Our write-up reviewing 2011 — the year Capitol Hill food and drink broke – positioned the period as a seminal moment when the Hill’s explosive growth in the entertainment economy reached a new, super-star level. Unlike punk in ’92, what follows is apparently not a sellout but a doubling down. Investment in the Capitol Hill food+drink economy continued nearly unabated in 2012. Familiar names put even more chips in play. New hands joined a few tables. And some crapped out nearly as quickly as they were dealt in. Here is a look at the year that was. You can let us know anything we left out — but should have included — in comments.
Many of the biggest investments in Capitol Hill’s food and drink economy in 2012 were made by investors already holding a steak, er, stake in the neighborhood.
- Want to do it classy style? First you tell everybody exactly what you are going to do. Then you do exactly that. And it’s still exciting when everybody gets to be part of it. Linda Derschang made a big splash when news broke that she was planning her first return to Broadway since her days in retail. Bait Shop debuted to end 2012 and, believe it or not, lived down to every hyped expectation for the latest Derschang dive bar. That’s how you do it classy style.
- Volunteer Park Cafe vet Heather Earnhardt teamed up with a community of supporters to bring her Southern-style bakery The Wandering Goose to life on 15th Ave E.
- The big player that is Ethan Stowell Restaurants bet even more money on Capitol Hill as it stacked its chips on 15th Ave. First, Rione XIII debuted and slowly developed a dedicated following in the core of the 15th Ave E business district. Then came word of an expansion of Stowell’s efforts at 15th and Pine as a new charcuterie component is added to The Pearl building’s retail strip.
- The much-loved Cafe Pettirosso was reincarnated on 11th Ave. You can add new names Miki and Yuki Sodos to the Capitol Hill milieu.
- The owners behind Quinn’s moved their little Zoe up the Hill from Belltown for a February 2012 debut and a successful reinvention of the longtime Seattle favorite.
- Meanwhile, others doubled down — way down. Neumos debuted a subterranean evil twin, Barboza. As did the Unicorn which spawned The Narwhal to kick off the Capitol Hill summer.
- The Add-a-Ball boys brought pinball to John John’s Gameroom on E Olive Way. You can notch another in the dearly departed column for the outgoing Faire.
- Kaladi debuted a lovely overhaul on E Pike.
- Jeremy Hardy gaves his Coastal Kitchen a 20-year makeover.
- Marcus Lalario brought the third incarnation under his watch to Harvard and E Pike in sports bar 95 Slide.
The year also saw plenty of newbies and Capitol Hill rookies enter the field. Will we see any of these owners play another hand in 2013?
- Nobody garnered more attention and rode more hype than Neil Robertson and his limited hours, long lines and absolutely delicious creations at Crumble & Flake.
- Tech entrepreneur Wassef Haroun and wife Racha debuted Middle Eastern restaurant Mamnoon on Melrose.
- The Pine Box instantly became Capitol Hill’s beer hall when it debuted in March.
- More instant redefinition — Q’s September debut redefined Capitol Hill’s dance scene. Business partners Scott Smith and Andy Rampl’s investment has thus far paid off in the always valuable “attention” category quite nicely.
- The Social also joined the dance — but quickly lost its first partner when adjoining restaurant concept EVO shuttered. We could also file this one in familiar names — backers include Po Dog’s Laura Olson and Emerson Salon’s Alex Garcia.
- James Snyder, a son of the original Red Robin clan, is bringing a WA State-style tavern to E Pike. RIP, Chino’s.
- Val Kiossovski and Billy Gould, a pair of rockers, brought Saint John’s to life in the old Rosebud space.
- Little Uncle might have made our 2011 list, too. The walk-up debuted just before Christmas 2011.
- This guy left Seattle for Brooklyn and started a Seattle-style bar there. Then he came back to Seattle — to start a Seattle-Brooklyn-style bar on Capitol Hill.
- New barons of caffeine joined the fray — Cherry Street (here), Broadcast (here)
- Capitol Hill is now the Mexican restaurant center of the Seattle food and drink universe. Add Ooba Tooba and Fogon.
- A “secret” Capitol Hill marijuana bakery could be a sign of things to come in a post-502 Washington.
- The good folks behind Regent Cafe & Bakery told CHS they had never been to Capitol Hill before agreeing to bring their new bakery and restaurant to Pike/Pine.
- Meanwhile, privatized spirits retailing became mostly a grocery store game.
Know when to fold em
This is a limited “dearly departed” list. There were a few other casualties among both fresh efforts and long-time loves. While we’ll use language from around war and games and Wall Street to sometimes describe the efforts, know this — CHS is well aware that none of this happens without passion and a lot of work. Pardon us if it ever seems we take a closure too lightly.
- B&O Espresso finally surrendered to the coming redevelopment of its block after 36 years on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, Bauhaus’s potential booting caused a shitstorm before things finally calmed down and the cafe’s owner said he had a deal to be part of the coming mixed-use development. Both are putting down new roots in Ballard and both plan to return.
- Travelers made way for The Raygun Lounge.
- Tax issues reportedly did in The Elite.
- Groupon cut off daily deals-addicted Thomas Street Bistro which subsequently re-branded.
- Social network-built Skelly & the Bean announced it would shutter its physical restaurant on 10th Ave E.
- Gyro World is gone.
- QFC wine steward Yancy Noll was killed in an apparent road rage murder in North Seattle.
- Capitol Hill comedian and cafe owner Tristan Devin died at 32 in what authorities say was a suicide.
Bets on the future
- Another of the biggest stories of the year hasn’t happened yet — and may not happen at all. CHS reported that Bakery Nouveau is trying to work out a solution for one of the longest-empty retail spaces on the Hill.
- How does she keep an eye on all those cards? Derschang made more 2012 news with her plans for Tallulah’s on 19th Ave in 2013.
- The Tavern Law folks have plans for The Old Sage just a few doors down on 12th Ave where wine spot Local Vine got clipped.
- Bill’s off Broadway is looking for a new home but has plans to return to a changed E Pine and Harvard.
- Capitol Cider is under construction at E Pike and Broadway.
- We still don’t really know what is happening at the old Autopro building.
- And, hey, even Ronald McDonald might want in on the next hand.
These lucky 19th Ave E residents of the future will live above a Linda’s joint. More on the planned development here (Image: Weinstein A|U)