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Capitol Hill food+drink | The intriguing Harry’s Fine Foods project

(Image: King County)

(Image: King County)

Neighbors around Bellevue and Mercer received an intriguing land use notice recently:

Land Use Application to change the use of an existing multipurpose retail, sales and service (store) to restaurant.

That existing multipurpose retail, sales and service (store)? That’s Harry’s Fine Foods — or, at least, the two-story building the grocery store called home before clearing out earlier this year.

The restaurant? That’s the most intriguing part.

CHS has learned that one of the biggest behind-the-scene names in Seattle food+drink is behind the Capitol Hill restaurant project involving a secret chef and an ambitious buildout set to transform the old neighborhood bodega into a new culinary destination.

Harry’s Fine Foods, LLC, a company run by real estate broker to Seattle’s food and drink stars, Laura Miller, purchased the property in the summer of 2014 for $560,000 according to county records. Miller “wields great power within Seattle’s close-knit restaurant community because she helps chefs navigate the abstrusely touchy process of securing a restaurant space,” as Seattle Met put it in a profile of the real estate pro last year. We’re not aware of any previous instances (on Capitol Hill, at least), where Miller stepped up and bought a property destined for food and drink transformation. But we also haven’t had a chance to speak with her. The busiest woman in Seattle’s food business can be difficult to connect with. We’ll keep trying. UPDATE: Miller tells CHS the building is the fourth such that she’s developed in Seattle — but first on Capitol Hill.

“It’s just too competitive up there,” the real estate ace said.

Miller said she likes to find candidates to rehab, not tear down. She pointed to a property in Greenwood now home to a Caffe Vita, Blue Bird Ice Cream, and Cornuto as an example.

We did connect with the chef all of this fuss and hullabaloo is about, however.

The foodie isn’t ready to talk about the project citing a few elements of the project left to nail down. The two-story, 1910-built building includes a second floor apartment so the new chef could also end up a new neighbor. While the deals get pounded out, feel free to speculate.

The new project could join the small pockets of food and drink activity in the Summit Slope-area. It will be just down the Hill from the Single Shot-Top Pot-Sun Liquor-Toscana-Summit Pub block and a few blocks away from Cafe Barjot and the Lookout.

Harry’s Fine Foods also might make a pretty swell name for the restaurant. We don’t know much about the end for James Chi’s grocery business. If you are a neighbor and can shed any light, please let us know.

Meanwhile, public comment on the proposed change of use is due to the city by this weekend, according to the notice. A few letters have already been received at City Hall:

Am thrilled to read that this property has applied for change of use to a restaurant! I’ve lived in the neighborhood for over 20 years and the previous grocery store building was/is the biggest eyesore around here (though convenient for a quart of milk). We only have a handful of restaurants here at the bottom of Cap Hill and here’s hoping this one will become our new favorite. I highly support this change of use and the opportunity to brighten up the neighborhood.

Of course, not everybody is purely excited:

I live adjacent to the property at 601 Bellevue Avenue East. This part of Capitol Hill has very high density, and we are also one block from a bar (Summit Public House). Parking is already a nightmare in this area, and adding a restaurant that will probably be visited by people from outside the neighborhood will contribute to a worsened parking situation. I don’t see any place where the business could provide parking for its clients, so they will take up the few parking spots nearby, making it worse for residents of the area and their visitors.

You can add your $0.03 via email — comments are due by September 6th.

And, Laura Miller, if you’re out there, call me.

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • (Image: Cafe Barjot)

    (Image: Cafe Barjot)

    Speaking of Barjot, here’s Cafe Barjot Fresh Sheet Vol1.1 (PDF) from chef Nick Coffey. You can eat sunflowers?

  • The folks behind 12th Ave’s Chungee’s are also working on a change of use — in West Seattle:
    According to what’s on file with the city, it would be a new location for Chungee’s, a Chinese restaurant that opened five years ago on Capitol Hill. Why this house? The Chungee’s proprietors own it.
  • It’s time to get your tickets for this year’s edition of Omnivorous, the food and drink-filled fundraiser for Capitol Hill Housing. Here’s the 2015 lineup slated for September 24th:
    Altura, Ba Bar, Bar Ferd’nand, Caffé Vita, Chavez, Hello Robin, High 5 Pie, Jemil’s Big Easy, Lark, Mamnoon, Marjorie, Monsoon, Oola Distillery, Poppy, Rachel’s Ginger Beer, Sun Liquor, Tallulah’s, Tango, Terra Plata, The Tin Table, Trove
  • Make room. That same date is also when restaurants and bars across the Hill will be donating proceeds to the Country Doctor Clinic. You can check out details on the 2015 Eat Out on Capitol Hill fundraiser here.
  • Little Uncle folks getting ready for Big Uncle:

    (Image: Little Uncle)

    (Image: Little Uncle)

  • 10th and Union’s Soi is now open — here’s what it looks like.
  • What’s next for the old Charlie’s space? Ask these guys.
  • There’s a new burger joint in town — Two Doors Down is now open in the old Philadelphia Fevre space.
  • Jason Stratton is now Mamnoon’s executive chef.
  • You can now rent Seattle’s “best chefs” like Tamara Murphy, Tom Douglas, and Eric Johnson by the hour.
  • There’s a free Taiwanese Visiting Chef Cooking Demonstration at Zhu Dang.
  • Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 1.05.11 PMWant to buy a Broadway Indian restaurant? $140,000:
    “Established 20 year-old Indian Restaurant on Major Capitol Hill arterial. Near new Sound Transit station. Class 1 hood, walk-in cooler, beer/wine (easy to add Class H liquor and has bar).”
  • Meanwhile, the long empty space where 22 Doors used to be has been spruced up and is on the market. $5,342 a month.
  • Rachel’s Ginger Beer now doing soft serve: “There are already so many people in Seattle making awesome ice cream. But I think soft serve is about to have a huge moment.”
  • E Union’s Optimism Brewing is ready to brew its first beer.

    (Image: Optimism Brewing)

    (Image: Optimism Brewing)

  • Cold brew+coconut water at Little Oddfellows
  • “Why does Than Brothers give you a cream puff with your pho?”
  • Pokémon Company International, Inc. sued to stop a PAX party at Capitol Hill’s 500 East.
  • Condolences to the folks at Madison Valley’s Cafe Flora.
  • Oops!

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5 years ago

I love this little building! It currently looks so sad but I’m glad it’s being revitalized. The grocer was nice to have for small items that were needed on the fly without having to run up to QFC.

5 years ago

Bummer. That was the first place to sell me beer! Early ’90’s and I was 16 or so. What a generous dude to look out for me and my boys. Boone’s and Black Label.

5 years ago

Nah, they gotta call it “Ozen Meats”.

5 years ago

We live three doors down from “Harry’s” and as property owners in the neighborhood, we are thrilled to see the plans coming together for a restaurant. It’s been a long time since anything was “Fine” at Harry’s, Summit Foods up a block was and is much better. I just hope the remodel and opening come soon for the building’s sake, it’s distressing to see the new tagging on a weekly (or more frequent) basis. Perhaps it was early days but Ms. Miller was quite responsive when I called about issues with the property. Looking forward to having another property owner who cares what happens in our little corner of Capitol Hill and hopefully a vibrant and pleasant new neighborhood restaurant.

5 years ago

They just put up the new sign on the building: It’s almost an exact replica of the original “Harry’s Fine Foods,” but it’s on metal. Apparently someone stole the original sign.