After 30 years on Broadway, The Byzantion makes way for ‘slightly mystical’ Spirit Animal

Images of the old Greek joint and a “hipster” meme graphic that currently provides the only mysterious clues to what Spirit Animal is all about. (Images: The Byzantion and Spirt Animal)

Following big changes for neighborhood institution Charlie’s, another longtime Broadway restaurant is closing its doors after decades of service to make way for a new player in Capitol Hill food and drink.

North Broadway’s The Byzantion and owner Sotiris Bekris are slated to serve the Greek restaurant’s final meals on Sunday, September 6th:

After over 30 years of owning and operating the Byzantion restaurant in Capitol Hill, Sotiris Bekris has decided to close its doors on Sept. 6th and retire from the restaurant world. Thank you to all our loyal customers who supported us throughout the Byzantion’s long and happy career. We would not have been able to do it without you!

Spirit Animal, a new cocktail bar with a mystical bent from two first-time owner, is lined up for the space after purchasing the business from Bekris. The sale was good news for the longtime Capitol Hill restaurant owner and the start of a new opportunity for two Seattle bartenders.

“It’s always burning back in the back of an aspiring young bartender’s mind to have their own place,” Paul Berryman tells CHS.

Berryman said he and business partner Izzy Guymon met while working behind the bar at Percy’s & Co. in Ballard.

They’re planning a full “tear out and rebuild” of the Byzantion space with hopes for a bohemian look and tarot card feel in the new bar that meshes with the “slightly mystical” half man, half beast spirit of Spirit Animal.

The partners have visions of an exciting north Broadway scene.

“I think this end is going to have a little bit of a renaissance,” Berryman said. “It feels more like a neighborhood than an entertainment district.”

Spirit Animal is planned to open by the start of 2016 at 601 Broadway E. You can say goodbye to The Byzantion through Sunday.

Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce seeks new leader as Wells steps down

Wells at a Capitol Hill candidate debate pitting McGinn vs. Murray (Image: CHS)

Wells at a Capitol Hill candidate debate pitting McGinn vs. Murray (Image: CHS)

With a significant change in its purpose and culture on the rapidly approaching horizon, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce is looking for a new person to represent its more than 300 members.

In a Thursday morning announcement, the business community and advocacy organization said that Michael Wells is leaving the organization after serving as executive director at the nonprofit for five years.

Like our thriving neighborhood, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce continues to evolve. And, today, the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce announces Michael Wells, the Chamber’s Executive Director, has decided to leave the organization. Michael’s departure comes after nearly ten years of distinguished service as president of the board and more recently as Executive Director. Michael advanced many of the neighborhood and the organization’s goals and helped strengthen Capitol Hill community by connecting leaders from organizations across the Hill. We are incredibly proud of the work that Michael has done for the neighborhood, and his legacy with this organization will live on.

“Michael will be sorely missed, but with the strength of our partners, our incredible members, and our diverse and representative board, we believe the future is strong, and we look forward to continuing to serve you and Capitol Hill,” the announcement reads. Wells will leave his role at the end of the month, according to the statement from the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce board of directors.

The chamber board is currently co-chaired by Jill Cronauer, director of property management at Capitol Hill developer Hunters Capital, and resident representative Meghann Glavin who works at Starbucks.

In a letter accompanying the statement, Wells recalled his days as a Broadway business owner at Bailey Coy Books and the “astonishing decade of change” in the neighborhood.

It’s time to move on.  After over a decade of working for the Capitol Chamber of Commerce – first as a volunteer and the first President of the Board of Directors, then as staff – I’ve decided to pursue other opportunities.  It’s been an astonishing decade of change for me and for Capitol Hill.  As a small business manager and owner (Bailey/Coy Books, R.I.P.), I struggled and celebrated with all of you in the good times and bad as an indie, locally owned business.  And after the closing of the store I made the economic health and prosperity of this neighborhood that I love so very much my work.

Wells tells CHS he is taking time to assess his options before announcing what comes next. Continue reading

Most dangerous job on Capitol Hill? Working at the Broadway Market QFC

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This pepper spray incident at QFC was caught on camera (Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

A war zone. That’s how Mathew Chandler describes working at the Broadway Market QFC. Nearly every day police are called to the Capitol Hill grocery store for reports of an assault or harassment. According to Chandler, most of the disturbances are caused by people who are intoxicated, mentally ill, or both and QFC staff are often the first to respond. And without off-duty cops around to help, those involved say it’s a dangerous situation for employees — and shoppers.

“There are a lot of the same locals that refuse to respect the store and refuse to stop coming in,” said Chandler, who works as a clerk and assistant manager. “They know we’re virtually powerless to do anything about it.”

Also for sale in front of QFC -- heroin, $8 (Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

Also for sale in front of QFC — heroin, $8 (Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

On August 12th, Chandler was about to clock out for the night when a man entered the store and began swearing at customers. When Chandler approached, the man threatened to beat him up. Eventually Chandler escorted the man out of the store.

Once outside, the man threatened to kill Chandler with a champagne bottle he was holding. According to police reports, Chandler warned the man he would mace him if he came any closer. When the man raised the bottle over his head, Chandler sprayed him.

“In the heat of the moment I just wanted to get the situation under control,” Chandler told CHS.

The man did back down and was arrested for harassment. However, due to a company policy against carrying mace while on the clock, Chandler says he was suspended for a week and had three days of pay withheld.

A QFC representative told CHS she could not comment on the incident, Chandler’s suspension, or the company’s policy regarding employees carrying pepper spray.

Chandler has been an employee with QFC for nearly nine years, mostly working in stores on the Eastside and in North Seattle. He said inadequate security in the store due to replacing off-duty police officers with private guards led him to carry mace that night. The QFC representative also declined to comment on the use of private security guards over off-duty officers. QFC is a subsidiary of Kroger.

The daily incidents are a constant stress on QFC workers, Chandler said

“For the most part we just try to console each other and be there for each other,” he said. “It’s emotionally and physically and mentally taxing.”

Stressful and occasionally violent situations aren’t uncommon for Chandler in his other job as a bouncer. He said he’s worked security for Neumos and for the Capitol Hill Block Party.

“Being a bouncer should not be less stressful than working at a goddamn grocery store,” he said.

And without better security, Chandler wants QFC to change its policy against employees carrying mace. “Something really bad could happen and at that point it could be too late,” he said. “I don’t want to see anyone get hurt or anyone get killed.”

UPDATE: To see if the situation is getting worse, we pulled East Precinct data for the block from 2014 through this August. So far, the monthly totals for total dispatches are on the same pace as 2014. We’ve also provided a breakdown of the various types of incidents SPD ultimately is called to respond to on the block.Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 10.38.02 AM Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 10.37.50 AM

Talk of gun violence and race at East Precinct community meeting

Residents concerned by the recent uptick in violence crowded EastPAC’s August meeting Thursday night. “I have heard more shots this summer than I have in eight years,” one man said at the meeting, which was attended by officials from the Seattle Police Department and a representative from the City Attorney’s office.

East Precinct neighborhoods have seen a 13% increase in violent crime and a 23% increase in reports of shots fired this year. This bullet-fueled crime wave has brought murder to the Central District and Capitol Hill including the slaying of 23-year-old Ramon Mitchell outside the Baltic Room.

At Thursday’s meeting, residents demanded to know what SPD was doing to combat the crime that had made them feel unsafe in their homes and neighborhoods. “There is no higher priority in the city for the chief than dealing with the gun violence that’s going on,” said Capt. Paul McDonagh, commander of the East Precinct since April.

McDonagh said SPD has noticed an increased willingness among some area youth to “use firearms at will” and the department was struggling to solve crimes because of what he said is a “no snitching” culture on the streets. He said the department was trying to steer youth away from crime by supporting initiatives such as the Seattle Youth Summer Employment Program while also building relationships with federal anti-crime agencies such as the ATF to enhance its crime fighting abilities.

“We have to talk about race,” said Pamela Banks, Urban League CEO and current District 3 candidate. “That’s the conversation we have to have around this. We also have to talk about gentrification, and the impact it has on this community.” Continue reading

CHS Crowd Wisdom Poll — When will First Hill Streetcar service begin?

Last we heard in July, SDOT said “the start date is still not fixed.” There’s not much to go on but small clues here and there — an uptick in social media activity, for one — indicate we just might finally maybe be getting close. CHS kind of forgets why we were excited about the new connection to the International District and Pioneer Square in the first place. Now it’s mostly just about finally getting the trams out of the barn. So let’s turn it over to the collective wisdom of CHS readers — when, indeed, will First Hill Streetcar service begin?

Create your own user feedback survey
View the latest results

We’ve also asked SDOT, of course. We’ll let you know what we hear back. UPDATE 8/28/2015 8:45 AM: We haven’t heard back.

UPDATE 8/31/2015 9:30 AM: Bad news — 43% of the crowd says 2016:Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 9.33.39 AM

Capitol Hill food+drink | Project from The Lodge Sports Grille lined up for Charlie’s old space on Broadway

(Images: The Lodge Sports Grille)

(Images: The Lodge Sports Grille)

The mystery of the new tenant lined up for the longtime Broadway home of Charlie’s appears to have been solved.

According to a person familiar with the deal, The Lodge Sports Grille is in the middle of a refurbishment of the space that was home to Ken Bauer’s legendary Capitol Hill restaurant for nearly 40 years before its closure this summer.

CHS wrote about the speculation surrounding the space as a new tenant was lined up and work began to spruce up the dusty old Charlie’s surroundings. “There will be something good coming out in the next 30 days,” building owner Johnny Limantzakis told CHS.

Limantzakis nor the Lodge has confirmed the deal with CHS. We’ll update if we hear back. UPDATE: General manager Ben Rhodes said his restaurants are happy to be part of what comes next in the Charlie’s space and that the new project will be loyal to the space’s past. The restaurant won’t be a “Lodge Sports Grille,” however. We’ll have to wait to find out what the name will be closer to opening — definitely before the end of the year, Rhodes said.

Other details are also under wraps for now but Rhodes said the hope is to be as true as possible to Charlie’s past. “We’re not going to try to reinvent the wheel,” Rhodes said. “Maybe a spoke or two.”

Original report: A Broadway location will be The Lodge Sports Grille’s seventh in the Seattle area. It will next open a new grille in Greenwood, currently under construction. The small chain has spread rapidly from its start in Mukilteo:

The Lodge Sports Grille is a family run business and all that that implies. It started in early 2007, as cliche as it sounds, on a napkin over cocktails at a waterfront restaurant in Mukilteo, WA. Shawn Roten was a contractor that dreamt up and built high end homes in the greater Seattle area. When the market crashed in 2008, the business had to evolve. He and his wife, Elizabeth Stewart, decided to use their experience in the construction industry to build a bar, under the impression that in a recession, beer sells better than houses.

The first Lodge Sports Grille opened in 2010.

Here’s how the company describes its approach to building out its spaces — Charlie’s sounds like an ideal candidate: Continue reading

What the Broadway ‘post office’ building will look like — Plus, first look at plans for 95 Slide development

Believe it or not, this is not the plan (Images: )

Believe it or not, this is not the plan at Harvard and Pike (Images: Skidmore Janette )

There aren’t any plans — exactly — to preserve old Capitol Hill buildings as part of two projects slated to share the City of Seattle design review stage this week. We’ll get our most complete look yet at the six-story project that will replace Broadway’s old post office. And, at Harvard and Pike, we’ll get our first look at the plans — and the preservation scheme — behind the seven-story building set to replace 95 Slide.Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 8.09.50 AM

722 E Pike St

722 E. Pike St – Design Review Early Design Guidance for a 7 story structure containing 90 residential units with 4,000 sq. ft. of retail at street level. No parking is proposed. Existing structure to be demolished. View Design Proposal      

Review Meeting
August 26, 2015 6:30 pm, Seattle University, 824 12th Ave, Admissions & Alumni Community Building
Review Phase: EDG–Early Design Guidance  

Project Number: 3020112  View Permit Status  |  View Land Use Notice

Planner: Magda Hogness

CHS first reported this spring on the plan to develop the old pre-1940 building at the corner of Harvard and Pike currently home to sports bar 95 Slide. Owner Marcus Lalario later told CHS he was bummed by the choice to go the redevelopment route and not allow him to buy the club. “Capitol Hill is what it is, now,” Lalario said.

On this particular block, at least, Capitol Hill is set to stand about seven stories tall and be packed with apartment units. The property, by the way, was purchased in June from its longtime owners for $2.9 million. The new owner knows a little bit about Capitol Hill these days — Kevin Pantzar is chief financial officer at W.G. Clark Construction.

Wednesday night, developers Johnson Carr and the architects at Skidmore Janette will bring a design to the review board that will easily fit into the block now dominated by the seven-story Pike Motorworks project. It is being planned for around 26,000 square feet of residential space. At 90 units or so, the average living space will be a tidy 288 square feet.

But the design of the project is less interesting than the means by which developers Tyler Carr and Kelten Johnson propose to build an extra story in the six-story-approved zone: Continue reading

Capitol Retrospective | The Roycroft: A quest for independence at the confluence of speculation, regulation and panic

Seattle, 1899-1901.  Composite of two maps with Roy & Roy Mill circled in red.  Courtesy Office of Coast Survey and Burke Museum

Seattle, 1899-1901. Composite of two maps with Roy & Roy Mill circled in red. Courtesy Office of Coast Survey and Burke Museum

In 1899 the quickest route to West Seattle was by train over a wooden trestle that ran along the northern edge of the Duwamish Bay tide flats crossing what would later become Harbor Island. That May, Edward Roy, his older brother Charles, and father Lucien would have taken this train out to the trestle’s midpoint to tour the lumber mill they would purchase later that month.

Peering out the train’s window to his left while his brother and father talked business, Edward would likely have been distracted by the countless array of shifting channels and tide pools glistening over hundreds of acres of mud. It was here that he saw one of many opportunities to reinvent himself instead of living in his brother’s and father’s shadow.

It was here, and elsewhere throughout the city, that Seattle would experience one of the greatest real estate booms in its history granting Edward both the independence from his family he so dearly desired and a refuge from the coming collapse of the lumber market. This is the story of Edward Roy and The Roycroft Apartments on Harvard Ave E. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | A look inside Lionhead

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We already told you quite a bit about Lionhead when the little Sichuan restaurant from Capitol Hill’s Jerry Traunfeld debuted next to big sister Poppy on Broadway earlier this month. But, like we said, while other big name chef/owners (we’re looking at you Ethan Stowell and Josh Henderson) are creating restaurant-opening machines, Traunfeld has taken a decidedly calmer route. With one opening every seven years, he is on pace to only open two more restaurants by the year 2030. By that time, we project Stowell to have opened his 500th.

Here’s a look inside what all that patience created — and, more importantly, a small visual taste of the Chinese-faithful dishes Traunfeld and head chef Kenneth Lee are creating on north Broadway inside the Traunfeld’s very own “2-block radius” where even the cocktails echo with the neighborhood’s color and culture. How about a Jade Pagoda, old timer, to wash it all down?

Continue reading

‘Out to Lunch’ — USPS apologizes for Broadway post office Primary week closures

(Image: @SymonPerriman via TwitteR)

(Image: @SymonPerriman via TwitteR)

It was even more glaring in the final days before last Tuesday’s primary election. Customers of the Broadway post office were reporting a curious schedule at the Capitol Hill United States Postal Service facility. People trying to mail packages or drop off their ballots were finding the Broadway/Denny post office shuttered in the middle of the day for a 90-minute lunch break. Here is one report sent to CHS:

Just got back from trying to mail my ballot at the Broadway post office and the doors were locked with a small crowd outside trying to gain entry and there were post office employees at the location. No explanation or sign on the door. A bit concerning as its an election cycle this week.

We asked USPS what was going on. Turns out, there was, indeed, something fishy about that schedule. A USPS spokesperson has sent this clarification and apology about the situation:

Post Offices in small rural areas often do close at lunch time because of staffing levels.  However, that is not the case in metropolitan areas, such as the City of Seattle.  The closure of the Broadway Station was not scheduled and was a mistake.  Steps have been taken to be sure it does not happen again.  We do apologize to those customers who were inconvenienced as a result of this error.

“The closure should not have had an effect on the mailing of election ballots,” the spokesperson said. “Customers only needed to drop them in a collection box to ensure that they got that day’s postmark.”

The spokesperson said he could not discuss if any employees faced disciplinary action over the closures.

USPS is currently searching for a new home for its Broadway post office as the current building is slated for demolition as part of a planned new mixed-use development.