Capitol Hill food+drink | Financial trouble hits Tavern Law family of businesses

The Seattle Times this week has reported on the “financial trouble” and demise of Belltown’s Spur Gastropub, apparently a weak link in the food+drink chain of pubs, restaurants, and taverns assembled since the late 2000s by the chef duo of Brian McCracken and Dana Tough.

The McCracken-Tough Capitol Hill interests Tavern Law and The Old Sage, both men tell the Times, will not be closing.

That may well be. But Spur’s closure doesn’t mean the financial issues are solved. Court records reveal that earlier this month, King County Superior Court Judge John H. Chun signed a summary judgement detailing more than $1.2 million owed for a loan McCracken took from his father in 2009.

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The April 1st ruling puts payment of the loan on the clock with each tick adding more to the total. According to the court records, McCracken has been fighting the lawsuit since it was filed last September by KeyBank, which had obtained the note from McCracken’s father, Roger McCracken, in 2012.

The original loan was for $652,305. Attorneys have argued over how much of it was paid, whether Brian McCracken’s wife should also be on the hook for the debt, and how much, exactly, the amount owed had ballooned to thanks to interest.

McCracken and Tough brought their vision to the Capitol Hill food and drink scene in 2009 with the opening of Tavern Law. In 2013 after a longer than expected opening process, The Old Sage marked the duo’s second venue on 12th Ave. In the meantime, Spur Gastropub and The Coterie Room, before it transitioned into an event space, made for a constellation of buzzworthy businesses around the city.

“Honestly we couldn’t afford to keep afloat there,” Tough told Seattle Met about Spur’s closure in Belltown. “Staying open and trying to figure it out would have been more compromising for everybody involved.”

CHS asked McCracken about what role the April 1st judgement played in the decision to close Spur and how it will impact the partnership’s ongoing businesses. McCracken called the lawsuit a “family matter that has no bearing on any of our restaurants” and declined to speak to details about the case.

We also asked him if he was worried about a similar slowdown to what he saw in Belltown appearing in the Capitol Hill restaurant scene.

“Our Tavern Law and Old Sage customers are some of the most supportive in Seattle,” McCracken said. “We wouldn’t be here without them. And we look forward to serving the neighborhood for as long as we can.”

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • BONUS UPDATE: Happy birthday!

  • Honor Coffee has signed a lease to open its second Capitol Hill location on Broadway in the old Crazy Cherry space. Its first on the Hill opened at 15th and Pine as the company gears up for what it hopes is eventual international expansion. Honor plans to double its locations to 10 around Seattle by the end of 2016.
  • Belgian waffle shop Sweet Iron is coming to Pike/Pine.
  • Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches opening soooon on 12th Ave.
  • Corvus and Co. lands in May. Unless it changes its name again.
  • What would happen if somebody tracked “farm to table” in Seattle?
  • The Central District has Seattle’s first kombucha brewery at CommuniTea. Of course it does.
  • Sad news for Elysian:
    Our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Ben Cox, Great Brewer at Elysian Capitol Hill and all around good dude. He will be missed.
  • Oddball burgers” now at Chop Suey? Via Los Angeles.
  • Closed: First Hill’s Kafe Berlin
  • Now at Ba Barfresh noodles:

    (Image: Ba Bar)

    Sophie and Eric Banh are changing the way they serve pho at their beloved street food joint: they’re adding texture and taste to their bowls of soup with amazing fresh rice noodles. Every bowl of pho that comes out of Ba Bar’s busy kitchen will now be full of hand-cut fresh rice noodles. In contrast to the dried noodles that are most commonly used in pho, the hand cut noodles are softer, fresher, and tastier—the texture is velvety and the non-uniform cuts make for a more interesting bowl overall. Dried noodles also expand and leach starch into the soup—fresh noodles are already cooked, so they retain the same consistency throughout a meal and do not continue to absorb the broth.

  • Outdoor drinking spaces in Seattle? Probably not all fun and games.
  • Little Uncle is putting its old walk-up counter to work with the occasional pop-up. You missed this one. Watch for more.
  • Don’t forget: Dining out for Life 2016 in Seattle is April 28th.
  • What’s up at Knee High?


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6 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Financial trouble hits Tavern Law family of businesses

  1. Ugh, those high-rolling scenester chef types can fuck right off. All bank-rolled by Daddy. They deserve to go out of business.

    • $650K does not open up a whole family of restaurants. Thought I’d clue you in on that because you obviously have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • Please provide data that show such restaurant owners have been financed by “Daddy.” I doubt you have such information.

  2. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like 80% of today’s urban restaurant “chains” or confederations are a financial house-of-cards, held together by bailing wire & duct tape….