Off Capitol Hill’s beaten path, Chico Madrid shutters — UPDATE: Fuel pops up

(Image: CHS)

Your last chance to enjoy the sangria machine is this weekend (Image: CHS)

UPDATE: We wondered about this — Turns out, the old Chico Madrid space will stay in motion. Dani Cone’s Fuel Coffee is “popping up” in the space starting Tuesday with coffee and pastries. Hours will be 7 AM to 2 PM. Beer and wine may be in the offing.

Original report: Despite experienced Capitol Hill backers and a lovely home in one of Capitol Hill’s most interesting apartment developments, Spanish-accented cafe Chico Madrid will close this weekend after only one year of business on Bellevue Ave E.

CHS has not heard back from the project’s backers which included coffee and pie entrepreneur Dani Cone and a recent infusion of energy and cash from the team at Marination, Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison. Cone’s Fuel and High Five Pie and Marination Station are CHS advertisers.

UPDATE: Here’s a statement on the closure sent to CHS:

“Chico Madrid will always be a special place and we are so grateful to all of those who embraced the concept, our staff and [our] neighbors. At this time however, we’ve decided to focus our efforts and energy elsewhere.” -Jacob Daley, founding member of Chico Madrid

A message was posted to Facebook about the planned closure earlier this week:

Friends – with heavy hearts, we must tell you that Chico Madrid will be closing its doors this Sunday, April 13th. It has been a remarkable year full of devoted regulars, welcoming press and kind neighbors, however we just haven’t reached a sustainable level of business. But we LOVE Chico Madrid and we want all of you to have one last chance to enjoy our delicious food and warm spirit before we close. Please join us this week – we’d love to see you to say thank you.

Chico Madrid was born in spring of 2013 with Cone teaming up with Jacob Daley and Franz Gilbertson of Ballard’s Honore Bakery. At the time, Daley told CHS his travels in Spain — and the bocadillo sandwich — inspired the new creation. “There were mom and pop cafes with a ubiquitous sandwich,” he said. “Really high quality ingredients but simple.”

The 800 square-foot cafe was resident in the commercial suite built as part of the preservation and development Belroy Apartments project created by Point32, the developers also behind the Bullitt Center. While the residents of the new and 80-year-old old wings of the building were a built-in customer base for Chico Madrid, the cafe was apparently too far away from the Hill’s more traveled areas to draw enough customers to survive. Earlier this year, CHS reported on the effort from Marination to revive the cafe and introduce cocktails and new energy to the space. It apparently was too little, too late — though we haven’t heard back yet about what is next for the partnership that had formed around Chico Madrid.

Whatever is next for the space, backers of a new project might want to check in with the folks at nearby The Lookout as the bar has hung in there over the years — and with a change of ownership — as a neighborhood watering hole on a far-flung edge of Capitol Hill.

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13 thoughts on “Off Capitol Hill’s beaten path, Chico Madrid shutters — UPDATE: Fuel pops up

  1. It’s a shame to see them go. I’ve enjoyed a few summer dinners on their patio and I just stopped in for morning coffee for the first time recently. I live just a few blocks away and I want little off-the-beaten-path venues like this to succeed. Best of luck to the proprietors on their next plans.

  2. Not surprised. While their coffee was pretty great, the food was wildly overpriced for such outrageously small portions.

  3. It’s always sad to see a business close. Their coffee was really great. However, the food never seemed to come together. Really hope the next business that moves in does better.

  4. This is so sad. I loved that place, especially their white sangria and big windows. The Lookout bar has noise issues in an otherwise quiet area and it’s a single story building. Would a sports bar be a good fit under existing housing?

  5. I’ve been wondering when I would see this bit of news pop up. Not that I didn’t like the place–actually I thought it was really lovely–but the space and how it was laid out just never really made sense to me. Inside, it was quite small in the first place, and yet it seemed like they built a huge bar that took most of the seating area away. The big windows helped prevent it from feeling cramped, but it wasn’t very comfortable either, and more importantly there didn’t seem to be that many seats in there.

    The main saving grace for me was sitting outside on a nice summer day, but it’s not like we get that many of those around here.

    • Forgot to mention that even though the space didn’t “make sense to me”, I really did like the place a bunch, and I’m sad to see them go. I don’t know if that message made it on my first comment.

  6. This is sad news. Good food. Intimate space. Service was much more friendly than what we’d typically get at most other dining establishments. Restaurant was always clean! Most importantly, I loved the idea of the causal Spanish cafe with a small, focused menu. During the warmer months, there was nothing like enjoying a light dinner of one of their delicious sandwiches (my favorite was the Jamon y Queso) and sangria. I think the location was a factor. If they were on 15th Ave, for example, they might have done better with the foot traffic/visibility. To the owners, thank you for creating a dining experience that was different from what everyone else has been doing.

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