A colorful start to Seattle’s First Hill Streetcar testing

Mayor Murray and King County Council and Sound Transit board rep Joe McDermott take a ride (Images: CHS)

Mayor Murray and King County Council and Sound Transit board rep Joe McDermott take a ride (Images: CHS)

In front of a rainbow assortment of new trolleys, the first completed tram for the First Hill Streetcar — sky blue — took a very important load of passengers for a 600-foot ride Friday morning as testing for the system has moved into full motion.

It only required one “reboot.”

“This is another step in our efforts to get streetcars running throughout Seattle,” passenger and Mayor Ed Murray said to the media assembled to cover the event at the system’s International District maintenance facility.

Inside, workers were assembling three more cars set to join the fleet including a hot pink number one Seattle Department of Transportation representative said captured the, um, “modern energy of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.” The colors of the multi-hued cars were “inspired” by the “different characteristics” of the neighborhoods the 2.5 mile streetcar route travels through — Pioneer Square, the International District, First Hill, and Capitol Hill. Continue reading

Step $11* — Minimum wage rally planned Saturday on Capitol Hill

10448616_999792076715411_2076883839272315428_oIn 2014, Mayor Ed Murray came to Capitol Hill to sign Seattle’s historic minimum wage law. On April 1st, the first stage of the march to a $15/hour minimum for all Seattle workers (well, except these folks, maybe) will begin. City Council member and District 3 candidate Kshama Sawant, the biggest champion of the new wage, will return to the Hill for a rally to celebrate and defend the new law:

Seattle’s Getting a Raise – Now, Let’s Enforce It!
Saturday, March 28th at 1 PM
In Front of Seattle Central College – Broadway & E. Pine
$15 was won due to the efforts low wage workers, unions, and grassroots organizations. The next step is to make sure our bosses follow the law.

On March 28th we’ll be visiting low-wage workplaces to let workers know their rights. Join us and take action for workers’ rights under the new minimum wage law.

Starting next Wednesday, the minimum wage at Seattle employers with more than 500 employees will rise to $11 — an 18% jump. Employees at smaller companies with no tips and no medical benefits will also have a $11/hour floor. Small employers of tipped workers and employers that provide medical benefits may pay a $10 minimum and make up the balance with credit for the tips and bennies. No foolin’.


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Lifelong Thrift brings vintage Capitol Hill to new Broadway store

Lifelong Thrift's Tamara Asakawa (Image: CHS)

Lifelong Thrift’s Tamara Asakawa (Image: CHS)

The old sign will stay -- kind of. Watch for a LIFELONG update later this spring (Image: CHS)

The old sign will stay — kind of. Watch for a LIFELONG update later this spring (Image: CHS)

It fits like a hand in a glove. A second-hand glove. Lifelong Thrift is set to open on Broadway Wednesday morning bringing a most Capitol Hill next chapter to the former space home to Red Light Vintage.

“I feel like we’re a part of the old Capitol Hill,” Thrift’s director Tamara Asakawa told CHS Tuesday as she and her crew of 10 employees and a dozen or so volunteers put the finishing touches on the gigantic new home for the store.

The new Lifelong Thrift combines the spaces left empty by the departure of the much-loved Red Light and its sibling boutique Aprie and at 12,500 square feet and two levels will be almost three times the size of the thrift’s former E Union location.

In November, CHS reported that the prospect of higher rent combined with lower than needed sales was forcing the ownership of Red Light, acknowledged as the Hill’s oldest vintage clothing store, to leave Broadway. Lifelong Thrift was slated for an earlier opening but a complication over a move-in date caused a costly delay for the nonprofit. Asakawa said the pluck of her crew and volunteers helped keep things on track even with the added cost and work of dealing with storage and waiting for the spaces to open up for the buildout to begin. Changes inside are few — in fact, you’ll see many remnants of Red Light left behind. But you’ll also find an opened up space that better connects the two wings of the shop. Continue reading

Vivace creating Broadway roasting facility

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

Espresso Vivace owner David Schomer knows as well as anyone that Capitol Hill’s upheaval can threaten even the most established neighborhood businesses. In 2008 Vivace had to move into the Brix building when its longtime Broadway home was torn down to make way for Capitol Hill Station.

For years, Vivace has roasted its coffee inside an 11th Ave warehouse in the heart of Pike/Pine. With no retail component to help pay the rent and demand for space at a premium, Schomer told CHS he knew his time on 11th Ave might also be limited.

So when owners of the Garage pool hall and bowling alley told Schomer they had an unused basement space that could accommodate the roasting operation, Schomer jumped on it. Vivace will take over the underground Broadway space in August with plans to start roasting in December. Continue reading

LGBTQ safety shuttle starts nighttime test runs on Capitol Hill

Seeking to quell an uptick of attacks on Capitol Hill’s LGBTQ community, a small group of anti-crime advocates have started running a shuttle service to get neighborhood residents home safely at night.

The nine-passenger van donated to Social Outreach Seattle made its inaugural run through the neighborhood Thursday night, primarily to start spreading the word on the new service. According to organizers, the donation-based service did not require any special permits to start picking up passengers.

SOSea founder Shaun Knittel said the pilot shuttle will run for the next two months, from 9pm-4am Thursday-Saturday. During the pilot phase, Knittel said the shuttle won’t have any designated stops and will take people right to their door. The plan is to have a series of stops worked out in time for Pride this June, Knittel said.

“Most of the people are getting attacked are alone walking at night,” Knittel said. “(Criminals) are honing their skills and they know who to attack.”

Knittel first announced the shuttle during the recent LGBTQ violence forum at Capitol Hill’s All Pilgrims Church.

Eventually, Knittel said he wants to add several more vans to better serve the neighborhood. Knittel said the drivers will be paid and the suggested donation for a ride is $5.

With 35 years on Broadway, La Cocina Santiago celebrates, readies for change

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

(Image: Alex Garland for CHS)

Victor R. Santiago has lived the American dream. He grew up in the small mountain town of Guachinango in the Jalisco state of Mexico. In 1986, he came to the United States, first picking apples near Lake Chelan, then waiting tables in Renton. By 1989, he was working at La Cocina Santiago. He’s now the owner of the restaurant, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary on Broadway.

“It’s been a nice ride all the way,” he said. “I love Seattle. I wouldn’t change Seattle for anything.”

In an industry known for slim profit margins where many businesses close within a few months of opening, Santiago notes one big key to his success.

“Just follow whatever the customers want,” he said. “Good service, fresh food. I do the basics.”

The restaurant was first opened by David Webster in Bremerton in the mid 1970s before moving to Broadway in 1980. Santiago started working there as a waiter, before working his way up to manager, manager then taking over ownership in 2001 when Webster retired and moved to Florida. Continue reading

Undaunted by new minimum wage, Seattle restaurant entrepreneurs make plans to extend Capitol Hill food+drink ‘boom’

A few of the Capitol Hill captains of food+drink industry

Not only are Seattle restaurants not closing down because of the “$15 minimum wage” but a wave of entrepreneurs and investors is pushing forward on plans to open more food+drink joints around the city. And they’re looking at Capitol Hill for how to do it.

Nearly 200 restaurant owners, developers, and brokers gathered at The Triple Door Wednesday morning for the second annual restaurant industry summit put on by Bisnow, a Washington D.C.-based trade publication outfit.

“Prices will increase, but I’m full steam ahead,” said Capitol Hill, Pioneer Square, and the New Restaurant Boom panelist Josh Henderson to the crowd of $80 ticket attendees. Henderson ain’t kidding. The prolific entrepreneur behind the Skillet-sprouted empire of the Huxley Wallace Collective just announced details of a fleet of new ventures he plans to launch in the city over the next year.

The “$15 minimum wage” — really, $10 an hour at businesses employing fewer than 500 people and providing healthcare or tips starting April 1st — doesn’t seem to be stopping him.

Continue reading

CHS Pics | Nine lives to live on Broadway

My pussy's on Broadway (Images: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

My pussy’s on Broadway (Images: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

I first spotted the cat later identified as one Mr. Bojangles around 5:30 PM Friday on the corner of Broadway and Thomas. His swaggering cat style caught my attention and led me to believe that he was having a pretty good time and not in any real danger — so I tagged along for a minute. Continue reading

Seattle Times’ Capitol Hill ‘culture clash’ by the numbers

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 9.15.37 AMThe Seattle Times is the latest to try to explain change on Capitol Hill — Cultures clash as gentrification engulfs Capitol Hill:

Incidents like Cônnére’s illustrate a growing culture clash on Capitol Hill, a formerly blue-collar neighborhood that became a home for artists and the gay community decades ago and is now in the throes of yet another transformation.

Gleaming new condo buildings and posh eateries, big dance clubs and craft cocktail lounges have replaced quaint auto-row buildings and inexpensive restaurants.

Again with the condos — they’re apartments! But it’s a worthy read even if you don’t buy some of the simplifications like “If Capitol Hill were a high school, it’d be a classic showdown of jocks and prom queens versus freaks and geeks.”

Here is some of our favorite empirical evidence included in the article:

  • “Together, Capitol Hill’s bars and restaurants can hold more than 19,000 people…”
  • “There are more than 200 restaurants and bars on the Hill below 15th Avenue…”
  • “Once the province of the starving artist, a fifth of the neighborhood’s households now make more than $100,000 a year…” Continue reading

‘A 24-day celebratory wake’ — SIFF 2015 will include Harvard Exit

FEST2015_HarvardExit_Promo_440x300Talk about an epilogue. After burying it with a bit of an unceremonious January funeral and sorting out what comes next with its ghost, the historic Harvard Exit will make a surprise comeback for a special limited engagement this spring as part of the 41st annual Seattle International Film Festival.

SIFF announced the plans Thursday to incorporate the Roy at Broadway venue slated for redevelopment as a preservation-friendly office and food+drink project. Work is slated to begin on the 1925-built building this summer with new tenants moving in by early 2016.

Developer Scott Shapiro paid $2.35 million for the building in a deal that closed in January according to King County Records.

“The Harvard Exit is one of my favorite SIFF venues,” SIFF artistic director Carl Spence is quoted as saying the announcement. “I’m thrilled that we have the opportunity to properly say goodbye to this important cinematic institution by throwing a 24-day celebratory wake.”

SIFF’s longtime technical provider and sponsor, McRae Theatrical, will install a temporary “state-of-the-art digital projection and sound system” for the festival run.

In 2014, SIFF took over E Pine’s Egyptian Theatre and will also continue to include that venue in the film festival.

The full announcement on the 2015 festival is below. As part of the announcement, SIFF is offering a set of deals on ticket packages for the festival. Continue reading