Not every food and drink story on Capitol Hill is about a new bar or new restaurant complex. Sometimes the story is about change and making things work — or, in the case of Capitol Cider, becoming an unexpected tavern keeper.
“Spencer introduced me to cider,” designer, bar owner and mother Julie Tall tells CHS. “I am the sole investor. I am all in.”
“I have a high tolerance for risk,” she said.
Less than a year into the E Pike cider bar’s life, Tall is now running the business on a day to day basis in place of her son, founder Spencer Reilly, who has stepped aside due to personal issues.
“When spencer needed to step out, I obviously needed to step in,” Tall said.
It’s not exactly how things were expected to play out for the highly anticipated cider-filled bar with a gluten free menu. Capitol Cider debuted in June 2013 after a long ramp-up and was gorgeous from the outset with walls covered in original paintings and murals and two levels of dark-wood pub as 30 taps kept patrons from getting thirsty. Tall, who has served as president of Gage Academy’s board, was responsible for the design and art-filled ambience of the nearly 6,000 square-foot project.
But things happen after the “5 reasons to get excited” fade into the fantasy past. Tall says that she is happy to say the reality of the cider business fits her.
“What I found is a personal astonishment that I hadn’t been in the hospitality business,” she said.
The cider community has also rallied to support the cause.
“I think people recognize that I’m just trying to keep Capitol Cider together,” she said.
Tall is working to mature the business and improve Capitol Cider’s offerings. Events like Drink & Draw she hopes will strengthen her artful themes that went into designing the bar. She also says Cider has added flight tasting options to its menu to help customers sample a larger breadth of the tavern’s offerings.
Gluten free for 15 years herself, Tall is excited about the new brunch served from 10 AM to 2 PM with pork and squash hash, mushroom omelets or steak and eggs to get you started. Cider has also introduced dinner platters for family and friends to share. You can feed four for $70 or six for $100 — recent offerings included slow roasted pork shoulder or chicken and basil sausage.
Maybe most exciting for the cider-loving neighbors walking by every day will be plans to improve Capitol Cider’s bottle shop offerings. While you can already walk in and buy from Cider’s one-of-a-kind selection of bottled varieties today, the stock is hidden away inside the bar’s walk-in. Upstairs, Tall is readying plans for a new bottle shop area with a refrigerated display to show off the dozens of hard to find and hard not to gulp varieties the bar stocks.
Through the evolution, Tall said her background in a health and healing has helped keep her going in the competitive Pike/Pine nightlife economy. “I’m curious about my life,” she said. “I’m curious about the way it unfolds.”
Capitol Cider is located at 818 E Pike. You can learn more at seattleciderbar.com.
Capitol Hill food+drink notes
- Add one more excellent thing to look forward to in Capitol Cider’s future. The Washington Cider Association announced that state lawmakers have passed a cider growl bill. The legislation will open the way for restaurants, bars and retailers to fill growlers with, yup, cider.
- Add another excellent thing. Capitol Cider will host judging in the first ever Pacific Northwest Cider Awards this June.
- Solve a mystery, win our admiration. This project creating an “eating and drinking establishment” inside the former home of Spike Mafford Gallery at 611 Summit Ave E next to Top Pot doughnuts has us intrigued. Construction is underway but nobody is taking credit for the project and the neighbors claim it isn’t anything to do with them. We had hopes the buildout might be related to this plan to add cocktails at Top Pot’s 5th Ave location. Top Pot co-founder Michael Klebeck, of course, also owns neighboring Sun Liquor to south of the Summit cafe. Know what’s up? Drop us a line or leave your best guess in comments.
- Speaking of Spike Mafford, you can see the photographer’s work all over the walls at the newly opened Capitol Hill Mezcaleria Oaxaca.
- Happy fifth anniversary to Knee High Stocking Company. Celebrations are planned for Wednesday and Thursday night with prices rolled back to 2009. CHS swung by a few years back to check out the scene inside the secreted-away E Olive Way speakeasy.
- The Pine Box is turning two.
- S Jackson’s Standard Brewing turns one:
We’re going to be partying at the brewery from noon till 10 pm, releasing our 12% Anniversary Ale. Half of the batch will be in kegs, and we are bottling the other half in 22 oz format (only 100 bottles!). This is our first bottle release, so come get it before it’s history. They’ll be going for $16. Tax is included, so, really $14.61.
We will be hosting two food trucks for the anniversary party. The first will be Crema Crepes (sweet and savory crepes) from noon-4pm, and Snout and Co. (Cuban and southern food stylings) from 5-9pm. We’re excited to bring new food to the neighborhood, so come have lunch and/or dinner with us!
- The Old Sage is too noisy.
- The Stranger never leaves Capitol Hill.
- You could tend bar at the DeLuxe.
- What happened to the Madison Park Conservatory? “Restaurants are a crazy thing, and many stars have to align to create a successful and enduring place. Although we would have liked our run to be much longer, we are very proud of the past three years and have many fond memories to look back on.”
- This guy will help make this E Pike project from the founders of Revel and Joule work.
- A new E Pike roasting facility from global coffee giant Starbucks will be the subject of a public air quality hearing this Thursday.
- You can knock one off the list of 15 Mexican-focused restaurants, bars and cafes on Capitol Hill — Broadway’s Cintli is slated to close later this month.
- Here’s a change — a restaurant moving into the area because rent is more affordable. It’s off-Hill, but Korean fast food joint Oma Bap will land at 12th and Cherry this summer.
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