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Capitol Hill food+drink | With room for a Sugar Plum counter, Plum expanding on 12th Ave

Makini Howell’s vegan bistro Plum is expanding on 12th Ave — and adding something sweet in the process.

“We are booking a lot of catering this summer,” Howell said about the new Plum expansion set to take over the empty steakhouse just up the sidewalk. “It shows — more people are vegan but, also, the growth of the city. We’ve managed to stay through a lot of ups and downs.”

Plum Catering will put the expanded kitchen from the departed Manhattan to good use supporting Howell’s booming catering business while also making space for takeout meals, sauces, dips, and sundries. Pioneer Square’s London Plane offers an example of how it might fight together. A sweets counter featuring creations from the reinvigorated Sugar Plum will also be part of the construction underway in the space.

Howell said the 15th Ave E vegan sweet shop’s cookies, bars, brownies, donuts, sweets, and soft-serve are some of her best work but the venture got off to an inconsistent start after opening last summer. When you have the opportunity to be the touring chef for Stevie Wonder, you take it. Howell said she is looking forward to the original Sugar Plum living up to expectations and the new 12th Ave counter drawing long summer lines.

“Sugar Plum has sprouted its own legs and it’s a really sweet space,” Howell said. “It just needed a little more attention.” The 15th Ave E sweet shop will get even more love this week as a long awaited parklet is slated to be installed and will provide a place for people to sit and enjoy their treats.

On 12th, Howell is collaborating with a familiar partner. After Manhattan closed in late 2015, developer Liz Dunn searched for a new tenant to fill the space neighboring La Spiga and two doors down from Plum. Meanwhile, Howell was on the hunt for a space to take her catering ambitions to the next level. Turns out, the solution was right there in the Piston Ring building. “I’ve been in her building for a long time,” Howell said of Dunn’s project that helped set the groundwork for the Pike/Pine we know today. “It’s been part of my success.”

Plum Catering and the new Sugar Plum counter are under construction at 1419 12th Ave. You can learn more at

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • (Image: Sugar Plum)

    (Image: Sugar Plum)

    Makini Howell’s annual 4th of July BBQ is happening again but you’ll need to RSVP ASAP:
    Hey folks it’s almost the 4th of July again that means vegan bbq and ice cream for all! Join us this year at our newly renovated Sugar Plum (formally plum cafe) where our truck will be parked outside and ice cream cones will be inside!BBQ hours are from 2:00-6:00pm
    $15.00 all you can eat
    RSVP as soon as possible at space fills up VERY fast!

  • We’re hearing the Real World producers have been busy collecting paperwork in the neighborhood as they make plans for summer shoots around Capitol Hill. Have you seen the contract? Send it our way.
  • Good news for Bill’s of Broadway. Owner Don Stevens tells us he has reached an agreement to sell the Bill’s he opened in Greenwood during the time his Capitol Hill pizza bar was closed for the redevelopment of its longtime home at Harvard and Pine. Here are the details from Stevens — he says it’s great news for him and the original Bill’s:
    In the spring of 2015, the City of Seattle purchased the building that houses Bleachers as well as some neighboring businesses. The City intended to tear down the buildings and build a park. Bleachers was given notice, that was reviewed every 90 days that in the near future it would be forced to close at its current location. Earlier this year Bleachers was notified that it must be out of its current location by June 30th. Since August 2015, when Don and Colleen Stevens reopened their Capitol Hill location, it has become increasingly challenging for them to give the two locations the attention each needs. As a result of Bleachers’ and Bill’s On Greenwood’s mutual challenges, Don and Colleen Stevens have sold Bill’s On Greenwood to Bleachers. This will allow Bleachers to continue doing business in Greenwood and will allow Don and Colleen to focus on Bill’s Off Broadway.
    The original Bill’s reopened on Capitol Hill in August 2015 after two years of construction at the corner.
  • So which super chef will line up for the rooftop restaurant planned for the top of this seven-story development at Melrose and Pine.
  • Joining 15th Ave E’s Sugar Plum in the parklet category: E Union’s Metier:
  • The original Top Pot cafe:

Spotlight: Capitol Hill Cafe

  • It took Oasis Tea Zone a few years to open its space on E Pine. After two weeks of business: burgled.
  • The paint job is complete on the soon to open Manu’s Bodegita on E Madison. Liquor license says the walk-up will also offer beer and wine… to go.
  • More in intoxication licensing, we found a familiar Capitol Hill name in the mix behind planned Redmond pot shop Puget Sound Cannabis Company. Broadway’s Nacho Borracho co-owner Kate Opatz tells us her involvement is purely on an investment level.
  • Also in pot/liquor licensing, applications for the new Sweet Iron set to open on E Union next to General Porpoise Donuts and up at 2407 E Union where the Quinn’s Pub family’s Feed Co. is getting ready to bring its burgers to the Central District.
  • Speaking of Sweet Iron, plant-based ice cream shop Frankie and Jo’s is planning for an October opening in the same building. You can get an early preview this weekend at a Saturday pop-up at Melrose’s Glasswing:
    Pop-up customers will have the chance to preview their delicious cold treats here at Glasswing (compliments of us) while they shop the Alex Crane collection! 
  • America’s 50 Best Diners, Washington… is reportedly on Capitol Hill.
  • Hmm. Soi’s getting some accessibility work done.
  • Zephyr says:

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2 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | With room for a Sugar Plum counter, Plum expanding on 12th Ave

  1. The fact that Plum is doing more catering is wonderful, but it absolutely does not mean that more people are vegan. It could be entirely due more non-vegans wanting to serve vegan food, to vegans spending more on catering, or a host of other factors. Muddled thinking!

    • If you think it’s wonderful, why bother commenting? I don’t see the point of your comment other than “uh of COURSE there aren’t MORE” when there’s obviously more vegans in the present day than ever before. It’s popular for more than just animal welfare; “plant-based” diets are a huge fad right now. It’s not really a huge stretch to assume that Plum’s increased business is because there are more people who are dabbling in the diet.