Capitol Hill food+drink | Freddy Junior’s — and pals the Kahuna, the Amigo and the Wrangler — joins Hill burger battle

Screen Shot 2013-07-15 at 10.23.35 PMLi’l Woody has a new playmate. Earlier this month, CHS told you about plans behind a new Broadway burger venture from Rancho Bravo’s Freddy Rivas.

At the time, Rivas wasn’t quite ready to have any details of his new venture slip out — so not ready, in fact, that he didn’t mind us referring to his project by the incomplete name on the permits — Freddy’s.

Now, with Freddy Junior’s set to make its debut sometime in the next week, Rivas has shared more about the project — and what he believes will be part of his secret recipe for success in a crowded field of Capitol Hill burger players. UPDATE: Rivas says the plan is to open on Wednesday, July 24… Thursday! Stay tuned!

“To be on Capitol Hill — and to be successful on Capitol Hill — you have to be good,” Rivas tells CHS. “Whatever your thing is you just have to be good.”

But being good isn’t the only edge Rivas is planning for. He’s putting his Freddy Junior’s faith into format. Rivas is betting on sliders.

“They’ll be speciality burgers, reasonably priced, quick,” Rivas says. And small enough to warrant grabbing two or three for dinner at a price point of around $2 each.

Rivas, who has grown Rancho Bravo into a cheap eats powerhouse in Pike/Pine and Wallingford and is readying those restaurants for expansion, says Freddy Junior’s menu will include a thick list of specialty constructions like the Kahuna, the Amigo and the Wrangler. Rivas waved off CHS’s plea for a Rancho burger. French fries, fountain sodas and ice cream floats round out the offerings. Oh, and there will be hot dogs.

The goal, Rivas says, is to provide a burger joint that satisfies burger cravings, caters to the crowds of Broadway and Pike/Pine and keeps people moving. There’s room in the former Pita Pit/Grubwich space to sit down — but like Rancho Bravo, this is food to go.

As we reported earlier, Rivas bought out the former Grubwich business to claim the Broadway space between Pine and Pike more than a year ago. He says the competitive environment on Capitol Hill for ready-to-roll restaurant space made it worth his while to hold the property for so long before his venture was ready to open. Rivas said he originally looked at franchising a Five Guy Burgers but that the chain isn’t currently expanding in the United States. Rivas considered buying one location in Georgia for more than $1.5 million. “Fuck that,” Rivas said he decided. “For a fraction of that money I can create my own franchise.”

Freddy Junior’s appears to be positioned as a geography and price point play. It is closer to the Pike/Pine action than the venerable Dick’s — “I love Dick’s. Every now and then I have to get one of their burgers,” Rivas says — but priced below the offerings of the more upscale 8oz Burger Bar or the more tavern-y Sam’s Tavern. Li’l Woody’s? When it comes to hungry kids on upper E Pike, Melrose might as well be another universe. The biggest competition may come from a new player also preparing to enter the fray in the area – Highscore Burgers has declared its intention to join the Pike/Pine milieu (melee?).

Freddy Junior’s will run later hours than its Rancho Bravo cousin — Sunday – Tuesday 10:30 AM – 10:30 PM, Thursday 10:30 AM. – midnight, Friday and Saturday 10:30 AM – 3:00 AM.

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

This week, Rivas hopes to see his project kick into motion — possibly by the weekend but definitely before Capitol Hill Block Party hits the neighborhood. He hopes to eventually franchise the concept like the original Five Guys inspiration. Rivas said he hopes his employees — like Freddy Junior’s manager Noe Garcia — will someday become his partners and fellow owners.

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

    • Juicebox has found a place on Capitol Hill to put its cafe dreams into motion. Work will begin soon on a 25-seat cafe on 12th Ave between Pine and Pike. We’ll have more on the project soon.
    • Poco added this CHS community post to announce a new chef and new menu —

      Previous chef and cheesemonger Sully McGinnis has moved on to dedicate his time fully to the Kitchen Sink Project (which we already predicted earlier this year), leaving a gaping hole in their kitchen. This has been filled with a newcomer to the hill and to the small-dining space, Roy Buck. With the arrival of Chef Roy also comes the largest menu change we’ve seen from POCO this year, in a direction clearly Spanish.

    • DeLuxe Bar & Grill talked to CHS about its 50 years of business on Capitol Hill back in 2011 — but it is celebrating this summer:

      [It's] not often that a restaurant makes it to 50 years – and stays in the same family! Joe Rogel and partner Bernie Minsk bought the DeLuxe in 1963, but its history dates back to 1934, when the tavern at the corner of Broadway and Roy was known as Thomas McClanahan’s Beer Parlor. Barry Rogel (Joe’s son and current owner) and Joe are inviting all those with a connection to the DeLuxe to the party on August 15th to raise a glass to the venerable watering hole and to everyone who has kept it going all these years. Live music, great food, great beer, and great friends will make the night memorable!

      The DeLuxe has always been a burger-and-a-beer kind of joint, so the special anniversary menu will feature the Old School Burger for $1.99. (Want cheese? That’ll be $2.19) Even though Chef Jeffrey Davidson has created an anniversary menu with lots of throwbacks (like a top sirloin steak with garlic mashed potatoes), the DeLuxe also prides itself on dishes like the Local Grind, a burger made with grass-fed beef from Corfini Gourmet, topped with melty Beecher’s cheese and caramelized onions.

      The DeLuxe will also be honoring its longtime relationships with local breweries as part of the celebration – with $3 pints of Redhook ESB, Widmer Hefeweizen and Hale’s Pale Ale will be $3 for the whole month, with schooners of Rainier for $1.50. These brewers have been supplying the DeLuxe since the 1980s, when it was one of the first places to start carrying local microbrews.

      Hales, Redhook and Widmer will all be stopping by with samples and free stuff from the breweries. Beer enthusiasts will want to mark their calendars for the July 16 to visit with Widmer, July 23 for Hale’s Ales and July 30 for Redhook. The DeLuxe is a great spot for beer lovers, with a really unique lineup of 20 rotating taps. The draft list includes local and European brews, as well as the DeLuxe’s custom ale, the Founders’ IPA from Two Beers Brewing Co.

    • Big Mario’s is turning 3. Happy birthday.
    • Bauhaus is now telling customers it has until September before the coffee house must vacate Melrose at Pine to make way for demolition.
    • 5 of Seattle’s Top 10 Restaurants and Cafes are on Capitol Hill, according to The Guardian.
    • “Elsewhere under the ornate chandeliers that drop from scuffed ceiling joists a gaggle of older Asian women tucked into surf and turf at a long table. Young guys in ball caps devoured fried chicken and ribs. Couples dressed for date night drank Manhattans at the bar…
    • Want to work for the Skillet empire? Job fair Thursday on Capitol Hill.
    • Leave the Hill… barely. Montlake’s Cafe Lago has $10 pizza on Mondays.
    • Crazy Shit Dave Meinert Has Seen Owning The 5 Point” — We’re assuming Meinert’s Lost Lake stories may eventually rival this.
    • Here’s what Spinasse’s Jason Stratton is doing downtown.
    • If you missed it, Sue is opening in the former Lucky 8s space on 14th Ave.
    • It’s Daiquiri Week at Rumba: “When Rumba was still a figment of our imaginations and we were consuming more coffee than any man should, Connor and I had many–MANY!–conversations about The Daiquiri. We fell head over heels in love with this drink and wanted it to shine as the centerpiece of Rumba. It’s the first drink on the first section of our menu, it’s our happy hour offering, it’s our jumping off point into the world of rum. We firmly believe that the ultimate rum drink is a proper Cuban style daiquiri.”
    • Wilfried Boutillier sent us this picture to let us know Le Zinc’s absinthe fountain was in full Bastille Day form over the weekend.EFE0085B-F9F3-4A4B-A692-C9425CAB519F
    • We thought the image above pairs nicely with this recent submission to the CHS Flickr pool.

Photo365_Day188, originally uploaded by Michael Guio.
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17 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Freddy Junior’s — and pals the Kahuna, the Amigo and the Wrangler — joins Hill burger battle

  1. I’m really excited about there being a new restaurant that will certainly offer many yummy vegetarian and vegan slider options at reasonable prices! Oh wait. Never mind.

  2. Congrats on making the right call re: Five Guys. There is absolutely nothing compelling about their burgers. Freddy Jr.’s, on the other hand, sounds like it’ll be a crushing success. The last thing Broadway needs is another cookie-cutter chain. Good luck Señor Rivas!

  3. RE: Mr. Rivas’ new place

    For all those who are constantly complaining about the loss of small, locally-owned businesses in our neighborhood: Please take note!

  4. I never said it would be a “social good” to offer vegetarian and vegan options. It could be a smart business decision to broaden a customer base, especially if the items were cooked on a different section of a grill. And if every built-in demand was already being met by all businesses, then no new business could ever start and succeed. I knew people would take my tongue-in-cheek comment quite seriously, because vegans are not allowed to make a joke about anything apparently. But my point is there is an untapped market and forgive me if I don’t have the capital to open my own business. Rather, all I can do is comment about it. I just find it frustrating because I do want to support local businesses and they don’t give me a chance to. Of course the politically vegan would never set foot in such an establishment because meat is murder. But the nutritionally vegan would consider it. Lastly, nowhere in my comment do I attempt to “win friends with salad” because Simpsons references do not define my life or humor.

    • Totally, right?

      Pettirosso and Lost Lake and the Fish Fry and Poquitos and Bimbos and the Elysian ofter vegan options (that go beyond a salad or a plate of fries), so I don’t understand the perception that it’s an unreasonable ask or that there is no market for this.

      Believe it or not, sometimes people who eat a standard diet and people who eat a vegan diet become friends. And, if you can continue to suspend your disbelief, maybe this extremely tolerant group of friends likes to grab a bite together but only if everyone has options, because they are really nice like that. Quality of dining experience being equal, the restaurant that has vegan options wins the business of a mostly non-vegan group. Just sayin. Please take my/our money!

    • sorry, your tongue-in-cheekness came off as snarky – probably because there’s a lot of snarkiness on comments around here, but not because vegans can’t be funny.

      I do know a vegan who is pretty funny. Both “ha-ha” funny and “peculiar” funny. :)

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