With art at its soul, Arabica Lounge set to close on E Olive Way

(Image: Cafe Arabica)

(Image: Cafe Arabica)

Just short of her fifth birthday, Jojo Corväiá’s love at 1550 E Olive Way will come to an end. The artist who set out to build his own “hanging out place” and ended up with an unusual and usually delicious Capitol Hill cafe announced Sunday that he is closing down Arabica Lounge next month.

“The cafe inevitably attracted Seattle’s most inspiring and beautiful people into the space, fostering communication and collaboration,” an announcement/obituary posted to the Arabica Facebook page reads. “The atmosphere offered a level of intimacy nearly unknown in American culture, customers were engaged by the artist and his spacial work, and pushed, sometimes forced, into engagement with the space, the menu, the artwork shown at any given time, and most importantly, with themselves.”

The post says the cafe’s final day of business will be February 15th. “Corväiá’s prolific career will now take him to Berlin,” it concludes.

(Images: Cafe Arabica)

Corväiá opened Arabica in a former Supercuts in 2010 after months of work in the space:

People have been asking Arabica owner Jojo Corväiá what the space is going to be after undergoing such dramatic renovations. “I tell them, it’s gonna be a girl,” he said.

He talked about his philosophy as the cafe reached its second anniversary:

In the closure announcement, Corväiá called Arabica his “latest multi-discipline piece” a statement not likely to surprise any regular customer of the cafe’s ongoing, seemingly relentless experimentation.

UPDATE: A lawsuit brought against Corväiá for his part in a June 2010 incident in which Corväiá drove through a red light and collided with a bicyclist at 2nd and Madison was stayed earlier this year after the lounge owner declared bankruptcy. According to the bankruptcy records, Corväiá owed debtors $95,000 including more than $30,000 to the IRS at the time of the February filing. Court records also show a small $2,000 tax bill for the lounge owed to Washington State as of October.

There’s no indication what, if anything, is lined up next for the space. There are no construction permits on record and county records don’t indicate that the building has been sold by its longtime owner. The former home of the Bus Stop remains empty in the same building and a sign in the window of Apocalypse Tattoo notes the shop is now “by appointment only.”


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10 thoughts on “With art at its soul, Arabica Lounge set to close on E Olive Way

  1. Aw, I’ll definitely miss that place. It’s where I always took out-of-town guests who wanted a nice fancy drink, dessert or brunch. I loved their chipotle chai, and their omelets were amazing. The art was always a nice distraction as well.

  2. Pingback: Farewell Arabica Lounge

  3. I noticed that In the Bowl Bistro was gutted the other day when I was walking by. Do we know if they are renovating or if they’ll be closing? I assumed it was a renovation but with Bus Stop gone, Arabica leaving, and Apocalypse moving to Fremont as Chivahn posted I wonder if there are some bigger plans for the building.

  4. What a bummer, this was by far my favorite place on the hill for a coffee. A great vibe and fantastic mix of art and well curated furniture.

    Best of luck on your next project Jojo! Now I’m gonna have to make a trip to Berlin.

  5. In the Bowl seems to be one of the last remaining tenants. In regard to Tom’s commet, it seems that the owner of In the Bowl was just renovating the space.

    As much as I love In the Bowl, I really want that building to be redeveloped. That building has become a blight onto that street corner, with graffiti covering all sides of the building. That street corner would look a lot better once a developer inevitably seizes that property. Given the building’s facade, I expect a development which will preserve the facade.

  6. Pingback: Capitol Hill food+drink | Sports bar Kessler’s will ‘touchdown’ on E Olive Way | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

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