A mix of success with their growing events business and challenges to fine dining in the relentless development and construction zone that is Capitol Hill have convinced longtime Seattle food and drink veterans Heather and Scott Staples to transform 14th and Union’s Restaurant Zoe.
There is time for one last romantic dinner in Zoe as a full-fledged restaurant space — but after Valentine’s Day, it’s all about events.
“Fine dining has always been a bit of a challenge and a labor of love,” Heather Staples tells CHS. “Coupled with the construction challenges, it made it easier.”
Staples tells CHS that bookings at Staples Restaurant Group’s existing event space at Sole Repair — behind their Quinn’s Pub at 10th and Pike — have remained strong and present a new opportunity for the Staples as they transition yet again through 20 years of business in Seattle.
“I’ve had to really become an activist,” Staples said. “I feel like the city has really mismanaged the construction zone. We were just completely overwhelmed.”
“20 years we’ve been here, this is the toughest time,” she said.
But Staples says the change is as much about the strong business around events and weddings and a better fit for how Capitol Hill has changed since Zoe moved from Belltown and reopened on the Hill in February 2012. Zoe will also host pop-ups and cooking classes in the restaurant space.
In the bigger picture, Zoe’s end as a full-bore restaurant comes as the Capitol Hill food+drink boom seems to be continuing — with plenty of new openings planned — but with a flavor that is more pizza than flatbread. As for event spaces, they can take a place as a bit of food and drink purgatory in between an active space and shuttered, dark windows. Some, like the space left behind as Lark nestled into is lovely new home in the Central Agency Building, are mostly quiet, others like Sole Repair feel as busy as their neighboring bars and restaurants. Meanwhile, a growing contingent of spaces including one right next to Zoe at Oola Distillery or the Melrose Market Studios set out to be event spaces from the beginning in efforts to serve a pop-up, party, and private event-filled world. Meanwhile, especially around the holidays, the “Closed for Private Event” signs at your favorite hangout can be a ubiquitous bummer around Capitol Hill.
For the Staples, their businesses have grown to more than 100 employees around Capitol Hill, and the Uneeda and Feed Co. burger locations. Heather Staples says they continue to be concerned about the environment for businesses like theirs as construction continues and the changing minimum wage rises.
“We’ve owned restaurants in an interesting time,” she said, adding that she is happy to have in-house consulting for elements like social media from her daughter, the now 16-year-old Zoe.
“We’ve told our children this is a business,” Staples said of her namesake children Zoe and Quinn. “What happens to the businesses isn’t about you guys.”
Zoe, Heather Staples said, spent last summer working at Zoe but is more interested in art than the restaurant business. Quinn? He might want to talk with his mom about the development waves that have from time to time turned the family businesses into construction zones. After having seen more than a few restaurant buildouts, Quinn likes to build things.
Zoe is located at 1318 E Union. To reserve one last dinner and keep track of what’s next, check out restaurantzoe.com.
Capitol Hill food+drink notes
- No response from SDOT yet but Tango owner Travis Rosenthal passes along this photo of the interesting placement chosen for this postal box outside his Pike and Boren restaurant. Unsurprisingly, Rosenthal isn’t in love with the appearance of the new feature outside his popular date spot just in time for Valentine’s Day.
- Now open: Revolution Wine on E Pike with wines by the bottle or by the glass.
- Coming in March: Dino’s Tomato Pie at E Olive Way and Denny.
- Shuttered: Volunteer Park Cafe and Chop Shop sibling Canal Market down in Portage Bay.“It was a business decision. Ericka wants to focus on VPC and Chop, and spend time with her young son,” we’re told.
- Happy fifth birthday to Pel Meni Dumpling Tzar. To celebrate, new things at its new 12th Ave location:
The Capitol Hill location will debut new hand-crafted, small-batch dumplings and new specialty cocktails next week, with an introductory $12 tasting pairing offered on the half hour from 7-10 pm next Thursday, February 11 and Friday, February 12.
- The unholy pairing of the booze guys from Rhein Haus and the Linda Derchang Group is out with another special brew:
Derschang Group Beverage Director Myles Burroughs and Rhein Haus Bar Manager Ryan Minch are excited to announce the second release of their Perfect Strangers beer label. Perfect Strangers No. 2 Red Kolsch will be available beginning Friday, February 5th at Rhein Haus, Linda’s Tavern, Smith, and King’s Hardware, while supplies last. No. 2 Red Kolsch was brewed at Double Mountain Brewery in Hood River, Oregon alongside head brewer Kyle Larsen. Together, the team conceptualized a globally inspired hop forward red ale – the result, No. 2 Red Kolsch.
- Speaking of Linda, Linda’s Tavern turns 22 on 2/22:
- Kukai Ramen is now Kizuki Ramen and Izakaya. Make a note of it. The chain opened on E Pine in April 2015.
- Hot dog cart health alert!
County health nailed another 12th Ave hot dog cart pic.twitter.com/fKG2UYLsCq
— jseattle (@jseattle) February 8, 2016
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