Liberty celebrates a decade of craft cocktails and sushi on Capitol Hill

15th Ave E is a place where businesses tend to stick around. The neighborhood commercial district is still home to a century-old cobbler and one of the area’s longest standing mechanics. Ten years ago it was still supporting a church-run thrift shop called Trinkets & Treasures.

The wicker furniture and dusty vinyl records left in 2006, but in its place came a bar that has become a neighborhood institution in its own right. This month Liberty celebrates 3,800+ consecutive days of business on Capitol Hill.

Owner Andrew Friedman has been at the helm every one of those days and plans to continue being a constant presence even as ownership changes loom for the cocktail and sushi lounge. “I really enjoy the community aspect of a neighborhood bar,” Friedman said.

The craft cocktail craze was still a few years off in Seattle when Friedman opened Liberty in 2006. Having prior service industry experience, Friedman decided to take a shot at opening a bar when he walked  by15th Ave space and noticed it had become available. “I knew I wanted to open a bar … I was dreaming of being on Capitol Hill,” he said.

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Capitol Hill food+drink | Heritage Distilling opening Pike/Pine tasting room

The problem, many said, with Meat and Bread was that the sandwich shop on the backside of Pike/Pine closed for the day just as the neighborhood’s nightlife district was waking up. The next venture to take over the space inside the Central Agency Building left behind by the M&B closure appears ready to be part of the party.

CHS has learned that Heritage Distilling Co., a Gig Harbor-based maker of craft spirits born in the 2012-era wave of microdistilleries, is bringing a tasting room to Capitol Hill, according to a person with knowledge of the deal. Heritage representatives declined to comment on the project at this time.

The new tasting and sales room will join Heritage’s Gig Harbor main distillery and a tasting room facility on the South Puget Sound city’s waterfront. Heritage is also opening a distillery in Eugene, Oregon. Jennifer and Justin Stiefel founded the company — Justin serves as master distiller and CEO. Continue reading

Jury finds Broadway Grill hacker guilty in massive credit card theft case

Screen-Shot-2014-07-07-at-11.21.24-AMThe son of a Russian lawmaker was found guilty Thursday of an international computer hacking and identity theft scheme that included stealing credit card numbers in 2010 from the now-shuttered Broadway Grill on Capitol Hill.

A federal jury in Seattle found Roman Seleznev guilty on 38 of 40 counts, including computer hacking, wire fraud, and identity theft. He faces up to 34 years in prison when he’s sentenced in December.

According to a 2011 indictment, Seleznev’s hack of the Broadway Grill point of sale system resulted in at least $1.7 million in losses to banks and credit card companies. The DOJ also alleged Seleznev operated a global “carder” system to aid hacking and the sale of credit and bank card data. Investigators said Seleznev was linked to data breaches at Mad Pizza locations in the area, and a breach at Grand Central Baking.

In total, prosecutors said Seleznev pilfered $170 million through his international hacking operation. Continue reading

Starbucks Capitol Hill Station planned for Broadway and Denny

Almost the original Starbucks logo...

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 3.02.59 PMWe look ahead in Capitol Hill food+drink from time to time but it’s pretty unusual for CHS to find a new project in motion when there is little more than a construction pit. Coffee giant Starbucks does things differently — CHS has learned the company is planning a new cafe across the street from the Capitol Hill Station light rail and development site.

Plans are in motion for a Broadway-facing cafe in the six-story apartment building just beginning construction at Broadway and Denny. The corner was the longtime home of the US Post Office before the feds moved their snail mail operation up the street. Demolition revealed the corner’s auto row past. It now has a caffeinated future. Continue reading

Boom Noodle closes after decade at 12th and Pike

When Boom Noodle was born in 2007, the version of Pike/Pine’s entertainment district we know today was just beginning. Investments like Boom, for better and for worse, made it happen. Over the weekend, the chain concept that never really got off the ground closed for good after a decade of shifting concepts at 12th and Pike.

The farewell message was posted on Boom’s doors letting customers know that Sunday would be the last day of service for the Japanese fusion noodle house from the Blue C family of restaurants:

We’ve been so fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve the Capitol Hill and Seattle area for the past 10 years and it saddens us to announce that this weekend will be our last. Our lease is coming to an end and it’s time to bid our wonderful guests and neighbors farewell. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Ooink and 12+ new places still to come in 2016

After a ripple of summer closings, here is a reminder that the Capitol Hill food+drink economy (probably) isn’t crashing. There are still a lot of projects slated to come in 2016 — and, we’re pretty sure, several more we don’t know about… yet.

One of the Capitol Hill “coming soons” we haven’t told you about is Ooink, a Japanese-style ramen shop with a Malaysian chef slated to open in coming weeks above Broadway and Pike.

Screen Shot 2016-08-18 at 10.34.23 AM“This one is our first restaurant,” Jiaxin Wang tells CHS about the project set to showcase the creations of her husband, chef Chong Boon Ooi. “He’s been working for other people but now we can be on our own.”

With pork bone-based broth, chef Ooi’s Ooink will open in the space left empty by the departure of Russian dumpling house Vostok next to Marination Station in the Harvard Market shopping center. Vostok’s demise leaves the couple unfazed. The exit presented them with a relative bargain of a set-up to move into. Marination, on the other hand, provides inspiration with its ongoing success above Broadway and Pike. Continue reading

$$$$ Restaurant Marron exits the Loveless Building

There has been another summer food and drink closure on Capitol Hill but this one may not be the end for the restaurant involved.

Restaurant Marron has closed its doors in Capitol Hill’s Loveless Building just a little more than two years after bringing its $$$$ tasting menu format with 16-course, small-bite creations to E Roy. Continue reading

Yes, a Broadway fro-yo shop has also closed

(Image: Refresh)

(Image: Refresh)

Let’s just get all of this Capitol Hill food+drink bad news out of the way. One of the quiet summer passings we’ve yet to note is Broadway indie fro-yo shop Refresh Desserts.

Here’s the sweet goodbye letter from “Bobby, Judith, Ricky & Mary” announcing the closure to end July:

Dear Family, Friends, and Community,

We regret to inform you that Refresh Frozen Desserts & Espresso will be closing. Our last day open to serve you is Sunday, July 31st.

We want to send our sincerest gratitude to all of you for your encouragement, support, and love. Throughout this past year, we were able to build a welcoming community space creating new relationships and partnerships, and rekindling old ones.

Refresh Frozen Desserts and Espresso opened in the Hunters Capital-owned Broadway Building next to Blick Art last summer replacing a departed big chain frozen yogurt biz. Refresh was an unusual non-franchise player in the frozen yogurt biz which Broadway’s Menchies owners explained is mostly locked up with few distribution and product options. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Big in B.C., Meat and Bread closing on Capitol Hill

There is more cold, hard news for daytime food and drink business on the edges of Pike/Pine. British Columbian sandwich shop Meat and Bread is pulling out of Capitol Hill.

Business owners and people familiar with the situation have told CHS that the shop is canceling orders and preparing to shut down. We have questions out to the Abbotsford-headquartered chain’s management about the closure but have not yet heard back. UPDATE: M&B’s Dave Neil tells CHS the last day for the Capitol Hill location is Saturday.

“We anticipated having a busier daytime rush there,” Neil said of the decision to close. He also said the company did consider trying later hours but decided it didn’t fit the model of being in place with a busy lunchtime rush to build off of. “The construction in the area really hurt us, also,” Neil said. “We’re sticking with what we’re good at.” Continue reading

9th Ave *poke* stop? Coffee Tree sprouts a second First Hill location

Ryan Lee has had an affinity for poke for years, ever since his first visit Hawaii where the fresh Ahi tuna and rice bowls can be found in abundance. So when the opportunity came up to open his second Coffee Tree cafe on First Hill, he knew poke would be part of the equation.

“I wanted to bring something I had passion for and something I had experience with,” said Lee, who worked for nine years as a sushi and hibachi chef in Dallas before moving to Seattle. “It’s a great location by Harborview and a healthy option for patients and hospital workers.”

Coffee Tree and Poke opened August 1st near 9th and James — just three blocks from the Coffee Tree at 8th and Marion. Continue reading

Stumptown to stop roasting coffee on 12th Ave

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

A pillar of Capitol Hill’s cafe scene is ending its coffee roasting operation on 12th Ave. Sprudge broke the news Tuesday that Portland-based Stumptown Coffee will shut down the roasters at its Capitol Hill shop that opened in 2007. The decision will end the Portland-based company’s days of roasting beans in Seattle.

A person familiar with the move told CHS that ongoing issues with the shop’s old building and plans for Seattle University development in the area factored into the decision. Ten stories of office and dorms are planned to rise above the coffee shop as part of the private university’s expansion plan. We have questions out to Stumptown about the future of the coffee shop and how Seattle U’s plans will impact their operations.

UPDATE: Stumptown vice president Matt Loundsbury told CHS that in addition to having no space for a much needed new roaster, roasting on 12th Ave would become impossible amid Seattle U’s expansion. “What we understand the plans to be will make it really hard to do what we do,” he said. Continue reading

Capitol Hill bars take precautions amid reports of drugged drinks

Bar Sue is now offering date rape drug detector strips. (Image: Bar Sue via Facebook)

Bar Sue is now offering date rape drug detector strips. (Image: Bar Sue via Facebook)

Bar Sue owner Ian Carey first became concerned about an uptick in drugged drinks on Capitol Hill when he himself was drugged a few months ago at a neighborhood bar. When a Bar Sue patron reported being drugged last month, Carey decided to start offering free “date rape drug detector” tests.

“For now I am just providing free tests and posting signs that they are available to my patrons, in hopes it will potentially deter predators in my bar,” he said.

Now other bars are following suit. Chop Suey owner Brianna Rettig told CHS she has already put the order in for the strips that test for GHB, a common date rape drug. “They’re very easy and pretty brilliant. You just do a straw test on the tab and it’ll tell you whether or not there’s GHB inside the drink,” Rettig said.

Rettig said she has held multiple meetings with Chop Suey’s security and bar staff about looking out for suspicious behavior and signs of over intoxication. Nightlife owner Steven Severin said he has not heard reports of drugged drinks at Neumos, Moe Bar, or Barboza, but hopes increased attention on the issue will scare off any would-be predators.  Continue reading