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15th Ave E’s North Hill Bakery to close at end of month

A recent North Hill Bakery wedding cake (Image: North Hill Bakery)

A recent North Hill Bakery wedding cake (Image: North Hill Bakery)

A tradition of nearly 80 years of baking on 15th Ave E may be coming to an end. North Hill Bakery is slated to fill its last special cake order on October 31st.

“We’re kind of old fashioned — or we’re not hip enough. Or with it,” owner Margaret Rumpeltes tells CHS. “I’m 52. I’m not a hipster. I’m kind of like a part of the old Seattle which is going away.”

She’s been baking on 15th Ave E now adjacent Olympia Pizza, a dry cleaners and the EVS wine shop since taking over the longtime kitchen at the turn of the 21st century. Before her was Carolyn Cakes and a baking history at the location dating back almost 80 years.

“There was always kind of an eclectic mix of business up here,” Rumpeltes said of the early days for North Hill on 15th Ave E. “We just really valued these neighborhood bakeries around Seattle. Our entire mission statement was maintaining and trying to keep a bakery in one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods.”

Rumpeltes isn’t sure what she’ll do next with her creative baking energy but she knows she’s already prepared to miss the neighborhood where her kids grew up in the family shop. “Knowing the neighborhood has been the best part for me,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of freedom in baking what I want. It’s going to be tough to miss the holidays.”

Recent years have been a challenge for the business, Rumpeltes said. She’s been month to month and working on a new lease with the longtime building owner for a long period. With the family that owns the building acquiring a new tenant for the space, Rumpeltes now has just a few more weeks of business before closing for good at the end of the month. There will be a garage sale in November to sell off more than a decade of things that accumulate in a small-time bakery that specializes in birthday cakes and sugar cookies for the kids. But Halloween, Rumpeltes says, will be the final day of business for North Hill.

“I would love to see as many people who have come here through the years, come by and say hi,” she said “Let’s make this a happy closing.”

Rumpeltes from a message posted by North Hill to Facebook: "Good Bye North Hill! Landlord kicked us out. We have loved serving the Capitol Hill neighborhood, you have all made work a kick to come to every day. Please drop in to say good bye and reminisce. Love, Margaret and the NHB staff."

Rumpeltes from a message posted by North Hill to Facebook: “Good Bye North Hill! Landlord kicked us out. We have loved serving the Capitol Hill neighborhood, you have all made work a kick to come to every day. Please drop in to say good bye and reminisce. Love,
Margaret and the NHB staff.”

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44 thoughts on “15th Ave E’s North Hill Bakery to close at end of month

  1. Alas! A great bakery closing. Wonderful baguettes and the memorable vanilla croissant. Super gingerbread, banana bread, morning glory muffins, strudels, cookies, cakes and pies. I could go on, but alas! only a few weeks more of these real treats, at a place where people could hang out and be comfortable. One of our favorite places. Friends, I hope you move on to something new that’s as delightful.

    Oh, and now our main bakery on 15th will be the pricey, butter heavy, super-sugary Bakery Noveau, where it seems to be a matter of how rich and sweet can we make things? I know there are people who love this, but how sad for those of us who are looking for subtlety and variety in bakery stuff.

      • Are we going to the same Bakery Nouveau? For me, BN has this place beat in just about every category and I’m not surprised to see it closing.

      • I think so, the one at the corner of John and 15th where the Kidd Valley used to be eons ago.
        I stopped there once and it was mass confusion, people kept being served that were behind me in line. To be honest I walked out and never went back. Perhaps now they got their act together more.

      • Aside from the owner, a tall woman with shoulder length brown hair, the service at Bakery Nouveau is TERRIBLE. Half a dozen employees standing in the kitchen with their backs to the counter, another employee hiding behind a bakery rack texting with a line out the door, they really are the cliched 20-something slack jawed employees. The owner is always polite and super helpful, but she can’t be everywhere at once.

        I have higher hopes for Ines Pastisserie when they move to the Hill.

  2. No, no, NO! All I need to say is, “vanilla croissant”, as someone has already pointed out. This is really sad. I enjoy stopping here on Saturdays for coffee and, 9 times out of 10, a vanilla croissant. I can imagine they’ve been fighing the economics of the place for a while, but it’s really sad to see a local business that fills a niche fall to the wayside. RIP, North Hill Bakery.

    How could a place with the slogan “Wake and Bake” fail on Capitol Hill???

  3. Oh no! Such a great bakery….good espresso, nice people and the best crossiants
    on the hill. I hope Margaret ,her son Joe, and all the others go on to something special, they have given the neighborhood great pleasure.

  4. Sad to see them go..can’t even count the number of slices of “Grandma’s chocolate cake” I’ve served or been served at birthday parties, gatherings, auctions and the like. Thank you, Margaret! Hope the next adventures are sweet ones!

    • Somehow after Carolyn’s Cakes sold their business which had been established over 50 yrs ago, I never gave it a thought about dropping by to patronize the current bakery. I wish both Margaret and Joe much success in future endeavors.

    • Pete-you took the words out of my mouth! I have lived on Capitol Hill for almost 10 years and even go to Olympia now and again but somehow missed this. I have even complained about the Hill’s lack of a bakery. Am I going blind? How is it possible to have missed this for so long? Weird.

    • I was just thinking the same thing. I walk by Olympic Pizza every day and have never even noticed there was a bakery nearby.

  5. Wonderful breads, great brownies, and when i had some bread baking questions, the lovely proprietress was happy to answer questions. This was a small town bakery in the most urban neighborhood. I’ll miss you.

  6. I’m not surprised about this at all. There is very little to draw me to North Hill despite living just a couple of blocks away. I went to North Hill once more than a year ago, saw nothing of interest, and left. The introduction of Bakery Nouveau was an obvious death-knell for them.

    I live about half-way between North Hill and Bakery Nouveau. Perhaps I’m praising Goliath instead of David here, but there is frankly no comparison. Bakery Nouveau has a better location, more attractive storefront, and ridiculously better selection while still remaining friendly. It may lack North Hill’s neighborhood charm but it beats it in just about every other category.

    But I will make sure to try the vanilla croissant before they close :-)

  7. Small businesses getting kicked out by greedy landlords. No affordable rent for non-Amazon workers and the only new apartments being built caters only to single or childless wealthy young people. And architects and developers who have no design sense whatsoever. The buildings are ugly. Stop tearing down the more attractive brick buildings please – you can restore and renovate without demolishing. These buildings want to house expensive whiskey bars and expensive restaurants to cater to the rich young Amazonians. So these businesses that don’t “fit in” will keep getting kicked out. I think the owner of North Hill Bakery nailed it when she said “we are not hip enough.” And Capitol Hill will in just a few years become a one-dimensional neighborhood rather than a neighborhood encouraging the artistic, creative, independent small business spirit with a mix of singles and families, old and young.

    • Ahhhhhh but of course what would a CHS story if someone didn’t blame amazon or damn you move to the East Side. Cheers to you my friend take a bow now everone is watching!

      • Here’s a suggestion -Jeff Besos should move his company, operations, and staff to Detroit where he can help revive their economy and there’s tons of space for his gazillion employees there.

    • Well if we keep stifling new development by opposing height increases, asking for more regulations on microhousing, demanding more parking, forcing developers through arduous design reviews, etc etc, you can be darn sure that supply won’t keep up with demand and rents will continue becoming only be affordable to those wealthy folks who seek out whiskey bars and those expensive restaurants you lament.

      • If the proprietress was observant enough to speculate “I guess we aren’t hip enough”, doesn’t it beg the question as to why they didn’t do anything to address changes in local tastes? Should we feel sorry for a business that sees changes all around them, doesn’t address them, then goes belly up? Of course it can’t be as simple as that, but you get my point….

      • Jim, I almost always agree with you, but I think you’re off-base here. The business was apparently not doing super-well, but well enough to keep going. It was not Margaret’s decision to close, it was the landlord’s, who has another tenant lined up who no doubt will pay more in rent. The travesty is that Margaret was not allowed to compete against the new tenant as far as rent goes. She is just plain being pushed out for no apparent reason.

      • It’s all relative, Oldie. My point is that even the development we’re seeing isn’t enough to keep up with demand. Developers will keep building until supply meets demand. For example, all these 4-6 story limits will just prolong the development boom, which will eat up more land and old buildings instead of letting developers build higher with the land they have. We are shooting ourselves in the foot and our beautiful buildings are disappearing.

  8. For a city with a severe lack of bakeries, this is quite unfortunate. Capitol Hill itself has so few bakeries considering the amount of people living here. I loved this little place. I love Bakery Nouveau too, but it’s not the kind of place I go more than once or twice a month.

  9. I live 2 blocks away and love the idea of this bakery. Unfortunately, every time I wanted something they either were not yet open or had little to no grab n go pastries.

    I’ve had a few later in the am visits that were successful but was more often than not was greeted with either locked doors or limited supply.

    After the disappointments I mentally just wrote it off as not being an option which is unfortunate. The staff does seem nice and the patrons that were there seemed to enjoy the sense of community the spot provided.

  10. I have been a regular, twice-a-week customer for years, and will really miss the North Hill Bakery. It is “old-fashioned” in the very best way. Their croissants are fantastic (especially the ham-and-cheese), and the “savory biscuit” is another favorite. And their cookies!!

    I don’t understand why the greedy landlord did not give Margaret a chance to establish a new lease. No doubt it’s all about the money. Sometimes, capitalism is really evil.

    • The other business owners in that building have been threatened with eviction many times over the years by the old woman. The rent may be cheap, but you’re on your own for repairs

  11. As a bakery owner myself, I am all too familiar with the challenges of providing a diverse selection of freshly baked goods daily and consistently, while still remaining relevant to an ever changing landscape of food businesses and appetites. It takes more than just hard work and dedication, it takes obsession, and the rewards, while significant emotionally, don’t even come close to the return on investment financially.

    I am sorry to see the legacy of a bakery in that location for nearly 80 years come to a close. I too feel there is a lack of bakeries in this particular metropolitan area, and would love to see another one move in to the space.

    Best of luck to the owner in her future endeavors. As we can all say, “she had a good run”.

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  13. I heard that Margaret never got a new lease because she didn’t pay her rent.
    Not much of a display of bakery goods to draw me in.

  14. We have become an extension of Broadway, Bars and restaurants, only night time activity. We are losing are neighborhood feel. A bakery has been around since I was a child and remember going to it. What will our future children remember about our neighborhood.

  15. I’ll miss you North Hill Bakery! You have been a favorite place to visit the last 12 years I’ve been your neighbor on the hill. Hoping you’ll pop up again.

    All the best and I’m sending my boyfriend to get some things to freeze so I can have when I return from my trip.


  16. Lovely old-fashioned place with good coffee, nice people and yummy treats. The brownies, rugelach and strudels were delicious. I’m so sorry to see it close. All the best to Margaret and her staff.

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  18. So sad to see them go. I lived nearby for years and loved their coffee (batdorf & Bronson), granola, pastries and especially the friendly service. I moved to ct in March and was craving the hazelnut granola so much that on my only trip back I excitedly showed up this morning with a shopping bag ready to buy them out of granola … only to find they had closed down.

    I do sympathize as over the years I’ve seen several really great places peter out as the hipster masses prefer the mediocre food and terrible services of [insert ‘hot’ bar/restaurant owner]’s latest place.

  19. Best cakes in Seattle. Sad to see North Hill bakery go. I was going to get myself a treat today, when I saw the sign. It’s tough being a small business.

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