A read of our CHS Year in Review write-ups traces the growth of Capitol Hill’s bar and restaurant economy from an explosive, cultural and creative shift three years ago into a new era of big-time investments from deeply talented, highly ambitious creators to capitalize on the scenes. Last year, we noted that projects had gone big. By 2014, we saw the start of the next phase: huge. In the mix, CHS also found the tiny and the micro, the no-concept and the highest-concept, the sure to succeed and the surely doomed.
Lurking beneath this relentless growth is the sense that it all cannot continue. That this is a boom. And, therefore, there must be a bust. Nothing busted in Capitol Hill food and drink in 2014. We’re not in the prediction game but even the triumph of a (phased-in) $15/hour minimum wage didn’t slow things down appreciably in 2014.
UPDATE 12/31/14: Inspired by the prevalence of “Capitol Hill” in these answers, we’ve pulled together an unofficial tally of Capitol Hill food+drink openings by year. The Class of 2012 will have quite a reunion party! Typical caveats apply. For one, we lump in parts of First Hill, Central District, Madison Valley, and Montlake over the years. For two, we had to make a call for places like Tallulah’s that opened in late December. You can see what is included in the rosters below.
Below is our take on the year in food and drink on Capitol Hill in 2014. You can also check out our coverage from past New Years and the rest of our year in review 2014 coverage.
- CHS YIR 2013 — Capitol Hill food+drink goes big — and small
- CHS YIR 2012 — Capitol Hill food+drink doubles down
- CHS YIR 2011 — The year Capitol Hill Food+Drink broke
CHS Year in Review 2014: Development | Food+Drink |
Many food and drink investments on Capitol Hill in 2014 were off the scale. It wasn’t only Starbucks creating megaplexes in the neighborhood. The opening of the $30 millionish Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room (where the first Capitol Hill project by Seattle’s biggest restaurateur is a mere footnote) at Melrose and Pike in December may have set a new bar for Capitol Hill complexes but there will be plenty more to come. The 2014 complex vintage will be remembered also for the birth of the Central Agency Building and the star-sparkled new home for Hill longtimer Lark which, as CHS described, had to belly up to the bar and take on three additional spaces in the project to secure its anchor status. Meanwhile, another food and drink marketplace was pushed back to next year as the incredible people involved in the Chophouse Row project gear up for 2015. There were “smaller” big projects in 2014. Mezcaleria Oaxaca debuted in February on E Pine after a long buildout and total overhaul of one of the last remaining auto garages on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, Rachel Yang’s gastronomical “fourplex” Trove opened completing the overhaul of an E Pike auto row building. The future? Well, we know of at least one more Capitol Hill complex being lined up. Goodbye, Harvard Exit.
While all that sexy stuff was going on, the environment surrounding the seemingly booming food and drink economy on Capitol Hill experienced the early stages of significant change. Despite the attempt from some local restaurant and bar owners to push back (with some taking heat for the opposition), the mayor signed the law to phase in Seattle’s $15 minimum wage in a summer ceremony in Cal Anderson. The phase-in is slated to begin in April 2015. Meanwhile, the success of mainstream Pike/Pine food and drink ventures came at a price for gay nightlife in the area. One example: The Lobby Bar lost its lease after five years on E Pike. Bar owners of all stripes also found themselves going up against a new competitor for the Seattle consumer’s entertainment dollar: Uncle Ike’s, the first I-502 pot shop in the area, opened in September at 23rd and Union.
Before we get to all the rookies that made their debut in 2014, let’s remember the big changes from the Capitol Hill food+drink veterans and the passages of the dearly beloved.
- The Comet reopened after its late 2013 closure… with new owners.
- The Canterbury reopened after its late 2013 closure… with new owners.
- Von Trapp’s became Rhein Haus.
- 611 Supreme closed after 18 years on E Pine. The backers of Canadian-born izakaya Suika made 611 owner Margaret Edwins an offer she couldn’t refuse and opened in the space at the close of 2014.
- Aleks Dimitrijevich snuffed his own Bellevue Ave creation and created Spaghetti Western in its place.
- Chico Madrid became Cafe Barjot and everybody was happy.
- Dinette became Revolver, Capitol Hill’s first vinyl bar.
- The Tango sibling Corretto landed on Broadway and took over the former Panevino with coffee, corrected.
- Nuflours started a new life in a 15th Ave E space dedicated to baking for 80 years.
- Capitol Cider moved forward under an accidental tavern keeper.
- Sur 16 worked on replacing 15th Ave E’s Bagel Deli which exited the street after 30 years.
- Dulces died for a third time — this time at 19th and Madison. Thudsuan Kitchen and Bar made the corner its new home.
- Tea Republik replaced Cintli on Broadway.
- Catfish Corner, RIP.
- Philadelphia Fevre, RIP.
- Piecora’s, RIP. (update)
- 22 Doors was closed by the time New Year’s 2014 hit… and the space remains empty.
- Lost Lake/Comet/Big Mario’s swallowed Grim’s.
- Porchlight triumphantly returned to its 14th Ave birthlplace after the friendliest of displacements. (update)
- World of Beers went indie — welcome 500 East. (update)
- Linda’s turned 20.
- R Place turned 30.
- Caffe Vita turned 20 or 19… let’s just focus on 1995 when Out of Paradiso emerged Caffe Vita — and decades of Capitol Hill coffee culture.
- Black Coffee, RIP.
- Canon was dubbed one of the greatest bars… in the world.
- Villa Escondida replaced Torteria Barriga Llena.
- Kanak replaced Harissa on 15th Ave E.
- Boom Noodle transformed into Kaisho on E Pike.
- Traveler Montlake replaced the Montlake Alehouse.
- Than Brothers Broadway moved… across the street!
- Upscale Restaurant Marron replaced upscale Olivar in the Loveless Building. And kept the murals.
- Highline brought back its food.
We’ll wrap up this look back at the year that was with a dozen or so more of the projects that debuted on and around Capitol Hill in 2014. We probably left a few worthy openings off the list. Let us know what we missed in comments. Happy New Year.
- A change or a “first look” at Nacho Borracho? Whatever. Rachel Marshall and Kate Opatz brough Tex Mex via Montana via the PNW to Broadway.
- Yes, there was a time before Chuck’s. The beer-y life-changing shop made its debut in the Central District in early January 2014.
- Cafe Solstice made a return to its roots with its giant new Capitol Hill location.
- Single Shot debuted on Summit Ave in a former photography studio next to Top Pot.
- 2013 or 2014? Those late December birthdays are tricky. We’ll give Linda the benefit of the doubt and recognize Tallulah’s debut, again. Hello Robin and Cone and Steiner, too.
- Stateside added its take on French Vietnamese to the Melrose scene with its new space behind Six Arms on E Pike.
- Zhu Dang melded traditional Chinese with new flavors while putting a failed nightclub space back into motion on E Olive Way.
- Shibumi brought a one-of-a-kind chef and fine Japanese cuisine to new construction on E Pine.
- The Rhino Room opened in a possibly doomed space at 11th and Pine.
- Tougo Coffee stretched out and opened sibling charcuterie and wine spot Bannister next door on 18th Ave.
- Sam’s Moroccan Sandwich Shop opened at 23rd and Union.
- Inès Pâtisserie began baking its incredible croissants at 11th and Madison.