Broadway has chewed up and spit out another national chain — though this one took longer than most. Capitol Hill customers hoping for a bagel, coffee, and maybe some wi-fi were greeted by the dreaded paper sign in the window Tuesday.
Broadway’s Einstein Bros. Bagels, the spacious provider of boiled and baked bread at scale and a comfortably corporate place to hang out or stop through with your luggage on your way to Capitol Hill Station, is closed.
The company has been part of Broadway in the same block for years, originally under its flagship Noah’s brand. After making way for the demolition of its original home to make way for construction of the block-long Lyric building, the chain was one of few businesses to make good on pledges to return after being displaced by development.
Noah’s storefront was featured prominently in the design review renderings of the 235-unit building while others that made way including Cafe Septieme and Pho 900, did not. Noah’s joined Bank of America in returning to the block — but under the company’s younger Einstein Bros. brand. The new Einstein Bros. opened for business in late 2012.
We’ve asked the Colorado-headquartered company for more information on the closure. The brand manages its own chain of outlets as well as a franchise program. In early 2015, the company announced it was closing dozens of “underperforming” locations. The company was acquired by a private equity firm in 2014. At the time, the company was said to “operate, franchise and license” more than 850 restaurants in 42 states. City and state records indicate the Broadway store as well as the three other locations around Seattle are owned and operated by the Noah’s company.
The closure represents more evidence of the struggles chain concepts and “limited service” restaurants have faced on Broadway despite the area’s booming population and busy assets like Capitol Hill Station. Many of these concepts — take, for example, MOD Pizza, have thrived in other environments around Seattle and beyond while struggling to catch with Capitol Hill customers. Meanwhile, franchises and chains have also exited the street as Seattle’s minimum wage schedule kicks in, treating the conglomerate-backed businesses often owned by local entrepreneurs like larger employers. So far, the exits have been matched mostly by smaller chains and local operations.
Wednesday, a worker was already removing the Einstein Bros. signs from outside the papered-over windows on Broadway. The blocks between the now empty store and Capitol Hill Station continue to have some major retail holes including the giant space left empty by the move of the Castle Megastore to E Pike. The exit of another giant chain was filled by the United States Postal Service when Officemax bailed on Broadway. Meanwhile, as the Lyric building went up, CHS was flooded with rumors of a McDonald’s coming to the block. With the demolition paperwork underway on First Hill, maybe it’s time to for another massive chain to give Broadway a try.