12th Ave mystery restaurant replacing Dawson Plumbing after 74 years on Capitol Hill

Here’s what we know: The Dawson building at 1522 12th Ave, home of a family-run plumbing and fixture business since 1936 and now standing in the shadow of the recently completed Packard Building, has sold and, along with that sale, according to a store employee, the business is shutting down.

And here’s where the rumors start: In Dawson Plumbing’s place, we’re told, a restaurant ‘I can’t tell you the name of’ is set to move in. There are no permits, yet, on file and we’re not sure what the $1.6 million (listed price), 4,800 square-foot building’s buyer has planned but we have some ideas.

We’ve been reporting on Skillet’s plans to open a Capitol Hill diner since November 2009. This summer, we learned Skillet would not be part of the Packard Building as we first heard. Could the grandaddy of Seattle’s new street food scene be behind the Dawson Building project? People familiar with the area say Skillet was definitely kicking tires on 12th Ave. Could the Airstream-powered street food vendor have the scratch to be part of this kind of investment? It definitely sounds like Skillet Capitol Hill is about to ramp up — the restaurant will be ‘previewing’ its Capitol Hill menu next week at the Mt. Baker Community Center.

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20 thoughts on “12th Ave mystery restaurant replacing Dawson Plumbing after 74 years on Capitol Hill

  1. Aren’t there enough decent eating and food-related places in the neighborhood, in a good variety? We could really use some retail diversity. No, not a bar, either. Plenty of those around. How about a specialty arts & crafts supply store… a furniture restorer… a small-machine repair shop… a men’s clothing store… a tailor… a print gallery… a cat, dog, and other animal products and services shop… a classy funeral home… a musical instruments store…

  2. Variety would be nice.

    VERY high rent dictates very high volume and potential profit.

    That is the reality, more bars and food places to follow.

    “The New Hill”

  3. Please define what differentiates “a classy funeral home” from a not-so-classy funeral home. This should be good.

    I do agree that some more retail variety would nice but Capitol Hill becoming a foodie destination for Seattle isn’t bad, as long as we have restaurants we’ll keep from turning into the next Belltown.

  4. I am really sad to see another long-standing Cap Hill business leaving the Hill. Not excited about the prospect of Skillet taking over the space, but if they can use the space as is, go for it. I would be shocked that someone would buy the plot and not develop it though.

  5. $1.6 mill at 5% gives you a monthly payment of $8600 not to mention property taxes and what I would think would be a very expensive buildout. Why not just buy Charleys?

  6. I hope they keep the building the way it is. The space currently has a beautiful back patio. I just noticed it the other day and thought it would be a great place for a restaurant.

  7. I, for one, will miss Dawson Plumbing. Things change, I get that, but this was a great local business (maybe to be replaced by another great local business, but will still miss them). We bought all the bathroom and kitchen fixtures for our house remodel there. Dawson Plumbing was professional, friendly, and completely forthright about their products and costs. Seven years later, when the hose in our kitchen sink spigot sprung a leak (no fault of Dawson’s, and we are very vigorous users of our appliances) we called them to find info about the manufacturer and were to order a new one. Dawson actually lent us the hose from their showroom model until we could order one from the manufacturer, so that we could have a functioning sink (I know, it’s fussy, it’s a German faucet with specialty parts). AND they had no problem when the delivery and installation of the new hose took longer than we originally thought. They got no money out of the deal, but they were completely gracious about the entire thing. They were a friendly, long-time business and I for one will miss them. I wish all the best to all of their employees.

  8. This is indeed sad news. I feel that there has recently been a wave of great longstanding businesses closing on the Hill – Tiempo…now Dawson’s. They will be greatly missed. There are a couple of things that I know were at play here. With the housing market in the toilet with no signs of recovery soon, their business has been way down, I mean WAY down, in the last several years. It is also important to remember that their building has been on and off the market for at least the last four years, as they have been talking about retiring from the family business. So I don’t think this was an abrupt decision. It doesn’t make it less hard, but I just wanted to clarify. I know of many restaurants that have eyed this special little building over the years (yes, there is an amazing back patio area!) I really hope, though, that the conversation about what makes a good business district continues. This is part of what feels hard about Dawson’s departure. A healthy and vibrant business district cannot be made up only of restaurants. There has to be a mix. Right now, 12th has this going on, somewhat, with the arrival of Revival, Dixon’s and Izilla on the street to complement longstanding stores like Pac Supply and the Ferrari Shop. But, there are far more restaurants and bars opening than retail, in part because of the rent structure in new spaces. Consumers must continue to articulate what they would like to see in the district because I actually think many of the landlords on 12th are listening…at least we hope they are…

  9. They were really helpful over the years when it came to replacing oddball plumbing parts.

    Here’s an article from the Seattle Times from June ’09 that describes the harsh impact of nearby construction on Dawson’s business.

  10. The recent “Street Festival” on 12th – was almost all focused on food.

    It was not an arts and crafts fair, music block party or Gay Pride street stroll. Rather, a mini bite of Seattle.

    It might help to really get down to brass tacks and change the theme of some of our community focus to things other than food if we don’t want 90 percent of commercial space on C. Hill to be about food.

    And let’s be clear, it is food and liquor. Changes in liquor laws might be a giant investment incentives to some. Think maybe? Pike Pine party hard zone …. $$$$$ right up to closing.

  11. I have heard that the people purchasing the building will be owner/operators of a sushi restaurant. I don’t know if that is the best idea considering the sushi restaurants that just opened in the Broadway Building and the former Crave space just down the street, but oh well. Good luck.

  12. I don’t think it’s going to be Skillet, although I think it would be a much better fit for them than the space they’re rumored to be moving into (the corner spot at the Chloe Apartments, just down from Marjorie).

  13. @Curls
    You sure disliked the 12th Ave Fest, huh? There were 20 food purveyors there (not all restaurants) and 20 vendor and informational booths. There was also a constant stream of music from 5 different busker locations throughout the day, all local musicians. Oh, and then there was kids entertainment inside and out of the Izilla store throughout the day. Yeah, you are right, it was all food! Food gets people to festivals but it was intentionally set up to showcase other organizations and vendors, all from on and around 12th Avenue. Curly, maybe you should have left your booth and walked around a bit more, huh?

  14. Who said dislike?

    I said emphasis needs to go beyond food type events and PR – or the assumptions will be that is all there is on C. Hill.

    EXAMPLE – move the art walk to a weekend day so thousands more can participate … it is now on a weekday night. All the work is done, but, people on an am work schedule can’t do it.

    I don’t think having a conversation about bringing events/messages into the foreground which show all the variety on the Hill is a bad thing – and it doesn’t rank anyone’s work.

  15. Just wanted to add how sorry I was to see the store closed. The owner and staff were so helpful; it was a wonderful place to go for plumbing fixtures and advice.

  16. Dawson Plumbing was established by my great great Grandfather, then taken over by my Grandmother and Grandpa Little, I have many special memories of the plumbing shop. Years after my Grandparents couldn’t run it my Aunt Susan and Father ran the business together. After years of dis agreement my father sold out. It was sad to hear that my Aunt choose to sell the FAMILY business there are others of us in family that would have loved to keep it in the family but were never given the option. Again a lot of great family memories and love was shared at Dawson Plumbing

  17. Well my late Grandfather and Uncle and Mother would have been devastated to know that our family business(Dawson Plumbing) was sold after all the years of family ownership.. I know I was. It was a historical building full of years of family memories and history.