Another impending business closure on Capitol Hill illustrates the varied ways coincidences of similar events can form together to make you say, hey, what’s going on around here. This time, a loss for lovers of coffee and couches is a win for Capitol Hill’s two-year-olds.
With a strong demand for a toddler program, the Harvard Avenue School, which offers early childhood education through pre-kindergarten, is planning to expand into the Good Citizen coffee shop located on the ground floor of the school.
“There is an enormous demand for full day care since Amazon has brought so many new families to Seattle,” Andrea Hackman, founder and director of the school, tells CHS CHS. “The market is pretty saturated with half day preschool, but there are more and more families needing full day childcare (which we currently do not offer). Once we begin offering that I’m confident it will be extremely popular.”
The expansion means the end of one of the more curious experiments in the neighborhood’s recent waves of food and drink investments.
Born as a plan for another neighborhood cocktail and coffee bar, this time on E Olive Way, it was difficult for a while to tell if Good Citizen was open for business or not but we mark the date to winter of 2015. By summer of 2016, the former Online Cafe was coffee only and providing the neighborhood with a comfortable, hidden away place to hang out, lounge, or get some work done.
Friedman said he is planning to close the cafe soon. “It’s too bad because we created a really amazing community,” Good Citizen owner Andrew Friedman said. “A little microspot right there. There’s really nothing else like it around this area.”
Friedman also said that despite the withdrawal of liquor application for the Eight Foot cooperative of employees planning to take over his 15th Ave E bar Liberty that the transition is moving forward. One hangup in the process according to documents provided by the liquor board is Liberty’s restaurant-class liquor license. Without changing the scale of food offered at the bar, the potential new cooperative owners won’t be able to renew the license, the board informed the group, according to a letter sent last fall. In the meantime, Friedman said he might need to make a few tweaks to Liberty’s sushi offerings to keep up with what he said were changing regulations. “When we first started, the food we had was plenty,” Friedman said.
CHS checked in with Good Citizen and the cooperative-ization of Liberty here last summer. “We had a kid, and we decided we’d rather spend time with her than be in a bar 18 hours a day,” Friedman said at the time of the changes coming to his businesses.
Good Citizen first opened in February 2015 after two years of battling red tape — and the start of the city’s move to a $15 minimum wage. While he dealt with delays with local government over permits and inspections of his project, Friedman and Liberty also took on city leaders in the fight against a $15 minimum in Seattle. During the time, Friedman also lost his right-hand man as Liberty co-owner Keith Waldbauer left to work on a book and his consulting business.
According to its Facebook page, Good Citizen extended its hours to 9 PM in December and released a new coffee bar menu in November.
Harvard Avenue School’s growth is a big part of the story. The school is in a multi-story house at 201 Harvard Ave and currently has one preschool class of 18 kids and a pre-kindergarten class of 20 and six teachers. Good Citizen resides below. A visit to the cafe at 1720 E Olive Way during certain times of day provides a symphony of kid giggles and the sounds of scrambling sneakers from the activities above.
The expansion to fill the entire building the school is located in is something Hackman said she has been considering for years. “We have families with children in multiple age groups (a toddler and a pre-k student, for example) who will appreciate one drop off location for both children,” she said.
The school plans to add five more teachers for the new program. If the school extends program hours and has varied shifts, more could be added. Hackman told CHS the school is also considering a “waddler” program, which would serve children ages 12 too 22 months.
The architect on the expansion project is Capitol Hill’s Graham Baba.
Harvard Avenue School opened on Capitol Hill in 2002. Its Madison Valley campus, which opened in 2005 offers toddler, preschool, and pre-kindergarten classes.
“Parents really appreciate being able to begin with us at age two and being able to stay with us until their child begins kindergarten,” Hackman wrote.
The school hopes to begin construction this spring, completing the work in June. If everything goes as planned, school in the new space will begin in September.