Capitol Hill food+drink | Why La Bête’s chef Dimitrijevich decided to slay his beast, start anew on Bellevue Ave

The rinds will survive the cut (Image: Zack Bent/La Bete)

The rinds will survive the cut (Image: Zack Bent/La Bete)

(Image: Zack Bent/La Bete)

(Image: Zack Bent/La Bete)

Aleks Dimitrijevich has created a monster on Bellevue Ave — a creature crawled from the bullshit of the restaurant business, a beast he helped create and is ready to bury.

“This isn’t about the lease at all,” La Bête’s chef and owner tells CHS. “It’s more about the spiritual and philosophical underpinnings of what that name has come to mean to me,” he says.

“I just want it simple. It’s bare bones and you want to get that particular thing you came for.”

On top of La Bête’s Bellevue Ave bones, Dimitrijevich tells CHS he will open a new, more focused restaurant that carries forward his aesthetics and favorite dishes while streamlining the new business and finding a new shape and flavor for it all. “It’s going to be something new and more focused,” he tells CHS. “There’s so many things I feel like I would have to fix with what we have now.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink: Outer Planet creating truly micro-craft brewery on 12th Ave

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 10.53.38 PM

The Cal Park microhousing building

The Cal Park microhousing building

A nanobrewery beneath microhousing? Welcome to Capitol Hill!

The first time food and drink entrepreneur team behind Outer Planet Craft Brewing is making plans for a fall 2014 opening on 12th Ave inside the recently completed Cal Park microhousing development.

“We’re trying to maximize the use of the space — that’s our bottleneck,” Outer Planet co-owner Renato Martins tells CHS. He and homebrew-grown brewmaster James Stoecardo are planning to pack the puny brewery into the densely populated neighborhood. Production will focus on keeping Outer Planet’s taps flowing with on premise-produced beers. Martins says OP will start with a Blonde, a Saison, an ESB, an IPA, a Double IPA, a Belgian, and an Ale Stout ready for the first pulls. They’ll be joined by a small assemblage of “carefully selected visiting taps.”

“We’ve been researching a lot around the area,” Martins noted about their search for breweries to feature at Outer Planet. Continue reading

More Capitol Hill food+drink businesses add support to undo $15 minimum wage law

Bar owner Andrew Friedman looks on as a representative from Working Washington is interviewed by a reporter during a protest at 15th Ave's Liberty earlier this month (Image: CHS)

Bar owner Andrew Friedman, holding child, looks on as a representative from Working Washington is interviewed by a television reporter during a protest at 15th Ave’s Liberty earlier this month. CHS again asked Friedman to comment about his stance on the minimum wage but he did not answer our inquiries. (Image: CHS)

Seattle’s $15 an hour minimum wage is on the books, but some business owners on Capitol Hill are continuing to support efforts to change it. The local business group Forward Seattle recently appeared to have cleared its first hurdle to put the standing minimum wage law up for a vote in November.

Last week King County Elections began the process of certifying the roughly 19,000 signatures submitted by Forward Seattle to hold a referendum on the $15 minimum wage. The group needs around 16,500 certified signatures to force a vote.

Included in the funding behind Forward Seattle are donations by Capitol Hill food and drink owners. In early June, CHS reported on Forward Seattle contributions from Liberty Bar owner Andrew Friedman and Poquitos and Von Trapp’s manager Rich Fox.

Records show that Mike Bitondo, co-owner of Garage Billiards, and Jeremy Hardy, co-owner of Coastal Kitchen, have also made donations to Forward Seattle. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink summer report: 27 bars, restaurants and cafes still to come in 2014

The opening of the Chophouse Row building -- and its mews -- will be an end-of-year 2014 highlight (Image: SKL Architects)

The opening of the Chophouse Row building and preservation project — and its mews — will be an end-of-year 2014 highlight (Image: SKL Architects)

The crew from Slate Coffee will join Le Gourmand-rooted Anadine in Chophouse (Image: Slate Coffee)

The crew from Slate Coffee will join Le Gourmand-rooted Amandine in Chophouse (Image: Slate Coffee)

We started the year with this roster of 24 Capitol Hill bars and restaurants to look forward to in 2014. With many of those projects already humming along in the Hill’s food and drink economy, there are still plenty more to look forward to through the rest of the year. Here is a midway-point update on opening targets and exciting new projects.

  1. Zhu Dang — E Olive Way: “The building is in the neighborhood where he lived for years and he is already a longtime CHS reader. Now a first-time owner just needs to transform a failed Capitol Hill nightclub into Seattle’s next big thing in Chinese restaurants.” More… UPDATE: “We are definitely chugging along, and so far no catastrophic snags in construction.  It’s looking like more of an early fall opening for us, but there’s still a chance we could cruise in at the last minute of summer!”
  2. Amandine and Slate Coffee — Chophouse Row: “The project from Bruce and Sarah Naftaly will take up residence on two levels of the Chophouse marketplace with a split ground floor/mezzanine cafe and bake shop.” More… UPDATE: Seattle Mag has the goods: “Her shop will be called Amandine and will share a two-story space with Slate Coffee, undoubtedly making it the new morning stop on 11tha nd Pike come fall. ‘It will be a very un-Seattle space,’ she says. ‘We’ll have this really long, narrow [space] and then we’ll have stairs up the side of it that go up to a mezzanine.’”
  3. ‘Bar Ferd’nand II’ Unnamed Project – Chophouse Row: “Inside this fall, you will find a project being called Bar Ferd’nand II, a 1,400 square-foot edition of the popular Melrose Euro-style bar, wine shop and cafe.” More…
  4. Kurt Farm Shop — Chophouse Row: “The farm-to-table pioneer is now planning his food+drink return to the neighborhood with a new, teensy-tiny shop in Liz Dunn’s Chophouse Rose development on 11th Ave between Pike and Union” More…
  5. Stateside_Logo-02-400x310Chop Shop Cafe and Bar — Chophouse Row: “Volunteer Park Cafe’s Burke will be front and center in the Chophouse plan. Her Chop Shop Cafe and Bar will front the project’s street level entrance on 11th Ave and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in the midst of the bustling development.” More…
  6. Stateside — E Pike: “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.” More… Continue reading

Gamma Ray celebrates 5 years on Capitol Hill with changes at E Pine

The Raygun Lounge and Black Coffee Co-op, seen here from above, have DPD's full attention (Image: CHS)

The Raygun Lounge and Black Coffee Co-op, seen here from above, have DPD’s full attention (Image: CHS)

(Image: Gamma Ray Games)

(Image: Gamma Ray Games)

There is never-ending change on Capitol Hill but the past makes a stand every now and then. How you deal with the legacy can sometimes be the difference between win and fail. As Gamma Ray Games enters its fifth year of business on Capitol Hill, the retail business and its counterpart E Pine Raygun Lounge are combining forces to make the best of the cold, hard, historical reality — 501 E Pine, as far as City of Seattle rules sees it, is a building made for retail not restaurants or bars.

Gamma Ray owner Eric Logan announced the planned changes in a blog post last week:

By the end of the month the Raygun Lounge will be an all-ages space(!) with significantly expanded operating hours. Yes, we will still be serving a range of beer,cider and wine. Yes, we will be crafting an expanded menu of lite bites and snacks to serve our new daytime crowd. And yes, we will continue to host a growing range of weekly, monthly and special events.

Inside Raygun Lounge (Image: CHS)

Inside Raygun Lounge (Image: CHS)

Logan and staff will also move the Gamma Ray Shop up the Hill from its original E Pine and Crawford location. “Starting Tuesday, July 15th we’re bringing back the synchronicity of the original shop so you will no longer have to walk up and down the street and split your tab in order to get your favorite gaming supplies while you’re playing, drinking and eating with your friends,” the announcement reads.

The moves come as the businesses that took over the 501 E Pine space a few years back have learned that despite how its earlier, legendary tenant had put the building to work, any new efforts to run a bar or kitchen from the address runs afoul of zoning rules. Much loved Travelers ran what could be best described as a store and cafe from the building until its exit from Capitol Hill in 2012. But by 2013, Logan’s Raygun Lounge and gaming hall and neighboring Black Coffee Co-op drew the attention of the Department of Planning and Development as inspectors began detailing expensive changes like new exits or limitations on capacity.

CHS checked in with Black Coffee last year as the collective wrestled with the challenges of combining its social ideals with day to day operations. According to DPD documents, inspectors have been working with the co-op this year to resolve issues over capacity and elements like “cooking appliances” in the cafe’s kitchen. A shared and apparently under-resourced bathroom facility in the building will also be getting an upgrade, Logan says. While the DPD details on things like capacity, exits and appliances might seem ticky-tack, they are often the elements by which the city regulates the use of space — and changes can cost thousands of dollars to complete at a level that satisfies use requirements.

CHS has asked Black Coffee founder Scott Davis about the situation but we haven’t yet heard back about what changes the co-op will be able to tackle to either meet DPD’s requests or change how it runs things on E Pine.

In the meantime, the Gamma Ray gang is ready to celebrate five years of business.

“Capitol Hill’s tabletop gaming community will come through this transition stronger, more robust, and better served than ever before,” Logan said.

Washington’s first marijuana stores open with lines, short supply

Marchers at this year's Cannabis Freedom March across Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

Marchers at this year’s Cannabis Freedom March across Capitol Hill (Image: CHS)

Anybody planning a road trip to be one of the first people in Washington state to purchase legal marijuana better hustle. The lines are already formed.

With 24 official state retail licenses issued — including one in Seattle — Tuesday marks the planned first day of sales at the few shops around the state ready for business and stocked with inventory:

Barring some 11th-hour business catastrophe, 10 pounds of marijuana will line these shelves Tuesday, a quantity Lathrop expects will sell out that day at $15 to $20 per gram. But until he officially receives his retail license from the state Monday, it’s only glass paraphernalia and small label plates that read “Fine Jewelry,” remnants from when the cases lived in a Sears department store.

4th Ave S’s Cannabis City and its 10 pounds of first-day-of-business pot joins 23 other stores in the first wave of Washington retailers.

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 7.56.13 AMMeanwhile, the owner of Mello Times, the only retailer within walking distance of Capitol Hill to make it through the state’s license lottery with a permit opportunity secured, told CHS his 24th and Union concern won’t be operating until later this summer at the earliest as he prepares the business for the long haul. Despite a pot-friendly, dense population, the various intertwining local and state rules around retail marijuana have conspired to keep Capitol Hill proper a legal pot shop-free zone. The black market will continue to thrive, of course, and the gray market, so far, is also making a game go of it. Capitol Hill’s thousand of apartment dwellers, unless the have a forward thinking building manager, might find it difficult to overcome the renter’s pot paradox. One solution to avoid the smoke — edibles. You can buy and possess 16 ounces of solid marijuana-infused products like brownies and candy. Use it wisely.

Marijuana legalization in Washington began rolling with the passage of I-502 in 2012 legalizing the purchase and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana. Advocates are now moving forward to protect medical marijuana in the state and to introduce legalized homegrown pot. Meanwhile, other states are watching Washington and the only other state in the union that has so far approved the sale of retail pot — Colorado.

If you do go shopping this week, expect some disappointment here and there as shops work out issues with supply — and demand.

Russian hacker captured in 2010 Broadway Grill data breach

Screen Shot 2014-07-07 at 11.17.20 AMA 30-year-old Russian man was arrested over the weekend for a series of crimes involving hacking into point of sales systems at Washington restaurants including a data breach in 2010 that involved stealing credit card information from hundreds of customers of Capitol Hill’s Broadway Grill. The allegations detail at least $1.7 million in losses to banks and credit card companies from data stolen from the Capitol Hill restaurant’s point of sale system.

The U.S. Attorney’s office Monday morning announced the arrest of Roman Seleznev — known as “Track2″ in “the criminal carding underground,” according to the announcement. Seleznev was indicted in 2011, according to the U.S. Attorney but wasn’t taken into custody until July 5th. Department of Justice representatives won’t say how the suspect was ultimately captured or how he ultimately arrived in Guam. Russia’s security and law enforcement infrastructure has reportedly been slow to pursue alleged hackers even going so far as to provide travel advisory warning possible online criminals not to travel to “countries that have signed agreements with the U.S. on mutual extradition.”

CHS reported on the status of the case earlier this year as we reported that authorities had still made no arrests in the 2010 crimes against customers of the Capitol Hill restaurant. Secret Service agent Bob Kierstead told CHS that investigators had contained and identified the malware used in the virtual attack but were still working to locate suspects. Kierstead did not tell CHS at the time that an indictment had been made.

The Broadway Grill shuttered in 2013 after owners said they struggled to recover from the negative publicity related to the wave of credit card fraud. Agent Kierstead told CHS there was no illegal activity from within Broadway Grill “whatsoever.” In all, the indictment documents the theft of information about 32,000 credit and bank accounts from October 2009 to October 2010 at the restaurant. Continue reading

Cone and Steiner — with some help from the neighbors — figuring out what it takes to run a Capitol Hill general store

(Image: Sarah Jurado with permission to CHS)

(Image: Sarah Jurado with permission to CHS)

2014 started with an interesting experiment in neighborhood retail, food and drink — how would a 21st century general store custom-shaped for Capitol Hill fare in a world with giant supermarket chains and global online commerce giants dabbling in the grocery delivery business? Turns out, it would do pretty well.

Cone and Steiner’s all-star team of backers say the first-of-its-kind retail venture is successfully providing convenience items, fresh, local produce, giftable home goods, and lots and lots of beer to the neighborhood around 19th Ave E at E Mercer. The first six months of business has been about adjusting to what the east side of Capitol Hill wants.

“The neighborhood has played a most significant part in our product selection,” says co-owner Dani Cone. Continue reading

0.2-mile radius: Sibling Barjot opens just a 7-minute walk from Joe Bar

Bush inside his new neighborhood cafe -- Image courtesy of SkyPencil -- Postcards from Capitol Hill, Seattle

Bush inside his new neighborhood cafe — Image courtesy of SkyPencil — Postcards from Capitol Hill, Seattle

Just a seven-minute downhill (eight-minute uphill?) walk from his neighborhood favorite Joe Bar, Wylie Bush has opened the new Barjot cafe on Bellevue Ave E.

The cafe replacing the shuttered Chico Madrid in the Belroy Apartments development made a quiet debut Tuesday.

Bush told CHS when we first reported on Barjot in May not to expect a major overhaul of the Chico space. “I have such a small budget and the space is so beautifully built out, I won’t make many changes,” he said at the time. “The meat slicer went away — the large juicer is in.”

Images: Barjot

Instead, you’ll find excellent coffee, a new robust offering of in-house baked goods and pastries from baker Maegan Rasmussen – and, eventually, fresh-squeezed juice. Bush said beer and wine will also be on offer and — possibly — liquor could be part of the longterm plan. The planned juice bar elements are planned to be added as the cafe’s hours expand later this summer. For the first couple of weeks, expect 6 AM to 2 PM hours of service.

Check out barjotseattle.com for more details as things settle in at 711 Bellevue Ave E.

Capitol Hill’s cafe lovers are doubly blessed this summer – Cafe Solstice Capitol Hill is  also open for business just off Broadway.

Group targets Capitol Hill bar for support of anti-$15 minimum wage plan

Friedman declined to comment -- same with his young daughter (Images: CHS)

Friedman declined to comment — same with his young daughter. But he did put out lemonade and ice tea for his guests. (Images: CHS)

With legislation signed to begin Seattle’s transition to a $15 minimum wage, an advocacy group has targeted area businesses including a handful of Capitol Hill bars and restaurants that have shown support for efforts to roll back the wage plan.

Tuesday, the Working Washington group said it was planning to “reach out to potential customers of businesses driving the misleading effort to repeal Seattle’s minimum wage law with a Consumer Alert.” 15th Ave E’s Liberty Bar was targeted with a noontime appearance by the group. Around noon, a gaggle of green-shirted volunteers and organizers gathered in front of the small bar and coffee shop to hand out flyers, hold a banner and talk with the press.

“He is one of the earliest and most vocal supporters of Forward Seattle,” Working Washington’s Sage Wilson told CHS about the decision to target such a relatively small contributor.

Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Expanded Monsoon part of trio of new Banh projects

New Monsoon to your left, old Monsoon to your right (Image: CHS)

New Monsoon to your left, old Monsoon to your right (Image: CHS)

When the reinvented and fully expanded Monsoon reopens on 19th Ave E sometime in the early days of July, it will mark a full recovery for ambitions knocked for a loop in the late 2000s. It will also be a part of a great expansion of Eric Banh’s culinary vision as he prepares to create a new venue on E Jefferson and add new resources to his growing-again empire.

A representative for Banh and his business partner and sister Sophie Banh declined to comment citing the early status of the projects but CHS has learned details of two additional venues being created as part of Banh’s food and drink investments that will join the expanded Monsoon once construction is completed.

Continue reading

Embattled Waid’s closes doors but 12th and Jefferson nightclub’s days may not be over

A past Richard Heart de Lion production

A past Richard Heart de Lion production

Waid Sainvil said he has shuttered his Waid’s Haitian Restaurant and Lounge for good Sunday night after a few weeks of fighting to keep his popular nightspot open after its liquor license was yanked by the state.

Sainvil announced the closure Sunday and had one last night of partying at the 12th and Jefferson club before closing his joint for good.

Early this month, CHS reported on Sainvil’s vow to keep his troubled club open despite the state’s decision to strip Waid’s of its liquor license following years of alleged transgressions of liquor rules and SPD drug busts. According to a liquor board representative, Waid’s faced five enforcement violations and one licensing issue. In 2012, a series of drug busts were orchestrated by SPD at Waid’s. An account of the violations as documented by the City of Seattle is included on this CHS post

Sainvil told CHS it was racism and the push of gentrification driving authorities to target his lounge after a series of liquor and drug violations at the 12th and Jefferson club. “It’s a black thing,” Sainvil said. “This is the only place in Seattle where black people from all over hang out.”

Despite Sainvil’s end of gutting it out as an all-ages club, the building’s days as a nightclub may not be over. An establishment calling itself the Agora Lounge has applied for a liquor license for the address. Event producer Richard Heart de Lion declined to comment on the application at this time.