Baking for both sides of Capitol Hill’s Gluten Divide: Q&A with Toby Matasar

Toby Matasar is rapidly diversifying her mini-empire of baked goods on Capitol Hill.

A second-generation pastry chef trained in New York and Paris who moved here in 2000, Matasar gained a loyal following running Eats Market Café in West Seattle for a decade. Following the cafe’s 2015 closure, Matasar started a new venture, the Niche Gluten Free Café and Bakery on 12th Ave across from Seattle U, which coincided with her own transition to a paleo diet. In 2017, she bought Crumble & Flake on E Olive Way from acclaimed baker Neil Robertson.

The two daytime eateries are now doing brisk business serving both sides of the gluten divide. Matasar continues to expand and adapt their menus, and she speaks with enthusiasm about her evolving craft and growing clientele. I asked Matasar a few questions about her upcoming plans (French ice cream! Candy!) and the challenges she faces balancing decadence with dietary restrictions.

Is baking a science, an art, or some sort of alchemy? It’s both a science and an art. Those are good words to describe it. There’s definitely a science side to it—you have to be willing to be very technical and the procedures have to be the same every time. There’s definitely an art to it, too, because it’s very visual—you have to know what the bubbles are supposed to look like on your caramel, what the batter should look like. You can’t just look at the picture in a book and expect to get it right if you’re not aware of the ripeness of the fruit or the humidity for certain cakes and cookies and whatnot. Also, a lot of art goes into the techniques for plating, which is the beautiful part because I’m the worst artist. This is my only medium—I can’t draw at all! Continue reading

Making way for E Olive Way academy, Artful Dodger finds new E Pike home

When CHS broke the news about the next big project on E Olive Way being the kind of surprising, kind of not International Montessori Academy, an important element of the story didn’t get much attention. We’re happy to break some more news — displaced by the new future for its longtime E Olive Way home, Capitol Hill tattoo shop the Artful Dodger is making a few block move to E Pike.

“All of our artists will still be with us, so it will be the same talented team of tattooers that people know and love!” manager Erick Lingbloom tells CHS. Continue reading

The Saint is back and very pink as no-restaurant, all-bar club

Thanks to Seattle’s incrementally climbing minimum wage law, Capitol Hill’s The Saint is now pink. Very pink.

Quentin Ertel reopened his E Olive Way over the weekend in a “bougainvillea pink” overhaul designed to bring the Mexican-themed hangout more into the business framework of his other Hill ventures like the Havana nightclub. The restaurant is gone, the focus on tequila and mezcal, doubled. Ertel told CHS in September before closing The Saint for upgrades and the dramatic new paint job that it was too difficult to compete with larger restaurant groups to keep a top notch restaurant crew staffed. “We were paying on the level of big companies. And we’re basically a taco shack,” Ertel said.

The new Saint reopened with a private party Thursday night and enjoyed its first weekend back in the E Olive Way bar zone with more space for booze, cocktails, and partying inside:

Inspired by the vibrant colors of a matador’s jacket, black, gold, and bright pink play a prominent role in the design concept. Circles of gold leaf on the windows provide a peek into the lounge where plush black and gold banquettes are the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail with friends.

“DJ nights are in the works,” the PR promises.

Now, with the bright pink paint, The Saint is a party on the outside, too.

The Saint is located at 1416 E Olive Way. You can learn more at thesaintsocialclub.com.

Next for E Olive Way restaurant space: International Montessori Academy

One of the more rapidly blighted empty spaces on Capitol Hill will spring back to life in 2018. The little ones who will put it to use every day will say more about Capitol Hill Station and the neighborhood’s proximity to downtown than this stretch of Capitol Hill’s nightlife growth or a new highly anticipated industry coming to the street.

The International Montessori Academy, a Bellevue-based provider of Mandarin Chinese, French, or Spanish language immersion and Montessori education for elementary school-age children, is set to begin construction to overhaul the former home of the giant Zhu Dang restaurant on E Olive Way, shuttered since late November 2015. Before its life as a restaurant, the short-lived The Social nightclub venture overhauled the building as a dance club and restaurant.

“It’s close to downtown with very easy access and there are lots of families on North Capitol Hill,” school founder Yimin Chen tells CHS about the next big project coming to E Olive Way. “People live there, people work there.”

In addition to overhauling the building to serve as a school, the academy is a major investment. A company owned by Chen purchased the 1928-built property for $4.8 million over the summer. The seller was the family behind Zhu Dang — they had paid more than $3.3 million for it in 2013. Continue reading

High aspirations at By the Pound, Capitol Hill’s first deli counter with a secret bar

What if CHS told you a group of people expert at putting together Seattle’s DJ dance nights and building a party scene also wanted to create a space for contemplation, inspiration, spiritual enlightenment, and conversation over a good old fashioned? What if we told you that space would be secreted away behind a Capitol Hill deli counter and you would walk through a meat locker door to get there?

“If you want a great social space, there’s no greater aspiration — feeling warm, feeling comfortable, and having it kind of push you into conversation,” Sean Majors tells CHS about the lofty ideas and ideals behind By the Pound, a new “New York meets Seattle” deli counter business that is now open on E Olive Way at Harvard that has more going on behind the scenes. Continue reading

E Olive Way the next land of Capitol Hill pot opportunity as three shops line up for two spots

(Image: nduffy45 via Instagram)

Three different businesses want to open a pot shop on E Olive Way between Melrose and Denny. City rules would permit two locations to open, but the third could be left out.

Northwest Cannabis applied for a shop in a building next to The Crescent on October 20th. That entity is backed by marijuana advocate John Davis, and somehow involves Ian Eisenberg, owner of Uncle Ike’s.

The Reef filed its application November 9th, and wants to open a shop in the Amante Pizza building.

Finally, The Bakeree filed an application November 14th, looking to open in the building the houses John John’s Game Room, though not necessarily in the John John’s space.

In another wrinkle, all three buildings changed hands in recent months. The Reef’s proposed home sold for $1.4 million in June. In September, Eisenberg paid more than $2 million for the former law offices next to the Crescent. The biggest deal of them all also went down in September. Real estate investment firm Teutsch Partners snapped up the building home to John John’s, Pie Bar, and the Speckled and Drake bar for a whopping $4.3 million. Continue reading

Woman struck crossing E Olive Way

A woman was reported hit by a driver early Friday morning at Boylston and E Olive Way.

Seattle Fire responded to the crossing just after 6 AM to a report a female in her 30s had been struck. The woman was reported conscious after the collision but was transported to Harborview for treatment of her injuries, according to SFD radio dispatches. She was in stable condition, according to a department spokesperson.

Seattle Police were at the scene to close the area to traffic. The vehicle and driver were found at the scene and contacted by police.

Westbound E Olive Way was reopened to traffic just before 7 AM.

Another pot shop in the works on Capitol Hill? Guess where we found Uncle Ike


With reporting by Kelsey Hamlin

The intersection of local, state, and federal concerns has made finding spaces for retail pot a challenge on Capitol Hill. A new project being lined up on E Olive Way may expand the Hill’s options. You’ll find some cannabis-familiar names behind it.

John Davis, a longtime marijuana advocate and regulator in the Seattle area, confirmed to CHS that he is making plans for a new venture in a recently sold office building in the 1400 block of E Olive Way neighboring The Crescent. Davis declined further comment at this time. A new application for marijuana retail and medical marijuana licenses filed October 20th for the address lists a business name of Northwest Cannabis.

Another familiar character in PNW pot is also in the mix. Continue reading

Big, smoky fire scorches old Capitol Hill ‘dog lounge’ building

(Image courtesy Jesse Rope)

(Image courtesy Ella Li)

The building formerly home to a Capitol Hill’s “dog lounge” burned Wednesday morning in a smoke-spewing fire that sent one woman to the hospital.

Seattle Fire was called to the intersection of E Denny and E Olive Way just before 8:30 AM and began to battle a blaze from inside and on the roof of the building. The fire was upgraded to a “two alarm” response to bring in additional crews.

Seattle Fire crews reported the fire was nearly under control by 9 AM but it continued to burn and create significant amounts of smoke.

Seattle Fire says one woman was taken to Harborview from the scene. According to radio dispatches, the woman was outside the building and suffered smoke inhalation. SFD reported the woman to be in stable condition.

The building was home to the Downtown Dog Lounge until it left this summer due to what the owner said were crime and landlord issues.

The large, single-story 1924-built auto row building and surrounding property is also home to In The Bowl, the Holy Smoke head shop, and an outlet of the Beyond Vape chain. The long-shuttered Apocalypse Tattoo and Bus Stop bar spaces have also been vacant in the building for years.

UPDATE 12:40 PM: SFD says investigators have been unable to determine the cause of the fire. Damage is estimated at $500,000.

(Image courtesy Jesse Rope)

(Image courtesy Jesse Rope)

Why is Capitol Hill’s The Saint closing its kitchen? More fun, better business

(Image: The Saint)

CHS isn’t the only Capitol Hill business taking some time mid-2017 for an overhaul of its craft and a boost of new creative energy.

Who knows about the blog but we’re pretty sure the changes at The Saint bear watching.

“We can put the same amount of energy into other things and have a lot more fun,” Quentin Ertel tells us about his reinvention of the nine-year-old E Olive Way nightspot. The little blue wedge of E Olive Way will be closed into October for a light remodel and a big shift in its business model.

More tequilas and mezcales. No tacos. The Saint is going full bar, no restaurant. It closed last week for its own short hiatus. Continue reading