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Only months old, 12th Ave’s Varro owes $20k in rent, landlord’s notice says — UPDATE

12th Ave’s Varro has five days to pay more than $20,000 in back rent or vacate its Packard Building home, according to a notice posted on the lounge’s door Thursday by the development’s attorney.

On Monday, CHS reported that Varro was for sale for $20,000 an amount owner Glenn Walker told us was not accurate.

The notice, addressed to Varro owners Walker and Christopher Hurt, says the business must pay $20,311.07 in owed rent or vacate the premise within five days. A separate notice also commands the duo to restore a gas sub-meter that the attorney says was not authorized to be removed from the retail unit. A third member of Varro’s corporation, Josephine Baik, is not mentioned in the document.

By city law, the document says, any amount owed will be doubled if the commercial tenant does not reach an agreement on rent or vacate the premise in the five-day window.

We have an e-mail out to Glenn Walker asking him for more information on the situation and what his plans are for Varro given the new development.

Varro opened on 12th Ave only months ago and was concepted as the first in a chain of lounges based on the Italian theme. It was closed for much of last week for what Varro reps first said was renovations and later told us was for “changes in the kitchen.” 

In April as Varro prepared to open, we wrote about Seattle restauranteur Rich Troiani’s role in the business and the role of Walker who describes himself as a “hospitality entrepreneur:”

The investment in the new space is significant with a $160,000 construction budget according to city records. A look at Troiani’s crew also gives you a sense that this is a big concept about to hit the ground. There’s a social media person already on staff and a full-time music director who will spin live mixes throughout Varro’s open hours. And then there are the backers. Troiani is an industry vet formerly behind downtown’s Troiani steakhouse. Partner Glenn Walker is described as a “hospitality entrepreneur.” His Cherry Tree Management, LLC invests in “hospitality, restaurant and entertainment” spaces. It sounds like Varro will be a little of all three.

At the time, one of the business’s owners bragged to CHS that the construction budget nearly doubled during the course of the build-out. Barely five months later, Varro could again use that cash, it seems.

The Packard Building is a CHS advertiser.

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44 thoughts on “Only months old, 12th Ave’s Varro owes $20k in rent, landlord’s notice says — UPDATE” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. kinda seems like this post went a little too far with prying into a businesses hardship.

    “business’s owners bragged to CHS that the construction budget nearly doubled during the course of the build-out. Barely five months later, Varro could again use that cash, it seems.”

    well good for CHS being so intuitive!

  2. Never doubt that this is a very, very tough business. All that experience and still no go. $7k is a big check to write every month.

  3. Went by there last night to eat, but their “oven” was “broken” so they had no food at all. Did not believe the story.

    Sad to see because it is a cool looking place.

  4. Yes–I think part of the problem was people weren’t sure what they were. The sign showcases a coffee, but it is clearly not a coffee shop. The inside is laid out like a sit down restaurant type place, but with the limited menu, it’s not a place you’d go for a meal. So it seems like they primarily wanted to be a bar. The cocktails I had there were good and the food was nice. I think if they had offered more appetizer type foods and the interior was arranged to denote more of a lounge atmosphere people would have understood the business better.

  5. @Mike – I fully agree with you on this. I live right next door, and I haven’t been in yet because I can’t tell if it’s a coffee place, restaurant, bar, or club. (Turns out it’s all four, I think..?)

    It’s an intimidating place to walk into off the street, and it seems they just didn’t do a very good job of informing people what they are.

  6. I’ve walked past that place a couple of times at night and always assumed it was a new gay bar. Its maybe supposed to be a coffee shop or a restaurant? Their on staff social media expert doesn’t seem to be doing the best job!

  7. Agreed. I live a few blocks away and was delighted when they opened, but never actually went there. It could be a nice dinner spot, but the menu was limited — especially for vegetarians. Is it a coffee place? A bar? A “drinks and appetizers” place?

    It also seems a bit too high-concept. A fancy “see and be seen” place, which isn’t all that inviting when the place is empty.

  8. There have been WAY TOO MANY new restaurants opening on CapHill lately, that’s the big problem here. True, lots of them are really cool, and beautiful, and fabulous, etc. But the market looks over-saturated all of a sudden. Beyond the first crush of business, where everyone rushes out to try a new place, I just don’t think there’s enough business to sustain all these new restaurants on a long-term basis. Especially since most of them are high-end. Budget-oriented places are doing great, but the only new one of those I can think of lately is Marination Station (and it’s doing pretty well, I think).

    The economy still sucks. A lot of people are out of work, and employers are still not hiring. I don’t think there’s enough money around to keep all these new places open. This could be the first of the newer places to close up shop.

  9. I agree 100%. Every new condo wants to have retail on the bottom. So, you get maybe 100 new residents in the area but 4 or 5 new businesses. No way that can be sustainable. It really does seem like businesses are starting to cannibalize each other: poquitos moving into the same niche as barrio, same story with ba bar and boom.

  10. The market for a lot of these new places seems to be weekend/night visitors. Who else but a drunk is gonna pay $4 a slice for pizza at the joint over by Bimbo’s? Or take Molly Moon serving decent but not spectacular ice cream (my opinion only but I was underwhelmed after all the hype) at a whopping $5 a cone. Or the expensive bagel joint. As a local I will typically try them only once.

    I think the energy of a place is going to be fundamentally different if it’s conceived as the next P.F. Changs. The focus is going to be too much on the bottom line and not enough on making a statement with cuisine and ambience. Take Faire Cafe for example. Kind of a dump but one of the more unique places I’ve been to recently. Or the ramen joint or Chuki’s on Broadway. Entrepreneurship on a human scale.

  11. The cheaper restaurants can’t afford the rent for these new spaces. So we will keep getting these $8 small plate joints. It’s one thing if they are good. Mediocre and expensive? No thanks.

  12. Let’s even give them all benefit of the doubt to say they’re all good. (they’re not, but just for the sake of argument). Even if they’re all super-good, even if they “make a statement with cuisine and ambiance”, there’s still not enough people who can afford to keep them busy all week. And they can’t get by on just weekend business.

    These places forget that not everyone on CapHill is a yupster flush with cash. And even those who are– they often eat cheap too. I’m betting we’ll see some of this latest bunch of cool restaurants fold later this year. Or sooner (obviously).

  13. So one of your reporters noticed something on the window of the place and decided to read it. Realizing what it was, and the fact that it was and addressed to the business owner, did it stop there? No! You had to publish all of the details and rub these people’s face in the dirt publicly!

  14. I think it may be best for the landlord , to rethink throwing them out.. It looks like they just need a few months to get it up and running. It be nice to see the landlord get behind them and see if they both can make this work. Every one than will win. I would not think theirs a business waiting to take over this space.
    A working business is the best way to get your money!

  15. Ummm…the notice was posted on their door for all the public to see, so your claim that CHS is akin to the National Enquirer is a little over the top. Take it down a notch, pumpkin.

  16. Sign in the window last night saying Varro would be open tonight and that Varro did pay it’s rent. As to the first of a wave of closings… Varro has many problems some detailed in comments here. Personally I doubt this is a bellwether and more a victim of the owners who did not have restaurant experience making many small mistakes.

  17. Please, please, please gawd, make it go away! It is everything I’ve ever hated in a bar- sports, bad DJ’s playing top 20 hip-hop hits, girls in tiny gold string bikinis and fuzzy platform boots shaking their booties on a stage, and BROS! EFFING BROS EVERYWHERE! Belltown/vue has infiltrated the Caphill parameters and it’s causing me to barf all over the place. We went there around midnight one night because no one could compromise on where we should get a night cap. We stayed out, well, probably because we ordered our drinks already- if you could call them that. When you have more water than even the cranberry juice in your Vodka Cran, there is going to be a problem. And who makes a Long Island with gin? Sick. Fucks. That’s who. And don’t get me started on the Frat Boy waiter who kept telling us how cool he was. Blah. GET RID OF IT.

  18. Everyone makes a Long Island Iced Tea with gin.

    1 part vodka
    1 part tequila
    1 part rum
    1 part gin
    1 part triple sec
    1 1/2 parts sweet and sour mix
    1 splash Coca-Cola®

    As to the rest of that pretty picture you painted– here’s hoping their crowd improves with a bit of focus.

  19. Right-on insights, Jim. I think another factor is that the population of Capitol Hill is skewed towards younger people, and most of them do not have the disposeable income to support higher-end places. This seems to be changing (more middle-aged people with established careers and good incomes), but the change is slow and not in time to save some of the restaurants opening in our neighborhood.

  20. On the inside chalkboard that usually tells you the specials of the day, the message today was: “Varro has paid it’s rent and will be open tonight at 5PM.”

    Don’t count these guys out yet.

  21. umm… it is a PUBLIC notice, bozo. CHS isn’t out there going through someone’s trash. This is a hyper local blog that covers community and things other people might pass over.

  22. I certainly think Varro can “pull this out” and be very popular. They just need to spend more time developing a focus (maybe less time watching “Flip This House”). Their location is great but even with that, you can’t do it all. Personally I’d like to see drinks and panini– quit with the semi high-end dining. The odds are stacked against them on that, with all the recent competition in that space.

  23. Did they have the grammar error of “it’s” in their sign? That’s the second time someone has posted what the sign said and the second time the “it’s” error has appeared. If they can’t spell, how can they make a good cocktail? :-)

  24. V’s landlord is a prick! Why not just give the notice thing to them when they open at 6 or whenever???? You really need to tape it to the door for losers with no lives to take pictures of??? Fuckers dogeatdog

  25. I don’t know WA state law – perhaps it’s allowed here – but where I’m from late fees can’t exceed a “reasonable amount,” and the definition of reasonable caps out at about 20% of the total monthly rent.

    Also, posting this notice in public could be justified if the renters had failed to respond to other attempts to communicate. But it could also be considered harassment.

    The renters should probably consult an attorney (not me, I’m not licensed here). If their lease didn’t state the late fees, and if their landlord didn’t attempt other forms of communication, they could have some defenses and counterclaims

  26. Ha – never mind. I’m an idiot. The rent is FIVE figures, not three. I somehow didn’t see the comma after the five.

  27. I agree and said that as we walked away to get food somewhere else. The first time I went by there, a menu was posted but listed only early and late night hours. It was not clear if they had a different menu during prime time or no food at all. I did not get the concept.

  28. The landlord is a prick because Varro can’t meet their obligations. Your a typical liberal, it’s always somebody else’s responsibility.

  29. Were not in the restaurant business, we own property and rent it out. Do you think my mortgage is forgiven because your high concept nobody knows what the hell it is joint is failing?

    A Landlord

  30. Good point, ALandlord. Everyone seems to think landlords are always rich and have unlimited cash. What they don’t realize is for the overwhelming majority of them, there’s a mortgage on the property that has to be paid. Without rent, they can’t afford to float it.

  31. No, he’s not a typical liberal. He’s a pinhead. If there *IS* a typical liberal, it’s someone who pays their bills. That’s why they’re more receptive to taxes, because they know bills need to be paid.

  32. I was under the impression that posting a notice on the door was part of the eviction process. Perhaps only if the tenant is able to avoid being served, but my building has had to do that before to move the process forward. It’s not just the owners thinking “how can I embarrass my tenant?”

    And if you’ve got a tenant who’s behind, the only way to enforce payment (or get rid of them) is to start the eviction process. If a business is behind on their rent that soon after opening, I wouldn’t be interested in giving them slack either.

  33. I think it’s funny the landlord posted here. Do they think they are anonymous? All anyone has to do is look up who owns the building? And then they post a snarky reply down below; “The landlord is a prick because Varro can’t meet their obligations. Your (sic) a typical liberal, it’s always somebody else’s responsibility.” What a decent business sense to troll a local blog! Go back to business school, learn to spell!

  34. I could go back to business school but they only teach you buzz words and not spelling. I missed that in elementary school. However, I did pick up some common sense in kindergarten so I am not stupid enough to believe that because it is signed by “A Landlord” it is the actual landlord for this building.

    I may be an idiot but you have just proved there is always a bigger idiot out there. Now, that is funny.

  35. Well, Sir or Miss “A Landlord,” I assumed you might be the landlord because you replied as if you were the building owner, not because of your silly tagline. Guess I hit a nerve.

  36. I think that “A Landlord” was just balancing out the anti-building-owner thoughts in this post by providing a landlord’s point of view, which is certainly germaine to this issue. Most of them DO have a large mortgage payment to take care of every month, property taxes to pay, etc., and it’s very understandable that they would be upset when rent is overdue.