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Capitol Hill food+drink | The Grill on Broadway to close ending 22-year run

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

A 22-year veteran of Capitol Hill food and drink will be put to rest this weekend. The Grill on Broadway — or, the Broadway Grill as old timers knew her — is going out of business:

It’s very difficult to report bad news, especially when it happens to valued and long term members of the Capitol Hill and LGBTQ communities, as well as personal friends. After a protracted battle to save it, the 22 year old iconic restaurant and bar, The Grill on Broadway will be closing its doors for business, this Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 10:00 p.m.

In 2010, when The Walsh Creative Group purchased the flailing restaurant, problems left by the previous ownership and management became apparent almost immediately. “We knew that quality of food and service associated with the old Broadway Grill had fallen short over the years, but what we didn’t know was just how deeply those problems were rooted.” says Matthew Walsh, current owner of The Grill.

CHS reported on the purchase of the iconic Broadway eatery back in 2010 by former server Matt Walsh and CJ Saretto. The new ownership was hit hard later that year when a wave of credit card fraud was tied to a breach of the restaurant’s point of sale system.

Walsh told Seattle Gay Scene the early blow was difficult to recover from. “The effects were devastating to The Grill, generating massive amounts of negative publicity and drastically reduced revenue at the restaurant,” Seattle Gay Scene writes.

Matt Walsh in 2010,
originally uploaded by jseattle.

The restaurant confirmed its closure via Facebook Tuesday morning:

Dear Friends –

What you’ve read, or may soon read, is true. After 22 years, we’re closing the doors at The Grill on Broadway.

In spite of what it may seem, we’re a very small business. We don’t have endless financial resources to keep us afloat like a chain restaurant or large corporation could. We spent our life savings to bring the restaurant back from what it had become and it’s heartbreaking that we cannot continue. We appreciate the love and support shown to The Grill on Broadway over the years from the Capitol Hill community, and the many friends we have made who have truly become part of the huge extended “Grill Family” – that includes our incredible staff of hardworking, talented and amazing servers, bartenders and kitchen staff, in addition to every loyal regular who steps through our door. It’s with a huge and profound sadness that we must end this amazing journey.

Please join us this week for a dinner and/or a cocktail. We’re planning some special things this week, and we hope you can join us.

Thanks again for an amazing run…

Despite the challenges, Walsh gave the grand old dame a makeover and rebranded the operation as The Grill on Broadway as part of moving forward. It remained known as a place for comfortable meals, booze and brunch — and stayed true to its role in gay culture in the transforming neighborhood rapidly transitioning with new developments, new transportation projects and lots of new neighbors. It also provided a great spot for sitting along the busy street and seeing what would walk by next. And, of course, Halloween on Broadway will never be quite the same.

Grill owner Debbie Augustavo decided to sell the family business as the faded restaurant hit lean times in the late 2000s.

Sunday is the Grill’s last night of business. Here’s the full announcement from the restaurant:

With great sadness, The Walsh Creative Group, the current owners of the iconic 22 year old Capitol Hill bar, restaurant and show venue, The Grill on Broadway will close its doors this Sunday night, April 28, 2013 and cease business operations. Despite a recent upturn in business and community awareness, due to improved food, service and entertainment options, severe financial obligations imposed by previously un-discovered mechanical, structural and operational issues associated with the business, prior to The Walsh Creative Group’s takeover in 2010, have resulted in additional, unforeseen expenses that have totaled into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“In spite of what it may seem, we’re a very small business,” commented owner Matthew Walsh. “We don’t have endless financial resources to keep us afloat like a chain restaurant or large corporation could. We spent our life savings to bring the restaurant back from what it had become and it’s heartbreaking that we cannot continue. We appreciate the love and support shown to The Grill on Broadway over the years from the Capitol Hill community, and the many friends we have made who have truly become part of the huge extended “Grill Family” – that includes our incredible staff of hardworking, talented and amazing servers, bartenders and kitchen staff, in addition to every loyal regular who steps through our door.  It’s with a huge and profound sadness that we must end this amazing journey.”
Since 2010, Walsh and his team have spent countless hours and dollars supporting local charities and organizations, raising more than a quarter million dollars for such vital community service groups as Rise ‘n’ Shine, Gay City Health Project, and Lifelong AIDS Alliance. In addition, The Grill on Broadway has donated space and food to many major arts organizations like the Seattle International Film Festival and Three Dollar Bill Cinema, as well as independent film and music projects.
Walsh continues, “There isn’t a minute that goes by that I don’t recognize the profound impact that The Grill has had on the Capitol Hill neighborhood and Seattle’s LGBTQ community for the last two decades. I wanted The Grill to not just be a restaurant, and not just a bar but also an active member of the community. We’ve been honored to serve an extraordinary and diverse community.” The Grill on Broadway is one of the participating restaurants for Thursday’s DINE OUT FOR LIFE, benefitting Lifelong AIDS Alliance, and will still participate this Thursday.
Since constructing the Atrium Stage in 2012, The Grill on Broadway has also been a home for a variety of performers, including the very popular MIMOSAS WITH MAMA, the longest running drag brunch in Seattle, the CAPITOL HILL TALENT SHOW, and most recently Sylvia O’Stayformore’s BACON STRIP, Seattle’s beloved “Big Gay Variety Show”. Please check the individual show’s websites and Facebook pages for new information in the days and weeks ahead.

We have questions out to the Grill’s management to find out more about the timing of the closure and what’s next. UPDATE:  A representative tells us the timing of the closure was strictly a logistical decision based on mundane elements like payroll schedules and the like. Given costs and the business’s trajectory, it wasn’t apparently worth hanging on through Pride and summer.

The restaurant employees 35 people.

UPDATE: CHS reached one of the partners in the company that owns the property who said he was aware of the restaurant’s decision to close but did not want to comment on the situation or future plans for 314 Broadway E at this time.

UPDATE: The Stranger’s Dominic Holden says goodbye: “…the Grill was unmatched in Seattle in its day—and for that many of us fags are grateful. Thanks for all the super fun, super faggy times, Broadway Grill.”

Waiting along Broadway, originally uploaded by jseattle.

CHS food+drink notes:

  • Lose some, win some. Capitol Hill got its much deserved Bakery Nouveau this week. Here’s a look inside. Capitol Hill played it cool for the Monday debut. By Tuesday morning, there was a steady line.
  • If that line gets too long, or you’re looking for something different, Cafe Abodegas is now running at full pace with wraps, sandwiches and breakfast treats — plus, Idaho-roasted coffee :)
  • REMINDER! Thursday will be warm and lovely and you should go out to eat for a good cause. Channel all of that Restaurant Week blah into the 2013 Dining Out for Life event this Thursday as restaurants across the city and all over Capitol Hill pony up bucks for Lifelong AIDS Alliance.
  • Somebody takes on monumental task of trying to review all 96 acres of Von Trapp’s: “Our server was stumped when we asked her to tell us which sausage was which. Her confusion made sense when we started eating: The sausages, trapped in casings which clung as tightly as a 3-year-old bathing suit, all tasted salty, porky, and flat.”
  • Maybe more interesting is the Von Trapp’s writer’s comments about the changing nature of pro restaurant review etiquette: “For now, I’m sticking to the code, but that’s a decision every critic has to make…”
  • Another Hill beer hall gets a review as The Stranger took a swig at The Pine Box: “… quite fancy for a beer hall…”
  • Here’s where Tom Douglas says you should eat on Capitol Hill.
  • Capitol Hill is all over this “new Seattle breakfast” roster. Seems like they neglected “juice.”
  • Speaking of… happy birthday JuiceboxScreen shot 2013-04-23 at 2.27.10 PM
  • Speaking of… crap, we’re really behind on wrapping up recent food+drink anniversaries.
  • Here’s another one. Marination Station turns two and is celebrating all day Tuesday with $2 beer and free cake.
  • Maybe the whole Broadway Grill/Grill on Broadway closure thing is a stunt to draw attention away from Bleu Bistro’s Grotto getting nailed with bad press for trying to tack on a sick leave surcharge. Owner Ross McCartney told CHS he was ending the surcharge ASAP following the controversy.
  • As if it could bee (buzz!) any more darling, The Wandering Goose has honeybee homes up top.
  • Speaking of adorable, even Molly Moon’s cash registers are going to be cute (and fancy!)
  • Ethan Stowell’s payment system? Just fancy.
  • The Capitol Hill meat doughnut returned, briefly, last week.
  • Food and drink from the CHS Flickr pool:

003, originally uploaded by rupeegroupie.


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32 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | The Grill on Broadway to close ending 22-year run

  1. I know a lot of folks weren’t fans of the place, but I for one will miss it. I liked it in the 90’s when I moved here and got a bit tired of the menu but the last year I’ve had decent meals and service.

    It’s sad. One by one the old hangouts on Broadway are going away with nothing to replace them.

  2. Won’t miss it. This place went downhill since 2007. Shitty food and even shittier service. The last time I was in for a quick drink, the bartender was talking about how much he hated the place and the management. I’m pretty sure my credit card number (among many others) were stolen from here and sold to the Russian mob.

  3. I’m surprised that a former server would underestimate the impact of falling food and service quality, but I think the credit card fraud scandal was the bigger issue. I know I haven’t gone there since. Still, the Broadway Grill has been an icon in the neighborhood for simple and friendly bar food and I’ll miss it.

  4. What is wrong with you, Jack? Why the animosity? Someone’s job, livelihood and life is being torn apart over the closing of the grill. Matthew Walsh and his husband worked their asses off for the community and tried to save this iconic place. They had countless fundraiser and charities helping their community.
    I’ve been going there for roughly 10 years. I’ve always had great food and great service. It’s hateful and ignorant people like you who make it impossible for a small business to keep their doors open.
    I’ll be sad to see it go. I hope for my own peace of mind that it won’t be torn down and replaced by a starbucks or a condo.
    I wish the best for the staff an family of the Grill!

  5. Have not eaten there in a while but it sounds like things have really gone downhill. Used to be known at the “see me cafe”.

  6. Wow this is sad news and a real shame. I worked there from 1992 to 1997 and had the privelege of helping that restaurant reach icon status with some of the greatest servers, bartenders and managers I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Tony, Rob, Carl, Debra and of couse Debbie, we all poured our heart and soul into that place. Great memories for sure, best of luck to all.

  7. Have not been in many, many years, but spent a lot of my younger, formative years hanging out there and pounding electric ice teas and flirting with the waiters. But it really went downhill after it’s hey day in the late 90’s. The new owners did the best they could, but couldn’t overcome the bad word of mouth fostered by the previous managers, and the credit card scandal. I will miss the memories.

  8. We will miss The Grill. We ALWAYS had great food, amazing drinks and fun servers. I have no idea where we will spend our Halloweens now; they certainly won’t be the same as the fun we had at The Grill. We wish you all the best, Matt, CJ and the rest of the team. You worked so hard and put so much of yourselves into the place.

  9. Is that space big enough for another condo? How about a McDonald’s? Need one of those chains back ever since Jack in the box left. Chinese food would be nice too.

  10. Only being here two years I would say that they had gone a long way to fix the ills of the past. I always found the food, drinks and staff to be very good. I will miss it.

  11. Not certain about what’s hateful and ignorant about feeling like I received poor service and sub-par food. That was my experience with The Grill. Listen, I’m all about the small business and supporting it. I go out of my way actually to support local businesses. However, I stopped supporting because of the service I received here and the credit card scandal.

  12. maybe it looks like you’re an asshole because you are punishing the current ownership for the ills of the previous ownership? That makes you part of the problem.

    It takes time to make fix a business after a change of ownership. Current ownership bent over backwards to improve the place. They get a big pat on the back from me for that. I wasn’t too keen on the place in 2007 either, but I sure as heck like it now.

  13. Really sad to lose yet another Gay Icon in Seattle, Rejoice and treasure the good times for they are often gone in an instant! My heart goes out to the Owners, staff and patrons to whom this place meant so much and to thank you all for the years of hard work and loving support for your community! May good luck and fortune find you in your future endeavors.

  14. you joke, but I was pondering what bank doesn’t yet exist on Broadway E when it struck me –there’s no Washington Federal anywhere in that four block stretch from Olive/John to Roy.

  15. I am really not surprised. The service really went down hill a few years back, the tables and chairs were less than comfortable, and the menu remained the same old tired menu forever – and some of the good things were discontinued for some reason. I used to love it there, and was a regular that all the staff knew. But in recent years the only good thing about it was the outdoor seating. When the last ownership transition occurred, I knew it was doomed to fail. Hopefully something even better will replace it. And hopefully if another restaurant goes in there, it will be better managed than the Grill was in recent years.

  16. I went there a couple times and always found it a mediocre experience. Weak, watered down drinks, so-so food, pleasant but indifferent staff. There wasn’t any reason to return so I stopped going years back. Didn’t even know there was a management change, not that it would’ve made a difference to me. Won’t miss it.

  17. Wow, the Grill is closing.. Sad to see the gay icons of the hill closing. I came to Seattle in ’97 and the Grill was the place! Maybe I don’t known bad food from good or great service from bad… But I support the businesses that support the community. For me, the food the service was a part of the experience. I, for one, will miss the Grill. The place holds some very fond memories. Best to all involved.

  18. I’m sad to hear that. However I do think the service was very hit-and-miss. People make mistakes and lose your order or never enter it but then when the server compounds the problem by not properly fixing the mistake or even any kind of apology then that is bad service. Some of the servers did their jobs well though.

  19. Good grief, I didn’t know the Broadway was a gay restaurant. Its heyday was the early 80’s when it was fine dining. Good riddance I say and get a great place in there. Call Tom Douglas.

  20. It’s always been a gay restaurant. Where have you been? Probably handing out surveys from the GOP. Good riddance to you.

  21. Tom Douglas’ places are NOT crap….if you think so, you don’t know good food/service from bad. It would be great if he decided to open a place on Broadway, at this site.

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  23. Wow, it is now June and I just found out about Broadway Grill closing..I live in NYC now, but a few years back I worked at The Grill for 2+ years. It was a magical time, and the whole staff truly cared for each other…we were a family. I was so happy when Matt bought it from Debbie, she was a wretched woman who clearly did not care about her employees, food quality or anything that wouldn’t make her an extra dollar. I feel much better knowing that the restaurant was in good hands…I am so sad they couldn’t hang on….that place has so many good memories from not only the staff, former and recent, but from the whole community at large

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