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CHS 2010: Capitol Hill food and drink year in review

Image: Matthew Brady/The Spectator special to CHS

Covering food and drink on Capitol Hill was a full time job in 2010. If there were any doubts about what sits at the core of our economy, a look at the business wheeling and dealings, the comings and goings, the hirings and firings should give you a pretty good measure of just how much energy, creativity money — and love — flow through this sector of the Hill. We loved being part of it in 2010 and being here to tell the stories.

  1. The arrival of the Highline on Broadway last winter was perhaps the most interesting Capitol Hill food and drink story. The tale of alternative restaurant and lounge with beyond-the-mainstream culture taking over the space of a failed go-go nightclub on a yet-again-transforming Broadway had more than enough entertainment in it. Add good food and good times, and you end up with one of our favorite stories of the year.
  2. The biggest Hill food and drink story of 2010 won’t be done at year end. Volunteer Park Cafe’s almost unbelievably acrimonious dispute with its neighbors was easily our most-read, most-commented restaurant news topic of the year. The battle over a restaurant running afoul of City of Seattle zoning and neighbors with an axe or three to grind will play out into 2011 (update soon) but, even so, the story dominated so many others in 2010.
  3. There were more exciting things to be covering, to be sure. In another story not quite yet complete, CC Attle’s made the bold choice of Cafe Metropolitain’s East Olive Way location for its new home.
  4. Oh jeez. Here’s ANOTHER incomplete 2010 story. We found secret nobody look wow totally hidden plans for Caffe Vita to open a coffee shop and a pizza joint on 15th Ave East. Coming soon, we swear.

  5. The Broadway Grill’s Matt Walsh (Image: seadevi)

    And there were happy times! How’s this for a story? Once an employee, now the man in charge of a legendary Broadway eatery. We told the tale of the new owners behind the Broadway Grill.

  6. And there were sad times. We had the duty to report what we learned about the Grill’s role in an insanely successful hack of the point-of-sale financial system that left thousands of Hill (and beyond) residents checking their credit card statements as hundreds wondered why they had charges for groceries in Italy or for diapers at a Target in South Carolina.
  7.  Grey Gallery got the landlord’s boot. But  Grim’s moved in to fill the space so not all is lost.
  8. We were also first on the scene to cover the legal battle that broke out between the Melrose Market developers and their star restaurateur, Tamara Murphy. We ultimately reported that Murphy “won” the dispute — yet Terra Plata hasn’t been completed by the end of the year, as planned, and, in fact, the space stands just as empty as it was late this summer.
  9. Why dwell on that with the amazing story that is Melrose Market playing out in front of our very eyes mouths? Calf & Kid, Rain Shadow Meats, the relocated Sitka & Spruce, Bar Ferdinand, Homegrown Sandwiches. Did we forget anybody? Oh yeah. 2010 was also the birth year for Still.
  10. And, heck, we get to enjoy Murphy’s work at the new Elliott Bay Cafe.
  11. Speaking of triumph of the human spirit, the Eagle’s battle for free speech rights is another 2010 highlight.
  12. A quirky and original coffee shop opened up on East Olive Way. Cafe Arabica settled in as coffee giant Starbucks threw cash around up the street (and also built a beautiful new hangout spot once the corporate gloss fades).
  13. The Hill got its first kaiten conveyor belt sushi joint. The Broadway Building also made room for the latest pizza concept to hit Hill, Zpizza. You can also find a 2010 vintage Panera Bread in the Broadway, too.
  14. The Roanoke lost its lease. Then found it again. Easy Joe’s moved in nearby. The 10th Ave E neighborhood coffee shop made a change, too.
  15. Marination Mobile announced plans for a permanent Capitol Hill home.
  16. Via Tribunali and Pike St. Fish Fry eyed a NYC expansion.
  17. Broadway doesn’t need any more sushi or Thai restaurants. How about a Thai sushi restaurant?
  18. How about Italian on Broadway? Pasta?
  19. Goodbye, Cayenne. Hello, Jimmy’s.
  20. Baltic Room got a redo, added coffee during day.
  21. The Barista Boyz lasted a matter of months. Here’s hoping Thai Curry Simple lasts many more.
  22. Porchlight Coffee began its long, slow, slouching hipster march toward world domination. in June 2009 (uggh!)
  23. Legit street food. Summer found fruit sellers penetrating the city all the way to its Capitol Hill core.
  24. The Hill got a sports bar. Auto Battery was born. The Elite says whatever.
  25. Eltana Bagels opened and brought Montreal style bagels to Seattle.
  26. Glo’s changed things up and introduced an all-night schedule for Party Mountain weekends.
  27. Other Coast Cafe brought a sandwich alternative to the Hill and had Honeyhole upping its game.
  28. Martin’s off Madison had an identity crisis and went by Greg’s Profanity Hill Grill before finally shutting down.
  29. Guanaco’s joined Rancho Bravo as the providers of the best ROI for your Capitol Hill dining out dollar.
  30. Also delivering the flava for a buck a pop, Leilani’s Lumpia Land joined the Hill’s hyperlocal street food landscape.
  31. Dumpling Dojo also had our attention. For a little while.
  32. Baguette on Madison introduced a new Hill bargain and is still in the game. Love them with us.
  33. The Hill accepted refugees from a crumbling Belltown. Welcome, Local Vine.
  34. No vineyards, no grapes, but 2010 also marked the debut of Capitol Hill’s own “winery” as Cork House popped onto the backside of Pike/Pine.
  35. Another former Belltown-ite made a home at 14th and Union. Welcome, Marjorie.
  36. Chez Gaudy abruptly left us. La Bête carried on.
  37. The Cobra Lounge floated in.
  38. The War Room was re-booted.
  39. TidBit moved uphill.
  40. And darling little Patty Pan made a go of it at 23rd and Madison.
  41. Chungee’s arrived and helped us celebrate the Moon Festival.
  42. Next week is still 2010. High 5 Pies will be born. It is prophecy.
  43. First Hill’s nightlife history was reborn in the shape of an overhauled Vito’s.
  44. First Hill’s *other * new Italian place, Primo, delivers to Capitol Hill, too.
  45. We had his name oh so wrong but Big Mario’s eventually showed up to offer rather enormous pizza slices to Pike/Pine.
  46. The Unicorn started the whole thing off. Born January 28, 2010.
  47. UPDATE: @RockBoxSeattle rightly protests against end-of-year opening bias!:

    Hey CHS @jseattle how about… #47 Rock Box opens its doors — officially solving the mystery on Nagle Place. ? :)

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20 thoughts on “CHS 2010: Capitol Hill food and drink year in review

  1. Gotta agree that it’s a jerk move to present it as a cranky neighbor problem when it’s so very much more. But I did appreciate the chance to go back and seee VPC’s vapid letter apparently written by a 14 year old girl.

  2. Hey, everyone, please no spewing on the Volunteer Park Cafe topic. Given CHS’s ever-increasing interest in boosting business community and gaining ads, it’s not surprising that owner Justin Carder has a bias in favor of the cafe. That is proven more clearly than ever by his use of “axe to grind” above. Anyone interested in actual facts about the cafe’s illegal and unneighborly activities can read about it at .

    BTW, latest real news on this story: the City Dept of Transportation cracked down on the cafe’s abuse and overcrowding of the 17th Ave E sidewalk (VPC had ignored the seating limits stated on its sidewalk-use permit); and the City Dept of Planning and Development, in reviewing VPC’s application to legalize its business, told the cafe it needs to document with a study (not guess at) its impact on nearby parking.

    We have always tried the path of cooperation with the cafe, and sought the City’s help only after the cafe wouldn’t discuss its plan to double seating by illegally constructing a patio. As neighbors, many of us supported VPC for some 3 years before this, and would still like to support a modest-sized cafe.

    We are victims, protecting our right to live on a street that is supposed to have only a small grocery, not VPC’s intention: a 70+ seat destination restaurant.

    Cliff Meyer,
    on behalf of Volunteer Park Neighbors —

  3. The cafe situation is far beyond cranky neighbors. From my reporting on all sides in the discussion, I’ve found deep seeded issues with the players. I agree the sentence as written above isn’t balanced enough — updated per the below. As for Cliff’s comments below, as usual, unwarranted and frustrating to read but very typical of my conversations with him. I will continue to do my best to tell all sides in this story as fairly as possible — garbage like Cliff’s swing of the axe, or no.

    old: The battle over City of Seattle zoning and neighbors with an axe or three to grind will play out into 2011 (update soon) but, even so, the story dominated so many others in 2010.

    new: The battle over a restaurant running afoul of City of Seattle zoning and neighbors with an axe or three to grind will play out into 2011 (update soon) but, even so, the story dominated so many others in 2010.

  4. i’m interested in tamara murphy being all up in arms over the fact that she wouldn’t have her private seating area because of the location of the utilities, fought to get her way (while refusing to pay rent), won her case and yet now, months later, it doesn’t look like any work has done nor will be, towards completing the restaurant.

    did she abandon the project (understandable given the animosity likely generated over a legal battle), is it still on track or is there someone else waiting in the wings to take the spot (there had been for a while there right)? these are the kinds of things i’d like to know.

  5. Justin, I am not sure what prompted your personal attack on me. If it’s regarding my comment on CHS being pro-business: beside your admirable, seemingly 24/7 dedication to CHS editorial content, you are also chief ad salesperson. In fact, you are far more than that: You are President of Instivate, a company mostly focused on selling ads on 20-plus news blogs. Advertisers have lots of online choices and neighborhood news blogs are not a time-tested media buy, so there are good reasons for CHS to be pro-business. Those potential advertisers might just go elsewhere. You can read about Justin’s work at Instivate and its affiliates at

    Hey, in general, there’s nothing wrong with a blog being business-friendly or presenting value judgments. But VPC is a business that has knowingly flouted laws, unfairly attacked its next-door neighbor, etc., etc. That’s why I called you out, Justin, on the neighbors “with an axe or three to grind” wording, which seems aimed at yet again portraying the business as the victim of the neighbors. Take away those inflammatory words, and you’d have an unbiased sentence.

    Further, Justin, what’s with the link (above) to your June 27 story, in which you judged the VPC zoning violation to be a mere “technicality” and had no comments from the neighbors? You have more-recent posts that are far more complete, including

    Say what I will about this coverage, I think that Capitol Hill’s residents should feel lucky to have CHS, which illuminates our community in so many ways. Put away the axes, Justin, and shine that light more fairly in this matter.

    So: Will the neighbors continue to use the City’s processes, including opposing the current permit application, to protect ourselves against this business? Yes. Could there still be a way for both sides to meet and resolve the issues to everyone’s satisfaction? I sure hope so.

  6. I lived in this neighborhood for a few years. You neighbor folks are C-Razy. Controlling, overly sensitive, and defensive. Wah-wah-wah, Justin used the words “axe to grind” and you respond with so many words it makes me think of how utterly painful you all must be to deal with in person. You are the type of crybabies who make living in Seattle unpleasant for everyone else. Keep in mind that you live in the neighborhood, you don’t own it. You should have input, not control.

    The solution is obvious – these neighborhood folks should join the NIMBY’s who blocked Summer Nights from happening at Gasworks Park, and the folks on Queen Anne who tried to block a mini-mart from opening, and go live in a nice, quiet, gated community in another city. Please. Pretty please.

  7. Agree with former. jseattle’s word choice was sure to get a rise out of the neighborhood mob but that is because Cliff and friends go looney bird at any provocation. If I were CHS, I’d ignore this mess until the city sorts it out. The situation is such a mess because there are valid concerns that get lost in the hysterics.

  8. Current Neighbor: The situation is a mess because of VPC’s actions. VPC acknowledged its mistakes by starting to legalize. You should acknowledge that the contempt you hold for the neighbors is based on false information from VPC, and from biased reporting here and in other media.

    “Was sure to get a rise” shows that you acknowledge that Justin is not impartial. According to you: he is trying to get a rise. That’s not what editors and reporters do; unless they work for Fox.


    Former Neighbor: You are the type of person whose vindictive statements dredge up long-resolved issues. Trying to support Ericka by attacking neighbors undercuts her current efforts.

    You could support her best by going to VPC for lunch or dinner. While there, you could mention that you appreciate her efforts to address past mistakes.

  9. Justin,

    Groaning when asked to address your mistake? Taking it out (as you did with Cliff, above) on a participant on YOUR blog? You’re the editor, Justin.

    I am interested in having you report on what axes we neighbors are grinding. I have tried to track down rumors in the neighbor saying that there is a mysterious, ulterior motive to our well-reasoned objections to VPC’s patio expansion.

    So far, no one in the neighborhood or in the media has been able to give me more of an answer than, “The neighbors want to shut down VPC.”

    I’m honestly asking, here; what axes do people think we are grinding?

  10. Oh for heaven’s sake. Reading “Groan” as Justin complaining about having to change the post is tendentious. It’s far more likely that he meant “Ugh, I’m a dummy!”

  11. I’m not sure what “tendentitious” is, but it doesn’t sound like you mean it as compliment.

    So: we disagree, and I replied respectfully. How about you extend to me the same respect? I am still interested in anyone commenting on the question I posted, above:

    “I am interested in having you report on what axes we neighbors are grinding. I have tried to track down rumors in the neighbor saying that there is a mysterious, ulterior motive to our well-reasoned objections to VPC’s patio expansion.

    “So far, no one in the neighborhood or in the media has been able to give me more of an answer than ‘The neighbors want to shut down VPC.’ “

  12. What about Lobby Bar? They won the GSBA’s new business of the year for 2010 and Seattle Magazine’s best new bar of 2010.