Charlie’s on Broadway closes… again — UPDATE

img_0236img_0234They said 2017 would be better. They were wrong. In an already bummer week, the reborn Charlie’s on Broadway has told employees not to come in Tuesday and posted the dreaded thank you note to the community in the window of the entrance:

With the ending of our one-year lease, we were faced with a difficult decision. Charlie’s holds a special place in our hearts. However, due to economic factors of the restaurant industry, as of Tuesday January 10th, 2017 we will be closed. Being a part of the Capitol Hill community has been an honor, and we will miss the community deeply.

Charlie’s on Broadway, at least in its latest incarnation, is gone.

Reborn under The Lodge Sports Grille family of restaurants, Charlie’s reopened in December 2015 with an attempt to keep the basic 217 Broadway E recipe the same while updating the business just enough to help it survive for another 39 years.

That attempt, ownership said in its letter thanking customers and notifying them of the immediate closure, did not work out.

UPDATE 2:00 PM: The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in November listing ten businesses it operated including Charlie’s. The filing listed total liabilities of more than $5.7 million. Included in that was a nearly $2 million disputed claim from the IRS, more than $860,000 in a disputed claim from Homeland Security/ICE Investigations, and $750,000 owed to the state. The company owned by husband and wife Shawn Roten and Elizabeth Stewart according to state records continues to run seven restaurants under The Lodge Sports Grille brand in the Seattle area with an eighth on the way. In November, owners told the West Seattle Blog the company was proceeding with an opening in that neighborhood despite the filing. According to state records, the corporate registration for the holding company is inactive and expired last August.

With Capitol Hill Station in place and Broadway hopefully on the upswing, we asked Roten about the timing of his decision not to sign up for a longer lease after the first year agreement ran out.

“That’s what we were kind of looking forward to,” Roten said. “The sales were just really low. Lease was too high, sales were too low.”

Roten said with the bankruptcy process underway, he had to close underperforming locations. “The Lodge is a reorganization. I was a little overaggressive on expanding. In six months, we’ll be OK.”

Roten did leave a parting gift on Broadway — the brand stays with the building meaning a new tenant could give the old Charlie’s another spin.

“I think it’s a mom and pop organization kind of place,” Roten tells CHS. “If somebody wanted to operate it themselves, be there every day, they could definitely make it work.”

After 39 years, Charlie’s owner Ken Bauer gives his regards to Broadway

Longtime owner Ken Bauer helped open Charlie’s in 1976, taking it over in 2000 after the restaurant’s namesake owner passed away. As the end of the lease agreement approached, Bauer started looking to sell but found no buyers for years. CHS broke the bittersweet news of Bauer’s long-awaited retirement and Charlie’s first closure in June of 2015.

The Charlie’s recipe, however, would never fully be replicated. Bauer reached an agreement to sell only the restaurant’s name to the new owners meaning many longtime Charlie’s favorites would never return to the menu.

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34 thoughts on “Charlie’s on Broadway closes… again — UPDATE

  1. I mean, you can’t just come from Marysville or Mulkiteo or wherever and slap a neighborhood institution name on your shitty suburb chain place and expect people will just rush the door.

    Charlies died when they closed last time. No surprise this place failed.

  2. Between extremely awkward bartenders, mediocre food (at best) and too many seats this place was doomed. It’s such a beautiful space. I hope someone with a vision can come in and make it work as it has a lot of history.

    • I tried the place several times and encountered the awkward silence between the bartender (I think manager too) and myself. He’d come up and stand there. I would initiate the dialogue. He did not say but a couple words. Maybe he’s shy, and shouldn’t be in the service industry. I tried to like the place, I really did.

  3. Unfortunately, the new Charlie’s was a huge disappointment for me. The drink menu got lobotomized (old Charlie’s had 9+ alcoholic drinks that were _hot_, the most I’ve ever seen). The breakfast menu was gutted. Service was hit and miss (an _hour_ from ‘done eating food’ to ‘all paid and can leave’?). I liked how they renovated the interior but the food and drinks took a serious dive. I gave them multiple chances and gave them feedback in sincere hopes they would improve but after ~6 months I had to let go. The Charlie’s I knew and loved already died a year ago.

  4. I think the lesson here is that Broadway isn’t the place for a full-blown sports bar. For me, Charlie’s was all about having conversations with friends while eating old-timey comfort food.

    It turned into this awful drafty open space where you couldn’t avoid the blare of a stupid TV. Good riddance.

  5. The new Charlies had really poor service and the food was always disappointing. I went there often to enjoy the beautiful billiards room, regardless of the depressingly-quiet vibe. Their closing is no surprise, and I just wonder why they didn’t take steps to improve service & food. I think a sports bar can survive around there as long as the basics are done right. Make a good cheap bloody mary and hook up a big old shicken fried steak breakfast! In other words, it should’ve just been the old Charlies, only cleaner..

    • Funny you should say that…I only ate there twice after their re-opening, and I actually had chicken fried steak breakfast both times. I thought it was pretty good. But that’s the only thing I tried. It’s too bad, it had potential. Broadway isn’t easy anymore, that’s for sure.

  6. Ok as a trained chef with over 25 years in the business here is my take on it they went from a serious established menu to this pub grub food and failed horribly, the drink menu was more then lobotomized it was cut to cost { meaning more profit for the owner} and didnt even come close to keeping with the clientele , now many restaurants have tried the lets keep the name but change things around and failed, some have succeeded like the canterbury it went from a dive where alcoholics went to die , to a really nice pub it kept some of the aesthetics of the old place { the armor} but not all places can do that. charlies2.0 was a sad sad place charlies dies in 2015

  7. I live nearby and just somehow never warmed to the place. It seemed that everyone did one or more things better than they did…their food was meh…drinks just ok, service meh…etc…I’d love to see something fun…maybe like Flatsticks in Pioneer Square…something to DO there other than just eat and drink…?…

  8. No surprise here. The servers were some of the worst on the hill. They would yell to seat yourself when you walked in and then ignore you for at least 10 minutes. They would constantly ignore kitchen calls for food that was ready in the window. It took forever to get a check and close out. If anything single thing killed this reincarnation, it was the front of house staff and their lack of training.

  9. They were horrible when they reopened. The manager they hired was a tell-tale sign of how bad this place was going to be. Gave them 4 different tries to see if they have improved and the food/service/management was horrible and had no idea of how to even prepare any kind of food. Not bothered by their closing, actually glad that another horrible restaurant went by the wayside. Time now for a real restaurant to step up.

  10. Too bad, I had hopes when they kept the Charlie’s name but it just wasn’t good. I’m hoping they split off the back bar and keep it divey, with only entrance in the alley.

  11. There is a particular nuance to warmth, sincerity, service, food and decor. The previous Charlie’s had this. The new Charlie’s flat out did not. People are looking for a sense that they just maybe in someone’s “home.” The new Charlie’s gutted this. Completely clueless as to what makes an establishment successful. In part, its soul.

  12. Not surprised. The service was horrible! We tried several times to breathe life into the new Charlie’s, but it was like doing CPR on a bloated bro corpse. We walked out after watching people get served that came in way after us and nobody came to our table for like half an hour. Shame. Shame. Shame. Throw feces at this one and pray something more enlightening grows out of it.

  13. By the way, if you want to ruin an atmosphere of a place add TV’s period. Charlies wasn’t a place to go and watch TV. Neither is Cafe Solstice. But lately they’ve been ruining good places with TV’s. If you need a TV in your restaurant there are plenty of places on the hill to go watch. Glad Charlie’s might have a resurrection at some point. Hopefully the new owners will do something new. We are in serious need of large open format coffee shops that you can study at without TV’s but with good music. All the coffee shops that are large format table oriented are packed. I want a place to study and get good food/coffee with space and not always packed.

    • People with laptops who think that they are in their own personal office or living room ruin a place too. This world need more human interaction and less screen zombies.

    • No kidding. How many coffee shops around CH do we have that are packed full of people glued to their laptops and/or cellphones, all “together-alone”, not talking to anyone around them. Why bother leaving your house?

    • I also wonder how those places with one person/laptop at each table survive economically. The customers usually just nurse a coffee for hours and don’t order any food, so they are spending very little money for the space they occupy for a very long time.

  14. Since we’re on a tangent…

    About a month ago four of us were looking for a place to have a coffee and desert in Wallingford. Found Chocolati Café on Yelp.

    Walked in, looked great. Except every single table (fits four) was filled by a single person studying with papers and laptop strewn about.

    Walked out since no where to sit. Probably cost the Chocolati Café $50 in lost sales.

  15. Wow, people on the internet are harsh. I really loved the new ownership here. Watched all the games here, definitely noticed an improvement in a few of the menu items, and I appreciated having a typical American diner on the hill. Sorry to see they have to close. That was someone’s investment and dream. That sucks. Why is everyone such a god-d–n armchair expert and cynic?

    • Besides any cynical comments the reality for a lot of people seems to match my experiences since it reopened; poor service, poor menu selection, mediocre food. I waited an hour for one meal, another time my friend wanted hot chocolate, she got a small mug of hot water and and instant hot chocolate pack like it was a high school cafeteria. With those experiences it just wasn’t competitive, t.v.s or not.

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