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Plan behind The Wandering Goose will bring all-star team restaurant & bakery to 15th Ave E

One of the longer running mysteries of Capitol Hill food+drink lore is moving toward a legendary new chapter. CHS has learned that an ambitious project combining the talents of a group of Capitol Hill cafe all-stars is now being planned to fill a 15th Ave E storefront that has been empty for nearly two years.

“Ethan and I have yet to sign a lease but are extremely excited about the possibility of being in the neighborhood,” Heather Earnhardt tells CHS of the project that is coming together with a plan to take over the former home of a gift and knick knack store that shuttered on 15th Ave E in early 2010.


Earnhardt is the baker who helped build Volunteer Park Cafe into one of the most popular breakfast spots in the city.

The Ethan in the equation is Ethan Stowell of Anchovies & Olives and a roster of Seattle eateries from Capitol Hill to Belltown to Queen Anne.

How he fits into the new project, exactly, isn’t yet clear — he declined comment until the deal is done. But we do know that the Earnhardt is planning to open the Wandering Goose in the space sometime this spring offering breakfast, lunch and baking and cooking classes. Stowell’s component, we’re told, would fill out the rest of the day, providing dinner and heartier lunch opportunities. Without specifics about what format his new restaurant might take, this report from summer might offer some clues as Stowell discussed his Grub Brothers Productions effort to build a series of “fast food” restaurants across the city with “five concepts: fried chicken; fish and chips; burgers and hot dogs; sandwiches; and pizza, both delivery and by the slice.” Given some past plans for the 15th Ave E location, we’re going to bet on pizza.

For those of you who clicked that last link, you’re now up to speed on the earlier chapters of the legend as CHS reported on 2010 plans for Caffe Vita to open a new cafe and pizza shop on the eastern Capitol Hill commercial strip. By the summer of 2011, it was clear those plans weren’t going anywhere.

Vita remains in the equation at the Wandering Goose, however. Mike McConnell still holds the lease on the space and will sublet it to the new entity. He is also listed as part of the corporation behind the venture. Coffee and pie baroness Dani Cone rounds out the Wandering Goose all-star team partners.

Earnhardt in the kitchen at VPC (Image: Volunteer Park Cafe via Facebook)

But at the helm of the Wandering Goose — in those early morning baker’s hours, at least — will be Earnhardt. It’s been only two months since we reported on the Volunteer Park Cafe co-founder’s decision to depart the 17th and Galer restaurant.

Earnhardt sent the following statement about her decision to leave VPC and the launch of the Wandering Goose:

I had an amazing six years of my life working at VPC. Ericka and I got to build the business together from the ground up and had so much fun doing so. I grew to know the neighborhood (my first apartment in Seattle was on 17th & john 15 years ago…) and fell in love with the Capitol Hill families. Things were great at VPC but I realized that there was still more that I wanted to do. I wanted to give it a go on my own and explore some new things. So I took some time personally to be with family and prepare and now am ready to move forward. My goal is to do well by the neighborhood, this community, and all of those who have been such an amazing support these past years.

As for her former partner Ericka Burke, Volunteer Park Cafe is celebrating its fifth anniversary Wednesday night. “It’s been a pretty great five years,” Burke said in a press release promoting the celebration. “I really love how the cafe has grown and look forward to many more years in the neighborhood.”

With those five year of experience behind her and an $80,000 plus buildout for the new restaurant space ahead, Earnhardt is ready to establish the Wandering Goose’s place in the neighborhood, too.

“I have an incredible group of people behind me that support and believe in me,” Earnhardt said of the new venture. “Sometimes you just know in your heart when the time is right, and you just go for it.”

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calhoun
9 years ago

This sounds like a great possibility, but unfortunately it will probably severely impact the success of the North Hill Bakery two blocks north. I have been a customer there for years and I love its old-fashioned ambiance as much as its delicious baked goods. There has been a bakery at that location going back at least 75 years!

Hopefully, North Hill will survive this new competition, but I’m not betting on it.

Vic
Vic
9 years ago

i don’t think it’s a bad thing – if north hill keeps producing quality products then it just means more choices for people. at least it’s not a panera bread or something moving in.

oiseau
9 years ago

That’s why I love 15th. There’s such a relatively low rate of chain business in the area.

Glad to see this space filled with a breakfast option though and the idea of hosting classes is just great.

L
L
9 years ago

I’m excited about something finally going into that space. I just hope that they don’t go with a pizza concept for dinner – there’s already plenty of that on 15th.

Chippy
9 years ago

This sounds awesome! Can’t wait.

A Neighbor
9 years ago

Must be another North Capitol Hill Bakery, the one I always try and go to has inattentive staff, a display case with almost nothing in it, and always seems a little run down/grungy. Maybe this will be a wake up call to them to step up their game and shine.

I love the space and I love the idea/talent behind it. You know who’s gonna feel the burn? Coastal. This is going to kill their not really worth a line out the door breakfast business.

Competition brings out the best and we as consumers benefit. Love it love it love it.

A Neighbor
9 years ago

Please, don’t mistake quantity for quality.

Kayzel
9 years ago

Amused at the idea that fried chicken, pizza et al are now “concepts.”

genevieve
9 years ago

That’s a lot of egos and concepts under one roof. I can’t believe they didn’t manage to fit Linda Derschang into the equation somehow.

GregoryH
9 years ago

Don’t we have enough Pizza on Capitol Hill? Piecora, Pagliacci, Big Mario, Via tribunali, Romeo, MOD (did i miss any? probably). With Fish and Chips coming to Broadway (5 Fish Bistro), my vote would be for an excellent sandwich shop.

oiseau
9 years ago

I second the Coastal Kitchen remark. I feel that they get so much business for breakfast simply because they’re the only place offering breakfast in the area (besides 22, but yeah, breakfast at a bar….ehhhhh….)

YeslerWay
9 years ago

Palermo Pizza & Pasta across the street from this location, and Olympia Pizza about 1.5 blocks north of it too.

songstorm
9 years ago

I like North Hill, although I find their prices to be a bit high. I’m not sure there will be all that much impact though, as North Hill strikes me as more of a grab and go place and the new one sounds like more of a sit-down concept. I agree that Coastal Kitchen may be more impacted, but I doubt they’ll notice too much. If they don’t have massive crowds loitering outside, people who won’t stop there now, might be so inclined – although I prefer their lunch/dinner to breakfast, personally.

Jill
9 years ago

15th will have new and better selections in the morning, noontime, evening and late night. The area welcomes innovators in the art of food and drink! Heather / Ethan’s new offerings will be a dynamic addition to the neighborhood. Looking forward to the opening!

On_15th
9 years ago

There are exactly 2 places for pizza on 15th, 3 if you count ‘Zaw. They all suck.

genevieve
9 years ago

thank you Wandering Goose PR team

Mrs. Kravitz
9 years ago

Fantastic news and exactly what we need on 15th! Heather’s the best baker around and nothing but a force for good. I’m definitely looking forward to having those scrumptious cookies and cakes nearby. And whatever Ethan decides to unveil will be welcome as well. We need new energy on that strip. Lucky us!

CB
CB
9 years ago

Don’t forget that we also have Other Coast Cafe and Baguette Box on the hill. Yummy sammies!

Standing for Something

Congrats Heather, on this new venture. I can’t wait to try it out next time I’m in the area. Best of luck to you!

Ernest Tee Bass
9 years ago

Comfort food, cheap, quick, easy and … unfortunately it’ll keep Group Health across the street busy.

Prioritized in order from most important to somewhat important are:
1) Cheap Beer (Definitely PBR on tap–And not $4/pint either)
2) Pizza
3) Burgers and Fries
4) Sandwiches
5) Fish & Chips/Fried Chicken
6) Hot Dogs

Ernest Tee Bass
9 years ago

ZPizza on Broadway is across from Seattle Central and has killer slices and all for $3 after tax and vegan friendly ones also. PBR pints are $2 all day.

For those of you who don’t own a TV they have some large, high-tech screens.

You can never have enough pizza. Pho on the other hand, we have too many of those for people who don’t eat weird meat stews.

genevieve
9 years ago

this thread is starting to read like a Yelp entry, complete with plant reviews carefully crafted by a marketing team, and the place hasn’t even opened yet.

calhoun
9 years ago

Melodramatic much? I hope you have some passion for something in addition to dessert.

oiseau
9 years ago

We can never ever have enough pho. Pho is to Seattle as burritos are to San Francisco or cheesesteaks are to Philly or pizza is to NYC.

Never too much pho. Also, it’s not always meaty. Go to Broadway Cafe and grab yourself the best from scratch veggie pho around.

Lastly, for sandwiches, there’s also Grubwhich and the always lovely Honeyhole (field roast sandwiches!).

I vote for more bakeries and at least one real deli (I don’t eat meat, but I do enjoy the idea of having a deli for other things – cheese, eastern European cuisine sometimes, etc)

oiseau
9 years ago

They are all just her puppets.

She is the supreme ruler of Seattle hipster culture. “Hey, look, let’s make a soup kitchen, call it ‘Soup Kitchen’ and charge $15 dollars for a bowl. We can also give the soups names that reference homelessnes – i.e. ‘hobo chili’ and young impressionable people will eat this up. Also, $3 cans of Olympia for all.” (That’s my impression of Linda and/or the Vita-Mario’s-Via Tribunali guys.)

Seriously, Soup Kitchen 2012! (not seriously)

tracy haaland
9 years ago

to “calhoun” —f***k you!!! is that dramatic enough for you!

Ernest Tee Bass
9 years ago

We could use a Taco Bell/KFC more than we could use another Pho place. From what I hear, in southern Vietnam, KFCs are pretty commonplace yet we don’t have one on Cap Hill anymore. I personally am not a huge fan of KFC but I think we need one more than another Pho restaurant.

On another note–Maybe I will try out the vegan Pho nearby and I’m not a vegan either.

Cap hill Guest
9 years ago

Like Denny’s that serves American, Mexican, seafood, desert, dine-in or take-out, and they should add some good Chinese stir fry dishes with some Pho for those people and maybe even sushi especially for Cap hill as some sort of a test market.

Keywords: 24 hours, beer wine alcohol on premises, breakfast, endless coffee, wifi

goldierush
9 years ago

i don’t believe this “team” would choose the chs blog as a forum to release their new biz…people like that have marketing “teams” that do so through other venues. (i’ve been a part of both sides) the world of restaurants is a gossipy drama filled one and i would be more than interested in that scoop. who cares about the marketing anyway? these guys will bring new life to the dated strip of 15th ave and we can be happy for that.

Bplow
9 years ago

Why is Heather saying “Things were great and VPC?” and “I got to build the business together from the ground up and had so much fun doing so.” Why would she even admit that she helped bring about the neighborhood problems due to (at the very least) her negligence?

Why are the VPC owner and former owner trying to pretend that Heather left to do something else, and that all was well and good on her departure? I am please for Heather that she chose to untangle herself form an obviously bad situation, and hope that both business will do well. But we are not a naive public. There is no reason to be disingenuous.

Methuselah
9 years ago

The comment that ties Heather to zoning and legal issues at VPC is ill-informed and frankly unfair to Heather.
As I understand it, The owner of VPC, Ericka never made Heather a partner in her business. Heather was simply doing her job as the baker. On the other hand Ericka the owner is 100% responsible for the mishandled legal issues at VPC. Heather did what she could to help from day one with the development of the cafe’s food & wine offerings. Heather is largely responsible for VPC’s reputation as a warm, welcoming place with wonderful baked goods. Now Heather has a chance to spotlight her talents and be a sucssesful business owner on her own. Heather’s new associates will bring together the best in the city I am told. The new business will not be without flaws or missteps as any new business but I certainly wish Heather, Ethan & Dani all the best.
I’m looking forward to the opening of Wandering Goose!

Rick Perry
9 years ago

Congratulations to Heather! She will bring (1) the f***ing best cookies, scones, cakes, pies,… to 15th E, (b) a warm and welcoming haven for the neighborhood, (3) I forget the third thing, oops… oh yeah, a smile to every customer’s face!

goldierush
8 years ago

It’s so incredibly asinine to lump Heather and Erika into one person doing the same thing. These gals couldn’t be more different than Athena (Heather) and Ares (Erika) …{or wait maybe Medusa?!}
Heather was all that was warmth and light about That Cafe, which I will now refer to as “That Cafe” as I will no longer be patronizing now that she has left.
I would imagine much of us regular neighborhood customers feel the same.

tracy haaland
8 years ago

was miffed about the snarky “melodramaatic” statement but actually a little flattered that someone thinks that i may be part of a “carefully crafted marketing team”! wish i was…nope, just a self employed artist that loves a memorable meal and a perfect piece of cake.

Foodfan
8 years ago

HOLY CRAP! It’s like the justice league of totally awesome food.

I cannot WAIT for this.

15th neighbor
8 years ago

The Hopvine has really good pizza. Just saying.

Raymond Angel
8 years ago

Angels shoe repair 71 years on the hill and celebrating 100 years in Seattle welcomes you to the hill. Competition brings more people to the hill. We need other drawing businesses to the hill besides restaurants and bars. Try to join us (15th avenue merchants association) for one of our meetings.