Capitol Hill food+drink | Pike/Pine partners behind Lost Lake, Comet plan Italian restaurant and bar to replace Kingfish Cafe

By June, the Capitol Hill Block Party will extend all the way to 19th Ave E.

CHS has learned that the acquisitive partnership behind Lost Lake, the Comet, and Big Mario’s is the lucky winner in the bid to take over the former home of the Kingfish Cafe after the legendary soul food restaurant closed amid a wave of nostalgia and long lines to start 2015.

The new project on the northeast corner of 19th Ave E and E Mercer from Jason LaJeunesse, David Meinert, and Joey Burgess is planned to transform the longtime home of the Kingfish into an Italian restaurant and bar serving “pizza, panini sandwiches and handmade pastas” and open for lunch and dinner. A “full brunch menu” will be available on weekends.

“We aim to be a comfortable neighborhood hangout, and hope to complement the existing neighborhood restaurants,” said LaJeunesse in an announcement of the new project. “The goal is to be a spot diners and drinkers frequent often, and when they come, they want to stay a while.”

In a format similar to the set-up at Lost Lake, half of the 19th and Mercer space will be a sit-down restaurant serving “family-friendly Italian” food while the other will be the darker, seedier side of things where the dads and moms around St. Joe’s and Stevens Elementary go to hide out for a bit and enjoy “a full service bar featuring great beer and cocktails.”

(Image: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

IMG_7278The partners are still working on a name for the new project. We’ll let you make a few suggestions in comments. We’d eat — and drink — at LaJeunesse’s or Big Dave’s. The doors are expected to open in “early June” after the old space is cleaned out and redone.

Rumors and speculation about what would come next rattled around 19th Ave E following the dramatic surprise ending to 18 years of the Kingfish in January. CHS heard reports of various big players in Capitol Hill and Seattle food and drink touring the space. In the end, the Guild Seattle partnership from LaJeunesse, Meinert, and Burgess sealed the deal to join what has become a busy area for food and drink following the opening of the 19th and Mercer building in late 2013 and food and drink tenants Tallulah’s, Cone and Steiner, and cookie shop Hello Robin joining the blocks already home to Monsoon, and Vios.

Add Fuel Coffee, a Tully’s, and the Volunteer Park Cafe only a short walk away and you have the makings of a full-on Capitol Hill-style foodie neighborhood. Please remember to exercise between meals, neighbors. The coming-soon yoga studio on the block might help.

The project is also part of a steady drumbeat of activity for the partners. Last fall, the group announced it was acquiring 11th Ave’s Grim’s. A year ago Tuesday, the partnership reopened the Comet after a good scrub and an overhaul. Earlier, LaJeunesse and Meinert were previously lined up to take over ye old Canterbury space before backing out and leaving that quiet side of Capitol Hill deal to Mike Meckling and James Snyder, two other big-time players in the Pike/Pine scene. Given the current direction of things, all we can say is watch out Montlake — Pike/Pine is coming for you.

Meanwhile, this is the second big piece of LaJuenesse-driven news this week on CHS following Tuesday’s 2015 Capitol Hill Block Party announcement. LaJuenesse is a founder of the three-day music festival that transforms the streets of Pike/Pine into a concert venue. We should also note that Lost Lake and the Comet are longtime CHS advertisers. To start the week, we also talked with Meinert who was a member of the mayor’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee that helped pound out the compromise minimum wage law set to begin its first phase of implementation Wednesday.

According to Guild Seattle, the partnership now employs more than 200 people to run its venues across Capitol Hill.

As for the sisters behind the Kingfish, CHS talked with Laurie and Leslie Coaston about the old restaurant space and their decision to shift gears to a planned fleet of smaller Kingfish Cafes around the city. “I think a lot of people come here for a Kingfish experience, not just for dinner,” Leslie told us at the time. “We just did it our way, and it has become what it is.”

Sounds like good advice for the new joint at 19th and Mercer — whatever they end up calling it.

UPDATE: Here’s the full announcement on the new project:

Guild Seattle Expands this Spring with a new Italian Restaurant and Neighborhood Bar
This Spring, the owners of Lost Lake Cafe, Comet Tavern, Grim’s and 2/3 of Big Mario’s Pizza, are taking it up a culinary notch with a family-friendly Italian restaurant/bar combination.

The yet-to-be-named endeavor will be located at 600 and 602 19th Ave. and is slated to open it’s doors in early June.

One half will be a sit-down style restaurant serving brunch, lunch and dinner. It will feature pizza, panini sandwiches and handmade pastas, with a full brunch menu available Saturday and Sundays. There will also be an extensive wine list featuring both local and Italian wines. The other half will be a full service bar featuring great beer and cocktails, and can be expected to become an essential neighborhood gathering place and hangout.

“We aim to be a comfortable neighborhood hangout, and hope to compliment the existing neighborhood restaurants,” says owner Jason LaJeunesse. “The goal is to be a spot diners and drinkers frequent often, and when they come, they want to stay a while.”

About Guild Seattle:

Guild Seattle strives to create unique, affordable neighborhood gathering spaces that promote personality, preservation and progress through great food and drinks, music and community engagement. The group oversees the operations of Lost Lake Café, Comet Tavern, Grim’s and employs more than 200 people – including artists, musicians, performers and many on the outer edges of the mainstream.

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • The Canterburywith its “British Isles pub food” — will now serve lunch:
    The Canterbury Ale House, Capitol Hill’s own English Pub will now be serving lunch starting April 2. Running from 11am to 2pm, the Canterbury Ale House’ new lunch menu will consist of affordable dishes made with local ingredients all while remaining under $10.00.
  • Spaghetti Western is no more. “Five years of exhausting work, no vacations and no free time will suffice as reason enough,” owner Aleks Dimitrijevich writes. He still has a lease on the space and is looking for pop-ups or rentals to put it to use.
  • Sam’s Tavern South Lake Union?
  • Frequent Capitol Hill pop-up Campfire BBQ has a new downtown location for its “chuckwagon.”
  • Li’l Woody’s Burger Month (CHS wrote about here) is getting a bonus week:11072932_924399694257738_375912245726636492_n
  • Zaw has sprung back to life at 15th and Pine only this time the pizza chain concept is trying something new — cooking the pizza.
  • Will gnocchi *and* gelato be the recipe for success at 12th and Pine? Gnocchi Bar will find out.
  •  Happy 10 years to unnamed 19th Ave E Italian restaurant project neighbor Fuel Coffee. It sounds like founder Dani Cone isn’t done.
  • Happy 2 years to the Central District’s Standard BrewingIMG_6900-600x400 (2)
  • “When Single Shot holds back, the dishes soar, and Sherrill’s creativity can shine rather than be buried under ingredients…
  • “On one night I ate at Lark, Sundstrom was present in the kitchen and also out and about in the dining room, which may account for the superior execution of the food…
  • Capitol Cider — and Seattle — get a shout out as New York City finally gets a cider bar.
  • Yes, The Cuff has new ownership. Kind of.
  • TBD by chef Zach Chambers pops up on Sundays at Bar Sue.
  • Not content with opening a restaurant on every corner of Central Seattle, Ethan Stowell is taking over the restaurant at the Four Seasons. We heard he was also in on the old Kingfish space, by the way. Of course.
  • The Latona Pub is holding a “Dick Cantwell Appreciation Night” on April 13th. CHS talked to the brewing legend here about how the Elysian Brewing acquisition played out.
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14 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Pike/Pine partners behind Lost Lake, Comet plan Italian restaurant and bar to replace Kingfish Cafe

  1. Bigger Mario’s.

    Because Rione, Palermo and Olympia Pizza–all five blocks away–aren’t enough. I’d rather any actual restaurateur open an actual restaurant in that space rather than two entertainment moguls open a “restaurant” a la the facsimiles that are Lost Lake and the Comet.

    • I agree. I was hoping for a clearly family friendly place, but we really don’t need more family friendly Italian. Olympia already fills that need.

  2. What made Kingfish so amazing and successful is that it was actually authentic and a nice change of pace from all of the Asian / Italian / nouveau “American” places in town.

    Jason and Dave have done a lot of great things for this town, but this one seems like a total phone in for a business venture. Like previous people said, this area is more than covered on Italian options a mere 4 blocks away.

  3. For a neighborhood losing its homos, the hill is certainly becoming homogenous in its business owners.

    See, Dave, that’s how you use “its” correctly, as opposed to “it’s”. Or on the Comet’s sign, “alway’s”.

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