Save the Chandelierium? City targets covered patio at Harry’s Fine Foods

Two years ago, chef and owner Julian Hagood turned the old corner store at Bellevue and Mercer into the “bistro-esque” Harry’s Fine Foods. But his transformation of the patio behind the restaurant into “The Chandelierium” hasn’t gone over as well with city planners. Hagood told customers Wednesday he’ll have to tear down the Harry’s addition.

“It is with a heavy heart that the Department of Construction and Inspections of Seattle has determined that our beloved patio enclosure known as ‘the chandelierium’ is to be torn down by Monday the 26th of February,” Hagood writes. “We rapidly built this beautiful little patio covering to allow our guests to enjoy our patio year round however the city has determined it violates building and energy codes.”According to City of Seattle permit activity, a review of a project to add a “1-story addition to existing structure” at the restaurant is under review. We’ve asked officials for more information about the situation. It isn’t unusual for permitting activity to coincide with construction on smaller scale projects.

 

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Harry’s Fine Foods opened in October 2016 after the old bodega was rebuilt into the new restaurant and upper level living quarters. On our visit, we found a nearby neighbor excited about the new project next door. But, unsurprisingly for a project nestled into a densely populated area, the construction project did generate at least one official noise complaint, according to city records. Meanwhile, the mixing of patio space and residential areas has been an issue for Hill restaurants in the past. The Volunteer Park Cafe’slong battle with neighbors over outdoor seating is one example.

For what it is worth, there are no noise complaints regarding the new patio in records reviewed by CHS.

We’ve also reached out to Hagood to learn more — though his Instragram post got more than a couple punches in. UPDATE: Hagood tells us he is pursuing a fully permitted solution and making plans to take down the existing structure in the meantime. The situation arose after he went through permitting on the electrical system for the patio space and the structure’s lack of a permit was kicked upstairs at the city. Harry’s is already permitted to use the patio — just not cover it. For Hagood, the situation is a matter of degrees. “I understand fire codes and life safety but there has to be something in between,” he said. For now, he says business is great but he’ll definitely miss the extra seats on busy weekends. Armed with knowledge from the experience, he said he also has some good ideas about how best to use the space. Stay tuned.

“In a city where Amazon is King, the little guys can often fall by the wayside,” Hagood wrote on Instagram. “The city is requiring us to obtain another costly and lengthy Master Use Permit and parking study to determine if it is ‘good for the neighborhood’ to even be able to use our patio for patrons while apodments pop up overnight down the street.”

He’s calling on neighbors to contact the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections to voice support for the project.

View this post on Instagram

It is with a heavy heart that the Department of Construction and Inspections of Seattle has determined that our beloved patio enclosure known as "the chandelierium" is to be torn down by Monday the 26th of February. We rapidly built this beautiful little patio covering to allow our guests to enjoy our patio year round however the city has determined it violates building and energy codes. If you would like to share your thoughts with the city, please email- Victoria.simpson@seattle.gov and express your selves!!! In a city where Amazon is King, the little guys can often fall by the wayside. The city is requiring us to obtain another costly and lengthy Master Use Permit and parking study to determine if it is "good for the neighborhood" to even be able to use our patio for patrons while apodments pop up overnight down the street. Thank you all for your love and support over the last year and we look forward to to continue serving our LOVELY little slice of North Capitol Hill – Julian – Owner

A post shared by Harry's Fine Foods (@harrysfinefoods) on

UPDATE 2:15 PM: If you want to help “save” the Chandelierium, you might have to help Harry’s Fine Foods start over. Here’s what we heard back from the city regarding the project. Sounds like there is some work to do:

The existing structure never obtained a permit and does not meet minimum life safety standards for fire rating, exiting, wind loads or snow loads. If a structure is allowed in this area, the current structure would need to be demolished and a new one built which meets minimum safety requirements. This is not a new requirement, and is meant to allow the occupants to exit safely in the event of a fire and to ensure structural stability. As it stands now, the structure does no meet those safety standards.

We first notified the owner of this issue at the end of November 2017 and didn’t see any movement towards resolution. It is a policy of the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections (SDCI) to extend the compliance dates for violations if substantial progress has been made towards obtaining any required permits and resolving the issue.

Before permitting a new structure, the expansion of the existing business must also be reviewed through an Administrative Conditional Use (ACU) permit, which is a public permit process. This is required when a business plan to expand in a residential area…where new commercial business isn’t normally allowed. However, this one was grandfathered in, through a previous ACU process. But given the recent illegal expansion of the structure and a substantial increase in business operations, the owner will need to apply for and obtain a new permit to allow the business to intensify in a residential area.

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7 thoughts on “Save the Chandelierium? City targets covered patio at Harry’s Fine Foods

  1. A parking study? Energy codes? Public comment on a MUP? It’s a patio, not a skycraper. This sounds like a power-hungry council eager to look important and latching onto a bit of NIMBYism in the neighbourhood to make an example of someone. All the while, their same, overcomplicated, overreaching codes are the reason nobody can legally build housing affordable by people with sub-median incomes and why every new restaurant/retail space in town looks the same.

    Sure, shut down the patio until they get compliance with fire safety codes looked into, but making them tear the whole thing down and start over? That is just petty. That is what an angry child does when they can’t get part of a drawing right and they scratch out the whole thing.

    • The city has already looked into the patio and found what’s wrong with it:

      ” [It] does not meet minimum life safety standards for fire rating, exiting, wind loads or snow loads.”

      All of those are pretty fundamental design attributes and it seems totally reasonable to say there’s no way you’re going to retrofit them.