The southwest corner of E Olive Way at Denny will not be a vape shop.
Ballard food+drink maven Brandon Pettit will transform the former payday lender at the corner into Dino’s Tomato Pie, a new pizza par featuring thick “square pie” style slices and offering takeout and delivery to the tightly packed, teeming with Capitol Hill humanity blocks of Pine, Olive Way, Howell-Area Triangle POWHat.
“I never thought I’d leave Ballard,” Pettit tells CHS. “It was like Mr. Rogers neighborhood up there. It was just such a nice neighborhood vibe.”
Dino’s is planned to open this fall on the block of Ms. Rachel Marshall’s neighborhood home to her Montana and a collection of unique E Olive Way food and drink providers including Crumble and Flake, Kedai Makan, Revolver, and Hillside Bar.
Pettit said he is looking forward to being part of the densely populated neighborhood and part of a group of businesses focused on serving the nearby blocks. He’s also hopeful the transformation will be a better use for the space than the vape shop that moved in across Denny Way in the storefront formerly home to Arabica Lounge.
CHS reported on the exit of Money Mart from the E Olive Way corner in April. Pettit said the buildout is planned to be wrapped up by fall but he said he’s heard that the flood of paperwork hitting the Department of Planning and Development has some permits taking months instead of weeks to process.
Dino’s will be designed by Heliotrope Architects with an old school vibe “like Vito’s but not as classy and without the piano,” Pettit said. He describes Dino’s as a “walkable bar” with a pizza counter and lounge and plans to do “a lot of takeout and delivery.” He’s sorting out the delivery strategy but bicycling delivery folks, take note — you’ll probably be part of the Dino’s plan.
The space at the E Olive Way and Denny corner of the Olive Crest Apartments also has a secret feature Pettit hopes to make part of Dino’s at some point. Below the 1,700 square-foot future pizza bar lurks a subterranean space that could end up as a perfect basement lounge.
As for the pie, here’s how Seattle Met’s Allecia Vermillion described the “square pie” planned for Dino’s as she broke the news on the pizza bar earlier this week:
“I like the idea of doing something a little bit trashier and more Jersey, more authentic to the flavors I grew up with.”
Granted, Pettit’s take on “trashy” still involves local ingredients like housemade guanciale, Zoe’s Meats pepperoni and, kale from Willowood Farm in Coupeville. Customers will specify either a white or red sauce base, and select off a list of toppings. The rest of the menu will be short, simple, and likely involve a Jersey salad (Pettit’s term for a pile of iceberg or romaine lettuce with the most basic of vegetables on top) with housemade versions of dressings that usually come in green-capped plastic bottles: Caesar, ranch, or creamy Italian.
Pettit tells CHS the square pie — “Where I was from they usually called it Sicilian. Baked two or three times with a lot of burnt cheese around the corners — good drinking pizza” — makes for great bar chow and that he also might experiment with another type of thin crust “tavern pie.”
2015 has been a busy year for Capitol Hill pizza. The guys behind Big Mario’s will open a Queen Anne expansion and a new Italian joint at 19th and Mercer. The Still Liquor folks are planning a pizza shop at Pine and Minor. Tom Douglas’s Serious Pie chain came to the Hill. And the owner of a Zpizza franchise outlet on Broadway made headlines when she announced her plans to shutter this summer because of the impact from the new minimum wage law’s schedule for big chains.
Pettit said he hadn’t heard about the Zpizza hubbub but that his business plan behind Dino’s is $15/hour friendly. “For a restaurant, it’s definitely an issue — profit margins are so low,” Pettit said of his own planning around wages. “For a takeout or bar, the profit margin is much better.” Pettit said he believes smaller venues like his plans for Dino’s were already a trend in Seattle food and drink but that the minimum wage upgrade could help create even more. “A slow bar makes as much money as a busy restaurant,” Pettit said. Meanwhile, Pettit says, “better run restaurants” like his Delancey are already paying $15/hour-level wages and will be able to adjust with prices or service charges.
Pettit also said he’s not worried about Capitol Hill’s increasingly competitive food and drink industry, soaked with weekly announcements of new projects. Coming to Capitol Hill, he said, is his chance to show a lot of people his approach to dining and nightlife — and a lot of people who have never been to Delancey, let alone Ballard.
“Nobody who lives up there ever leaves,” Pettit said.
Dino’s Tomato Pie is planned to open at 1524 E Olive Way this fall.
UPDATE: Forgot another piece of Capitol Hill pizza news to include in the 2015 round-up — at the very same intersection as Dino’s, Amante’s now has a new owner — George Kozhuharov. We’ve never met him. You?
UPDATE x2: And had it in my notes but forgot to include more Hill pizza news coming in 2015 as Bill’s off Broadway is slated to return to the corner of E Pine and Harvard after a 20-month timeout.