Tougo Coffee owner ready to open charcuterie and wine spot Bannister next door at 18th and Union


(Image: Bannister)

(Image: Bannister)

The Central District’s one-block commercial stretch along 18th Ave at E Union is one of the quaintest and most neighborhood-y around. Since 2007, Tougo Coffee has anchored the stretch as a neighborhood hangout. Now owner Brian Wells says he’s hoping to cultivate the same sense of community one door down at Bannister, his new charcuterie-wine-cocktail venture.

Wells tells CHS he’ll hold a reservation-only soft open starting October 24th and a grand opening on November 1st.

On the menu, Wells said to expect fine cheese, cured meats, olives, made-in-house pickles, and a full bar.

The restaurant is named after Edward Mitchell Bannister, a 19th century artist Wells said he has long admired.

Wells started his coffee career in Boston in 1991. He moved to Seattle in 1996 and spent most of his time in the service industry. In 2010 CHS reported on financial and tax troubles at Tougo. The 18th Ave cafe closed temporarily while Wells fundraised to pay back business taxes in order to renew his license. Since, Wells shuttered his Westlake Ave location. Wells said these days everything is going swell at Tougo and he’s ready for the expanded business venture. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | What’s it mean to be home to the 6th best bar in the world? 12th Ave whiskey and bitters emporium Canon will show you

IMG_0278Ask two people on Capitol Hill for the best bar in the Seattle Inner City and you’ll get three different opinions. But somehow, the industry journal Drinks International is able to rank the 50 best bars in the entire world. This year 12th Ave’s Canon came in at number 6.

What does that mean for you, dear Capitol Hill drinker?

Since it opened in 2011 with a 12-page menu, Canon has steadily grown and tweaked its dizzying selection of spirits, bitters, and ornate cocktails. It now boasts one of the largest spirit menus in the country — a 130-page tome (PDF) that represents around $1 million worth of inventory.

Owner Jamie Boudreau said the recently released top ranking took him by surprise. Even though Seattle’s high-end food+drink culture has grown by leaps and bounds, Boudreau said the city is still considered quite provincial in the craft cocktail world.

“To crack the top ten when I know the judges are always in New York, always in London, always in Chicago, it’s impressive,” he said. “To have a recognition of Seattle’s cocktail culture is really great. It’s nice that the city is starting to get noticed.”


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Tea Republik getting ready to blend in on Broadway

(Images: Tea Republik)

With the light rail connection to the University District right around the block and set to open by early 2016, Broadway and John’s cafe connection to places familiar to the University of Washington crowd will also get a boost before the end of the year.

The signs have gone up for Tea Republik in the 200 block of Broadway E just a block from the coming soon Capitol Hill Station.

Owner Jeffry Kurniawan confirmed the hoped-for December opening with CHS. He and business partner Anton Lim will be opening their second Tea Republik to join the original University Way NE location which opened in 2012 and got a full makeover in early 2013.

The cafe is known for its hangout vibe and “fusion” approach to tea. Continue reading

Is Capitol Hill’s Electric Tea Garden brewing a redux?


Thanks for the tip, Marley

Last November, the Electric Tea Garden held a “last blast” dance party in its second story club space above the American Artificial Limb Co. at 14th and E Pike. But on Wednesday night, just under one year after ETG’s final weekend, a sign of life appeared on the shuttered club’s front door: a notice that ETG was applying for a new liquor license.

ETG’s owner Bruce Mason and others associated with the club have not yet responded to CHS on what is in store for the space.

A neighboring business tells CHS that there are plans to reopen the dance club.

When the club closed last year, Mason told CHS that an impending rent increase and gentrification in the neighborhood had weakened the club’s long term prospects. Continue reading

Sam’s Moroccan Sandwich Shop opens at 23rd and Union

Sam (Images: CHS)

Sam (Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

Sam’s Moroccan Sandwich Shop — opened up at 23rd Ave and Union a month ago — is named after Hisham Habchi. Hisham Habchi, of course, goes by Sam. The shop sells all kinds of sandwiches. The most popular seems to be the tuna sandwich which they call, in a simplified spelling of its Spanish inspiration, “Pocadio Tuna”.

“Morocco was a Spanish colony in the past and a lot of our dishes have a Spanish influence in them also,” the Moroccan Habchi tells CHS.

The shop is owned by Habchi and his business partner Mostafa Said. While Habchi is from Morocco and makes different kind of sandwiches from his homeland, his business partner Said hails from Eritrea and has lived in the States for over twenty years. Said said that war with Ethiopia made him flee to Sudan and from there he migrated to the United States.

On a Friday afternoon, you could hear holy music playing in the background as they quietly went about working in the kitchen. The friends met at a local mosque and decided to go into business together. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | First look inside Summit Ave’s new Single Shot

IMG_1577A “food-driven” bar with a two-block target market radius replacing a photo gallery? Next to a “hand-forged” doughnut shop? That’s *so* Capitol Hill.

But that ain’t just any doughnut shop neighbor. That’s the original Top Pot. And longtime Capitol Hill-based photographer Spike Mafford is part of the team putting the newly opened Single Shot together on Summit Ave.

The overhauled gallery debuted quietly over the weekend and is open for service daily from 5 PM to 2 AM.

The “kitchen & saloon” is the latest project from Seattle food and drink entrepreneur Rory McCormick and chef James Sherrill, the team that turned out a similar recipe with Re:public in South Lake Union.

McCormick said the out-of-the-way location and the original masonry building drew him to Summit Ave.

“I’m very aware as to what’s happening to Seattle as a whole,” McCormick told us earlier this year about the city’s relentless pace of development. “You don’t find a lot of single-story brick buildings built in the 20s.” Continue reading

Inspired by north India’s amber waves of grain, Kanak joining 15th Ave E’s restaurant row

IMG_2907On Friday as we checked in with the first time restauranteurs behind the ambitious New World meets Old World project Sur 16, we also made note of a new, slightly less trailblazing but equally exciting project underway downstairs.

Kanak Indian Cuisine is getting ready to open on the changing 15th Ave E very soon — maybe even this week.

“Our menu will be traditional with an American touch,” first-time owner Amar Manhani tells CHS. “We will offer more standard basics but a true taste of Indian food.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Sur 16 gets an education in Opening a Seattle Restaurant 101

Sur 16: Under construction (Image: CHS)

Sur 16: Under construction (Image: CHS)

The contrast can’t be ignored. Across the street, Rione XIII hums along, a well-oiled piece in a restaurant-making machine. Up here in the former home of 15th Ave E’s Bagel Deli, the husband and wife team working to create their first restaurant project feel a bit like machines themselves these days.

“Now we’re here morning and night,” Javier Dalzell tells CHS. “It took weeks just to get permits. Contractors are the next challenge. I told my kid to become a plumber or electrician,” Dalzell joked.

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Lost Lake/Comet empire expands with new partnership, acquisition of Grim’s

Grim's in 2010 (Image: CHS)

Grim’s in 2010 (Image: CHS)

The princes of Pike/Pine are expanding their empire. Jason Lajeunesse and David Meinert and Lost Lake and Comet manager Joey Burgess have teamed up on a new partnership to purchase 11th Ave’s Grim’s and its upstairs dance and event venue The Woods.

“The move also marks the launch of their new restaurant, bar and entertainment group, Guild Seattle,” an announcement on the deal reads. Continue reading

Pop-up baker making longterm Central District plans with Pocket Bakery


Baker Grunig makes a sale, meets a neighbor (Images: CHS)

Baker Grunig makes a sale, meets a neighbor (Images: CHS)

The development digging in around 23rd and Union means a lot of change for this part of the Central District. It will also mean opportunities for creators like Josh Grunig.

The Bay Area transplant, father, and, now, entrepreneurial baker is keeping his place in the Central District warm with Saturday pop-ups full of the sourdough bread, pluot hand pies, parmesan sage scones, cinnamon rolls, tamale muffins, pistachio shortbread, birthday cake, and mallow flake cookies of the Pocket Bakery.

“There’s a huge amount of opportunity around Union,” Grunig says. “It’s really an opportunity for me to be in a real neighborhood.”

For now, you’ll find Pocket on Saturdays inside the new location of Magpie, the toy and clothes shop that moved off 18th and around the corner to 2002 E Union. This Saturday, Magpie celebrates its third anniversary and grand re-opening from 11 AM to 2 PM. And, yes, Pocket will be there. Continue reading

Bring back B&O Espresso… to Belltown

Inside the old B&O (Image: the new B&O :) )

Inside the old B&O (Image: the new B&O :) )

The developers of the six-story apartment building getting ready to open along E Olive Way at Belmont had hoped that the corner’s much-loved resident B&O Espresso would return to its longtime address when the new construction was complete. Last month, CHS reported that Ballard-born “cakery” Hot Cakes is instead making 2015 opening plans for the space. But you have a chance to help bring B&O Espresso back.

To Belltown.

The original owners and a new partnership are teaming to recreate the B&O in the former home of another “old Seattle” institution — well off the Hill. Continue reading

Police hunt for E Olive Way Starbucks espresso machine bandit

The Capitol Hill coffee scene is rich. Apparently the gear that makes it happen is valuable enough to steal. Police are looking for a caffeinated thief who walked into the E Olive Way Starbucks Thursday morning and walked out with what East Precinct radio dispatches described as an “espresso machine.”

We’re still trying to sort out if the suspect grabbed a retail home model or somehow hoisted one of the commercial-grade machines from the shop in the heist that went down just before 8 AM. We’re told it may have only been a home machine.

The suspect was last seen walking northbound on Summit with the coffee maker. Earlier, the suspect — described as a black male in his 30s or 40s, wearing a tan hat, tan shirt, black pants, and sunglasses — was seen with a female in a blue Jetta.

A search of the area for the suspect or the machine was not immediately successful. Hopefully police did manage to find some coffee. UPDATE: Police say the Starbucks staff asked the man to put the machine down. He “obliged,” SPD says, and fled. So, not only was it not a big espresso machine but it didn’t even get fully stolen. In other words, nothing happened.

UPDATE: It was a rough start for Capitol Hill-area morning joints. Just after 2 AM, a car slammed into the railing outside 14th and Union’s Skillet Diner. Fortunately, damage to the building was minimal and there were no serious injuries. Police were looking for another vehicle that may have been involved in the incident. Sounds like Skillet opened Thursday without issue.

Capitol Hill food+drink | All-star vegan chef Howell plans Sugar Plum transformation on 15th Ave E


(Image: Sugar Plum)

Howell -- celebrity vegan chef -- visits Wendy Williams (Image courtesy Plum)

Howell — celebrity vegan chef — visits Wendy Williams (Image courtesy Plum)

What a wonderful world. On Capitol Hill, ice cream and cookies are signs of maturity. Makini Howell, the Capitol Hill-based vegan food and drink entrepreneur behind the Plum family of bistros, cafes, pantries, and burger trucks, says her next venture in the neighborhood will be a sweet shop — though longtime fans of her little 15th Ave E cafe might find the news bittersweet.

“In order to stay relevant, you gotta keep up with the market,” Howell tells CHS of her plans to convert her longtime vegan cafe into a brand new 15th Ave E vegan ice creamery and sweet shop. “And maybe it’s a sign that I’m ready for what’s next. Everything. On 15th. My life. The city.”

Howell says the transformation of the tiny little cafe where she got her true start in vegan culinary skills will begin at the end of October when Plum Cafe closes and begins making way for Sugar Plum. She hopes to have the buildout complete before the end of winter. But first she’ll say goodbye. Continue reading