More tough times for Tully’s: 19th/Aloha cafe to close

As can be the usual around Capitol Hill, smaller local changes around big coffee can be the harbinger of things to come.

People familiar with the situation say the longtime Tully’s cafe at 19th and Aloha is set to close later this month. According to court documents, the struggling Seattle-based coffee chain has larger problems.

CHS has found a series of judgments against Global Baristas, the holding company that took over the struggling chain in 2013. They include more than $300,000 owed in taxes to the state of Washington and decisions including a $102,000 judgment for unpaid rent on the company’s Western Ave offices earlier this month. Continue reading

Rocket Taco to set down on Capitol Hill in old Kingfish Cafe space

There is yet another new chapter coming for a legendary Capitol Hill restaurant space.

CHS has learned that Rocket Taco, a family restaurant with Capitol Hill roots first launched on Whidbey Island earlier this year, will touch down on 19th Ave E in the old Kingfish Cafe location with plans to open in 2018.

“We already feel like we’re part of that strip since we live a few blocks away,” Jill Rosen tells CHS. “We’re really excited to be among friends.”

While Rocket Taco is a family-run venture first fired up in the sleepy island town of Freeland, Whidbey Island where the couple also keep a home, the family restaurant’s launchpad is stronger than most. Steve Rosen is an industry veteran who helped create Blue C Sushi and build Madison Holdings, the company behind concepts including Boom Noodle. His current ventures include Elemental Pizza, a two location wood-fired pizza concept. But Rocket Taco is Jill’s baby. And she has had tacos on her mind for awhile.

“I think our first conversations about tacos were about eight years ago in San Diego,” she said of the restaurant’s genesis and a lack of good Mexican food options in her home city. “Why not in Seattle?” Continue reading

Contadino and its sibling pizzeria begin new story on 19th Ave E

After “a thoughtful but speedy remodel,” a classic Capitol Hill restaurant space is ready to go back into motion. Contadino and its sibling pizzeria make their 19th Ave E debut Monday night:

Contadino is an intimate room that offers seating for 45 in an understated space defined by simple lines and shades of gray and white. A banquette runs along the north wall with marble table tops and black bentwood chairs adding a bistro vibe. The open kitchen has a bar height four-person chef’s counter, where diners can enjoy a $70/person tasting menu, plus a full bar with seating for 12. There is also a semi-private dining area for up to eight guests. Continue reading

Design review: Country Doctor’s 19th Ave E expansion

screen-shot-2017-02-21-at-5-15-25-pmA crucial Capitol Hill project for one of the city’s only providers of nonprofit, low-income health care will take what should be its final step in the Seattle design review process Wednesday night.

The Country Doctor Community Clinic’s plan will create a new four-story building on the site of its 19th Ave E offices:

The new facility will provide medical services including a new dental clinic, and expanded services for WIC (Women, Infants and Children), Maternity, HIV and Chronic Pain. The project will also provide expanded administrative office and meeting space for the entire Country Doctor Community Health Centers network. The current 2,350 square feet of medical services and administrative offices provided on-site will be expanded to 9,000 square feet on the 1st and 2nd floors.

Meanwhile, the project’s top two floors will house eight workforce apartments in a mix of studio and one-bedroom units. Country Doctor had hoped to to develop the housing as affordable apartments but that the project was too small to attract a development partner.

The new $6.5 million facility is being funded by a capital campaign, $1 million in federal grants, and a $1.2 million grant from the city to support the clinic’s new dental services.

Design review: 510 19th Ave E

Executive director Linda McVeigh told CHS last fall the construction will also add more private rooms, sorely lacking in the current space. “A lot of services we provide are best provided in a one on one environment,” she said. Continue reading

Ritual House of Yoga stretching, expanding, breathing in new space on 19th Ave E

(Image: Jenny Jimenez Photography)

(Image: Jenny Jimenez Photography with permission to CHS)

Eighteen-month-old Ritual House of Yoga had pretty much outgrown its space on 19th Ave E in the former Little Theatre shortly after opening.

“We had great success from the very beginning,” owner Sarah Pohl told CHS.

Students filled classes and workshops from the start and the community spoke loud and clear that they were ready to expand, so Sarah and her husband and business partner Stuart Pohl responded, telling their landlord to let them know if anything else comes available in the area. Recently something did

The multi-style yoga studio now plans to expand to the retail space two doors down, sandwiching Fuel Coffee in the middle.

Much of that success is because of Ritual House’s teachers, Pohl said.

“We’re stronger than we’ve ever been, and I just feel really really lucky to get to work with them,” Pohl said. “It’s just been a joy to run this business.” Continue reading

Recovery and restoration at Capitol Hill’s communal PRAG House

“I went to work at 7 in the morning. Everything was normal. Then at 1 PM, I didn’t have a house,” said Leah Iraheta. Iraheta lives in the PRAG House on 16th Ave E and E Aloha which burned in June of 2014. “I don’t think you really can quite absorb it at the time,” Iraheta told CHS.

The fire was just part of the problem. While the flames did their damage, the water used to douse the fire caused problems of its own -– a typical situation in house fires. But there isn’t much typical about the PRAG house, one of a dozen or so remaining communal living houses from the movement’s heyday in the 1970s and 80s. The 2014 fired didn’t bring PRAG house’s community to an end. But it did plenty of damage.

“When you see the flames coming out of the roof, you think that’s going to be the worst damage,” said Robert Mech of Board and Vellum Architecture, the Capitol Hill firm that designed the home’s rehabilitation after the fire.

As fire burned at the top of the house, the water ran down, essentially melting the lathe and plaster walls, pooling in the basement, and creating conditions that could lead to mold and rot, so a large portion of the house needed to be rebuilt. Continue reading

Ernest Loves Agnes marks marks first year with new ideas in kitchen, familiar Capitol Hill face behind bar

Back in September Italian restaurant, Ernest Loves Agnes celebrated one year since its 2015 opening at 19th and Mercer. Shortly after hitting that milestone, new chef David Nichols stepped up to the stove and Veronika Groth recently took over the bar to bring new changes to the neighborhood eatery.

Nichols is expanding the restaurant’s Italian cuisine to include more Mediterranean flavors. “So we’re not just pigeon-holed to one specific thing,” Nichols said. Continue reading

Why 20 Capitol Hill neighbors are opposing the mixed-use project at 19th and Mercer

The project at 19th and Mercer will replace a parking lot and green space while retaining an existing office building. (Images: Public47 Architects)

The project at 19th and Mercer will replace a parking lot and green space while retaining an existing office building. (Images: Public47 Architects)

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-6-20-08-pmTrouble for the planned mixed-use development at 19th and E Mercer started with plans to tear down a big, old cedar tree. Now, frustration over the city’s design review process has prompted 20 Capitol Hill neighbors to formally challenge the project’s design.

The lead appellant, nearby homeowner Dr. Suzanne Lasser, said the first major issue occurred in February when she realized the city’s design review website did not include many letters of concern submitted by neighbors months earlier.

Then, the following design review board meeting was held at a location Lasser said was not ADA accessible, preventing some members of the public from attending. Those that did attend the meeting were also advised not to comment on the size of the building, Lasser said, which several people wanted to discuss.

“We just felt like we weren’t heard as normal citizens in the design review process,” she said. Continue reading

Tent City 3 wraps up summer stay on Capitol Hill

Dozens of Capitol Hill residents moved out of the neighborhood over the past week. Tent City 3, as usual, is on the move again.

CHS reported on the homeless community’s short summer stay at the corner of 19th and Aloha as the group filled the parking lot of St. Joseph’s into lines of tents, known as dorms, with room for around 100 residents along with tents that served as a computer room, a kitchen, a laundry room, and a community dining hall. The group also stayed at St. Joe’s in 2006 and again in 2011. Always on the move, residents told CHS Tent City 3 will next settle in Shoreline. Continue reading

The Capitol Hill Wishing Tree

Jane Hamel, keeper of the wishing tree, hasn't added her 2016 wish yet (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Jane Hamel, keeper of the wishing tree, hasn’t added her 2016 wish yet (Images: Alex Garland for CHS)


“The concept of the wishing tree is very old,” says Jane Hamel, the “owner” — as some would call her — of the Wishing Tree at 21st and Galer.

“Originally, it’s Japanese, but we saw it first in San Francisco,” Hamel said. She has lived on 21st Ave E since 2013 and says her previous place in California just wasn’t right for the project. After noticing the number of people walking and jogging through the neighborhood, Hamel took a chance and put out her first container of wish paper and markers in November of 2014.

Hamel’s wish tree is a work in progress. The first batch of wishes were ruined by Seattle’s wonderful wet weather and in February of 2015 she took it down. Throughout the spring, people stopped as she worked in the garden. “What happened to the wishing tree?” she said they asked. Some were concerned the tree had been vandalized. Hamel said she realized how important the wishing tree was to the neighborhood but she needed a new system. With the help of a few generous community members, a machine to laminate wishes arrived, followed by a bench for people to sit on while they wished. Continue reading