Skelly and the Bean calls it quits on 10th Ave E

A restaurant concept hewn from the bleeding edge of social network supported development couldn’t overcome one of the most ancient evils of the dining business: a tough location.

“The challenges of restaurant business ownership goes beyond cooking good food and providing comfortable good service,” reads the update to Skelly and the Bean’s Facebook page posted Wednesday afternoon. “What happens behind the scenes, before service, can be a messy affair. Economics and other factors being what they are, the challenges of this particular location have not worked out as we had hoped.”


Chef Zephyr Paquette says she will be closing Skelly after just 10 months on the far northern edge of Capitol Hill. The Facebook update says she hopes to find a new location to open soon. The post also acknowledges the logistical challenge of potentially unwinding a business built on membership and community support of “the restaurant Facebook built.” The last night of service is planned for December 20th.

We have contacted Paquette and will update this post once we have an opportunity to speak with her more about the closure.

CHS reported on Paquette’s community-driven concept late in 2011 as she worked to sign up members to support the restaurant. In addition to the community financing, the restaurant was also planned to feature a rotating series of guest chefs and pop-ups in the kitchen.

“I see it as an incubator series that I’ll be curating,” Paquette said at the time. “It will be a showcase for pop-ups and food trucks and also a test kitchen.” 

As for the food, with time spent honing her craft with Elliott Bay Cafe, Dandelion and Cafe Flora, Paquette focused Skelly’s menu on farm fresh, local ingredients. It didn’t always work out. The Stranger’s Bethany Jean Clement provided one particularly salty review of the restaurant’s early efforts.

But Skelly was also taking over a space that had all but killed off two previous restaurants. Easy Joe’s lives on near the city’s stadiums. Tidbit moved to a more central location on Broadway but shuttered not long after. Even bringing aboard Jeff Fike — who made the space work previously for at least a little while with his Cassis – did not, apparently, work. The space was also previously XO Bistro and The Austrian, to name a few. Around the corner, Pau Hana also bailed earlier this year. Roanoke Park Place Tavern is left to hold down the fort.

Here is the complete note posted by Paquette announcing the closure:

It’s not how you fall, it’s how you get up.

To every thing, there is a time and a purpose.

The challenges of restaurant business ownership goes beyond cooking good food and providing comfortable good service. What happens behind the scenes, before service, can be a messy affair. Economics and other factors being what they ar

e, the challenges of this particular location have not worked out as we had hoped.

On Thursday, December 20, 2012, we will be opening our doors on North Capitol Hill for the last time. Skelly and the Bean will, however, live on. We are hopeful to find a different location in the very near future so that we can continue what we’ve begun.

We set out on a mission to provide a place to showcase the products from local farmers, ranchers, winemakers and brewers, cheesemongers; to bring the farm to the city and to provide a comfortable environment in which to enjoy their outstanding goods.

With our Incubation Series, we’ve provided a venue for up and coming chefs and future restauranteurs to ply their trade in a real-life environment. Kevin Burzell and Alysson Wilson of Kedai Makan and Kathleen Khoo of StraitFood have both had tremendous success both separately and together; Casey and Deke of 314 Pie have their Australian meat pie truck on the road; Mutsuko Soma of Kamonegi is opening Miyabi on 45th in Wallingford later this month. The seeds of what was started at Skelly and the Bean will grow and blossom elsewhere.

The love and support that we have found in this little pocket of Seattle has been overwhelming. That we must shutter the windows here and find new digs elsewhere has been a heart-rendering choice. As we find a new home, we hope that those of you who can walk to the restaurant will get into your cars, onto your bikes or what other transportation you have and join us again.

There are technical details that need to be worked out, and they will be addressed in the coming weeks. More emails, texts, and phone calls will follow. Please have patience with us as we work through this.

The future is uncertain and life is a process. You try things out, you learn, and move on.

Before we tear down our weathered walls and put them into storage until we can raise them again, we will continue to fill your glass and fill your plates with the best that we can provide. We hope to see your faces in the coming weeks.

On behalf of all of us here at Skelly and the Bean, we wish you well in your adventures in life.

With humility, honor, and respect,

Zephyr Paquette

 

13 thoughts on “Skelly and the Bean calls it quits on 10th Ave E

  1. Best of luck chef, I was pulling for you! I’ve enjoyed your Facebook posts and I’m afraid to say never made it in (2 babies and a restaurant of my own will do that). It’s a tough racket in the industry, but I know you’ll land on your feet and continue to make diners smile with your offerings. Keep that chin up and on to the next project!

  2. Why not just turn it into another yoga space? It has parking and everything but somehow every place that goes in there craps out after a year or so. Same deal with that space around the back.

  3. It’s unfortunate, but not surprising, that this venture failed. The prices were higher than similar dishes at other restaurants, and especially so for a neighborhood place. Apparently the food left something to be desired. And of course the location…it seems kind-of cursed.

    I have to wonder if the “membership” concept is really a viable way to finance a restaurant. My guess is that most of the money raised this way initially would be spent on getting the place up and running. After that, to my understanding, the “members” dine for free until their “loan” is paid back, and this would significantly impact the restaurant’s cash flow, in a very negative way. I just don’t see how this business plan could possibly work.

  4. I’m not sure the location is cursed, but it has certainly killed a lot of dreams. Another one that came and went on that site: Rain City Grill. The location might be viable but only under the precisely right conditions: a “name” chef who brings a built-in clientele and the ability to be a destination restaurant. Even then, I’m not sure that’s the best site for such a thing (parking, for example).

    I feel bad I never got down there, as the name was sweet and I wanted this place to work. Maybe I’ll find time to go before it closes.

    As to the business plan, it *might* work if it was structured a little differently. Start-up costs are big, but restaurants also need to have a cash reserve to run for the first few months in the red while they build up a clientele and get the word out. If the chef/partners had the capital for the startup costs and used the subscriptions entirely for that early lean period, it might work; especially if the subscription entitled you to just free food during happy hour, or 2-for-one entrees, etc — something to get more people in the door on a regular basis to build a buzz (assuming the food was good enough to be buzz-able, of course). Still, nobody is going to trust the idea until somebody succeeds with it.

  5. There is a big hunger (no pun intended) for a good neighborhood restaurant here. Lots of built in potential customers who’d love to walk down for a nice meal. I think this restaurant didn’t work because its price point was just too high for a nearby spur-of-the-moment meal and didn’t have what it takes to be a destination for folks farther afield.

    Fingers crossed that someone will manage to get the formula right!

  6. Hey Editor…Think the headline above could use some editing love. Skelly is still open until the 20th, and I’m sure Zephyr and the team there would really like to see a lot of smiling faces and filled seats until then. No need to make peeps believe the doors have already closed. What do you say?

    For those making a first/last visit to Skelly, be sure to try the Petit Paquets. Yum. Looking forward to see where Zephyr lands next post this version of Skelly.

  7. I was just referring to the verb tense/structure – no dates needed. “Calls it quits” implies they have already closed. “To call it quits” would convey that they haven’t closed quite yet.

  8. Actually Calhoun you DON’T know why we are closing so you are not stating any facts. I am not advised to comment much further and for the record, I am looking at other locations as this concept is not failed, the space is. The neighborhood is amazing .

  9. Its true there is a lot more to opening a restaurant than the food and the environment. There is a lot of research that should be done on your target market. If business owners who opened in that area got to know the neighborhood first, there wouldn’t be so many door closing there. It isn’t a cursed spot. The problem is the owners doing whatever their dream is without thinking of the need to compromise with who you are catering to with a difficult location. In a high traffic area you dont have to worry about that. Owners are not taking into account that the majority of the neighborhood have children or they are mostly frugal and always looking for bargains. They dont want to meet that price point despite their financial demographic and the cost of free range chicken. The neighborhood has been looking for a place like the Skillet, The High Spot, The Dish or some kind of mid ranged priced place that offers breakfast on weekends that their children can eat too without paying market price. And dinner for their family that wont cost two hundred dollars. Plain and simple. They alienated the entire neighborhood. Pau Hannah did it too, by filling the restaurant with huge tv’s with wwf sports on them. And serving mostly fried food and no vegetables. If they considered the demographic at all they would have considered vegetables and no tv.

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