First look: Inside Capitol Hill’s first cat cafe

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

On the corner of Pine and Belmont, huddles of friends walk down the street and crouch  to peer into a storefront window. There are giggles and smiles. Dogs peer through the window — from the sidewalk side of things — with curiosity and plenty to say.

The window belongs to Capitol Hill’s new Neko Cafe — pronounced neck-oh, and Japanese for cat. The cats inside are all ages and FeLV positive and from the Regional Animal Services of King County animal shelter. FeLV is feline leukemia.

“We wanted the cats that needed the most help,” said Neko’s creator Caitlin Unsell. “We wanted to give them a chance to show their best.”

The new and highly anticipated addition to Capitol Hill’s cafe scene opened softly over the weekend in preparation for an official opening on Tuesday, November 7th.
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Qin brings Biang Biang noodles to Capitol Hill

We’re not exactly sure about the details of the transition but we do know this — Baguette Box is departed from lower Pike/Pine. In its place, you can find the Xi’an style noodles of Qin.

The sibling of the Eastside’s Miah’s Kitchen and the original Qin in Edmonds, the former sandwich shop still has drunken chicken on offer but the hot oil noodles are more and more why people stop in at the Pine below Melrose shop. Continue reading

Plum Chopped tucks into 12th Ave with lunch for 10 bucks

If she were upset about it, you would not be able to blame Makini Howell. In 2015, she opened Sugar Plum on 15th Ave E in her usual low-key way that put the vegan and plant-based treats and soft-serve ice cream before any hype. Now, Howell smiles as she has watched as the first six months of her latest new hype-free but extremely delicious thing quietly settle into its niche on 12th Ave next to her long-loved Plum.

Plum Chopped opened about six months ago, Howell says, and is filling in a major gap in the Capitol Hill daytime food chain.

“The idea is a quick healthy lunch on the Hill that won’t break your bank,” Howell said. “Lunch for $10.” Continue reading

With staff become owners, Capitol Hill’s Liberty Bar carries on

As Capitol Hill craft cocktail bar Liberty transfers over to new, younger hands, founder Andrew Friedman plans on starting a new company allowing restaurants and bars to brand their own drinks. It’s called Industry Spirits.

“It’s very difficult for them to legally own their own brands,” Friedman said. “We’d work with them for brand identity and sell and distribute for them…  it’s never been done before.”

Last year, CHS reported on the changes as Friedman worked on a plan for Liberty Bar to be cooperatively purchased and operated by the staff. After working out the details, though, it turned out only two staffers wanted the responsibility: Andrew Dalan and Brandon Paul Weaver.

New Liberty manager Dalan said the hardest part about the transition has been paperwork. Continue reading

‘No more corner store’ — Construction begins to change Capitol Hill quick mart into restaurant

A Capitol Hill cornershop shuttered for more than a year kicked back into motion in recent weeks and neighbors noticed the activity. If nothing else, the return of CHS can help answer questions like this — what is going on at the old Benson’s Grocery?

With the Hill’s food and drink boom still apparently strong enough to sustain more business, owner Hun Lee tells CHS his plan to transform the old bodega at Bellevue and Pike into a Japanese restaurant is in motion and construction has begun.

The $500,000+ construction project will be wrapped up by next spring, Lee hopes. A name for the new restaurant is also still in the works.

When it reopens, the joint will share the block with classic leather bar The Eagle as well as Victrola’s Pike location. As for neighborhood groceries, the days of the mom and pop quick mart will never die though, on the Hill, they are occasionally transformed. On E Pike, we hear there still might be plenty of groceries to go around — eventually.


Blotter | Hilltop pot shop axe break-in, Melrose biz owner DUI charge

See something others should know about? Email CHS or call/txt (206) 399-5959. You can view recent CHS Crime coverage here.

  • Pot shop axe-burglars: Seattle Police were called to the 1400 block of E Republican early on the morning of Sunday, October 15th after three suspects were reported to have busted into a pot shop with an axe and ransacked the store:According to the report on the 2 AM burglary, the burglary of the Ruckus shop was reported in progress and involved three males seen leaving the area in a white sedan. Police arrived to find a busted glass door and a mess inside but no sign of the suspects. It was unknown what had been stolen from the shop at the time of the report. UPDATE: The same modus operandi appears to have been at play in a string of West Seattle pot shop break-ins in the past week.
  • DUI charge: A Capitol Hill business owner has pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence and two counts of hit and run after her September arrest in a 29th Ave E incident. Police say Liz Pachaud, 32, was taken into custody after officers were called to 29th Ave E just before 1 AM on Sunday, September 17th and found vehicles damaged at the scene. Continue reading

After years of impending development doom, Redwood’s end accelerated

When you have been declared dead as many times as much-loved Capitol Hill dive bar the Redwood, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the final days include a plot twist. CHS reported to start the week on the Wednesday night design review for the project set to replace the bar and the Redwood’s plans for a November 18th goodbye blowout.

Even a funeral that has been planned for years can’t outmaneuver the cold, hard cruelty of the lease. Owner Lisa Brooke tells CHS the bar just found out it needs to be moved out by November 1st. So, the Redwood is pushing up its wake to a Halloween goodbye party. You can dress up as the sad neighbor. Or a Port Angeles hipster.

Lisa and Mat Brooke say they plan to move some of the old guts of the Redwood to the Olympic Peninsula to open up a new joint in PA.

But don’t get your hopes up for yet another reprieve after years of warnings that the Redwood’s end was coming.

“Mat jokes we’re the bar that cries wolf, but this one’s the real deal😢,” Lisa assures us.

Take a tiki vacation to E Olive Way at Capitol Hill’s Hula Hula

Hula Hula manager Heather Sharpsteen (Images: Alex Garland)

CHS is still catching up after a summer without news and we still have a few new places to visit that opened up when we were gone. Including E Olive Way’s only tiki bar, the Lower Queen Anne transplanted Hula Hula.

“Oh, the karaoke is great. It’s like a live concert in here,” manager Heather Sharpsteen tells CHS.

With high(er than average” production values — and a boost from softcore porn in the background to keep things interesting during instrumentals and guitar solos — Hula Hula has imported its kitschy karaoke vibe up the Hill. Continue reading

D’ La Santa taking a family approach to great Mexican food on 10th Ave E

With reporting and photos by Alex Garland

Maybe a higher power will help. Mom’s recipes and a family approach to business will, for sure.

Angelica Villasenor and her family have opened D’ La Santa on 10th Ave E down toward Roanoke in a Capitol Hill restaurant space that has been empty for years and that has challenged many a restaurateur. The recipe to making things work on this part of the Hill? From Guadalajara, Jalisco, Villasenor has turned to the dishes from her mother’s kitchen.

“All my mom’s recipes,” Villasenor said. “My mom is not a chef, when she cooks, she never follows recipes, just by taste. In the beginning, she was helping me with the seasoning.” Continue reading

Happy Grillmore joins the family at 13th and Jefferson

(Images: Alex Garland)

Darren McGill and Kryse Martin-McGill are raising a growing family food+drink businesses in the Central District. Little Happy Grillmore now joins the family at 13th and Jefferson.

The burger joint born as a McGill food truck now neighbors big brother Nate’s CD, the Seattle University-approximate expansion of the waffle and wings brand that came to the neighborhood in 2015. The McGills, meanwhile, are also raising the Central District Ice Cream Company which opened on E Union in late 2016. Continue reading