With Urban Animal vet clinic expansion, sun will set on Cafe Solstice Capitol Hill

(Image: Cafe Solstice)

(Image: Urban Animal )

Capitol Hill’s cats will love it. For the students and neighbors who hang out there for hours cramming, talking, and hanging out in one of the neighborhood’s largest, most bustling coffee houses, it will be a sad day.

Staff are telling friends and regulars that the Capitol Hill Cafe Solstice will shutter at the corner of 10th and Thomas mid-month. CHS has learned that neighboring veterinary clinic Urban Animal is set to expand into the space bringing an end to its five years as a cafe. It’s a much needed expansion, Dr. Cherri Trusheim tells CHS.

“We just don’t have enough room for the volume that comes through the door,” Trusheim said. “Quite frankly, it’s been crazy sometimes.”

 

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Trusheim said the big change grew out of discussions with Solstice ownership about possibly taking over a portion of the relatively large cafe’s space. But it quickly became apparent, Trusheim says, that Urban Animal could help Cafe Solstice out by taking over the lease for the busy but business-challenged space.

Owners  Joel Wood and Doug Sowers have not responded to our inquiries about the decision. We’re told employees at Urban Animal and Solstice have been informed of the plans and Cafe Solstice’s U-District location continues to operate.

UPDATE 1:51 PM: Sowers declined to elaborate on the decision to close the Capitol Hill Cafe but he confirmed the plan is to close in two weeks. “We gave it our best go for five years,” he said. “It is a really expensive space.”

Cafe Solstice debuted on the back corner of the massive Lyric development in June of 2016. The project brought the business partners back to Broadway where Solstice was born as a coffee cart business. In addition to coffee and espresso,  Cafe Solstice filled a daytime food gap on Broadway as an informal place to grab a quick soup, salad, or sandwich. Cafe Solstice Capitol Hill also serves up craft beer and wine.

The closure will mark the second large Broadway-area cafe to close down this year. The Starbucks-run Roy Street Coffee closed in April and its large cafe space remains empty even as new coffee players — and familiar old ones — enter the scene.

Urban Animal, meanwhile, debuted on E Thomas in 2012 and has grown into a busy, much needed service in a neighborhood filled with pets. Since, Urban Animal has expanded downtown and is preparing to open in White Center.

At around 2,900 square feet, integrating the cafe will basically double the size of the veterinary clinic. The plan, Trusheim says, is to expand the clinic into the cafe space starting in November to create a new, second waiting area and a separate cat entrance away from the dogs — “Which cat lovers will love,” Trusheim says.

Even though she’s excited about her business’s growth, Trusheim says she, too, will feel the loss of Cafe Solstice.

“It takes a lot of $4 lattes to pay for some expensive real estate,” she said. “A lot of sandwiches. No one is going to miss them more than me. This is not a hostile takeover.”

 

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25 thoughts on “With Urban Animal vet clinic expansion, sun will set on Cafe Solstice Capitol Hill

  1. So disappointed in this news. Coffee and baked goods were always on point and the staff was always lovely. I especially enjoyed the quiet outside seating that was available to patrons and their furry companions.

  2. When di they every “give it their best”? I had nothing but terrible service from every shift. Check out their Yelp page and you can tell I’m not a minority. Music was too loud and the service was never on point. Shame such a lovely space could not have worked as a coffee shop.

    • Sounds just like the one on The Ave. Blasting beats and the only thing more bitter than the coffee is the customer service. So many hipster doofuses in the service industry around here. They must be managed by doofuses, as well, because aloof “service” pervades this town. When I get even passable service it’s a nice reminder how low the bar is. Great service and I’m astounded.

  3. I think a big factor here is probably the current tendency for 20 and 30-somethings to buy a cup of coffee and commandeer a whole table for themselves as they work on their laptops for hours on end. This was what was prevalent at Cafe Solstice, and it can’t be good for the bottom line.

  4. Yikes, between this and Vita, are there any cafes left on the hill anymore that are open until 11 or later besides Vivace and the roastery?

    It’s hard to imagine there isn’t demand (although perhaps the issue is sustainable business models) for late night coffee in a “coffee city”, but perhaps I’m just crazy.

    • Yeah, well, for every commenter here who has something to say about the service which, indeed, was hit or miss, I see little-to-nothing about the true story here. Greedy ahole developers and landowners who are over -running this town with their off-gassing garbage and then charging top dollar for rent that will never allow for a sustainable business model for anything quality that brings in the kind of profit that would allow for livable wages and affordable goods/services. It’s total bullshit and we need to demand our impotent city council do something about it. The revolution needs to start now or we’re all going to be drinking Starbucks or $10 coffeesand eating $5+ doughnits. Are you cool with that everyone? If you are, do the Seattle thing and do nothing to actually help change things locally. ;-)

  5. Hopefully the extra space allows the vets more time to read through file notes, prescribe medications to the correct animal (or even know which animal they are examining), and hear a person out before they diagnose a condition. We were with Urban Animal when they first started (they were amazing back then) but their quality of care has suffered as they have expanded. After multiple issues we finally had to switch to another vet.

    • Agree. I’m on the verge of switching. I’ve really noticed the quality go downhill too. I’m routinely harassed to bring my animals in for f/u appts in order to refill their meds. Then when I do, they come into the room and have zero clue why I’m there and look at me and talk like I’m wasting their time on an unnecessary f/u appt. Do they not even read the animal’s chart before coming into the room?!

      • We have had that happen as well! We also had two animals with terminal illnesses and some of the vets were not even aware of this when they first started the exam…making an already painful situation worse.

  6. Sad to hear that the Capitol Hill location is closing, but the Lyric building in particular is so expensive to rent. I honestly don’t know how Solstice managed to stay there so long. I’ll be sad to see them go, but I’m glad they were around for at least a little bit.

  7. I lived above Cafe Solstice since it opened. The place was amazing and I am so glad that I moved so I don’t have to witness its leaving. To the people who said there was bad service and the music was too loud… could you be any more curmudgeonly? We liked Urban Animal, but this takeover is bad for the neighborhood character. Cafe’s and eateries add vibrancy. Now the building has a post office, a dental office, a large corporate bank and a vet.

    • “Neighborhood character” is now widely understood to be a racist dog whistle. Please check yourself! And yes, that dog you just whistled to can be treated at the newly expanded vet office.

      • This story has zero to do with race. Zero. You know that, but for some reason felt the need to police my language instead of talking about the substance of my comments. *dramatic eye roll*

  8. I will miss Solstice. I frequented it 2 or 3 mornings a week and found the service and baristas to be excellent. I can imagine that the commercial rent there is expensive. Glad to hear that Urban Animal is doing fine. We have found there service to be excellent. I suppose drop-in service does mean that there is more last minute digging through files.

  9. While people are losing their jobs others are spewing all that is wrong with how you want your perfect little coffee shop to be. There are so many choices in this city and in your life… no one is forcing you to OH MY GOD have to sit in a cafe’ and pretend to work for a living… meanwhile trolling the rest of the worldwide web stirring spit, piss & vinegar into anything that you find just a little sub par… but don’t forget to log those hours and get paid while you complain about the most insignificant of inconveniences that keep you distracted from the reality that your life is fucking boring and the biggest thrill comes from tangling your horns with someone in the comment section of a web article with 18 page views.

    You really showed us how awful we’ve have and I thank you for this enlightenment.

    BOH!!! FUCK THE WORLD!

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