- Caitlin Unsell at Neko
- Marmite’s Bruce Naftaly
- Inside By the Pound
It might tell you more about the past five years than 2017 to know that 33 new “openings” was part of a general cooldown in Capitol Hill’s ongoing food and drink economy boom. More than two dozen new bar, restaurant, and cafe ventures opened their doors around the Hill for the first time this year. In the underpinning of those openings, however, we find a softness. During the boom, we’ve never included more openings on top of another recent opening that so quickly became a recent closing or more reboots. And if it wasn’t for poke sand sushi — pizza was 2016, yo — the 2017 opening tally would be even lower.
YIR 2017 Food+Drink Survey
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)
CHS won’t pretend to be able to explain why all the things that happen, happen. Surely, every boom must have a bust — or, at least, a slowing. The nature of the business — and margins — will mean shifts in approach over time.
One thing to point out about the year in food+drink 2017 is that even on what looks like the backside of the upward curve, Capitol Hill has a rich and varied network of ambitions, community, and creativity to present to patrons. And in the midst of it, there were still a few big, new ideas — albeit, in slightly little smaller spaces.
+ Steps toward affordability in the year in Capitol Hill development
Food+drink: 2016 / 2015 / 2014 / 2013 / 2012 / 2011 / 2010
AMBITIONS: A small band of entrepreneurs forged entirely new food+drink ground across the Hill in 2017. Caitlin Unsell’s dream of a cat cafe came to life with E Pine’s Neko, a Bellevue Ave cafe became a craft coffee showcase with Ghost Note, while Good Weather grew from a hidden away bike shop into a new Chophouse Row cafe. The highest aspirations were found at By the Pound, Capitol Hill’s first deli counter with a secret bar. Meanwhile, perhaps the last of Pike/Pine’s era massive food and drink “complexes” finally debuted when the big beer-backed Redhook Brewlab made a summer opening. Continue reading