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CHS Year in Review 2014 | Capitol Hill’s food and drink boom continues

Ambitious and gigantic, Trove makes for a pretty good symbol of the year in Capitol Hill food+drink (Image: CHS)

Ambitious and gigantic, Trove makes for a pretty good symbol of the year in Capitol Hill food+drink (Image: CHS)

A read of our CHS Year in Review write-ups traces the growth of Capitol Hill’s bar and restaurant economy from an explosive, cultural and creative shift three years ago into a new era of big-time investments from deeply talented, highly ambitious creators to capitalize on the scenes. Last year, we noted that projects had gone big. By 2014, we saw the start of the next phase: huge. In the mix, CHS also found the tiny and the micro, the no-concept and the highest-concept, the sure to succeed and the surely doomed.

2014's food and drink activity on the Hill kept pace and then some -- at least when measured by major construction permits (Source: CHS)

Just as many projects, bigger budgets: 2014’s food and drink activity on the Hill kept pace and then some — at least when measured by major construction permits. You’ll see many of the fruits of this labor in 2015 — according to the city, the average Seattle restaurant takes 261 days to open. (Source: CHS)

Lurking beneath this relentless growth is the sense that it all cannot continue. That this is a boom. And, therefore, there must be a bust. Nothing busted in Capitol Hill food and drink in 2014. We’re not in the prediction game but even the triumph of a (phased-in) $15/hour minimum wage didn’t slow things down appreciably in 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 11.51.17 AMUPDATE 12/31/14: Inspired by the prevalence of “Capitol Hill” in these answers, we’ve pulled together an unofficial tally of Capitol Hill food+drink openings by year. The Class of 2012 will have quite a reunion party! Typical caveats apply. For one, we lump in parts of First Hill, Central District, Madison Valley, and Montlake over the years. For two, we had to make a call for places like Tallulah’s that opened in late December. You can see what is included in the rosters below.

Below is our take on the year in food and drink on Capitol Hill in 2014. You can also check out our coverage from past New Years and the rest of our year in review 2014 coverage.

CHS Year in Review 2014: Development  |  Food+Drink | 

Trove (Image: CHS)

Trove (Image: CHS)

Big projects
Many food and drink investments on Capitol Hill in 2014 were off the scale. It wasn’t only Starbucks creating megaplexes in the neighborhood. The opening of the $30 millionish Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room (where the first Capitol Hill project by Seattle’s biggest restaurateur is a mere footnote) at Melrose and Pike in December may have set a new bar for Capitol Hill complexes but there will be plenty more to come. The 2014 complex vintage will be remembered also for the birth of the Central Agency Building and the star-sparkled new home for Hill longtimer Lark which, as CHS described, had to belly up to the bar and take on three additional spaces in the project to secure its anchor status. Meanwhile, another food and drink marketplace was pushed back to next year as the incredible people involved in the Chophouse Row project gear up for 2015. There were “smaller” big projects in 2014. Mezcaleria Oaxaca debuted in February on E Pine after a long buildout and total overhaul of one of the last remaining auto garages on Capitol Hill. Meanwhile, Rachel Yang’s gastronomical “fourplex” Trove opened completing the overhaul of an E Pike auto row building. The future? Well, we know of at least one more Capitol Hill complex being lined up. Goodbye, Harvard Exit.

Mezcaleria Oaxaca (Image: CHS)

Mezcaleria Oaxaca (Image: CHS)

Complicating factors
While all that sexy stuff was going on, the environment surrounding the seemingly booming food and drink economy on Capitol Hill experienced the early stages of significant change. Despite the attempt from some local restaurant and bar owners to push back (with some taking heat for the opposition), the mayor signed the law to phase in Seattle’s $15 minimum wage in a summer ceremony in Cal Anderson. The phase-in is slated to begin in April 2015. Meanwhile, the success of mainstream Pike/Pine food and drink ventures came at a price for gay nightlife in the area. One example: The Lobby Bar lost its lease after five years on E Pike. Bar owners of all stripes also found themselves going up against a new competitor for the Seattle consumer’s entertainment dollar: Uncle Ike’s, the first I-502 pot shop in the area, opened in September at 23rd and Union.

Gary Reynolds at Revolver (Image: CHS)

Gary Reynolds at Revolver (Image: CHS)

Before we get to all the rookies that made their debut in 2014, let’s remember the big changes from the Capitol Hill food+drink veterans and the passages of the dearly beloved.

First Looks
We’ll wrap up this look back at the year that was with a dozen or so more of the projects that debuted on and around Capitol Hill in 2014. We probably left a few worthy openings off the list. Let us know what we missed in comments. Happy New Year.IMG_76741-600x400 IMG_4407-600x400 (1) IMG_0723-600x400 20141010_130229-600x337

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6 thoughts on “CHS Year in Review 2014 | Capitol Hill’s food and drink boom continues

  1. Pingback: CHS Year in Review 2014 | Capitol Hill’s most important stories | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

    • Ah, good catches. We have Piecora’s in the development *and* stories of the year wrap-up but should also note here.

      And Porchlight’s story is, indeed, worthy.


  2. Pingback: Le Zinc surrenders: French restaurant to make New Year’s Eve exit from Capitol Hill | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle

  3. Pingback: CHS Year in Review 2014 | The year in Capitol Hill pictures | CHS Capitol Hill Seattle