Capitol Hill fix-it — Where to repair, recycle and reuse on the Hill

(Images: CHS)

As we enter this season of gifts and new stuff, here are some of the places you can turn to for help keeping a few of your favorite things.

Hilltop Service Station
A young man runs around the 15th Ave lot, pumping gas, cleaning windshields, and checking fluid levels; this was decades ago, and not a whole lot has changed. The young man was Mike Burke, now the owner of Hilltop Service Station. He is not quite as young but still running around servicing cars and smiling to customers.

Mike started as a gas pump attendant and worked his way up to partner in the business, then, ultimately, the owner when the original owner passed away. The Hilltop Station has a unique facet that, “nobody in Seattle has,” purports Julie Hanson, a 16-year employee of the station — a full service gas station.


Customers roll up in their cars and a bell rings starting a process that has become almost mythical in the gas service industry: someone fills your gas for you. Unheard of — outside Oregon. Not only that, but s/he also cleans the windshields, checks fluid levels, and provides some heartfelt chit-chat along the way.

Hilltop Service Station was established circa 1966-1967 in the same lot it occupies on the corner of 15th and E Mercer. The garage is conveniently placed for Hill residents to get their car fine-tuned, calipers fixed, oil changed, and of course the full service gas. On this particular day, “it is a zoo,” remarks Hanson, as mechanics shuffle around the garage. “It is usually busy.”  I was not able to meet with Burke as he was hard at work.

Hanson tells CHS though that the space is “civilized” and provides a great sense of community and fairness to customers. “I was a customer for 8 years before coming to work here.” Despite not having any training with cars, Hanson would go on to be trained by Burke and become an employee of Capitol Hill’s staple gas station.

Hilltop Service Station is located at 523 15th Avenue East, Seattle, WA 98112. Open Monday-Friday 7 AM-7 PM, Saturday 9 AM-3 PM, closed Sunday. Can be contacted at 206-324-2256.

Metrix – A Robotic Playland
Walking into the Broadway business, one immediately becomes immersed by the dangling wires, and flickering gizmos that can best be described as what the garage of The Terminator would look like. This is Metrix Create: Space a DYI styled work area for community members to learn, build, and nerd out.

“This here is our BFR, which stands for Big Fucking Robot,” Richard de Leon tells me about a large robotic machine held in the backroom. The BFR is a 3-D CNC (computer numerical control) machine which carves out designs on large canvases. De Leon explains the machine has been used to create custom three dimensional doors, totem poles from stumps, and even birthed a video game cabinet for The Unicorn.

The employee of Metrix took me on a tour of the shop and described in-depth the operation and products made by every machine, much of it over my head. “This what Radio Shack used to be,” de Leon says of the space, which recently celebrated its three year anniversary.

From stencil lasers, embroidery machines, and a soldering room, the space has a lot to offer to the technically minded. CHS first covered the opening of Metrix back in 2009 noting its powerful wifi, coffee, and the vending machine with electronic supplies which are still staples of the robo sanctuary.

For those who scratch their head at the thought of using a CNC machine, don’t fret, they’ve got something more your speed. You can borrow and use their “bottomless toolbox” for $5 an hour with just about any conceivable thing you can think of and create, work on, or fix what you want in their workspace area. “Most people (in the area) don’t have a garage — we’re their garage.”

And for those interested in learning more about technology, Metrix offers classes from, Intro to Electronics, Soldering 101, and Getting Started with Amateur Robotics, to name a few… (though if your name is John Conner, you may leave with nightmares.)

Metrix Create: Space is located at 623 Broadway East, Seattle, WA 98102 down the stairs. It is open daily from 12 PM- 12 AM.

Don’t have a car or nothing to solder? Here are other places to get your fix on:

Fix Your Kicks
Broadway Shoe Repair- 815 East Republican Street, Seattle, WA 98102- (206) 328-9496

Fix Your Hoover
Central Vacuum Repair-1310 East Pike Street Seattle, WA 98122- (206) 323-2627

Fix Your Turntable
 Platinum Records-915 E Pike St, (between Broadway & 10th Ave), Seattle, WA 98122- (206) 324-8032

Fix Your Netbook
Ebits- 1418 Harvard Ave (between Union St & Pike St) Seattle, WA 98122- (206) 322-2266

Fix Your Bike
Velo Bike Shop- 1535 11th Avenue #100 Seattle, WA 98122, (206) 325-3292

Fix Your Pants
Alterations Plus- 520 15th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112- (206) 324-4487

Fix Your Broken Arm
Group Health- 201 16th Avenue East Seattle, (206) 326-3000

Fix Your Wall
Capitol Hill Handyman- (206) 659-8244- john@capitolhillhandyman.com

Fix Your Toilet
Capitol Hill Plumbing (Good Services)- 1715 12th Ave Seattle, WA 98101- (206) 322-3000

Fix Your Mind
Associates in Behavioral Health- 818 12th Avenue Seattle, WA 98122-(206) 329-5255

Sebastian Garrett-Singh is Executive Editor of New City Collegian a student-run continuation of The City Collegian (Seattle’s oldest community college newspaper) based out Seattle Central Community College and is a writing tutor on campus.

5 thoughts on “Capitol Hill fix-it — Where to repair, recycle and reuse on the Hill

  1. I catch the bus to work in front of Hilltop and although I don’t have a car myself, I’ve been impressed with the friendly, can-do attitude of the folks here. The place does seem to be constantly hopping, even early in the morning. They also did a fantastic job keeping the sidewalks around the station clear in that awful ice storm back in January. I felt terrible for the guy, who would get everything cleaned up and then Mother Nature would come back and dump another load of ice/snow/mess and he’d be back out there, shoveling away. This place is a definite plus to the neighborhood!

  2. I’ve been taking my cars to Hilltop for 20 years now. The gas is more expensive, to be truthful, but these guys know my car and have seen problems developing and warned me before they gave me grief out on the freeway or late at night. The best time was when I pulled in to get gas when I had my old Datsun pickup and the radiator gave up the ghost at that moment. They ordered a new radiator and I had my truck back the next day.
    Great guys.

  3. We dropped by one recent Saturday afternoon to check out the space, see what they had to offer, and get information for projects we were working on. We couldn’t really tell who the employees were, the owner wasn’t present (I met him years ago when the space first opened), were patently ignored by the woman working near the register, and nearly pushed over twice by a guy darting through the tiny area (employee? customer? who knows?) without so much as an “Excuse me” or acknowledgement from anyone. I can’t remember the last time I felt so looked down upon and dismissed – until I remembered some experiences I’ve had browsing at Bellevue Square. It was super awkward – no one even offered to answer our basic questions. What kind of service is that?

    After asking around, I discovered that Metrix is basically an exclusive club for “certain kinds of people”. If they don’t think you look like one of them, or don’t know the lingo – you’re out, which is a real shame for a Capitol Hill business.

  4. Not only are the folks at Hilltop friendly and welcoming, they only do work on your car that needs to be done. Twice I thought there was something wrong with my brakes and they sent me home with no work and no charge. When I finally needed tires they said they could order them but I’d probably find them cheaper at a tire store. Who operates this way? They’re high integrity and I’m a very loyal customer.