places for old people to grab a cheap cup of coffee, and there certainly are places to grab a quick bite to eat late night.

    You complain that the hill is losing its “working class” status, and yet completely fail to realize that the proliferation of high rent developments and low wage jobs are the guilty party here.

    You want working class? Speak out against the disgusting trend of building yuppie apartments with minimum-wage-paying chain restaurants at the ground floor. The only jobs left on the hill can’t pay the rent of any of the new real estate.

  13. I would prefer a Jack in the box or Wendy’s but I’d be happy with a McDonald’s too. Not everyone can afford to spend $10 on a burger and Dick’s has no seating. I also wish they would replace the Qdoba with a Jack in the Box (same company). I think it would do much better.

  14. Yep, if there was only a place on Capitol Hill where you could get a cheap cup of drip coffee… (besides 5 places every block)

    I mean, if only there was a place to get cheap fast hot food after going to the bars… (besides food trucks, hot dog stands, a half dozen cheap burrito stands, 5 grocery stores, take out windows from bagels to pie).

    What I really meant is I want to buy the stuff they tell me to on TV. WALMART

  15. I should add, the real travesty is that you’ve been brainwashed into thinking that mass market fast food = working class.

    Sadly, so have the majority of this country. So, we’ve got people willingly gorging on convenience and enabling the same corporate mindset dedicated to keeping them living paycheck to paycheck.

    Barf.

  16. These places stink! I don’t go into Dick’s (though I certainly appreciate some aspects of their business model) but I smell it for blocks. I think people are more than justified in protesting a McDonald’s.

  17. Honestly, I think we can pull our wadded up skivvies from the appropriate orafices. Capitol Hill ran off Burger King in the Harvard Market, as well as a burger joint in the building next door to the Rite Aid. I can’t remember if that was a DQ or BK. This would have been in the late ’80s.

  18. Actually BOTH BK & DQ have visited Broadway north of John.

    I’d REALLY love to see Bartell come back to the north end of the street. Also, a food option that is NOT the rip you off pricing structure of QFC. Some of us DO live on a bit of a budget that shouldn’t have line items for rent and QFC the same size.

  19. I don’t anticipate eating at a McDonald’s but…
    1. Many of them are independently owned. So, eat it, lovers of locally owned independent businesses.
    2. Their food is at least as imaginative and delicious as the friggin’ hash browns and whatever else simple comfort food from whatever trendy hole in the wall or truck that commenters all too frequently rave about so, eat it, such commenters.
    3. You want people other than Yuppie scum to live here? This is the crap that human beings from many a socio economic status consume. Make ’em feel welcome.

    Jebus, but what a stoopid rant. But I estimate 37.6% of negative commenters will be found at McD’s at least once per month.

  20. This is the crap that people from every socioeconomic class eat when they have absolutely no other alternative or they just eat what TV tells them to.

    Capitol Hill is bizarrely pro-chain and it needs to stop. I can’t even believe people shop at QFC every day and pay a premium to give money to Kroger and the Republican Party, when there’s a co-op down the street that costs sometimes half as much for better quality.

    Do we really have that many Bellevue transplants here who can’t give up their lifestyle??

  21. How come you progressive neighborhood purists aren’t out protesting in front of Starbucks? They seem to be exactly what you loathe.

    PS: I like the suggestion of Jack-In-The-Box replacing Qdoba. That place is terrible. The only thing I ever buy there is iced tea.

    PPS: And please bring in a REAL (east coast/NYC style) Chinese carry-out place. There are too many Thai/Vietnamese/Sushi places.

  22. This building, about to open, is fairly high-end….and as such it’s hard to imagine that the owners would rent to McDonald’s or some similar business…that would be a big negative on the type of image they are trying to project to potential residents.

    In my opinion, the Brix building is what we should strive for along Broadway…a really beautiful building architecturally, with an interesting mix of ground-floor retail that is entirely local.

  23. Sorry to tell you pocky. There are a few of us here on the hill that beleive in a high degree of both personal and economic liberty.
    I don’t care for the food at McD’s and haven’t eaten at one for years, but I’m not going to try and stop everyone else from having the choice to eat or not eat there.

  24. agreed that Brix is beautiful, but other than Vivace nothing in that space is interesting. Oh yay a “chocolate martini bar” blah. Then there’s what, an eyeglass store, maybe a real estate place?

  25. It takes deep pockets to rent these spaces, so deep that I’d be surprised if any independent went for it. You’re talking a 500k+ buildout, 8k+ in rent, payroll in a restaurant like that has to be insane, 25k mo? Would need to be doing well over 100k in sales/mo just to keep your head above water. Money is hard to come by, and a deep pocket to keep the place floating until profitable is not going to come from an independent operator. I can’t see anyone but a corporate tenant in these spaces.