Olive Tree bringing Mediterranean flavors — and ‘amazing vision’ — to 15th Ave E

1294585_169476753243091_555668481_oSince 2009, Zana Abdulaziz and his brother-in-law Ranj Rebwar have been serving up Mediterranean cuisine in Kent. Soon they’ll be feeding kebabs, gyros, and hummus, and falafels to hungry Seattleites on 15th Ave E.

For a while now Abdulaziz and Rebwar have been wanting to open a second Olive Tree location — on Capitol Hill in particular.

“I like how there’s a lot of restaurants here. I really, really like the vibe,” Abdulaziz said.

They chose 15th Ave E because it is a community-based neighborhood and they hope to find staff members that are oriented that way and will be like family at Olive Tree. They hope to the new restaurant — their second location — open in March.

“We have an amazing product,” Abdulaziz said. “We have an amazing vision of what we’re trying to do. If Olive Tree is to take off, Capitol Hill is the place to make it happen.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Mystery ‘Rory’s Restaurant and Rooftop Bar’ making plans to rise above E Pine

We’ve had an early taste of Seattle spring in the days leading up to Valentine’s 2017, how about some chatter about a new restaurant and rooftop bar project being lined up for a classic Pike/Pine building with plans to be open this summer.

Developer Hunters Capital tells CHS it is underway on a seismic overhaul and full rehab of the Colman Automotive building on E Pine at Bellevue that it acquired for $3.85 million in 2012. “Initially we are going to spend 4 to 5 months stripping the building down to its bones, sandblasting, bringing in upgraded utilities and seismically upgrade it for new occupancies,” a Hunters rep tells CHS. Part of those big changes: a restaurant with roof deck component. We asked who is planning to move into this new Pike/Pine creation but that’s where the Capitol Hill development and real estate investment firm gets quiet. Continue reading

206 Burger Company plans March opening on First Hill

We can tell you what is coming next at the corner of Madison and Terry but we can’t tell you much about what happened to the old Corner Cafe.

Suren Shrestha and his family are opening 206 Burger Company at 1000 Madison likely sometime mid-March.

“I’m excited to serve quality burgers to the neighborhood,” he told CHS.

Shrestha opened his 206 Burger Company takeout location downtown on 3rd Ave between Marion and Columbia in 2014 but he has been cooking burgers for more than a decade.

“I’m very passionate about cooking a good burger,” he said. Continue reading

There probably isn’t a Capitol Hill restaurant bubble, right?

screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-12-43-25-pmCHS ended January reporting on “30+ Capitol Hill bars and restaurants to look forward to in 2017.” We also spent a lot of the month reporting on a wave of closures at Capitol Hill bars and restaurants — some of them more surprising than others. Meanwhile, the rest of the city also saw a small burst of shutdowns. Perhaps inspired by the shutterings, a few readers sent us this essay from the Thrillist, of all things, about the “restaurant bubble” about to burst across the country —

The American restaurant business is a bubble, and that bubble is bursting. I’ve arrived at this conclusion after spending a year traveling around the country and talking to chefs, restaurant owners, and other industry folk for this series. In part one, I talked about how the Good Food Revival Movement™ created colonies of similar, hip restaurants in cities all over the country. In the series’ second story, I discussed how a shortage of cooks — driven by a combination of the restaurant bubble, shifts in immigration, and a surge of millennials — is permanently altering the way a restaurant’s back of the house has to operate in order to survive. This, the final story, is simple: I want you to understand why America’s Golden Age of Restaurants is coming to an end.

“Rising labor costs, rent increases, a pandemic of similar restaurants, demanding customers unwilling to come to terms with higher prices…” — you can read the whole thing but the argument pretty much comes down to the list above and these two chef quotes:

  • “Too many restaurants have opened in the last two years. There are not enough skilled hospitality workers to fill all of these restaurants. This has increased the cost for quality labor.”
  • “If one guy opens a cool barbecue place and that’s successful, the next year we see five or six new cool barbecue places… We see it all the time here.”

Continue reading

At Capitol Hill’s Starbucks Roastery, exit Tom Douglas, enter company’s Italian bakery investment Princi

Love it or hate it, the Starbucks Roastery at the base of Capitol Hill has been a “runaway success,” driving the growth of the giant’s efforts in the “premiumization” of its coffee “experience.” But the Melrose and Pike project will move on from a major local partner this spring, CHS has learned.

The Seattle-headquartered company is planning to replace Tom Douglas’s midscale pizza Serious Pie restaurant with another component of Starbuck’s premium set of brands: Continue reading

31+ — Bai Tong bringing Thai to 12th and Pike

00d0d_5vcdwnt1fey_600x450Make it 31+. Just as we put the cap on the roster of new bars and restaurants destined to open around Capitol Hill in 2017, there is one more to add to the list. And the new project will also put an empty Pike/Pine space back into motion.

Bai Tong Street Cafe is currently under construction at 12th and Pike in the space left empty when Boom Noodle closed last summer after a decade of shifting concepts by its tech-powered investors behind the Blue C sushi restaurants.

Bai Tong is also part of a larger restaurant family with three locations in Washington including Redmond, Tukwila, and Issaquah. Noi Lapangkura and JJ Chaiseeha’s family of restaurants also includes locations in Oregon and Hawaii.

UPDATE: Lapangkura tells us the business has come a long way since her family started in on Pacific Highway S in 1989.

“Bai Tong has always been a family place,” she tells CHS. “We think, with the demographics on Capitol Hill, this one will be different.”

Lapangkura, who got her masters at Seattle University and is familiar with what has been a booming Pike/Pine food and drink scene, says the “street” version of Bai Tong will bring some family favorites to Capitol Hill along with simpler rice and curry dishes along with a full bar. Expect late night hours on Fridays and Saturdays and a selection of quick, ready for pick-up and go offerings for nighttime quick eats.

The “elegant, authentic” addition to the E Pike and 12th Ave food scene will add to Capitol Hill’s already strong Thai presence including nearby Soi which debuted just blocks away in the summer of 2015 at 10th and Union. Meanwhile, another take on Thai opened in December in the old Bauhaus space on E Pine where the ghosts of the Capitol Club are also part of the scene at Sugar Hill.

Bai Tong is expected to open at 12th and Pike by April. You can learn more at baitongrestaurant.com.

30+ Capitol Hill bars and restaurants to look forward to in 2017

After a wave of January closures, February brings new hope. Here we celebrate what lies ahead for food and drink on Capitol Hill in 2017. In 2016, we ended up tallying 36 openings across and around Capitol Hill. Below, we forecast 30+ joints to join the curious mix of business+art that produces the Capitol Hill food+drink scene. Some of these won’t make the arbitrary December 31st deadline. Some of these won’t see the light of day at all. And some that should be on the list aren’t because of secrets and changes in plans and who knows what. We live in a robust, fertile area for interesting meals and interesting drinks. Enjoy it. And happy 2017.dsc04805

  • Our first entry on the list also played a part in the 2016 predictions. Clearly, something went off the tracks. “It’s really the Redhook innovation side… they’re just chomping at the bit to put out some really cool beers,” the brewer’s Clint Eatherton told CHS earlier this year about the long-planned, a bit delayed small-batch Redhook Brewery destined to join the Pike Motorworks building on E Pike. CHS first reported on the project to create a 10-barrel brewing system and pub to anchor the retail ground floor of the preservation and development project back in late 2015. Since then, the project has hit a few snags including some issues with electrical systems. “It’s massive in size and some logistics,” Eatherton says.
    Continue reading

Next chapter for Kingfish Cafe: Contadino Restaurant and Pizzeria

Clevenger (Image: Vendemia)

Clevenger (Image: Vendemmia)

The next stories for the old Kingfish Cafe space on 19th Ave E will include two intertwined tales from chef/owner Brian Clevenger. Clevenger, who opened Vendemmia in Madrona in 2015, will transform the shuttering Ernest Love Agnes into Contadino Restaurant on one side and Contadino Pizzeria on the other:

Brian Clevenger, chef owner of Vendemmia and Raccolto, and his partner Kayley Turkheimer are excited to announce that they will be opening two new concepts in the storied space that long housed The Kingfish Cafe, and was more recently home to Ernest Loves Agnes—a project from Jason LaJeunesse, who will stay on as a partner in the new spots. Continue reading

With a wave of January Capitol Hill closures, let’s get this out of the way: You have 294 days left at the Redwood

13344674_1183628921668766_2923853009373861798_nIt has been a month of closures across Capitol Hill food and drink. We think we know what the matter is. CHS waited too long to post about this, the final, this is really it, no we’re not kidding end of the Redwood:

Well its official, Devoted Redwood Regulars, and those who think we are closed already….Ive always promised a date of closure, and I could not give one as we were “waiting for wrecking ball” So, we have been going on 6 month lease extensions. (one of the reasons for it taking so long was the first developer sold it to another developer) It has been mind boggling for us to not really know but this has passed and we can now pick a date:
NOVEMBER 16TH 2017. Will be the official last day of the current Redwood and all its leaky charms and 12 years of history will stand. It kinda feels good knowing this, and its 10 months of knowing, so we hope to enjoy it to the max. Thank you all for the inquires and concerns and sticking by us and trying that handle to see if it still opened. We hope to see all good familiar faces from the past to say goodbye and hope to meet a bunch of new faces too! We can try to have a lot of fun in the next 10 months donchyathink? xxox

Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | Naka to trade out caviar and gold flakes for comfort in rebirth as Adana

In a start to 2017 full of closures around Capitol Hill, Shota Nakajima’s next move at 15th and Pine is a reboot, not a shuttering. After Sunday, his meticulous 10-course Japanese kaiseki Naka is gone. Then, work can begin on what comes next for the chef/owner and first-time restaurateur who we will soon have to refer to as a second-time, a little wiser, a little more settled-in restaurateur.

“I like moving forward, I like changes,” Nakajima tells CHS “Owning a restaurant, I’ve learned a lot about Capitol Hill.”

Adana, informed by a year of upscale business in the neighborhood and Nakajima’s move into his restaurant’s immediate neighborhood, will open later this winter with a refresh of the space and a simpler take on the fussy, detail-oriented preparations at the core of what Naka had been. The name is Japanese for “nickname,” a play on what came before. If Naka was Nakajima’s kaiseki alter-ego of sorts, Adana is a new face for the same character. Continue reading

Good Citizen to make way for Harvard Avenue School expansion

Good Citizen (Images: CHS)

Good Citizen (Images: CHS)

Another impending business closure on Capitol Hill illustrates the varied ways coincidences of similar events can form together to make you say, hey, what’s going on around here. This time, a loss for lovers of coffee and couches is a win for Capitol Hill’s two-year-olds.

With a strong demand for a toddler program, the Harvard Avenue School, which offers early childhood education through pre-kindergarten, is planning to expand into the Good Citizen coffee shop located on the ground floor of the school.

“There is an enormous demand for full day care since Amazon has brought so many new families to Seattle,” Andrea Hackman, founder and director of the school, tells CHS CHS. “The market is pretty saturated with half day preschool, but there are more and more families needing full day childcare (which we currently do not offer). Once we begin offering that I’m confident it will be extremely popular.”

The expansion means the end of one of the more curious experiments in the neighborhood’s recent waves of food and drink investments. Continue reading

Closure on 19th Ave E: Ernest Loves Agnes — but only for a few more nights

After just over a year of business and two years to the month when its predecessor the legendary Kingfish Cafe served its final meals, 19th Ave E’s Ernest Loves Agnes will close at the end of January to make way for a new project:

Ernest Loves Agnes owner, Jason Lajeunesse, announced today that he will close his restaurant and bar after service on Tuesday, January 31, 2017.

Jason said on behalf of his business partner, Joey Burgess, and himself: “We will be serving our last dinner at Ernest Loves Agnes at the end of the month to make room for a wonderful new project. We have loved serving our neighbors, and hope that you will join us for our last week of service, ending with our last night January 31, 2017.”

Details about the new project will be released in the coming weeks.

CHS reported in November on the restaurant’s one-year anniversary — and yet another rotation of characters in the kitchen at the Hemingway-inspired Italian and pizza joint.

Owner Jason Lajeunesse declined to comment further on the closure and what comes next for the space at this time. Continue reading