Capitol Hill food+drink | Challenged by construction, boosted by events and private parties, Zoe leaving restaurant biz

Zoe opened on Capitol Hill in February 2012 (Image: CHS)

Zoe opened on Capitol Hill in February 2012 (Image: CHS)

6884291377_e6cd0d5e47_bA mix of success with their growing events business and challenges to fine dining in the relentless development and construction zone that is Capitol Hill have convinced longtime Seattle food and drink veterans Heather and Scott Staples to transform 14th and Union’s Restaurant Zoe.

There is time for one last romantic dinner in Zoe as a full-fledged restaurant space — but after Valentine’s Day, it’s all about events.

“Fine dining has always been a bit of a challenge and a labor of love,” Heather Staples tells CHS. “Coupled with the construction challenges, it made it easier.”

Staples tells CHS that bookings at Staples Restaurant Group’s existing event space at Sole Repair — behind their Quinn’s Pub at 10th and Pike — have remained strong and present a new opportunity for the Staples as they transition yet again through 20 years of business in Seattle.

“I’ve had to really become an activist,” Staples said. “I feel like the city has really mismanaged the construction zone. We were just completely overwhelmed.”

“20 years we’ve been here, this is the toughest time,” she said. Continue reading

Volunteer Park Cafe and Chop Shop sibling Canal Market shutters in Portage Bay

Part of a ripple of Seattle boutique grocery markets — and a member of a small but ambitious family of food+drink venture — has shuttered in Portage Bay after less than a year of business.

Canal Market, on Fuhrman Ave E squeezed between the north tip of Capitol Hill and the water, closed without fanfare this week due to “business reasons,” a former employee tells CHS. Neighbors wondering about the suddenly darkened stretch of retail asked CHS to check in on the market. A representative for the business has not responded to our inquiry about the closure.

The project from Capitol Hill food and drink entrepreneur and chef Ericka Burke took over the space of a former neighborhood bodega with a vision for a marketplace and cafe as other ventures like 19th Ave E-born Cone and Steiner also were forming to give the small-scale grocer business a try.

(Image: Canal Market)

(Image: Canal Market)

“I want this to be the quintessential neighborhood market, a vibrant hub,” Burke’s press release read at the time. “Canal Market will be a meeting place for neighbors to catch up over a cup of coffee, quickly grab a bottle of wine, and shop for dinner. We’re even going totally old school, offering house accounts to make getting in-and-out easy and convenient.”

Designed by Graham Baba and beset with construction delays, Burke finally opened Canal Market last May as her Volunteer Park Cafe settled in after a dispute with neighbors at 19th and Galer and as she geared up for her largest, most ambitious and expensive project — the centerpiece of Pike/Pine’s preservation-friendly Chophouse Row development, Chop Shop.

State corporation documents indicate the company behind the Canal Market has ceased operations. The companies behind Chop Shop and Volunteer Park Cafe, meanwhile, remain active.

UPDATE 2/8/2016: A spokesperson for Burke has responded to our inquiries with a short, simple reply. “It was a business decision.  Ericka wants to focus on VPC and Chop, and spend time with her young son.” There you go.

By the bottle or by the glass, Revolution Wine now open on E Pike


Revolution owners Mark and Carmen Brown. (Image: CHS)

With so much beer and coffee news over the past year, Capitol Hill wine lovers may have been feeling a little left out. Demand, it seems, remains strong as the owners of Revolution Wine discovered during their packed opening over the weekend at Belmont and Pike.

Opening Capitol Hill’s newest wine shop and wine bar was a decade in the making for owner Mark Brown, who first drew up the business plan in 2005. Several years working for Xbox’s marketing team put the dream on hold until last year when Brown and his wife, Carmen, secured the former home of The Feed Bag pet shop. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Dino’s Tomato Pie serving pizza ’round or square’ since March 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 2.04.22 PMpizza-squareAs an experienced restaurateur battling with Seattle’s permitting backlog and booked-up contractors, Brandon Pettit says he feels fortunate to be nearly ready to take his newest creation out of the oven just in time to be part of CHS’s pizza spring.

“We’re starting to brick the ovens. Getting the bar finished up. Recipe testing right after Valentine’s Day,” Pettit said, running through his mental checklist for CHS. “Still anything can go wrong,” he said.

If all that works out, come March 1st, nostalgia-drenched Dino’s Tomato Pie will be open for business at the corner of E Olive Way and Denny — serving pizzas “round or square.”

That’s March 1st, 2016, by the way. Pettit and crew had some fun with the Dino’s marketing, rolling out a black star field-background-ed, animated pizza gif-ed, Netscape-friendly website for the restaurant billed with tongue in cheek as “Seattle’s oldest pizzeria.”

“We wanted to have a site that looked like a random Jersey pizza tavern,” Pettit said. There’s no telling if the circa-2000 site’s promises of “Real Cocktails, Garlic Knots, Jersey Salad, Calzone, Brownie or Blondies,” and  “Watermelon Popsicles” are real or creative teases. The new joint will be open “4ish to 2ish,” the site promises. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Juicebox and Hot Cakes owners team up for ‘plant based’ ice-cream shop

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Autumn Martin and Kari Brunson making your dairy free ice cream dreams come true. (Image: Frankie & Jo’s)

F&J_IceCreamConeWhat do you get when you combine the owner of a decadent dessert shop and the owner of a healthy juice company in Seattle? Nut milk ice cream, fresh fruit sorbet, and a future customer base willing to loan out cash to make it happen.

This week Autumn Martin of Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery and Kari Brunson of Juicebox Cafe launched a fundraising campaign to close their budget gap on plans for their “plant-based” ice cream shop Frankie & Jo’s. The duo are scouting two possible locations, including one on Capitol Hill, with plans to open this fall. But don’t let geography be the only thing that sways your investment.

“We’re just a dynamic team,” Brunson said. “We created an ice cream that is amazing and is not using any animal products at all.”

Continue reading

Pike/Pine’s Rhino Room planning second-level expansion

Capitol Hill’s dance club scene looks to be strong enough to warrant a doubling-down at the Rhino Room.

The two-year-old club’s ownership declined to comment about a possible expansion but plans on file with the city indicate Rhino Room is sizing up another level for dancing in the night spot’s 3,000 square-foot basement.

The new plans went into motion after the Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board voted to extend protections to the auto row-era building the club and Capitol Hill media group The Stranger call home. CHS reported on the decision from the building’s longtime owner to drop plans for a redevelopment of the property in the wake of the decision. Meanwhile, 11th Ave’s Value Village building that was slated to be part of the development remains shuttered after the thrift store’s late 2015 closure. So far, there has been no sign of a new retail tenant moving into the space.

The Rhino Room opened in the former bike store space at 11th and Pine in spring 2014 and has since grown into a popular Pike/Pine venue on the weekends, joining the scene’s longtime gay clubs like Neighbours and R Place and big-time newcomer Q in maintaining Capitol Hill’s dance scene. 11th Ave’s spot in the scene also includes the action above Grim’s where The Woods also lines up clubbers looking to get down and get funky after paying a nominal $10 to $25 cover for the privilege. Grim’s was acquired in 2014 by an ownership group behind the Comet Tavern and Lost Lake.

While the Rhino ownership is remaining quiet on the possible downward expansion, it wouldn’t be the first time the group kept its cards close to its chest. As word first spread about the 11th and Pine project in 2013, they described the coming club in the most modest of terms:

So the idea was simply to open a bar. Everything has gotten overconceptualized these days… The only thing that we want to do is have fun at what we do.

“We will, from time to time, have a DJ or do something wacky, or throw a fun party, but the foundation of the concept is to host a good time for all every day—which isn’t a concept at all,” the message about the new venture read.

Capitol Hill food+drink | Pizzeria 88 bringing wood-fired Neapolitan pizza to Broadway

Corretto's look has survived a string of ownership changes

Corretto’s look has survived a string of ownership changes (Image: CHS)

An authentic Italian cafe moves out, an authentic Italian pizza restaurant moves in. After a promising start in 2014, Corretto shut its doors for good this week to make room for Magnolia restaurateur Karim Bonjrada to open Pizzeria 88. Bonjrada tells CHS he intends to make some minor interior changes to the 416 Broadway E space and open what will be the first of many new Capitol Hill pizza spots by the end of February.

Pizzeria 88 will primarily focus on classic, wood-fired Neapolitan pizza — not the greasy American variety. “You see a 12-inch pizza and think you can’t eat it all, but you can and more because it’s so light,” Bonjrada said.

The full menu isn’t quite finalized, but Bonjrada plans to offer a handful of small plates, serve-yourself appetizers, and square pizza slices during happy hour. Pizzeria 88 will also have a full bar featuring Italian cocktails.

Born and raised in Palermo, Italy, Bonjrada came to Seattle and Capitol Hill in the early ’90s. He’s been making pizzas and other Italian classics ever since, punching his neighborhood business passport along the way. He opened Belltown’s La Vita E Bella in 1999, the now-closed DiVino in Ballard, and Queen Margherita and Mondello in Magnolia. Continue reading

Man sickened with E. coli after eating at Broadway Chipotle sues company

(Image: Chipotle)

(Image: Chipotle)

An E. coli outbreak at the busy Broadway location of Chipotle wasn’t just part of a wave of illness tied to the national fast food chain in the past year — it appears to have been the start of a series of outbreaks at locations across the country that have left the “Mexican Grill” company’s reputation battered, according to a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of a Capitol Hill diner sickened last summer.

In the U.S. Western District Court suit, lawyers for Timothy Kniffin say their client was one of five customers and employees sickened last July at the Broadway Chipotle location:


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Kniffin’s illness sounds like it was entirely unpleasant:

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His lawyers contend it left their clients with lasting harm:Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.03.33 PM

“Officials with the Seattle-King County Public Health Department concluded that the source of the genetically indistinguishable E. coli O157:H7 illnesses was food prepared and sold by the defendant at this restaurant location,” Kniffin’s lawyers write. They are seeking unspecified damages exceeding $75,000 in the case.

The July outbreak came four months before the chain was forced to close locations in the Pacific Northwest due to E. coli.

The chain has announced it will close all of its U.S. locations “until 3 PM” on February 8th to “to discuss recent and future food safety changes.”

Capitol Hill food+drink | Stateside crew plan to open a new venture next door


Stateside’s sister venture will be located on the other side of its paned glass entrance. (Image: CHS)

Seattle’s best restaurant of 2015 is ready to expand on Capitol Hill.

After opening Stateside to much fanfare just over a year ago, the owners behind the E Pike Vietnamese restaurant are planning a brand new venture in a small space just next door. Stateside’s world-travelled chef/owner Eric Johnson tells CHS the concept and name of the project are still a secret.

Screen Shot 2016-01-14 at 4.04.17 PM“Stateside itself is not going to change at all,” Johnson said. “What’s happening next door is going to be its own thing.”

The new 756 square-foot bar space will echo the trend of recent Hill food and drink ventures rolling out smaller bars in accompaniment of their main restaurant space like Renee Erickson’s Bateau-Bar Melusine combo. Plus, for all the positive press Stateside has won in the past year, its cocktails sometimes get lost in the shuffle.

The project also adds yet another venue to our list of Capitol Hill food+drink projects to look forward to in 2016.

After rolling out a new brunch menu in November, being named Seattle Met’s restaurant of the year, and recording their biggest single day in sales last Saturday, Johnson and co-owner Seth Hammond are on a roll. With a consistent staff lineup and several mainstay dishes, Johnson said Stateside is now working to push the bar (of success) even higher.

“We’re just starting to hit that stride,” Johnson said. “We’re really focusing in on how good we can make everything.”

Expect more about the project and its planned opening date target to be announced in coming weeks. Continue reading

RIP, Dick: The man behind Broadway’s legendary drive-in dead at 92

Sir Mix-A-Lot talks with Dick Spady during 2013 preparations for the drive-in's 60th anniversary (Image: CHS)

Sir Mix-A-Lot talks with Dick Spady during 2013 preparations for the drive-in’s 60th anniversary (Image: CHS)

Dick Spady, the 92-year-old patriarch of the family that made Dick’s Drive-Ins an enduring part of Seattle culture, has died. The Seattle Times remembers Spady for his burgers — and his chain’s dedication to fair wages:

Throughout the years, Mr. Spady also took pride in offering the highest pay in the industry — well above minimum wage — as well as providing 100 percent paid health insurance coverage (part-time employees included) and giving more than $1 million in scholarships to employees. A 2012 Seattle Mayoral Proclamation for “Dick’s Drive-In Day” noted that the company boasted the lowest turnover rate in the industry, and that at the time, it had provided more than $1 million “to support local homeless charities, disaster relief efforts around the world, and public engagement efforts in Seattle, King County, and now statewide.”

Though it seems to hold a place as the quintessential Dick’s experience in Seattle, the Broadway Dick’s was the second burger joint Dick Spady opened after he got his start in Wallingford in 1954.

In 2013, the family-run business chose Broadway for its 60th anniversary celebration — a street party inspired in part by a Macklemore video shoot earlier that same summer. “If any Seattle artist gets three number one singles in a year, they can play the Dick’s roof,” Saul Spady told CHS at the time. “That’s the new standard.” For the Dick’s party, however, the big draw wasn’t Macklemore — Sir Mix-A-Lot, who had helped immortalize the drive-in with a verse in My Posse’s on Broadway, rocked Broadway at Dick’s 60th birthday party.

The Broadway drive-in has remained essentially unchanged since it opened in 1955 and the years the Spady family called Capitol Hill home. Today, the property is owned by Nancy Sandbloom after a 1995 “estate settlement” transferred ownership from Dick’s. Its stretch of Broadway has been busy with investment and planning as the development plans for the light rail station across the street takes shape. Meanwhile, the parcel home to the Broadway post office is being prepared a six-story mixed-use development and the land to the west and to the north of Dick’s has been redeveloped.