Hot Mama’s — the funniest pizza joint on Capitol Hill

There is a preponderance of funny people working behind the counter at Hot Mama’s Pizza. Currently three standup comics sling pie at this Capitol Hill institution. If you stop in at any time day or night, chances are you’ll encounter a local comic tossing dough or dashing out the door on a delivery run.

Robbie Schroeder is patient zero for the Hot Mama’s comic infestation. He’s been working here for twelve years and doing standup for five. A few years ago he brought in fellow joketeller Mike Masilotti (recently moved to California) and it snowballed from there. “They finally said, ‘No more comedians—it’s not funny anymore,’” Schroeder said. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | A Pizza Mart pizza bar coming to Pike/Pine

Some things never change. The projects may be smaller in scale (well, mostly smaller) but the Capitol Hill food and drink economy continues to be a dynamic world with plenty of new players and new stories. And, naturally, some pillars of the industry continue to grow.

Yup, Pike/Pine is being lined up for a new pizza bar.

The rapidly expanding A Pizza Mart empire is making plans for a new pie bar on 11th Ave, CHS has learned. Continue reading

Finishing one story from the Capitol Hill pizza boom — plus A Pizza Mart tale on First Hill

Meltdown tossed it in after less than a year of business at Pine and Minor

Meltdown tossed it in after less than a year of business at Pine and Minor

It’s true, Reddit, we did leave a storyline incomplete from the great Capitol Hill pizza boom of 2016. Let’s finish the story and, yes, start a new one with yet more pizza coming to a VERY TALL building on First Hill.

“If it would have taken off it would have been great,” Josh Carrigan tells CHS about the rise and fall of his Meltdown Pizza which was born and died in the Minor and Pine building during the 2016 boom in pie joints. “I just said, ah fuck it, I’m not happy anymore.”

Carrigan wasn’t new to Capitol Hill food and drink. For seven years, he has been part of building the no frills Still Liquor into a popular place to drink like a grownup beneath Melrose Market. Carrigan said it quickly turned out “the pizza market was saturated” so he pulled the plug early on the project and hit the slopes for a winter of snowboarding. He still holds the lease and says a new project is lined up for the space. More about that soon. It won’t be a pizza joint.

A Pizza Mart pie, coming to First Hill (Image: A Pizza Mart)

A Pizza Mart pie, coming to First Hill (Image: A Pizza Mart)

The next new pizza investment in the area will instead come at the base of a 31-story apartment tower on First Hill.

A fifth location of the A Pizza Mart pizza bar family has been building out its space in the Cielo Apartments at 800 Seneca and is close to opening. The 27-year-old pizza player is known for its liquor and pie combination. As Carrigan notes, it joins a saturated market but, with 30 stories of apartments above it, A Pizza Mart First Hill might come with a built-in customer base.


Dino’s Tomato Pie baking plan for new music venue below E Olive Way

Dino’s Tomato Pie is kind of like a Denny at E Olive Way time machine. Its next stop is a small start in reversing the neighborhood’s trend of restaurant concepts and developments pushing out the last vestiges of the Capitol Hill music scene.

“One, I like the idea of anti-gentrification, where small music venues are closing, we can actually add something,” Brandon Pettit tells CHS about a project he hopes will eventually create a new music and events venue at Dino’s.

Two, Pettit has a Dino’s-sized underground level to work with below the bustling pizza joint. Continue reading

At Capitol Hill’s Starbucks Roastery, exit Tom Douglas, enter company’s Italian bakery investment Princi

Love it or hate it, the Starbucks Roastery at the base of Capitol Hill has been a “runaway success,” driving the growth of the giant’s efforts in the “premiumization” of its coffee “experience.” But the Melrose and Pike project will move on from a major local partner this spring, CHS has learned.

The Seattle-headquartered company is planning to replace Tom Douglas’s midscale pizza Serious Pie restaurant with another component of Starbuck’s premium set of brands: Continue reading

CHS Year in Review 2016 | Pizza, no palaces, and the real world — the year in food+drink

CHS’s yearly tallies are probably missing a name here or there, include some stretch-y borders, might include a double-count or three, and… well, you get the idea. (Source: CHS)

If things work out with final permits and logistics, Katsu Burger could become the 36th new restaurant, cafe, or bar to open across and around Capitol Hill in 2016. But here is the thing about CHS’s ongoing tally of new food and drink ventures opening on Capitol Hill over the years. There are all sorts of things in the mix.

Of the 36 new places we are semi-officially logging for 2016, six aren’t actually on Capitol Hill, and the list includes everything from a new life for the Broadway coffee shack as Let it Bean to the ambitious I-5 Shores buildout of the charming Harry’s Fine Foods. That 2016 spectrum topped by the Harry’s project bootstrapped by creative first time restaurateurs, by the way, marked a departure from recent years when the neighborhood saw a handful of huge investments in surprisingly massive restaurant palaces. In 2015, that kind of ambition created Renee Erickson’s amazing Pike/Pine trio of Melusine+Bateau+General Porpoise — in 2016, that ambition clearly paid off as Bateau was picked by many as the restaurant of the year. There were no new palaces created in 2016 Capitol Hill food and drink but lots of smaller, maybe warmer spaces like Harry’s or the restoration of the old way in the historic Loveless Building at Cook Weaver.

Like Cook Weaver, the story of 2016 wasn’t only the new. The ongoing transition to a $15 minimum wage brought new ways of doing business and changes to the crucial underpinnings of the food and drink economy like tipping. It was also a revealing year for the realities of food and drink’s inherent risk as we sifted through the financial wreckage of Bauhaus and the founder of Tavern Law. And a few old timers celebrated important milestones and new beginnings.

YIR 2016
+ CHS Year in Review 2016 | Capitol Hill’s most important stories
The year in Capitol Hill pictures
Plans to build our way out of it, the year in Capitol Hill development
Pizza, no palaces, and the real world — the year in food+drink
Food+drink: 20152014 / 2013 / 2012 / 2011 / 2010

Let’s start with the bad news. While critics have been waiting for a Capitol Hill restaurant and bar bubble to pop, we’re not sure those critics will ever get such a clear conclusion to the year after year cliffhangers. But we did see a few small “pops” along the way in 2016. There were two financial implosions within the Capitol Hill food and drink family that revealed just how tenuous growth can be in the business. Continue reading

The great Capitol Hill pizza boom of 2016: Southpaw makes it five

The margins are good — “We can make this into something that is a little more entry level that can still have my stamp when it comes to quality level,” longtime Capitol Hill chef John Sundstrom told CHS earlier this year about the plans for his new Lark sibling Southpaw.

The new restaurant is opening this weekend as the fifth new pizza joint to debut on Capitol Hill in 2016 — sixth if you count Italian Family Pizza’s move to Boren and Madison. Continue reading

From toothpaste to pizza, Little Lago Italian grocery now open in Portage Bay

The northern neighborhoods around Capitol Hill take their local markets seriously. There’s a celebration in Portage Bay, Roanoke, and Montlake this week as Little Lago has finally opened its doors.

“We are there to serve the neighborhood’s needs,” owner Carla Leonardi told CHS this summer as the restaurant owner worked through the arduous city permitting process to get the new project open. “There will be cooking classes, wine maker events, community services, air for bike tires, dog friendly outdoor parking, dry pasta comparison tastings, and toothpaste.” Continue reading

On the List | Pizza Crawl 2016 starts at Denny and Nagle

13908858_10157195503120007_6742999140563242640_o (1)Along with a blast of summer heat, this final weekend of August also brings a big blast of summer happenings including an under the radar music festival, piglets on First Hill, a totem celebration, Shakespeare in Volunteer Park, and the last outdoor movie of the season in Cal Anderson. And there is more. Saturday, on the edge of Cal Anderson Park just up the stairs from the bustle of Capitol Hill Station, the cheesy mayhem of Pizza Crawl 2016 will unfold:

This is it: the third annual Pizza Crawl! For those who weren’t there with us in previous years: a pizza crawl is like a pub crawl, but instead of pubs we go to a string of pizza parlors. In-between the different pizza parlors you’ll witness some of our favorite musicians playing live guerrilla fashioned sets in select urban locations. Later on in the evening there is a secret after-party with more live music.

The initial meetup location will Denny and Nagle. An opening ceremony will be provided by the Calzone Revolutionary Marching Band. Continue reading

‘Out of left field,’ Lark joins the Capitol Hill pizza boom with 12th Ave plans for Southpaw

Lark’s ownership trio — Sundstrom, J.M. Enos, and Kelly Ronan (Image: CHS)

Lark’s ownership trio — Sundstrom, J.M. Enos, and Kelly Ronan (Image: CHS)

We’ve heard owners explain it with their passion for pizza pies. We’ve heard others talk about profit margins. Whatever it is, CHS’s prophecy of a pizza joint opening every two blocks across Capitol Hill is coming true.

The latest announcement of pizza plans comes from longtime Capitol Hill restauranteur John Sundstrom and business partners Kelly Ronan and JM Enos who are planning to turn the original home of Lark on 12th Ave into wood-fired pizza joint Southpaw:

The name is a nod to all things unorthodox—batting left-handed, a left-handed boxer’s stance, and pizzas that are somewhere in-between Neapolitan and New York style, with familiar toppings as well as some out of left field.
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