Following red tape, minimum wage battles, Good Citizen opens on E Olive Way

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(Image: Good Citizen via Twitter)

After two years of battling red tape — and the city’s move to a $15 minimum wage — Andrew Friedman quietly opened his Good Citizen bar Friday night.

“It’s designed to look like someone’s house… really comfortable and nice,” Friedman told CHS about the transformation of the former E Olive Way coffee shop a year ago as he made plans for a March 2014 debut for the bar. Friedman took over the space in 2013. Word back then was the bar was lined up for a summer 2013 debut.

The intervening two years have been busy for Friedman. While he dealt with delays with local government over permits and inspections of his project, Friedman and his 15th Ave E bar Liberty also took on city leaders in the fight against a $15 minimum in Seattle. During the time, Friedman also lost his right-hand man as Liberty co-owner Keith Waldbauer left to work on a book and his consulting business. Finally this January, CHS could include Good Citizen in on our annual New Year’s list of the Capitol Hill bars and restaurants to look forward to.

S3Z_IU6MFriedman opened Liberty in spring of 2006 on 15th Ave E. Liberty’s most notable features at the time for many were Friedman’s decision to serve sushi as his bar food staple and a trademark on a revolving cast of interesting bartenders. Liberty expanded its hours into daylight and opened every morning as a coffee shop. Friedman’s place in Pacific Northwest cocktail culture also began to grow as he kept the bar on the forefront of the craft cocktail movement. Friedman is also proud that his bar is open every single day of the year.

We’ll have to see if a similar path awaits Good Citizen. Waldbauer told CHS at one point he envisioned a small family of Liberty neighborhood bars across Capitol Hill. At this rate, you might have a bit of a wait until Friedman opens his new joint on your street.

Hey look! Good citizen!

A photo posted by Brandon Paul Weaver (@brandonpaulweaver) on

Good Citizen is located at 1720 E Olive Way. Keep track of its Facebook page for updates on hours, etc.

Thanks, tipster, for the pictures!

Grandfather of Capitol Hill Thai, Ayutthaya celebrates 30 year on E Pike

Owner Pai Boon and AJ at Ayutthaya (Image: Grace Qian)

Owner Pai Boon and AJ at Ayutthaya (Image: Grace Qian)

02By Grace Qian — UW News Lab/Special for CHS

Ayutthaya, one of the first Thai restaurants ever on Capitol Hill, is preparing to celebrate a milestone 30th birthday this year.

Pai Boon, the current owner of Ayutthaya and Bangkok native, attributes the restaurant’s popularity to its location and its early start on Thai cuisine in Seattle in the 1980s.

“When we opened, there were not that many Thai restaurants and the people at that time didn’t know about Thai food,” said Boon. “From then on to now, a lot of people know about Thai food.”

Named after an ancient Siamese kingdom, the E Pike at Harvard restaurant has been around long enough to see a robust dining district grow up around it. Continue reading

Sweet and sour success: Hill cocktail entrepreneur brings The Shrubbery drinking vinegars to market

We know. You were mixing shrub cocktails before they were cool. But the rest of us might have something to learn from one of the newest vendors joining Broadway’s farmers market.

“This is my neighborhood market. This is my business,” Capitol Hill drinking vinegar entrepreneur Rebecca SerVoss proudly tells CHS.

Her months-old business The Shrubbery produces small bottles of the flavorful mixers designed to add a sweet and sour punch to, well, your boozy punch. And more.

“The shrub provides multiple elements of a cocktail,” SerVoss said. “It lets you add additional flavors and play with wacky vinegars.”

SerVoss launched her business after getting spun out of the corporate world. “I’ve been making shrubs for my own uses for two and a half years now. Then I lost my corporate job,” she said.

Her response was to refine her recipes and start experimenting. “I get to be a nerd about my vinegar,” she said.

In addition to the farmers market, the Capitol Hill resident has found space on the shelf at E Pine’s Sugarpill apothecary and will also have one of her shrubs again featured in a cocktail at Broadway’s Witness when the spring menu rolls back around.

Her target market includes expert craft cocktailers who know their shrubs — “boozehounds totally know what I’m doing,” she says — and cooks looking for unusual new flavors for their sauces. Shrubs are, you’re probably not surprised, a popular trend as craft cocktail pros look for new ways to create old flavors. The name, by the way, doesn’t refer to botanicals or herbs but to the Arabic word sharāb — “to drink.”

SerVoss is also enjoying introducing those new to shrubs to the flavors she has concocted and is selling by the bottle every first and third Sunday at the Broadway Farmers Market.

The Shrubbery will be in place this Sunday, March 1st. Along with some of her standard flavorings, SerVoss says to make sure to try the early rhubarb and pear and honey shrubs. The latter goes perfectly with gin, SerVoss said she’ll tell the newbies who stop by this weekend.

“People who need education — they’re a whole other level of fun for me.”

You can learn more about The Shrubbery here.

Smash Putt a ‘go’ at 23rd and Union

10387630_362316220623926_6016634163602990726_nA community plan to buy the property? Those involved say it’s a long shot while simpler changes like better lighting and more business activity have helped.

And Smash Putt mini-golf themed madhouse bar? That’s in the hole:

SMASH PUTT! MEGA MINIATURE GOLF APOCALYPSE!
Limited Engagement Runs March 20th – July
Weekend evenings & Nights, 21+ with ID
1110 23rd Avenue (23rd & union st), Seattle
www.smashputt.com for tickets ($10–20) and times
Smash Putt! Mega Miniature Golf Apocalypse returns to Seattle for an epic throwdown. Presenting devious devices with wicked robotic brains engineered by industrial-artists and hackers. Putt-putt like you’ve never played it, in a pop-up nightclub setting like Seattle‘s never seen. Inventive, devious, and full of surprises.
Enjoy ingenious fun with an earnest low brow sensibility. Launch and load cannons, survive an earth- quake, challenge a poppin’ lowrider, dodge real lasers, and frustrate your friends with dynamic, destruc- tive games galore. Put your balls on the line for an experience you won’t forget!
Starting March 20th, a limited engagement of mechanized mayhem comes to Seattle‘s Central District. This unique grown-up playground is the perfect place for a date night, guys’ night, girls’ night, pub crawl, office outing, or just plain apocalyptic competition among friends.
Smash Putt! offers VIP lounges, a top-shelf bar with hand-crafted cocktails, local personalities, live entertainment, and good old-fashioned fun. Now available for private parties and corporate team-building.

New streateries — parklets + street eateries — coming to Capitol Hill

(Image: Seattle Bike Blog)

(Image: Seattle Bike Blog)

Capitol Hill’s first parklet — and the first parklet in Seattle — is also slated to be one of its first streateries.

Montana owner Rachel Marshall confirmed to CHS that she is one of the first applicants for the latest twist in the City of Seattle’s parklet program allowing local businesses to apply to change two or three street parking spaces into public patios and decks.

In announcing the city’s transition of its parklet program out of its preliminary phase, Seattle City Hall also announced a new streatery variation which will give restaurants, cafes, and bars a tighter connection with the facilities. Here’s how the Seattle Department of Transportation describes them:

Streateries are like parklets except the sponsoring restaurant or bar can operate the space as a sidewalk café, providing space exclusively for their customers during their open hours of business. When the bar or restaurant is closed, the space will function as a parklet, open to everyone.

Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Tom Douglas staying downtown after Capitol Hill debut

Tom Douglas sees his future across from the Paramount (Image: Runberg Architecture)

Tom Douglas sees his future across from the Paramount (Image: Runberg Architecture)

T-Doug in 1989 at the age of 31  (Image: Tom Douglas Restaurants)

T-Doug in 1989 at the age of 31 (Image: Tom Douglas Restaurants)

In a time when food+drink innovation is flourishing on Capitol Hill, one of Seattle’s boldest restauranteurs made a relatively modest debut to the neighborhood scene. In December, Tom Douglas opened Serious Pie Pike inside the enormous Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Unlike many other Douglas ventures, the third location of the pizza and pie eatery has an unassuming presence — both inside and outside its Melrose Ave home.

“I don’t think big restaurants are the future, I think it’s small restaurants. Small restaurants are where it’s at,” said Douglas, who runs an empire of Seattle food and drink establishments that includes some rather large presences like Palace Kitchen and Brave Horse Tavern.

Douglas’s future — at least immediately — also won’t include Capitol Hill. But it won’t be far away. The prolific restauranteur has begun planning to open a project in the new apartment development across from the Paramount Theater. Currently moving forward under the working title the Carlile Room, Douglas and his camp are playing coy on the specifics. “We’re building out a really cool new restaurant,” a spokesperson for the company told CHS, refusing to spill anything about the concept or the menu. Continue reading

Clouded downtown venture a rare dark spot as star Capitol Hill chef Stratton exits Spinasse

Stratton on a construction tour as Spinasse was prepared for expansion -- and its new little sister, Artusi

Stratton on a construction tour of the Spinasse expansion and its new little sister, Artusi

A fashionable Capitol Hill chef at the top of his culinary game is leaving the 14th Ave food and drink scene he helped create and a downtown venture that will partly cloud his exit.

“After leading Spinasse to great popular and critical acclaim over the course of six years, Jason Stratton has decided to move on to explore new opportunities,” an announcement sent by the public relations firm representing Spinasse, its sister bar Artusi, and downtown’s Vespolina read. “Jason will assist the staff in the transition for the next few weeks.”

The timing of the announcement has been a story unto itself in Seattle food and drink media outlets. “The announcement is particularly shocking considering Stratton was just announced as a James Beard Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Northwest for his work at Spinasse,” the Seattle outlet of the national Eater chain noted. Seattle Met reported Stratton is planning to travel in Spain before returning, presumably, to his longtime home turf on Capitol Hill.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 2.58.15 PMBut Stratton is also faced with a nearly $90,000 judgement from a lawsuit brought last year by Dolan Built as the construction company fought in court for thousands of dollars it said it was owed for the buildout of Stratton’s downtown restaurant project. Continue reading

Tiny Outer Planet opens with Hill-brewed beers… until the taps run dry

It's the 12th Ave water (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

It’s the 12th Ave water (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Martins, left, and Stoccardo

Martins, left, and Stoccardo

The first new beer brewery to open on Capitol Hill since these guys started playing with yeast and hops on E Pike will debut its creations to the public for the first time Friday.

“I just hope we’re busy but don’t run out of beer,” Outer Planet Craft Brewing co-founder Renato Martins told CHS Thursday afternoon as he and brewmaster James Stoccardo prepared for their first days of business inside the tiny brewery and tasting room on the ground floor of a new 12th Ave building filled with tiny apartments.

The self-proclaimed “nano brewery” inside a microhousing development serves only its 12th Ave-brewed beers.

“We’ll only serve something we’re proud of,” Martins said. That pride means your early experiences with Outer Planet will be limited to Thursdays through Saturdays for the time being. Hours will be 4:30 PM until the brewers are ready to shut down for the night or the taps run dry. Continue reading

Premiumization: Capitol Hill roastery such a hit, Starbucks ‘looking for real estate in another major U.S. metro’

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

You let this happen:

The Capitol Hill Reserve roastery, which seems to always be packed with customers, was the strongest store opening in Starbucks’ history, Schultz said on the company’s first quarter earnings call last month.

“The Roastery represents both ‘premiumization’ of the coffee experience and a new chapter for Starbucks,” Schultz said.

The Capitol Hill opening is going so well, the company said it is looking for real estate in another major U.S. metro to open another roastery.

“The company is also planning to open a roastery in Asia in 2016,” the Puget Sound Business Journal notes.

In December, CHS showed you inside the more than $30 million Starbucks Reserve Roastery facility for the first time. The Melrose 15,600 square-foot roasting facility, cafe, and Tom Douglas restaurant continues to pack in crowds of tourists and gawking locals.

As part of the company’s enthusiasm for “premiumization,” Starbucks also announced it was starting a new subscription service for its Reserve brand beans roasted solely here on Capitol Hill — good news for the 100 or so employees including the dozen-member roasting team that works in the facility. Starbucks has said it plans to produce up to 1.4 million pounds of Starbucks Reserve-quality coffee beans in the facility’s first year. The company also plans to supply the Melrose beans to some 1,500 global Starbucks Reserve cafes by the end of fiscal year 2015.

The enthusiasm isn’t far off the notes sounded by the coffee giant in recent years as it rolled out its experiments in non-Starbucks branded cafes around Capitol Hill. By the start of 2011, however, the experiment was partly rolled back and transformed as 15th Ave Coffee & Tea disappeared but some of its more upscale features trickled into the SBUX mainstream. The Starbucks Roy Street Coffee experiment continues, however, six years later on north Broadway.

Capitol Hill food+drink | Euro Pub and bottle shop will bring ‘the best beers of Europe’ to Broadway

Witold Szczepaniak will put his 16 years of experience importing “the best beers of Europe” with a new pub and bottle shop project in the heart of Broadway that has seemingly popped open out of nowhere on Capitol Hill.

“I was hoping to keep it a little quiet, you know,” Szczepaniak told CHS as we talked to the importer earlier this week about his plans to open Euro Pub on Broadway sandwiched between Phoenix Comics and the Perfect Copy shop just down from Dick’s Drive-In.

“We’ll have European snacks,” Szczepaniak said, “But the beer is most important.” Continue reading

Wildrose owners, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence selected as 2015 Pride Grand Marshals

Mainstays of Capitol Hill culture, community, and nightlife will be honored this summer during the 41st annual Seattle Pride Parade. Organizers have announced that Wildrose owners Martha Manning and Shelley Brothers will join The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Abbey of St. Joan as the 2015 parade’s official grand marshals.

“The Wildrose is a cherished business that has given the LGBTQ community a safe place to congregate here in Seattle,” Seattle Pride President Eric Bennett said in an announcement of the honor. “Current owners Martha and Shelly personify what Seattle Pride identifies as part of the Lifetime of Pride!”

The Sisters, meantime, are being recognized for their charity work and fundraising along with their nearly ubiquitous presence at LGBTQ community events on Capitol Hill and across the city.

The full announcement of the grand marshal selection is below. Continue reading

CHS Pics | A funeral for Arabica

(Images: Kseniya Sovenko)

(Images: Kseniya Sovenko and Bryan Anton)

By Kseniya Sovenko – UW News Lab/Special for CHS – With additional photography by Bryan Anton

It’s a rule. People can’t attend their own wake. But, on Sunday night, Jojo Corväiá, owner and creator of Arabica Lounge, defied nature.

Though Corväiá is alive and well, Arabica is not. After five years of catering to creative minds, intellectuals, coffee addicts and curious foodies, the beloved cafe served its last Arabica croques, omelettes au fromage and brülée cappuccinos Sunday.

Arabica’s public funeral party began that night. Lit mostly by candlelight, the cafe was eerily dim but crowded. As he entered, Corväiá was greeted by the applause of nearly 60 people, all of whom followed the strict dress and make-up code: all black with a black tear painted on their cheeks. The mood was bittersweet as loyal customers and friends exchanged long hugs and loud laughs with Corväiá. Over the course of the night, more than 160 people shuffled in and out to say their goodbyes.

“I really do feel like the atmosphere curated here will be lost on the hill,” said local musician and graphic designer Reed Juenger. “Some people might not consider it a tragic loss, but it definitely doesn’t exist anywhere else.” Continue reading

Overhauled Chop Suey — and its new lounge The Den — set for March grand opening

Screen Shot 2015-02-17 at 10.24.17 AM 10922838_927328697277517_4823551759375342230_nWe’re not sure what they’re up to with the chainsaw in there but work continues to clean up Chop Suey for its next run at live music glory on E Madison. Or rather, clean down.

“By keeping the integrity of all that 1325 Madison St. has been through the years, the interior will reflect it’s stint as an auto parts shop, The Breakroom, Chop Suey, and the future home of The Den,” the announcement on a grand opening reads.

The Chop’s new owners Brianna Rettig, Brian Houck, and Erin Carnes have announced the club will reopen with a special show on March 6th followed by the big grand opening bash featuring Girl Trouble and Dead Moon on lucky Friday, March 13th.

In the meantime, they’re working to get the grit ratio right at their newly acquired club:

Creating success in downtown Los Angeles with both Houck’s first bar, Bar 107, and his partnership with Carnes at The Escondite, make them no strangers to bringing soul to the seediest of neighborhoods with artists and musicians at the forefront. This time with Rettig’s help, they’ll be doing just the opposite by trying to preserve some of the grittiness of a developing neighborhood and keeping a home for local bands and live music.

Continue reading

Neon Taco: Nacho Borracho’s new partnership takes Broadway bar food to new level

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Neon Taco icon Monica Dimas (Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

By Emily Muirhead – UW News Lab/Special for CHS

Past sugar skulls on Broadway, hanging red pepper lights and under a glowing yellow sign sits the aptly named Neon Taco.

“The idea is we’re doing Mexican street food while having a symbiotic restaurant-bar relationship,” chef and owner Monica Dimas tells CHS. “It has the best drinks with really great food to go along with it.”

This new Mexican kitchen is located at the back of Capitol Hill’s Nacho Borracho bar, which after a year of success with late night crowds has upgraded with the new in-house taqueria.

This culinary collaboration started this month just in time for Nacho’s one-year anniversary. The food is accessible to patrons through a small kitchen window where one can order and pay for food, while running a separate bar tab. It’s a model that worked for Nacho’s sister down on E Olive Way where Montana features the ridiculously delicious Kedai Makan walk-up as its related but independent drunk food (and sober eater) provider.

Dimas, 30, previously focused her cooking on pop-up gigs around the Seattle area, including making Mexican hangover soups for Nacho Borracho’s Saturday brunches. Although the bar and kitchen share a roof and patrons, they are independently run. Dimas aims to enhance traditional Mexican food with contemporary twists, surpass standards of subpar bar food, and complement the mostly Mexican-themed drinks served on tap just a few feet away. Continue reading

Ms. Helen coming back to 23rd and Union

Coleman in 2009 (Image: The Corner via Flickr)

Coleman in 2009 (Image: The Corner via Flickr)

Add another ray of hope to change at Midtown Center: Ms. Helen is coming back to 23rd and Union

Seattle soul food legend Ms. Helen Coleman is coming back—at least for a while. The owner of the MidTown Center at 23rd and Union, Tom Bangasser, who owns the property with his family, announced at a community meeting on Saturday that he’s approving a lease with Ms. Helen for 2,100 square feet.

The building home to Ms. Helen’s Soul Food Restaurant was fenced off for years after the 2001 Nisqually earthquake damaged the building beyond repair. Today, of course, this six-story apartment building is under construction at the corner. Helen Coleman also ran her restaurant for a time in the building where Thompson’s Point of View once lived and is now home to the Neighbor Lady.