Capitol Hill food+drink | The Harry’s Fine Foods transformation

The intriguing Harry’s Fine Foods project — as CHS called it back in September 2015 — is rounding into shape for a summer opening inside a transformed convenience store at the corner of Bellevue and Mercer.

“A jewel box” is how the contractors refer to the project which is set to restore the old market’s exterior befitting the building’s history and fill it with finely crafted elements and recovered, restored finishings including the old store’s refrigerator case, fully gutted and recreated for a new life inside the new Harry’s.

“The extra time has allowed us to make some very styled decisions,” Julian Hagood quipped as he gave CHS a cup of coffee and a tour of the under-construction restaurant and the completed apartment the chef/owner calls home upstairs.

Or, really, up-ladder. Metis, the contracting company Hagood turned to after construction on the restaurant bogged down earlier the project, had just removed the 1910-built building’s old staircase approach to the upper level and given the chef a tall ladder in its place. If all stays on the new pace, Harry’s Fine Foods will be open by July or August.

When it does, the neighborhood around Bellevue and Mercer will have a new daytime hangout — to start with. Hagood and partner in crime Alexa Dallas plan to open with a breakfast, brunch, and lunch focus before dipping toes into the dinner and nighttime bar business. With menus honed by the duo’s booming catering business, Harry’s will feature cafe offerings with vegetarian influences and a light, nutritious approach. A patio is being built behind the old store abutting the old house next door and windows are being designed to be opened wide to transform the rebuilt store into an open, airy cafe. The old refrigerator will be put to work with meals to-go and prepared items like parfaits for neighbors to grab and go. There should also be beer and wine for sale.

The project is an ambitious one — even beyond the kitchen. A company run by real estate broker to Seattle’s food and drink stars, Laura Miller, purchased the property in the summer of 2014 for $560,000 according to county records. Miller said the building is the fourth that she’s developed in Seattle — but first on Capitol Hill. To transform it from a market to a restaurant, Miller and Hagood had to navigate the city’s change of use process and make sure the surrounding community supported the new life for the old building.

The Lucullan Repast catering business will provide the Harry’s venture with an ongoing financial underpinning to allow it to grow at its own pace, Dallas said. Some consulting along the way has also helped. Dallas said that dinner and a nighttime scene will eventually be developed once Harry’s Fine Foods settles in. So far, relationships with the new neighbors seems to be going well from the apartment dwellers up and down Bellevue, to the woman who has lived next door on E Mercer for decades and was happy to help Hagood make sure the new cement outside the restaurant dried without disturbance as she sat in her yard and watch the Capitol Hill scenes of Bellevue at Mercer.

Even the potential tragedy of the theft in October of the original Harry’s signs has turned out just fine. Hagood said the signs never turned up despite a search of area vintage shops and reclaimed construction suppliers. With the extra time as the construction and permitting process has played out, the replica vintage replacements are already in place.

Harry’s Fine Foods will open later this summer at 601 Bellevue Ave E.

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • Speaking of old Capitol Hill bodegas becoming new Capitol Hill restaurants, bids are already coming in for the space formerly home to Benson’s at Bellevue and Pike.
  • 10869578_582513538548627_3585756488674336909_oWe were sad to report on the sudden closure of Culture Club cheese bar and the Calf and Kid cheese counter with it. After our initial report, we were able to catch up with owner Sheri LaVigne about the situation. You can see what she had to say here. Thinking about doing something with cheese? Call her: “I don’t think I’m completely done doing cheese but I don’t know what the next thing is going to look like. If somebody else wants to take a stab at it, I hope they call me.”
  • You can also stop by LaVigne’s “Cheese Fire Sale” to help her clean out her inventory and get a few great deals on cheese. Saturday and Sunday.
  • More cheese, Free pizza Saturday as one of the key early Pagliacci locations adds a slice bar on North Capitol Hill.
  • Saturday, the original Sun Liquor celebrates 10 years:
    We are celebrating 10 YEARS in our little haven on Capitol Hill. We can hardly believe its been that long. We’ll have a food truck, drink specials, lots of our favorites behind & in front of the bar.
  • Capitol Hill-born Red Mill Burgers got itself in a hot Seattle mess this week.
  • Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches is now open on 12th Ave inside Rachel’s Ginger Beer.

    (Image: Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches)

    (Image: Sunset Fried Chicken Sandwiches)

  • Byrek and Baguettebringing one of the best street pastries in the world to 12th Ave — is now also open in the Belleve Square mall.
  • Here’s a different way to enjoy Seattle Beer Week: the first ever Seattle Beer Week Fun Run: “Rhein Haus>Mollusk>Stoup”
  • Here’s one Seattle Beer Week preview.
  • Broadway’s Americana has a new sibling:
    Cucina Americana is the second location opened by Chef Jeffrey Wilson of the famous Americana Restaurant in Capitol Hill. His newest location and concept in Maple Leaf is rustic Italian. Chef Derek May stays true to the Americana motto of locally sourced, organic, house made fares, with rotating specials and amazing cocktails.
    Jeffrey Wilson opened Americana on Broadway in 2011.
  • I’d eat it

  • Knee High - 8 of 30On one hand, Knee High Stock Co. owner Jack Valko says the Capitol Hill speakeasy is changing with the trends. “I think it’s played out because craft cocktailing has gone mainstream. So, mission accomplished.” On the other? They just added a “secret” lounge.
  • Lark is taking locally sourced to a new level collaborating with the urban farmers in the new Capitol Hill Urban Cohousing project on a new garden high above 12th Ave.
  • The Seattle Public Library will host an orientation where restaurant business owners and entrepreneurs can connect with food business resources from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 17 at the Rainier Beach Branch, 9125 Rainier Ave. S., 206-386-1906.
  • 19th Ave E’s Hello Robin has an interesting new cookie — sales benefit nearby Stevens Elementary.13173919_10154152217099293_1602101302224372783_n
  • The Quinn’s family is ready to expand. Fresh off the transition of Zoe from restaurant to event space, the Staples are bringing their Feed Co. Burgers concept to the Central District.
  • “P… R… I’d like to buy a vowel…,” Wheel of Fortune does Trove

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8 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | The Harry’s Fine Foods transformation

  1. I walked by Harry’s this morning, and am surprised and pleased it is projected to open in July or August! It doesn’t look like much has happened from the outside. Another neighborhood restaurant will be a welcome addition.

  2. Harry’s Fine Foods has great potential. Ernest Hemingway drank Montgomery martinis at Harry’s bar in Venice. Ernest and Agnes is now a restaurant on Cap. Hill. Maybe this looks to the best of the romantic past. It’s a great namesake, and I wish them the best of luck. Can’t wait ’til there is a new signature cocktail named after them. Something Vintage. “Sign Stealer Beware” maybe, or “The Sign of the Times.”

  3. It’s nice that they’re renovating the place, although, I hope it doesn’t increase noise on the block considerably.

  4. So far they’ve been very loud and inconsiderate since they’ve moved in. They don’t seem aware how sound bounces around here and that there are hundreds of people around them that are not used to loud parties and music blaring. They are acting like the whole neighborhood is theirs alone. They have done some nice positive things to the building, just hope they settle down and gain some awareness of their surroundings.

    • They’ve been playing loud music regularly. This neighborhood is usually pretty quiet, so the music and outdoor parties have felt disruptive. Maybe it’s just during construction, though. I hope that once the restaurant is going that it will be a more mellow environment.