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Capitol Hill food+drink | The romance of Ernest Loves Agnes coming to 19th Ave E

unnamed (41)Love, that great mixture of what is real and what is fiction, is at the center — liter-ature-allly — of the newly announced name for the project set to open the next chapter in the former home of the Kingfish Cafe.

When it opens in “late summer” 2015, Ernest Loves Agnes will be different than the other restaurants and bars in their Seattle Guild constellation, Joey Burgess and Jason Lajuenesse tell CHS. For one, the guys behind some of the quintessential hangouts of Pike/Pine are opening a project on the sleepier eastern edge of the Hill. But there will be more to the story.

“It will also be romantic,” Lajuenesse said, acknowledging that he, too, has grown a little old to go on a date to Big Mario’s.

CHS broke the news on the project this spring as Burgess, Lajuenesse, and partner Dave Meinert stepped in and ended speculation about what would come next after the closure of the Kingfish following 18 years in the location.

The newly announced name is a tribute to the romance — real and imagined — of young Ernest Hemingway and nurse Agnes von Kurowsky that grew during the author’s stay as a soldier in an American Red Cross hospital in Milan during World War I. “It’s about falling in love with Italy as much as anything,” Lajuenesse said. “It’s a sweet… bittersweet story.”

Ernest Loves Agnes will live in a relationship with some healthy separation at the northeast corner of 19th and Mercer. Lajuenesse said you will find Agnes’s kitchen to your left and Ernie’s bar to your right in a similar kind of dual set-up that Seattle Guild’s Lost Lake has made work on 10th Ave. The “Italian Kitchen, Bar and Pizzeria” will feature “hand-made pizzas and pastas in a cool, comfortable space” with a “thoughtfully crafted menu” that will be “seasonally driven and locally sourced.” The Agnes side of things will serve lunch and dinner daily with brunch on the weekend.

The look and the feel of the two sides will share color palettes and feel like they’re from “the same era,” Lajuenesse said, but expect longer hours and a distinct separation with a big wood bar and large booths on Ernest’s side of things. A bar manager hasn’t been announced yet but there will be plenty of Italian wines, cocktails, “extensive amaros,” plus coffee and pastries. “While we’re advancing quite a bit on the food, we just want to bring what we’ve been doing up to 19th,” Burgess said regarding Ernest’s efforts behind the bar.

Images: Guild Seattle

The new venue gives the Guild partners the opportunity to work with some of their longtime counterparts in new roles. Having just overhauled the brunch menu at Guild offering Grim’s, chef Mac Jarvis will lead the kitchen at Ernest Loves Agnes. She has also worked at Lost Lake and with Burgess at 15th Ave’s Smith. This is her first opening as an “executive chef,” an announcement on the project notes. Meanwhile, Britt Jorgensen will continue her tour of duty with Guild Seattle, moving into the GM role at Ernest Loves Agnes.

Advancements like those, Lajuenesse hopes, are part of working with Seattle Guild. “This is a chance for them to have their own ship,” Burgess said.

When it opens later this summer, Ernest Loves Agnes will be located at 600 and 602 19th Ave E. You can learn more at

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • Oola Distillery is expanding off the Hill:
    Yes, we are expanding our off site barrel storage facility.  So much whiskey being put into barrels & so little space at the distillery!!    The new Craft Distillery license was just a mistake by our compliance person and has been withdrawn.  We are bonding the space for Whiskey Barrel Storage so needed some TTB forms submitted, not a new distillery license.  We will have room for over 1000 barrels when the expansion is complete!
  • Yo. The Washington State Attorney General says minimum wage surcharges must be clearly disclosed:
    “Businesses are legally permitted to impose surcharges related to minimum wage increases,” Ferguson noted.  “But if they choose to do so, my office will ensure that workers get the benefit as advertised and consumers have the information they need to understand the full price of goods and services.”
  • CHS wants to do its next “vacation” Cure style:

  • With Gokan, Musashi investors instead seem to be channeling Wasabi Bistro, circa 2000.
  • Take a visit to Linda Derschang’s (for sale) house.
  • Congratulations to Standard Brewing’s three wins in the 2015 Washington Beer Awards, and Elysian’s three, too. Your turns in 2016, Outer Planet and Optimism.
  • Crumble & Flake Patisserie now offering nitro cold brew.
  • It’s the “Summer of Nitro Cold Brew Coffee,” apparently.
  • Erik Liedholm, renowned wine expert with the John Howie restaurant group, has become Seattle’s first certified coffee sommelier.”
  • Have you tried the new Naka kaiseki at 15th and Pine, yet? Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 7.48.26 PM
  • Goodbye, Charlie’s

Thanks for the memories!

Posted by Charlie’s On Broadway on Sunday, June 28, 2015

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