The curse of the Bagel Deli

While we’re talking about a restaurant opportunity up for grabs on the quiet side of Capitol Hill along 19th Ave E, let us mark the passing of another neighborhood food and drink venture outside the Pike/Pine and Broadway hot zones.

Its death might also have the markings of the latest “cursed” restaurant space on Capitol Hill.

A few weeks back, the dreaded brown paper went up in the windows of 15th Ave E’s Olive Tree. The Mediterranean sit-down debuted in early 2017 as an offshoot of the Kent original. The first Olive Tree continues to thrive. But the Capitol Hill expansion is gone. Ownership has not returned our calls and messages about the closure.

The shuttering might just mark the empty space as one of the Hill’s infamous cursed “restaurants.” This block of 15th Ave E has been home to one in the past. Jake’s then Mango then Mcguire’s then Kozak’s then Cypress went the cycle until Linda Derschang and Smith broke the sad chain in 2007.


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The Olive Tree space doesn’t have a timeline quite that tragic — yet. But the setup is there. Once home to the beloved Bagel Deli, its 2013 exit made way for Sur 16, an ambitious project that struggled through two years of business after big outlays and long delays transforming the deli into their vision of Latin American-flavored cuisine.

What’s next? The space was being actively marketed last CHS checked in. Feeling lucky? Go for it. Somebody has to break the streak, eventually.

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16 thoughts on “The curse of the Bagel Deli

  1. This doesn’t surprise me. I work at Group Health/Kaiser and a year or so ago, a coworker walked over there see if they would be able to cater a large noon work lunch meeting. They told him they couldn’t do it because they only opened for business at 2pm every day. So they weren’t available for the Kaiser lunch crowd during usual lunch hours (11am – 1pm). When I heard him tell me that story, I predicted a short life span for that restaurant. 2pm is a strange time to decide to open up shop.

  2. To me for many years, The Bagel Deli was the center of my universe, always a wonderful challenge , gaining the respect of the original owners was like a barbershop first haircut, entering and responding truthfully to the perfunctory how’s it going and being honest, allowed me access to many folks lives, for good and ill. That said, it doesn’t carry a curse as it is a huge crappy space in an ungainly and ugly building with greedy heirs who were fools to dump a sure thing, it should be torn down at this point.Nothing about it works especially without the charm of affection.

  3. The Hilltop neighborhood isn’t dense enough, not walkable enough, and not bike friendly enough. Businesses along 15th and 19th rely too heavily on cars, haven’t embraced density, and that combo will continue to propagate an unhealthy urban commercial environment that will continue the cycle of shuttered businesses.

    • Tell that to Monsoon, Fuel, Tallulahs, Rocket Taco, Vios, Smith, Coastal Kitchen, Rione, the Wandering Goose, etc. Quality wins out, and even being great cannot save you from a goofy space that hides itself from the street like this location does. It is not at all about bikes.

    • Wow, that’s completely the opposite of what I think of this neighborhood. 15th (and increasinly 19th) has a wonderful variety of thriving shops and restaurants that are very easily accessed by foot and bike. My family and I walk several blocks there from our house on a regular basis for dinner and shopping. I frequently stop at QFC after I get off the 10 on my way home. I stop at shops on that strip on my bike ride home from work. It’s totally walkable and bikeable!

      Having said all of that, this particular space is just poorly designed. I was always amazed at how long the Bagel Deli managed to stay in business despite being so well hidden.

    • Yeah, if only we could be more like Broadway with a bunch of banks and chain medical clinics. That ‘makeover’ has gone great and the street isn’t a shadow of its former self at all!

      I wonder how Rione, Wandering Goose, Smith, Palermo, Victorla, Caffe Ladro, Kanak, Full Tilt, Coastal Kitchen, Ada’s, and Vacilando are surviving in such a hostile urban environment.

  4. The food at Olive Tree was good, Sur 16 was even better, but having a 100 seat restaurant with zero curb appeal and odd hours is going to be hard to keep open for anyone.

  5. I loved Bagel Deli so much. I spent so much time there. It took me a long time to come around on Sur 16, but they won me over with those delicious late night happy hour tacos! Olive Tree never got me and I’m not sad to see them go.

  6. Our whole family really liked Olive Tree. Great food at a reasonable price. Not surprising that it failed due to the space, but I hope they can find a better space somewhere else in the hood and re-open. We’d definitely patronize it!

  7. About “bike friendliness”: I’ve been bike commuting on Capitol Hill since ~ 1983. Get a cheapish (REI’s cheapest, not Walmart) bike and a good cable lock (again REI) and you can ride anywhere and lock it anywhere and it will always be there on your return (scientific caution: conclusion based on a N of 1). If you have a fancy bike, you will forever be a slave to it!

  8. “…not walkable enough…that combo will continue to propagate an unhealthy urban commercial environment that will continue the cycle of shuttered businesses.”

    Too funny. Local walk scores are typically in the 90s. EVS, The Hopvine, Rainbow, the Thai restaurants, El Farol, etc. have been around for a decade or considerably longer. Tilden and Horizon Books are gone but were also in business for decades, as was City People’s, and they were all replaced with new, thriving businesses.

    So what’s the problem? Too much evident use value that could be converted to nail salons and branch banks but hasn’t been?

    • Some people won’t be happy till the evil automobile is entirely bainished from Capitol Hill, and the existence of any cars at all can only mean Capitol Hill still needs more density.

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