About Margo Vansynghel

Margo Vansynghel is a journalist and photographer based in Seattle. She covers news, human interest, business, art and lifestyle for newspapers and magazines and makes documentary photography series.

After makeover, Elysian, grandparent of Capitol Hill breweries, reopens its E Pike brewpub

Elysian’s Joe Bisacca

Elysian, the grandparent of Capitol Hill breweries, is fit for duty again. After a long-announced, four-month renovation of its Capitol Hill location, the 24-year old E Pike brewery and brewpub is ready to face the crowds again starting May 6th.

Elysian, located in a 1919-era Packard storage building, had been closed since late December last year for both front and back of house upgrades which included a makeover of the pub’s exterior as well as interior, kitchen, bathrooms and the installation of an all-new brewing equipment.

During a preview of the space, Elysian co-founder and CEO Joe Bisacca walked up the stairs of his new brew tanks. They were still empty. In the coming weeks, brewmasters will start filling them, but the brewing process will probably not start here before the new Elysian opens to the public on May 6th, or before its birthday party on May 10th. That Friday, Elysian celebrates 24th years on the Hill and in existence “with 1996 prices,” Bisacca said.

The brewery’s original layout has remained mostly unchanged since 1996, according to Bissaca, except for some maintenance.

“We really needed [an upgrade]. It was looking really dated. This was a full tear-down-to-nothing and build it back up,” he said, “while trying to make sure it kept a feel like it’s been here.” Continue reading

Estate, a new shop for Hill hipsters, techies, and ‘hypebeasts’ in Pike/Pine’s Jack Apartments

At first blush, there’s not much rhyme or reason to the vibe of the newly opened Capitol Hill street style boutique Estate on 10th Ave, which sells clothes from young, mostly American street style brands in the $40 to $200 range. A yellow tent sits in the middle of the shop, above it towers a large wall made of vintage speakers. In the background plays a version of the traditional American folk song “In the Pines” — produced by WZRD, Kid Cudi and Dot Da Genius.

David Lee is wearing a chic emerald green suede jacket over a black hoodie. From the black leather lacquer to the big metal spikes: Everything about his shoes is shiny. Business partner and shop manager Tommy Devera is dressed more casually: a brown hat, a black Carhartt hoodie, and Bonanza work boots.

“It’s a mix,” Devera says about the new store. “We have something for everybody, whether it’s your 14, 15-year-old hypebeast kid, the so-called hipster Capitol Hill kid who buys vintage, or the girls that like the LA look.” Continue reading

On the List | Indie Bookstore Day, Langston Hughes African American Film Festival, Spice Waala, Fierce Ladies Beer Fest

Fill up at the Fierce Ladies Beer Festival, Thursday night at Optimism Brewing (Image: Fierce Ladies Beer Fest)

With Memorial Day and potentially some warmer spring days imminent, some might want to skip the last April days and showers straight to May. However, this week has great things in store including beers from “ladies,” fresh art talent at Cornish and some good old collective gardening — or, perhaps, some Tai Chi at Cal Anderson. On Saturday, Chophouse Row’s Good Weather Café is hosting a hands-on course for neophyte (city) cyclists. They will cover how to signal, navigate train and trolly tracks, starting and stopping on a hill, tube-patching and other musts for city riders.

After, riders could attempt to bike to all 21 Seattle-area bookstores, including Hill-based Ada’s Technical Books & Cafe and Elliott Bay Book Company, participating in Seattle Independent Bookstore Day. Participants who get their Independent Bookstore “passport” stamped at all 21 stores get a champion card worth 25% off at all participating stores for a year, folks who visit 3 get a day-off discount. Plan to make the last stop at Ada’s, where local authors/comedians/storytellers such as Sarah Galvin, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Emmett Montgomery and Sierra Nelson will take the mic.

(Also, last week, we erroneously posited that Bagel-buffs would get their last chance to get a taste of Matthew Segal’s kick-ass bagels — but that’s actually this weekend. Aren’t you glad you get another last chance?) Check out this week’s to-do list below, plus find more events on the CHS Calendar.

THURSDAY, April 25: Is the craft beer scene still very male-dominated? Absolutely! (According to a 2014 study by Stanford University, 4 percent of all ‘brewmasters’ are women.) Does waiting for equality mean we’ll also have to endure the continued deployment of the epithet “fierce” for everyone who’s not a Dude™? Probably! This Thursday, Optimism Brewing Company hosts the second Fierce Ladies Beer Fest, a craft-beer fest featuring women-brewed beers. The all-gender event will showcase beer by breweries such as Stoup, Georgetown, PicoBrew, and Optimism. Sales will benefit the Pink Boots Society, an organization that helps women advance their beer careers. Optimism Brewing Company, 6 PM Continue reading

A Sway and Cake on every Pike/Pine block — between 12th and 11th Ave

Tamara Kilburn has new racks to fill as she opens a second Sway and Cake at 12th and Pike (Image: Margo Vansynghel)

For years, the high-windowed corner of 12th and Pike was filled mostly with people, packages, and mail coming in and out of the Post Options Business Center. Those years are over. And no, the longtime Capitol Hill shipping and mailing business is not closing. It just gave up some of its lesser-used space to a new tenant in the building, the upscale multi-brand clothing boutique Sway and Cake.

The boutique will be the second outpost of the Sway and Cake family on Capitol Hill. The other is tucked away in the nearby preservation and small biz-friendly development Chophouse Row. The second Sway and Cake opens at 12th and Pike next week.

Owner Tamara Kilburn doesn’t have to stray far from her original store. The new space is only a three-minute walk from Chophouse Row, where Sway and Cake sits between bicycle shop Good Weather, vegan restaurant Plum Bistro and gift shop Knack. A great location, Kilburn says, but, as she realized a couple of months ago, it doesn’t have the street foot traffic or light she craves. Continue reading

On the List | Passover-Easter-4/20, egg hunts, Wa Na Wari, Small Mouth Sounds

Sometimes the Easter Bunny shows up at Block Party (Image: CHS)

This week’s a big one for lovers of holidays. Although it all depends on the object or subject of worship, there’s something for nearly everyone this Easter weekend and start of Passover. Chabad of Capitol Hill hosts a Traditional Passover Seder (April 19, 7:30 pm) with hand-made Shmutah Matzah and kosher wine. There’s also Easter Sunday (check out the list below for Easter egg hunts plus Easter dinner and brunch specials on and near the Hill), which is bookended by the holy days of green festivities, 4/20 and Earth Day. Redhook Brewlab is folding the two holidays into one weekend of “IPA Daze” fun, which includes a beach clean up, a baby goat farm and “psychedelic coloring.” At Broadway Performance Hall, comedians try to tell jokes while getting a little too high while Uncle Ike’s in the CD will have a bouncy house and climbing wall as part of its 4/20 celebration.  If you’d rather bow down to David Byrne’s genius or the Satanic Temple, the Northwest Film Forum and SIFF’s Egyptian Theatre have you covered. For more profane fun: Bar Sue’s hosting its sixth annual pickled egg eating contest while over at Vios, Bagel-buffs get their last (at least for now) chance to get a taste of Matthew Segal’s kick-ass bagels. Check out this week’s to-do list below, plus find more events on the CHS Calendar.

WEDNESDAY, April 17: While hurtling through space on his way to the International Space Station (ISS), South Korea’s first astronaut, Ko San, did not miss the taste of his favorite foods. The Korea Aerospace Research Institute made sure there was kimchi for him. Such is the devotion kimchi — a traditional fermented Korean side dish made out of Napa cabbage, daikon radish, and Korean red pepper flakes — inspires. At The Works, learn about the history of the condiment and how to make your own.  The Works, 6 PM Continue reading

‘High tech dog houses’ where you can park your pup coming to Capitol Hill

(Image: DogSpot)

For the first time in 50 years, Seattle has more than 100,000 children. But we all know there are way more fur babies on Capitol Hill.

If it comes to being the most dog-friendly city in the US, Seattle is top dog. That’s according to real estate broker Redfin and Rover, the Uber for dog sitters and walkers. The companies compiled a list of cities with the highest amounts of dog walkers, sitters and walks, and combined the data with the amount of home sale listings that mention “dog”. Both Seattle-based companies announced that their hometown was the number 1 dog-friendly city. Chicago and Denver came in second and third.

Brooklyn-based company DogSpot has come to the same conclusion: People in Seattle love dogs (and walking them). Next month, the company will install six high tech dog houses — to leave Fido in while shopping — in the Seattle area, including on the Hill, in a partnership with supermarket chain QFC.

“Seattle’s a tech-friendly and dog-obsessed city,” says Rebecca Eyre, director of communications at DogSpot. “Those things make it an amazing market for us.” Continue reading

Will more Capitol Hill businesses become pay transparent? Molly Moon’s, leading by example, hopes so

(Image: Molly Moon’s)

If you weren’t surprised by the revelation that a survey found nearly 50% of men believe the gender pay gap is “made up,” the kind of emails people have been sending to local ice cream chain Molly Moon’s won’t shock you either.

“We’ve received emails with people saying they’ll no longer be customers of ours because of our stance on pay transparency citing that women simply need to work harder and to stop whining,” Katie Cole, marketing director at the company, says.

What are the emailers upset about? The fact that founder and CEO Molly Moon Neitzel announced on April 2, Equal Pay Day, that the company had officially become pay transparent. Continue reading

Can DeWolf win District 3 running against ‘homelessness, rising housing costs, anti-worker values, regressive taxes’ — and not Sawant?


When Zachary DeWolf took the mic at Tougo Coffee on Yesler Way to announce his candidacy for Seattle City Council District 3 Tuesday morning, he made sure to make one thing clear. “I’m not running against whoever is in office,” he said, flanked by his husband, friends, and community leaders including Tunny Vann from the Port of Seattle and Sokha Danh of the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation Development Authority.

With his candidacy, DeWolf, a citizen of the Chippewa Cree Nation, the first out gay Seattle Public Schools board member, former Capitol Hill Community Council president and program manager for regional homelessness agency All Home King County, joins an already-crowded race to dethrone incumbent Sawant, who is running for a third term.

During his speech, DeWolf posited that his opponent was not Sawant, but rather “homelessness, rising housing costs, anti-worker values, regressive taxes and fees.”

Still, he also said “we need to ask ourselves if any of us are better off than we were eight years ago or if any of our community’s problems have been solved during that time. I also believe we need a leader who is uncompromising and absolute in their commitment to listen to their constituents rather than allow their own personal politics to set their agenda. While it might be easier to deliver soundbites or yell our problems away, we simply don’t have time for that anymore,” which reads as a critique of Sawant, who has been charged by opponents and critics of choosing rallies over results, her Socialist Alternative organization over D3 constituents.

Continue reading

On the List | Basement Bazaar, Spring Polish Bazaar, Capitol Hill Art Walk April edition

Sunday at Dino’s (Image: Basement Bazaar)

Love pickle soup, borscht, pierogi, Polish sausage, and cabbage rolls and Polish beer? At the Annual Spring Polish Bazaar at the Polish Restaurant Dom Polski lovers of Polish food and arts and crafts can get their fix this Saturday. At 2.30, the Polish choir Vivat Musica will perform traditional songs.

Some very different tunes will resound during Century Ballroom’s Dance Day, where aspiring dancers can try nine different dance styles, including Kizomba, Lindy and Salsa for $15, and Record Store Day, with special deals and performances/DJ sets byDJ Explorateur and DoNormaal at Everyday Music. Find more things to do and eat below, or on the CHS Calendar.

WEDNESDAY, Apr 10: Ken Workman, the great, great, great, great Grandson of Chief Sealth, will welcome visitors, in Lushootseed, to the spring installment of Northwest Film Forum’s Poetry in Translation reading series. The series showcases the literary traditions of Seattle’s immigrant and Native communities by sharing poetry and song in their original languages (plus English translation). Readings by indigenous poets, including Duane Niatum, fabian romero (Purepécha) and, Sasha LaPointe will be followed by a screening of Water is Life, a gorgeous, monochrome visual poem in Duwamish language made by local filmmaker Tracy Rector. Northwest Film Forum, 6.30 – 7.30 PM Continue reading

Old Capitol Hill makes a comeback at Scratch Deli turned Capitol Hill Vaudeville vintage market and cafe

Ferdous Ahmed
(Image: Orlin Nedkov)

Early this year, Lisa Sandoval — who goes by Vera Violet — was having coffee on the hill but felt like a hearty sandwich. She decided to go to Scratch Deli. When she got to the door, she learned, to her surprise, that it was closed. “So I ran down to Bergman’s [Lock & Key] next door, and I’m like: What happened?”

It turned out that the beloved 12th Ave. sandwich shop had shuttered for good in December after six years on the Hill.

Now, Sandoval is renting the over 100-years-old house herself. Mid-March, during the Capitol Hill Art Walk, she and Capitol Hill fixture Ferdous Ahmed reopened Scratch Deli as Capitol Hill Vaudeville, a DIY vintage market, and cafe. Continue reading