No need for Broadway nostalgia — Tiny TNT Espresso back in business

Rock is ready to pour you a tall one (Images: CHS)

Rock is ready to pour you a tall one (Images: CHS)

Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? No, really, should they? Not on Broadway where we seem to be ending 2015 with some nostalgia-erasing revivals.

TNT Espresso, the tiny, 80-square-foot coffee stand in the teriyaki restaurant parking lot at Broadway and Harrison, was back in business this chilly Monday morning, serving up hot tea and milky pours from a new owner happy to be able to keep Capitol Hill’s last* drive-thru coffee shack alive — even after CHS already wrote its obituary.

Rock Sielaff said he decided to purchase the business from longtime friend Monica Anaya and return to the Hill from Chicago after a short adventure away from his longtime stomping grounds.

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A true Pike/Pine throwback, Rancho Bravo drive-thru now open

Rancho Bravo Tacos

We’re not sure how busy it will be on a November Friday night but we expect by summer it will be quite the scene — even if nobody you know has a car anymore. Earlier this week after months of preparation, Rancho Bravo’s drive-thru at E Pine and 10th became operational.

CHS got word of the drive-thru’s opening earlier Friday when we talked to owner Freddy Rivas about his new venture around the corner on E Pike, Buddha’s Kitchen.

Rivas first told CHS about his hopes for reviving the last permitted restaurant drive-thru on Capitol Hill when he first took over the old Tricon Global-Kentucky Fried Chicken building years ago but it wasn’t until this spring that plans went into high gear.

Rivas, who manages his Seattle restaurants with a strong respect for efficient operations, said he waited to open the drive-thru until he was sure the ordering system was working smoothly and Rancho Bravo was ready to handle the extra load. He is also hoping signage and markings help keep the area safe for pedestrians, bikers, and drivers.

You might not remember when Pike/Pine was Seattle’s auto row but anybody old enough to remember the old Jack in the Box drive-in scene on Broadway on a Friday night knows what could be ahead for Rancho Bravo by the time summer rolls around. Expect some good times. Hours for the drive-thru are the same as the restaurant meaning there could be some late night, 2 AM taco cruises in your future. If only TNT was still around for some coffee.

Capitol Hill food+drink | Ballet revamp will become Buddha’s Kitchen

IMG_0006Freddy Rivas was already planning changes after reaching a deal to purchase E Pike’s Ballet. But the owner of Rancho Bravo and Freddy Junior’s is moving up the schedule.

Coming soon: Buddha’s Kitchen along with a revised menu and cleaned-up operation.

Rivas’s deal to buy Ballet from the family who ran the restaurant for 16 years was planned to include a smooth transition in which the affordable Thai joint slowly changed into its new incarnation along with its existing staff and menu. But after a health inspection of the old restaurant space turned up enough violations to warrant a closure Thursday, Rivas said the schedule has been stepped up. Continue reading

On the List | Hill’s Redwood stays rooted a bit longer ahead of 10th anniversary bash

The Redwood Tavern, Capitol Hill Seattle1446667871940Seattle’s permit backlog may be causing headaches for Capitol Hill small business owners, but it also appears to be helping keep the doors open at one neighborhood dive bar. Just ahead of its 10-year anniversary on Capitol Hill and the conclusion of its drawn out closure, owners of The Redwood tell CHS they have signed a 6-month lease extension giving the bar a few more months in its home where Howell meets Belmont. “We want to stay there until the wrecking ball comes,” said Lisa Brooke, who owns the bar along with her husband Mat, a former member of rock outfit Band of Horses. According to Brooke, the Redwood property owner offered to extend the bar’s lease after it became clear that demolition permits to make way for a new apartment building on the block were still months away from approval. If the wrecking ball — or backhoe — still hasn’t come after six months, Brooke said the Redwood will stay open on a month-to-month basis. Continue reading

Ian’s Pizza on the Hill opens where franchise bailed over Seattle’s minimum wage fears

For all the talk about Seattle’s “$15 minimum wage,” 2016 will be the first year for real action as even smaller employers will begin the climb. The business environment in the city will undoubtedly shift. On Broadway, with slices of Mac n’ Cheese pizza, a small bit of change began Tuesday with the opening of Ian’s Pizza on the Hill in the former home of a pizza franchisee who bailed on Capitol Hill vs. suffering what she said would be an even more difficult environment for her business. Continue reading

The troubled birth, triumphant revival, and peaceful death of Capitol Hill steakhouse Manhattan

If you’re looking for signs of a neighborhood food+drink bubble, yet another death announcement for a Capitol Hill restaurant won’t provide much useful evidence. The story behind the Manhattan steakhouse is just too weird and its end, too calm, and controlled.

But here’s the real question — who gets the Peter Gronquist sculpture that has become the 12th Ave restaurant’s symbol and mascot?

“He’s probably going to go home with the owner,” a woman who identified herself as a spokesperson for Manhattan and owner Boyoon Choi tells CHS.

The golden gun-horned ram’s head will certainly make a fun conversation piece. Continue reading

Dutch treat: Miri’s Poffers makes debut at the Broadway Farmers Market

While we’ve seen some of the Broadway Farmers Markets food and drink projects graduate to brick and mortar ventures, the woman behind the latest delicious offering to join the weekly market at Broadway and Pine says she’s perfectly happy — for now — just making great, tiny Dutch pancakes by the dozen.

“I love to cook but the classic restaurant model feels very restrictive,” Miri Plowman tells CHS. “I’m actually a cook that likes humans.”

Miri’s Poffers is slated to make its debut at the market this weekend. The market, as usual, runs 11 AM to 3 PM. A blustery November Sunday or not, there will be many, many humans there.

Plowman is ready to give them a hearty pancake meal — and a show.

“The Dutch have it down,” she says. “It’s mesmerizing. I love the pan. I’m not trying to ham it up. But it is really fun to watch. And I was drawn to that.”

Plowman and crew make the small poffertjes pancakes with a special, cast iron grill made just for the task. Plowman paid $2,000 for hers. Heating the batch and spinning the cakes with little sticks takes on a kind of rhythm with the smell of baking and a little smoke spreading the word that it’s nearly time to eat. Miri’s serves its poffers — “poffertjes” was just too difficult for anybody to pronounce — in orders of around 13 to 15 pancakes. You can choose accompaniments like classic butter and powdered sugar for $6, poached quince for $9, bacon and egg for $12, or wild mushrooms also for $12.

Plowman said she discovered the street food on visits to Holland with her two Dutch half sisters. She decided about a year ago to try to be part of the Capitol Hill farmers market but the opportunity to join the mix at Broadway and Pine didn’t open up until now. On her first Sunday, she expects to draw plenty of onlookers but she probably won’t bother trying to help anybody pronounce poffertjes. Plowman is looking forward to introducing her poffers to Capitol Hill.

“A lot of education is involved,” she said, “because nobody knows what the hell they are.”

You can learn more at

Charlie’s to ‘reopen’ on Broadway

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 2.57.48 PMThe owners behind The Lodge Sports Grille have announced two pieces of good news about their project to bring Charlie’s back to life on Broadway. One, it will, indeed, be called Charlie’s. And Two, it’s set to open later this month according to the announcement posted to

We walked into the historic brick building after the last drinks had been poured and the customers had gone home. It was a place we had visited regularly in its prime, just as many of our fellow Seattleites had. A place that was well worn in with dark corner booths, friendly service and hearty breakfasts that lasted all day and night. The crevices were piled high with eclectic memorabilia and knick-knacks, accumulated through out the thirty years of business. As we stood there, impressed by the unique charm and the must of the old carpet, we knew what had to be done.
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Capitol Hill food+drink | Black Bottle crew opening new joint on 15th Ave E

The owners of the Black Bottle family of restaurants are working to put a long-shuttered food and drink space on 15th Ave E back into motion.

CHS has learned that a company including Black Bottle’s partners Chris Linker, Judy Boardman, Brian Durbin, and William Bruiniige has inked a lease for the former home of 22 Doors which shuttered in late 2013. Boardman, by the way, lives in the area so will presumably bring some local knowledge to the project.

Workers are busy inside the 2,374 square-foot restaurant and bar that was known for having one of the best patios on the Hill. The restaurant was also known for its mysteriously long, two-year vacancy as the street’s food and drink scene grew and seemingly thrived around the dark and empty space sandwiched next to Rione XIIIThe Wandering Goose, and old-timer Tim’s Barbershop. Continue reading

Why the infamous Amante’s flashing sign went dark on E Olive Way

Before, circa 2008... (Image: sparklingallison)

Before, circa 2008… (Image: sparklingallison)

There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying. When it comes to how E Olive Way’s infamous flashing Amante’s pizza sign got turned off, there are a few sides to tell about the sudden darkening of the unfortunate “welcome to Capitol Hill” landmark.

Earlier this week, a neighbor tipped CHS and The Stranger to the sign finally going dark after seven years of flashing promotions at the intersection of Denny and E Olive Way. After a complaint was made this summer, a city inspector confirmed something you may have suspected — “Inspection confirmed violation of changing image frequency on sign for Amante Pizza.”

That was July. After another inspection in late August revealed the sign was still flashing away, suddenly Amante’s billboard went dark months later.

What happened?

“Amante Pizza is now under new ownership,” a spokesperson for the City of Seattle tells CHS. “We recently advised the new owner of the neighbor’s complaints and the history of our enforcement case on the flashing ‘video’ signage.”

If you’re keeping track of the latest Amante’s ownership changes, CHS reported that a man named George Kozhuharov took over the business from previous owner Vladimir Dimitrov in early 2015.

“The owner seemed very interested in being a good neighbor and voluntarily turned off the sign,” the city spokesperson tells CHS.

UPDATE: We get a lot of questions about “how do businesses like Amante’s stay open?” and “is it a front?” From the CHS comments below, you can see, yourself, there are plenty of customers. As for how the business is run, Amante’s is a franchise:

If you want a taste of success, only one business can satisfy it. Your own Amante Gourmet Pizza franchise. Join our team and you’ll be part of a $25 billion dollar a year business with no end in sight. The fact is, Americans love pizza. And this love affair is fueling an explosive growth in pizza consumption. While many people enjoy traditional toppings and old-time favorites, a fast –growing segment of pizza lovers want gourmet pizza. They like different selections, unique ingredients, uncompromisingly fresh toppings, and an endless array of choices.

Any more questions? :)