What’s more painful? Running for mayor of Redmond — or closing down your struggling Capitol Hill coffee shop?

Redmond City Council member Steve Fields should have bigger things to worry about than the closing of a Capitol Hill coffee shop his wife Ronni Fields has run for three years. He’s running for mayor of the Eastside city, the state’s 18th largest.

“I’m the grassroots candidate. My opponent is very well established with lots of support from developers.”

The political match-up, in a way, parallels the August shuttering of Harvard Ave’s tiny Down Pour Coffee.

Fields says the lessons from Down Pour are about making sure you remember you’re going up against a well established system when you’re chasing your dreams of small business ownership.

 

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Property owners “have the strength because have been through it many, many times,” Fields says, looking back on the lease he and his wife now feel lucky to have escaped for the ground floor retail space at Harvard Ave E’s Rubix Apartments.

The couple opened Down Pour on Capitol Hill in 2016 as an expansion from their Redmond original. The hope was to serve customers with a quieter, cozier off-Broadway coffee joint. But Fields said planned improvements including simple elements like heat for the commercial space took much longer than expected to complete.

Meanwhile, the Eastsiders also learned something about Capitol Hill residents. A lot of them work on the Eastside or downtown or Fremont or South Lake Union. Weekdays in certain parts of the Hill can be a ghost town.

The cafe never really took off, Fields said. “It was just a failure from the beginning,” he said.

Even with the closure of nearby Roy Street Coffee, with an opportunity to exit the lease early, it was time to quit. “We had no choice but to shut down.”

Back in Redmond, the original Down Pour is now the focus of the couple’s coffee business while the city council member ramps up his campaign for November’s vote. The small business travails will make any political hardships look easy.

“It’s the most painful thing we’ve ever done in our entire life,” Fields said. “We’re glad to be out.”

“My wife loves the coffee business and she was really hoping to make it up there.”

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12 thoughts on “What’s more painful? Running for mayor of Redmond — or closing down your struggling Capitol Hill coffee shop?

  1. What a weird space off a main drag…really a killer of a location. And not in a good way.

    And someone needs to remove that godawful public art…why does public art in Washington have to always be so incredibly ugly?

    • I believe the public art system in this state has to employ Seattle or Washington artists, so it kind of becomes life support for people who couldn’t make it beyond making giant flower pots or knock off’s of the Creation of Adam. We should open it up to national competition. We’d be better off for it. The only Seattle public artist that i know that’s worth a damn is John Grade.

      This is why any time the Design Guidlines come up for review I shoot down public art. I’d rather that money go to better building materials than bad art.

      Now, if we could really talk about what a shit show of the building the Publix is in general. It’s a ll a mess.

      • Is that building the Publix?

        Because it’s really fugly McModern, in basically every way.

        I’m so sick of the glass + concrete + siding with a whimsy color look (“Oh, look honey, one side of the structure is painted an out of place bright yellow, and look over there! More panels with colors incongruous to the rest of the structure!”).

        It’s really sickening.

        Of course, for a moment it looked like Seattle was going to majorly begin putting up Escala-esque buildings which could easily fit in in Dubai. Ugh. At least we dodged that bullet, for now.

  2. I didn’t even know this place existed and I live a 5 min walk from there. That seems like a terrible place for any business to exist that requires a lot of people to come in and purchase things.

  3. I just want to add that Down Pour was a great spot if you had to do work or a quiet chat in front of the wide windows. The space was welcoming and the patrons more diverse than the crowd at Roy or other nearby coffee places.

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