Out of Paradiso emerged Caffe Vita — and decades of Capitol Hill coffee culture

The 60 kilogram beast of a roaster inside E Pike's Caffe Vita (Images: CHS)

The 60 kilogram beast of a roaster inside E Pike’s Caffe Vita (Images: CHS)

There had been a plan for this week to be a celebration of twenty years of coffee culture in Seattle as Caffe Vita marked its 1995 birth with a Pike/Pine street party.

But the E Pike flagship coffee shop and roaster — even with the prospect of hundreds of caffeine slingers in Seattle for The Specialty Coffee Association of America Symposium – nixed the street party plans and instead opted only to give the old cafe a much needed spiffing up.

You’ll note new floors on both levels of the building and a general scrubbing of the hard-working cafe and bean factory.

Street party or no, Capitol Hill can still celebrate Vita and the pioneering efforts of founder Mike McConnell — though marking 20 years might not be enough. Instead, one of the key milestones in Capitol Hill cafe culture should be marked to 1991.

Cafe Paradiso, where Vita was born (Image courtesy The Daily Journal of Commerce)

Cafe Paradiso, where Vita was born (Image courtesy The Daily Journal of Commerce)

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Save room to give at Capitol Hill’s 54 Dining Out for Life 2014 bars and restaurants

A bartender at 12th Ave's Manhattan prepares "a signature Dining Out For Life cocktail" (Image: Lifelong)

A bartender at 12th Ave’s Manhattan prepares “a signature Dining Out For Life cocktail” (Image: Lifelong)

Do good. Dine out. Thursday is the annual Dining Out for Life fundraiser for Capitol Hill-based nonprofit Lifelong. More than 150 restaurants in Seattle are participating in the 2014 event and will donate at least 30% of their proceeds to Lifelong. Funds raised support the community health organization’s mission to deliver food and provide housing and health services to people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic illnesses.

“Participating in Dining Out For Life is an easy way to give back,” Lifelong CEO Randall Russell said in a statement. “We have long-time restaurant partners coming back as well as many new participants. The Seattle community is so supportive of this event. Such a simple thing – grabbing coffee or going out for a meal with friends – will make a big difference in the lives of the people we serve.”

While all participants give generously on the day, there are a handful of venues that will be donating 50% of their proceeds Thursday — on Capitol Hill, the “Gold Fork” participants are Fogon, Kedai Makan, Six Arms and Witness.

The full roster of participating restaurants around Capitol Hill is below. You can see a complete Seattle list venues here.

Capitol Hill

  • 8 oz. Burger & Co.
  • Americana
  • Annapurna Café
  • Ballet Restaurant
  • Barrio Mexican Kitchen & Bar
  • Bimbo’s Cantina
  • Bleu Bistro’s Grotto Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Corretto mixes the craft of coffee and cocktails for night — and day — on Broadway

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Brandon Paul Weaver at work (Images: CHS)

Brandon Paul Weaver at work (Images: CHS)

The sidewalk sandwich board announces “Finally! Another coffee shop on Broadway,” but the crew inside the recently opened Corretto are aiming to be more than just any old coffee slingers. In an effort to bring something new to such a drink savvy city, Corretto founder Travis Rosenthal reached back into espresso’s Italian roots for inspiration. What the Tango owner came up with was a bar featuring new spins on a classic coffee cocktail, caffe corretto or “coffee corrected”, and a distinctly Capitol Hill hangout.

“Think about it like a bar that happens to serve coffee,” said Corretto’s director of coffee Brandon Paul Weaver. “If you want to go to a bar to get a coffee on Capitol hill, where do you go? I think it offers something new to this block.”

On Monday Corretto opened for daytime hours after its official opening earlier in the month inside the former Panevino space. CHS previously reported on Rosenthal’s original plan to open in the new Pine+Minor building before deciding to relocate the project to Broadway, between Harrison and Republican. Be sure to stop in this week for half-off all coffee drinks.

One small business cannot completely embody a neighborhood, but it’s not uncommon for a single bar or cafe to reach symbolic status in a city, to be first thing that leaps to mind upon mention of a certain area or its inhabitants. Continue reading

Pho favorite Than Brothers moving into new, slightly used home across the street on Broadway

IMG_20140420_193727IMG_20140420_193714CHS has been a little rough with Broadway’s Joule building even using it recently as the poster child for “why Capitol Hill’s big mixed-use developments look, um, the way they do.” But a Broadway food and drink favorite likes the building just fine, thank you very much, and is about to show that, if you don’t love the first generation of new retail that pops up in some of Capitol Hill’s developments, maybe you just need to wait for the second.

“We are very excited to move to new location, nicer, brighter, more windows and open kitchen,” Chi Dang tells CHS about the plan for Broadway’s Than Brothers to make a very Capitol Hill-style, less-than-two-block move — across the street. Continue reading

Central District nightclub faces deadline in liquor license fight

Sainvil listens to supporters of Waid's speak at a March community meeting about the club (Image: CHS)

Sainvil listens to supporters of Waid’s speak at a March community meeting about the club (Image: CHS)

Friday is the deadline for Waid Sainvil to act to keep his Central District nightclub open as the state liquor board moves forward on its decision not to renew the bar’s liquor license.

In February, CHS spoke with Sainvil who said racism and the push of gentrification was driving authorities to target his Waid’s Restaurant & Lounge after a series of liquor and drug violations at the 12th and Jefferson bar. “It’s a black thing,” Sainvil said. “This is the only place in Seattle where black people from all over hang out.” The issues around Waid’s were discussed at an East Precinct community meeting in March attended by Sainvil and new East Precinct commander Capt. Pierre Davis.

According to a Washington State Liquor Control Board representative, there were five enforcement and one licensing issue against Waid’s that were to be examined in court over six hearings after the board decided not to renew the club’s license.

Sainvil failed to appear at a hearing earlier this month and the rest of the month’s hearings have been canceled after a judge granted the state’s motion, the spokesperson tells CHS. Sainvil has not yet responded to our request for an update on his plans. Friday is the deadline for Sainvil to file a motion against the board’s decision and try to win back his liquor license against the state’s contentions that his bar has racked up too many violations to continue serving alcohol.

The Waid’s neighborhood continues to change with new development and more business investment. Across the street, Capitol Hill Housing’s The Jefferson apartment building opened in 2013Seattle University, in the meantime, continues to invest in the area and plans a major campus expansion in the neighborhood. Waid’s landlord is Abdulkarim Nagi who also owns the neighboring gas station. Nagi himself is busy in court with a $200,000+ breach of contract suit against  ARCO filed earlier this year over unmet fuel sales quotas.

According to letters from the City Attorney’s office provided to CHS, concerns about incidents at Waid’s date back for years and include a 2013 sting in which minors were able to purchase alcohol at the nightclub.

UPDATE 4/22/2014: A motion has been filed on behalf of Waid’s that will restart hearings on the non-renewal of the liquor license to late May.

Chuck’s Central District to add E Union parklet

Inside Chuck's -- we're guessing there will not be a giant refrigerated case in the new parklet (Image: CHS)

Inside Chuck’s — we’re guessing there will not be a giant refrigerated case in the new parklet (Image: CHS)

Chuck’s Central District is already a bottle and mug-filled playground for beer lovers on E Union. This summer, it should add a new place to hang out along the street as the beer shop will join the roster of businesses participating in the city’s growing parklet program. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Last night at Piecora’s

(Images: Suzi Pratt for CHS)

(Images: Suzi Pratt for CHS)

We interrupt this stream of news about new restaurant concepts, craft cocktails and farm-to-table creativity for an unusual dollop of food+drink nostalgia. Here’s a look at some of the sights from Tuesday’s last night of service at Capitol Hill’s Piecora’s Pizza after 33 years at the corner of 14th and Madison.Final Night at Piecora's Pizza in Capitol Hill Seattle

CHS wrote here about what comes next after the Piecora family sold their building to an apartment developer for $10.3 million.

Many others have, of course, stopped in to say goodbye and share their thoughts on the end of the Capitol Hill institution. Not completely satisfied with nostalgia, we can’t resist the urge to look for a trend others might have missed in the change. One that comes to mind is the death of simple places to eat that kids like on Capitol Hill. You can call it a childless neighborhood but you would be wrong. Still, places like Chutney’s, Boom Noodle, Montlake Alehouse (yes, the alehouse had a kid pit), and, now, Piecora’s are gone. Watch your backs El Gallito, Vios, and Genki Sushi.

Final Night at Piecora's Pizza in Capitol Hill Seattle

More pictures of the final night at Piecora’s are below. Continue reading

Capitol Hill says goodbye to Piecora’s, hello to familiar national apartment developer

(Images: CHS)

(Images: CHS)

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UPDATE 4/17/14Developer reveals plans for the Piecora’s building

Original report: A thick chapter of Capitol Hill history will close Tuesday night when the final slice of Piecora’s pizza is polished off, and a new story will open when the nation’s largest, publicly traded, owner of apartments gets to work on its fourth Capitol Hill property.

Equity Residential purchased the 14th and Madison pizza property from the Piecora family in April for a whopping $10.3 million, adding to Equity’s 30+ residential properties in the region. The Piecora family paid $3,045,000 to purchase the property in 2002. Soon after the Equity sale, Piecora’s announced April 15th would be their last day.

So far Equity has not filed any paperwork to indicate their plans for the site — or if they’ll honor the Piecora name in the new building. Representatives from Equity has not yet responded to CHS requests for comment. Given Equity’s regional properties, it’s safe to assume another mixed-use project is on the way. Continue reading

Shibumi promises a real ramen experience on Capitol Hill

IMG_2253The cauldrons of broth are finally bubbling behind the ramen bar at Shibumi as Eric Stapelman opened his Japanese eatery this week at 12th and Pine. The restaurant is the latest addition to the newly constructed Collins on Pine building, a big change for Stapelman who ran his previous Santa Fe ramen joint from a 19th century-built structure.

Shibumi features two bars, one for ramen and one for booze, and plenty of table seating. The vaulted ceilings and blue steel finishes give a slick overtone to some old-world elements, like the hand-burned wood panels to surround the ramen bar.

“A touch of modern with old world,” Stapelman said.

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Off Capitol Hill’s beaten path, Chico Madrid shutters — UPDATE: Fuel pops up

(Image: CHS)

Your last chance to enjoy the sangria machine is this weekend (Image: CHS)

UPDATE: We wondered about this — Turns out, the old Chico Madrid space will stay in motion. Dani Cone’s Fuel Coffee is “popping up” in the space starting Tuesday with coffee and pastries. Hours will be 7 AM to 2 PM. Beer and wine may be in the offing.

Original report: Despite experienced Capitol Hill backers and a lovely home in one of Capitol Hill’s most interesting apartment developments, Spanish-accented cafe Chico Madrid will close this weekend after only one year of business on Bellevue Ave E.

CHS has not heard back from the project’s backers which included coffee and pie entrepreneur Dani Cone and a recent infusion of energy and cash from the team at Marination, Kamala Saxton and Roz Edison. Cone’s Fuel and High Five Pie and Marination Station are CHS advertisers.

UPDATE: Here’s a statement on the closure sent to CHS:

“Chico Madrid will always be a special place and we are so grateful to all of those who embraced the concept, our staff and [our] neighbors. At this time however, we’ve decided to focus our efforts and energy elsewhere.” -Jacob Daley, founding member of Chico Madrid

A message was posted to Facebook about the planned closure earlier this week:

Friends – with heavy hearts, we must tell you that Chico Madrid will be closing its doors this Sunday, April 13th. It has been a remarkable year full of devoted regulars, welcoming press and kind neighbors, however we just haven’t reached a sustainable level of business. But we LOVE Chico Madrid and we want all of you to have one last chance to enjoy our delicious food and warm spirit before we close. Please join us this week – we’d love to see you to say thank you.

Chico Madrid was born in spring of 2013 with Cone teaming up with Jacob Daley and Franz Gilbertson of Ballard’s Honore Bakery. At the time, Daley told CHS his travels in Spain — and the bocadillo sandwich — inspired the new creation. “There were mom and pop cafes with a ubiquitous sandwich,” he said. “Really high quality ingredients but simple.”

The 800 square-foot cafe was resident in the commercial suite built as part of the preservation and development Belroy Apartments project created by Point32, the developers also behind the Bullitt Center. While the residents of the new and 80-year-old old wings of the building were a built-in customer base for Chico Madrid, the cafe was apparently too far away from the Hill’s more traveled areas to draw enough customers to survive. Earlier this year, CHS reported on the effort from Marination to revive the cafe and introduce cocktails and new energy to the space. It apparently was too little, too late — though we haven’t heard back yet about what is next for the partnership that had formed around Chico Madrid.

Whatever is next for the space, backers of a new project might want to check in with the folks at nearby The Lookout as the bar has hung in there over the years – and with a change of ownership — as a neighborhood watering hole on a far-flung edge of Capitol Hill.

Chef’s global adventure lands him on E Pike as Stateside comes to Capitol Hill

Stateside_Logo-02An ex-pat chef’s return home and move to Seattle is behind a new restaurant project planned for the auto row-era building also home to Six Arms.

First-time Seattle restauranteur Eric Johnson plans to open Stateside — blending “fresh flavors of Vietnam with French influence” — in a new project at 300 E Pike this fall.

“We couldn’t be more pleased — just serendipity that we got it,” Johnson tells CHS about the 2,400 square-foot restaurant space being built where offices and parking used to be hidden away in the old building behind the McMennamins tavern. “We really, really wanted an old building. Now we’re going to have to live up to the best concentration of restaurants in Seattle.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Crush marks nine years on the edge

(Image: Crush)

(Image: Crush)

Jason Wilson never meant to serve “fine dining” type food inside his refurbished 1903 Victorian on E Madison just past 23rd — and well over the Capitol Hill border.

Wilson and wife and business partner, Nicole Wilson, also the team behind Miller’s Guild downtown, don’t live on Capitol Hill but view the neighborhood as a “cultural center point.” Wilson sees the proximity to the Central District, Madison Park and Madison Valley as a positive.

That’s part of why the pair decided on the location at 23rd and Madison a decade ago, rather than farther down Pine and Pike.

“(Pike and Pine weren’t) really blowing up at the time; it was kind of a dead zone,” he said. “At the time, Belltown was the place to be.”

Wilson said he also liked the distinguishing characteristics of a singular building set apart from everything else. The house’s $255,000 price tag probably didn’t hurt.

“It’s worked to our benefit now, but at the time everyone kinda thought we were nuts,” he said. Continue reading