It only seems like The Canterbury has been on 15th Ave E since ye olde tymes. By the end of 2013, it will have likely moved on.
Capitol Hill Housing, owners of the Fredonia Apartments building The Canterbury has called home since 1976, confirmed to CHS that the “Ale & Eats” bar’s lease will expire at the end of the year and is not being renewed.
A spokesperson for the nonprofit developer said he could not provide more details citing a policy against discussing “lease issues” with tenants.
The Canterbury remains open and, as of Sunday night, was still doing its thing on 15th Ave E. UPDATE: An employee we spoke with says the plan is to shutter the bar and that staff is not aware of any plans to try to relocate.
We have messages out to The Canterbury’s owners David and Stefanie Roberge to try to find out more about the situation and will update when we know more. The couple celebrated The Canterbury’s long run at the corner of 15th and E Mercer in fall of 2011 with a weekend celebration promising “old school prices, food and drink specials and prizes!”
The news of impending doom for The Canterbury — in its original incarnation, at least — could be hard to swallow. With more than 35 years of regulars and beery memories under its belt, the bar — surly waitstaff, slow service, artery-clogging chow and all — is part of Seattle’s dive bar fabric.
A web page has been set up to “save” the bar — saveourcanterbury.org features a mission statement and an update detailing a Monday night meeting of Capitol Hill Housing’s board at Seattle University. “Come to the meeting and ask why Capitol Hill Housing wants to close the Canterbury,” the site entreats.
Calling The Canterbury “THE alternate living room for many of Capitol Hill’s residents and a hideout for several of Seattle’s most prominent citizens,” the site also noted a rumor that Capitol Hill Housing is making plans to make the ground floor of the building it has owned since 1986 its own offices. The CHH spokesperson said the rumor is not true.
We reported on CHH’s temporary downtown offices after it moved out of its home in the slated-for-development Davis Hoffman building on E Union earlier this year. Eventually, CHH is planned to settle into the commercial space that is part of its new 12th Ave Arts development.
As one of the Hill’s more celebrated organizations finds itself getting the stink eye from people upset with the possible end of yet another of Capitol Hill’s longest running institutions, there’s no sign yet of what lead to the decision not to renew the lease. A look at city records shows no plans for any development or construction at the location. County court records, meanwhile, show a state tax payment issue for the business in February but there is no publicly available record yet of how much was owed or if the matter has already been settled.
With the shuttering of B&O and the planned closure of Bauhaus later this year to make way for development, The Canterbury’s bad news has 2013 already looking like a particularly tough year for the Hill’s venerable old timers. Or it could just be the start of new things for the veterans — both B&O and Bauhaus, for example, plan to re-open on the Hill. If there is similar good news for ye olde Canterbury, CHS looks forward to reporting it.
UPDATE: We’re told this is old news for the ownership at The Canterbury. The decision not to renew the lease was reportedly made four years ago.
UPDATEx2: CHS spoke with a Canterbury employee who asked not to be identified but tells CHS there will be time for public comment at Monday night’s meeting. “The only leverage we have here is public pressure,” he said. “I’m trying to encourage people to come out.”
UPDATEx3: The Stranger talked with management who “admitted that the business has been late with its rent for the last five months and that there is a ‘cash-flow problem.’” There is also a dispute involving medical bills from a broken arm suffered by one of the owners, according to the post.
UPDATEx4: CHS has spoken with multiple owners from neighborhood food and drink establishments who say they have not yet spoken with Capitol Hill Housing about the space but are interested in leasing it.
UPDATEx5: We’ve learned more details about the “known for four years” element of the situation. We’re told when an early option to renew came up four years ago, Capitol Hill Housing told The Canterbury ownership it did not want to pick up the option and did not plan to renew the contract. As the final year of the lease arrived, The Canterbury’s owners hoped CHH would reconsider. CHH’s answer was still no.