Capitol Hill food+drink | With room for a Sugar Plum counter, Plum expanding on 12th Ave

Makini Howell’s vegan bistro Plum is expanding on 12th Ave — and adding something sweet in the process.

“We are booking a lot of catering this summer,” Howell said about the new Plum expansion set to take over the empty steakhouse just up the sidewalk. “It shows — more people are vegan but, also, the growth of the city. We’ve managed to stay through a lot of ups and downs.”

Plum Catering will put the expanded kitchen from the departed Manhattan to good use supporting Howell’s booing catering business while also making space for takeout meals, sauces, dips, and sundries. Pioneer Square’s London Plane offers an example of how it might fight together. A sweets counter featuring creations from the reinvigorated Sugar Plum will also be part of the construction underway in the space. Continue reading

Starbucks Roastery’s latest Capitol Hill innovation: ice cream + coffee is delicous

No this post is not an ad for Starbucks, they did not pay us to post this picture, and we are not (exactly) corporate shills (Image: Starbucks)

No this post is not an ad for Starbucks, they did not pay us to post this picture, and we are not (exactly) corporate shills (Image: Starbucks)

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room is already a people magnet drawing thousands of visitors a week to the base of Capitol Hill. Now it has ice cream.

“There was a lot of coffee and ice cream drinking early in the day,” said Lillian Ontiveros, about the process of developing the ice cream centered coffee beverages the Roastery added to its menu. Like all good things Starbucks, be ready for whatever appears at the showcase cafes like the Roastery or Roy Street to eventually be rolled out globally at massive scale.

And we’ll call it… the Frappuccino!…

Continue reading

Foreign National, Tavolata Capitol Hill ready to join E Pike food+drink

Foreign National (Images: Barnard and Meyer)

Foreign National (Images: Barnard and Meyer)

Two new additions to the booming Capitol Hill food and drink scene are joining the buzz on E Pike. Foreign National in all its shadowy sultry-ness is set to join next-door sibling Stateside at the base of the Hill while Ethan Stowell’s second Tavolata is planning its opening in a preservation-friendly development at Pike and Summit.

“We’re really surprised and grateful for what seems to be a great deal of interest,” Foreign National’s Eric Johnson tells CHS. “But it’s tiny. And we’re a little bit scared.”

At 28 seats, Johnson said he is hopeful the just-finished, bar addition to Stateside and its crew can withstand the crush of new-seeking foodies sure to show up as soon as Instagram gives the OK. A few nights of “friends and family” this week helped Johnson and front of house guru Seth Hammond prepare. The official opening will come next week. In the meantime, good luck. Continue reading

As sibling Liberty ponders going co-op, Good Citizen focuses on coffee, not cocktails

The plans for Good Citizen, Andrew Friedman’s second Capitol Hill hangout that eased into operation more than a year ago only to quietly go dormant again, have changed. Meanwhile, Liberty, Friedman’s plucky 15th Ave E bar that made its reputation in growing Seattle’s craft cocktail scene out of equal parts integrity and bitters, is up for sale — but likely only available to a very special group of buyers: the people who work there.

After opening as an event space more than a year ago, Good Citizen on E Olive Way is, for now, anyhow, moving forward as a cafe — craft cocktail-free.

Friedman tells CHS Good Citizen re-opened “just for fun” starting Tuesday, June 21. Right now, the store only has Stumptown coffee, but Friedman says pastries, and coffee from other roasters will soon be available. You can stop by now though be prepared for a flexible schedule as Friedman’s crew sorts things out. Continue reading

The Old Sage closes after owner’s $2.4M bankruptcy filing

The $2.4 million bankruptcy of one of the pioneers of Pike/Pine’s explosion as a center of Seattle food and drink investment is behind the sudden closure of 12th Ave’s The Old Sage. While Brian McCracken’s neighboring Tavern Law has not made a similar announcement, rumors of a sale of the early player in Seattle’s renewed craft cocktail scene persist.

The bad news about The Old Sage bar and restaurant, as so much bad news does these days, came over the weekend via Facebook:

Friends of the Old Sage, its with a heavy heart that we must say goodbye to you all tonight. We have had a amazing run and truly appreciate all the support you have given us over the years. Our entire staff invites you to join us tonight for one last get together. Come on down, drink some scotch, laugh with us, and lets give The Old Sage one amazing goodbye. 50% off everything we have left, CASH ONLY.

According to documents filed in Western District of Washington United States Bankruptcy Court, McCracken and his wife filed May 20th for chapter 7 protection over some $2.4 million in debts. Included in the filings are some $70,000 in taxes, nearly $50,000 in student loans, $10,000 for a 12th and Madison landlord, $38,000 owed to McCracken’s landlord in Belltown, $26,000 and change to AMEX, a whopping $218,439 to Gravity Payments, and $67,329 to something called Loan Me to go with $5,200 owed to the Money Tree.  Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | A Hill homecoming for Manu’s Bodegita

With the amount of talent at work across the kitchens of Capitol Hill food and drink, we’re bound to have more and more homecomings featuring recent neighborhood graduates.

“I always thought it would be nice to get back on Capitol Hill with all those fans who appreciated the flavors of that little pop-up way back when in front of Montana,” Manu Alfau tells CHS.

Now, three years and a lot of Manu’s Bodega success later, Alfau is ready to return to Capitol Hill with Manu’s Bodegita. Continue reading

Capitol Hill not getting an urban winery — but Aluel Cellars tasting room to open this summer

Blessed by copious amounts of freshly brewed beer and recently roasted coffee, Capitol Hill has only a couple liquor distilleries. It has even fewer wineries. Aluel Cellars won’t exactly change that. But the new business slated to open this summer on E Thomas just off Broadway will give Capitol Hill a tasting room for one of the city’s best urban wineries.

Partners in love, life, and now wine, Samuel Hilbert and Alex Oh are teaming up to open Aluel in the newly built Westside off Broadway building. With a cutesy name to give you warm feelies, the new project will create a tasting room a block from Broadway featuring the fine works of SoDo winemaker Bart Fawbush of Bartholomew Winery.

“We want when people walk in for it to feel like they’re in a winery tasting room,” Hilbert tells CHS. Aluel Cellars will feature 10 to 15 of Fawbush’s creations along with Aluel “private label” choices. You can stop in to taste — and, hopefully, buy. Aluel will also feature cheeses and chocolate pairings and the loft space in the new street-level commercial berth in the six-story development can be used for events and meet-ups. Continue reading

Brewers say corporate beer is pushing exclusive deals on Capitol Hill, too

Beer Tap

After Capitol Hill-born Elysian Brewing announced its sale to Anheuser-Busch last year, co-founder Joe Bisacca told CHS that if customers didn’t know about the sale, “there would be no difference.”

Granted, Seattle faces more serious injustices, but many craft beer enthusiasts say that is a major problem as corporate beer’s increasing small brand acquisitions make it harder to tell where your money is going.

By taking over regional distributors that only offer their own“craft” labels, AB and MillerCoors, the two largest beer companies in the U.S., have tried to take back some of the ground lost in the indie beer boom. And with a greater selection of beers to offer, some say the duo are increasingly flexing their muscle with bar and venue owners to be exclusive suppliers, a practice which is illegal under state law. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Macrina Bakery and Pagliacci Pizza working on a new venture on E Pike

DSC04706Screen Shot 2016-06-06 at 11.38.13 AMAfter 16 years of making its dough and tomato sauce from an E Pike commercial kitchen, Pagliacci Pizza is moving its pizza base of operations to Kent.

To replace it, two of Seattle’s most established dough-based businesses are exploring a Capitol Hill venture that may include a new Pagliacci restaurant and Macrina Bakery Cafe at E Pike and Crawford Pl.

Nearly a decade after joining forces behind the scenes, Pagliacci and Macrina owners say they are in the early stages of finding a new use for Pagliacci’s soon-to-be vacated “commissary.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s tipless bars and restaurants settle in — more to come?

By Nick Twietmeyer, UW News Lab / Special to CHS

Slowly but surely, the concept of a tipless restaurant is gaining a foothold on Capitol Hill. It has been a year since Lionhead and the Renee Erickson trio of Bateau, Bar Mesuline, and General Porpoise ditched tips in favor of a service charge and flat hourly wages for their staff.

Several of Seattle’s high profile restauranteurs have followed suit while others on Capitol Hill say they are exploring the model. Some have cited Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law and concerns over a decrease in tipping as their rationale for the move. Capitol Hill owners who spoke with CHS said they were primarily motivated by offering more stability for their staff.

At the Sea Creatures trio at 10th and Union, owners said ditching tips was relatively seamless and popular among servers.

“Going tipless has actually helped us to attract the types of people we like to work with, namely professional servers and cooks,” said Jeremy Price, co-owner and operations manager of the Erickson parent company.

As part of the tip phase out, Price promised employees that overall take-home pay would not decrease. “Front of house staff is making the same as they were before. The back of house has seen an average 15 percent pay increase,” he said.

Optimism Brewing has taken a similar approach, where tip and tax are all rolled into the price of a beer. “We simply advertise a price for our product and the customers pay that price; the way it is at every other business,” said Optimism owner Gay Gilmore. Continue reading