When Capitol Hill’s leading author of longterm food and drink success changes the plot of what she’s working on, it’s worth taking note.
Linda Derschang has put aside her stated commitment to focus on her existing six restaurants and bars and the 250+ employees that make them work to take on an irresistible “little” project too close to her Oddfellows nerve center to ignore. It will also give the nightlife maven another opportunity to fine tune her daytime game will collaborating with a major retailer in Elliott Bay Book Company, one of her favorite Pike/Pine businesses.
“There were no plans for The Derschang Group to open any new businesses in 2015 but the opportunity to team up with Elliott Bay Books was too exciting to pass up,” Derschang told CHS via email. “Elliot Bay Books is one of the best bookstores in the country — it’s definitely my favorite, and the current cafe needs little remodeling so it makes the project fairly simple which is appealing.”
Derschang’s surprise Little Oddfellows is planned to replace the Elliott Bay Cafe inside Elliott Bay Book Company this June as cafe creator Tamara Murphy said she has decided not to renew her lease for the space “so that we may pursue other interests and projects.”
“A heartfelt Thank you to (Elliott Bay Book Company owner) Peter Aaron, the bookstore staff, my employees, and of course our customers who made this a fun and interesting ride,” Murphy wrote.
Murphy and her cafe accompanied Aaron and the legendary — and last of its kind — Seattle bookstore in its move to Capitol Hill. The bookstore debuted in April 2010 with the cafe rounding out and ready for business by that June. It was a busy summer for Murphy who had her hands full with a lawsuit against the Melrose Market developers and the closing of her Brasa restaurant in Belltown. By October 2011, Murphy emerged victorious (in an alternate universe, Poquitos lives in the market) in the legal battle as Terra Plata made its Melrose debut.
Derschang, meanwhile, opened Oddfellows inside the Odd Fellows (where artists once reigned) building, in December 2008. After a sometimes shaky start, Derschang split with co-collaborator Ericka Burke of the Volunteer Park Cafe and Oddfellows is today established as the veritable cafeteria for Pike/Pine 98122. Burke, by the way, returns to the Pike/Pine cafe and bar game of thrones next week as her Chop Shop is about to debut in the nearly completed Chophouse Row building.
The addition of a seventh jewel to the Derschang crown comes after a year of consulting work and chilling out following the December 2013 debut of Tallulah’s on 19th Ave E. Derschangigan’s does not count. But the food and drink veteran can’t rest. In addition to keeping her teams of more than 250 employees happy and gainfully employed, Derschang also is faced with the likelihood that the spiritual core of her business will soon need a new home. At a recent conference attended by developers and entrepreneurs seeking a little taste of the secret sauce behind the Capitol Hill food and drink boom, Derschang said she is worried about how new residential development will mesh with the area’s existing nightlife. “I’m not sure new tenants are going to enjoy the (Linda’s) patio at 2 in the morning,” she said.
Derschang says the look of Little Oddfellows will be “whiter and brighter than the current cafe with some changes in furniture and lighting.” From a business standpoint, it’s more like an expansion than a new project, Derschang said:
Logistically, we are treating Little Oddfellows more like an extension of Oddfellows Cafe + Bar than it’s own independent business. There will be a new menu of course with some of the same items as Oddfellows but the menu at Little Oddfellows will be smaller. The menu will include sandwiches, a daily quiche, a cheese plate, all of our current baked goods, house made sodas, our green and red juices, Stumptown coffee, and also beer and wine. We will maintain the same hours as the book store.
Derschang said Little Oddfellows will open sometime in June. And, by the way, Derschang said she’s on a “post-apocalyptic fiction trend/obsession” lately. “Read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel or California by Edan Lepucki,” she says.
The full text of Tamara Murphy’s Facebook announcement on the closure of Elliott Bay Cafe is below:
As most of you know, back in 2008, my partner and I assumed stewardship over the Elliott Bay Café located in the Elliott Bay Book Company then located in Pioneer Square. It has been a pleasure to be a part of Seattle’s iconic bookstore for these past seven years. The list of people I have met is an impressive one, including one of my favorites, Jimmy Carter. The relationships I have formed over the years with the bookstore employees and owner Peter Aaron, are ones I will maintain and cherish.
As of May our lease term will come to an end. We have decided not to renew our lease so that we may pursue other interests and projects. The exciting part of this news is that Linda Derschang who owns Oddfellows Café+Bar, located next door to the bookstore, will create “Little Oddfellows” in the bookstore’s café space. I couldn’t be happier about this. Peter and I are both in agreement that Linda is the perfect person to pass off the torch to. We are all working closely together to ensure a smooth transition. If all goes as planned, Little Oddfellows will open sometime in June.
A heartfelt Thank you to Peter Aaron, the bookstore staff, my employees, and of course our customers who made this a fun and interesting ride. I am excited for Elliott Bay Book Company and Linda Derschang. Can’t think of a better fit.
UPDATE: Here’s a brief statement from the Oddfellows folks on the new project… yum, soda!
Little Oddfellows Aims for June Opening in Elliott Bay Book Company
The Derschang Group is very excited to announce the newest member of the family. Little Oddfellows will be opening this June in Elliott Bay Book Company. Little Oddfellows takes the place of Elliott Bay Cafe, which announced their closure on Sunday. Owner Tamara Murphy said via Facebook on Sunday that “Peter and I are both in agreement that Linda is the perfect person to pass off the torch to…A heartfelt Thank you to Peter Aaron, the bookstore staff, my employees, and of course our customers who made this a fun and interesting ride. I am excited for Elliott Bay Book Company and Linda Derschang. Can’t think of a better fit.” The menu at Little Oddfellows will include sandwiches, grain salads and an ever-changing array of baked goods. Drink offerings will include beer and wine as well as housemade sodas, a daily selection of fresh juices, and Stumptown espresso. Little Oddfellows will maintain the same hours as Elliott Bay Book Company. We look forward to this new partnership with our favorite bookstore.