Capitol Hill food+drink | The Harry’s Fine Foods transformation

The intriguing Harry’s Fine Foods project — as CHS called it back in September 2015 — is rounding into shape for a summer opening inside a transformed convenience store at the corner of Bellevue and Mercer.

“A jewel box” is how the contractors refer to the project which is set to restore the old market’s exterior befitting the building’s history and fill it with finely crafted elements and recovered, restored finishings including the old store’s refrigerator case, fully gutted and recreated for a new life inside the new Harry’s.

“The extra time has allowed us to make some very styled decisions,” Julian Hagood quipped as he gave CHS a cup of coffee and a tour of the under-construction restaurant and the completed apartment the chef/owner calls home upstairs.

Or, really, up-ladder. Metis, the contracting company Hagood turned to after construction on the restaurant bogged down earlier the project, had just removed the 1910-built building’s old staircase approach to the upper level and given the chef a tall ladder in its place. If all stays on the new pace, Harry’s Fine Foods will be open by July or August.

When it does, the neighborhood around Bellevue and Mercer will have a new daytime hangout — to start with. Hagood and partner in crime Alexa Dallas plan to open with a breakfast, brunch, and lunch focus before dipping toes into the dinner and nighttime bar business. With menus honed by the duo’s booming catering business, Harry’s will feature cafe offerings with vegetarian influences and a light, nutritious approach. A patio is being built behind the old store abutting the old house next door and windows are being designed to be opened wide to transform the rebuilt store into an open, airy cafe. The old refrigerator will be put to work with meals to-go and prepared items like parfaits for neighbors to grab and go. There should also be beer and wine for sale.

The project is an ambitious one — even beyond the kitchen. A company run by real estate broker to Seattle’s food and drink stars, Laura Miller, purchased the property in the summer of 2014 for $560,000 according to county records. Miller said the building is the fourth that she’s developed in Seattle — but first on Capitol Hill. To transform it from a market to a restaurant, Miller and Hagood had to navigate the city’s change of use process and make sure the surrounding community supported the new life for the old building. Continue reading

Big Boylston Ave raccoon bites woman


The weird 911 reports from Capitol Hill keep coming. This one involves a frighteningly large masked bandit reported to have bitten a Capitol Hill woman Thursday night.

According to Seattle Fire, Station 25’s Ladder 10 was dispatched to the 700 block of Bolyston Ave E Thursday around 10:30 PM after a woman reported she had been bit by a giant raccoon.

Worse, the woman reported that the approximately 15-pound animal was still outside at the scene. Police were called to assist.

Seattle Fire couldn’t provide information about the extent of the woman’s injuries and SPD’s records for what transpired next are light on details — it’s likely the big raccoon left before police arrived and got away with the crime.

It wouldn’t be the first. A woman reported being bit on the hand by one of the Hill’s plentiful raccoons just before Halloween last year. This attack made news in 2009. Mostly, though, you don’t have anything to fear. Like most of your neighbors, raccoons are extremely intelligent, highly adaptive, and streetwise creatures just looking for something to eat and a place to hang out on Capitol Hill.

Capitol Hill’s Cairo art, retail, and music space to close

Cairo way back in 2009 (Image: CHS)

Cairo way back in 2009 (Image: CHS)

A small space on Mercer at Summit that made a big impression on Capitol Hill culture will be closing, its backers announced Monday.

When Cairo was founded 8 years ago, it was with a vision to create a platform for underground art by emerging artists, musicians, and curators. We wanted to provide a supportive place for individuals to hone and elevate their craft while cultivating a sense of community and warmth in a city that isn’t always known for its open arms. The goal was never to have a “successful” retail store, rather a store that could support the artists and curators utilizing the rest of the space. Retail-wise, it’s always been a struggle. Cairo is tucked away, with minimal foot traffic, and making ends meet financially over the years has been a profoundly difficult challenge.

The message from Cairo owners Aimee Butterworth and Joel Leshefka said they’re still working out logistics of when the storefront will be shuttered.

Born as an art gallery and transitioned to a vintage fashion shop and performance venue, Cairo has been held up as an example of the Seattle nexus of art and commerce. Now, Butterworth and Leshefka say they’ll focus their retail efforts on the Prism shop in Ballard. We’ll have to check in with them about what’s next for Cairo’s annual Vibrations music festival in Volunteer Park. UPDATE: Want to help keep Vibrations happening?

Right now we need to find a non-profit to take over some logistics of vibrations (mainly the insurance policy the park requires).  This is all super fresh for us, and we don’t really have a solid answer.  The park is reserved, but we could use help finding a new partner to work with our dedicated booking and event planning crew!

The funky E Mercer space has a long history of creative uses — some of them were compiled here by CHS readers in 2008. Around the corner, Indian Summer still does the vintage thing on Summit while, across the street, at Bellevue and Mercer, the old Harry’s Fine Foods in the midst of a massive transformation.

CHS Pics | Life through the eyes of a driver, played out on board a Capitol Hill bus


IMG_2293IMG_2418We may be excited about our new subway but Capitol Hill’s first love is the bus. Performer Stokley Towles has turned interviews with the city’s Metro drivers into a show so public transit oriented, you’ll watch it performed on a real live bus on the real live Capitol Hill.

Check out Behind the Wheel:

“Behind the Wheel: Life on the Metro Bus” will take place on-board a Metro bus parked at the Route #47 bus stop near 727 Bellevue Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102 on Capitol Hill.

Performance running time: 50-minutes. Ticket prices: General $15/Student $10. For ages 12 to adult (performance includes the word f#ck).

April 28, 29, 30. Thursday, Friday and Saturday 7:30pm
May 5, 6, 7. Thursday, Friday and Saturday 7:30pm
Purchase tickets at Brown Paper Tickets.

The performance debuted last week and CHS stopped by to check out the action as crowds climbed aboard to experience the one-person show that “attempts to see the world through the eyes of a King County Metro bus driver.” The performance was funded in part by 4Culture and Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture.

And, if you plan to attend, you can, of course, take the bus:

We recommend you take the bus to the performance. The #47 stops at the performance site. The #9 and #49 are walking distance from the performance site. The #8 is also walking distance and operates on Denny Way and stops at Bellevue Ave E.

Make note of your driver — Towles might eventually need more material.

Tiny Resto seeking new ways to turn Capitol Hill neighbors into customers

With so much of the city’s attention this week on the light rail tunnels to the heart of Capitol Hill, one of the smallest, more off the beaten track players in the neighborhood’s food and drink scene is marking three years of staying alive in the restaurant business with plans to do even more to draw in its neighbors and make them customers.

“It’s going to be the same place, just more chances to enjoy,” said Johanna Robinson of her plans for Resto, on E Thomas between Summit and Bellevue.

For these first three years, Resto has kept things exceedingly simple, open only for dinner service, with typically 20 or so customers per night from 6  to 10 PM, Tuesday through Saturday. Patrons make a reservation on the restaurant’s website and pay a flat $60 fee per person for the restaurant which prides itself on steak and seafood. Then they show up and eat whatever the chef feels like making — no menus. Continue reading

Hamza Warsame death ruled an accident

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

The King County Medical Examiner announced Wednesday afternoon that investigators have determined the December death of Hamza Warsame in a fall from a Capitol Hill building was an accident in a case that surfaced concerns about hate crimes and anti-Muslim sentiment in Seattle.

The teen Seattle Central student died Saturday, December 5th in a 60-foot fall from a building near Summit and Thomas. At the time, CHS was one of the only media outlets to report the death. But the story quickly grew into an international controversy and brought to light local tensions and concerns about hate and Islamophobia against local Muslim communities.

Late last month as national news outlets including the Los Angeles Times began reporting on the case, Seattle Police officials said there was no evidence the 16-year-old was beaten before he fell. A representative from the King County Medical Examiner’s Office told CHS its investigation into the death was on hold while police investigated the case.

Wednesday afternoon, a Seattle Police representative said the medical examiner’s announcement won’t close the investigation until detectives are satisfied the medical results match up with collected evidence. The official cause of death from the examiner was announced as blunt force injuries from an “unintentional fall from building.”

Warsame attended Rainier Beach High School and was starting his first quarter at Seattle Central under the college’s Running Start program, a SCC spokesperson told CHS. Running Start allows high school juniors and seniors to take college–level classes for high school and college credit. His sister told CHS the family immigrated from Somalia to Seattle in 1994. She said Hamza wanted to attend MIT in Boston to study computer science. “He was interested in technology, he was a game fanatic,” she told CHS.

SPD investigating Capitol Hill gay bashing and robbery

Seattle Police are investigating a Capitol Hill gay bashing and robbery after a man said he was assaulted near E Harrison and Summit Sunday night.

The victim, who asked to remain anonymous, told CHS he was walking home around 10:30 PM Sunday when the assault occurred. As he passed the suspect, the victim said he heard the man call him a faggot then immediately started punching him in the head.

“He wasn’t yelling or anything. In a calm voice just kept saying ‘fucking faggot, fucking faggot,’” he said. Continue reading

More development planned at 19th and Mercer: Monsoon stays but a (probably) exceptional cedar might have to go

This could be the view on the west side of 19th and Mercer. Note: no (probably) exceptional tree

This could be the view on the west side of 19th and Mercer. Note: no (probably) exceptional tree

The "preferred" design scheme for a new five-story building proposed at 19th and Mercer

The “preferred” design scheme for a new five-story building proposed at 19th and Mercer

This week’s Capitol Hill design reviews are getting upstaged. Firstly, the meetings are happening the same time this is going down at City Hall. Secondly, a new Capitol Hill project slated for review next week is way more interesting.

A proposal for a new five-story apartment building on the northwest corner of 19th and Mercer is slated to come before the design review board for the first time next week. It’s a corner where plans for development were in motion before. This time, the plan includes neighborhood restaurant Monsoon and the cluster of businesses in the offices behind the restaurant and its new rooftop deck.

UPDATE: Property owner Glenn MacDonald and Amanda Twiss just sent over more information and this image (“looking up  Mercer towards 18th”) of the proposed design:street image 19th & Mercer

In 2008, a four-story, 52-unit building was lined up for the northwest corner of 19th and Mercer. This is what the Weber Thompson project would have looked like:

This 2008 project was planned for Monsoon's corner

This 2008 project was planned for Monsoon’s corner

The global economic slowdown derailed the development and allowed Monsoon owner Eric Banh to end his five-block search for a new home. In the years since, the economy heated back up and the area’s development kicked back into gear. Across the street, the 19th and Mercer building rose and brought new neighbors to the street. Monsoon expanded and added its rooftop deck. And, now, the corner’s redevelopment is back in motion again. Continue reading

Capitol Hill food+drink | The intriguing Harry’s Fine Foods project

(Image: King County)

(Image: King County)

Neighbors around Bellevue and Mercer received an intriguing land use notice recently:

Land Use Application to change the use of an existing multipurpose retail, sales and service (store) to restaurant.

That existing multipurpose retail, sales and service (store)? That’s Harry’s Fine Foods — or, at least, the two-story building the grocery store called home before clearing out earlier this year.

The restaurant? That’s the most intriguing part.

CHS has learned that one of the biggest behind-the-scene names in Seattle food+drink is behind the Capitol Hill restaurant project involving a secret chef and an ambitious buildout set to transform the old neighborhood bodega into a new culinary destination.

Harry’s Fine Foods, LLC, a company run by real estate broker to Seattle’s food and drink stars, Laura Miller, purchased the property in the summer of 2014 for $560,000 according to county records. Miller “wields great power within Seattle’s close-knit restaurant community because she helps chefs navigate the abstrusely touchy process of securing a restaurant space,” as Seattle Met put it in a profile of the real estate pro last year. We’re not aware of any previous instances (on Capitol Hill, at least), where Miller stepped up and bought a property destined for food and drink transformation. But we also haven’t had a chance to speak with her. The busiest woman in Seattle’s food business can be difficult to connect with. We’ll keep trying. UPDATE: Miller tells CHS the building is the fourth such that she’s developed in Seattle — but first on Capitol Hill.

“It’s just too competitive up there,” the real estate ace said.

Miller said she likes to find candidates to rehab, not tear down. She pointed to a property in Greenwood now home to a Caffe Vita, Blue Bird Ice Cream, and Cornuto as an example.

We did connect with the chef all of this fuss and hullabaloo is about, however. Continue reading