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Einstein Bros. bagel chain’s exit puts a new commercial hole in Broadway

Closed! Thanks for the tips, everybody (Image: CHS)

Closed! Thanks for the tips, everybody (Image: CHS)

Broadway has chewed up and spit out another national chain — though this one took longer than most. Capitol Hill customers hoping for a bagel, coffee, and maybe some wi-fi were greeted by the dreaded paper sign in the window Tuesday.

Broadway’s Einstein Bros. Bagels, the spacious provider of boiled and baked bread at scale and a comfortably corporate place to hang out or stop through with your luggage on your way to Capitol Hill Station, is closed.

The company has been part of Broadway in the same block for years, originally under its flagship Noah’s brand. After making way for the demolition of its original home to make way for construction of the block-long Lyric building, the chain was one of few businesses to make good on pledges to return after being displaced by development.


Demolition to make way for the Lyric (Image: CHS)

Noah’s storefront was featured prominently in the design review renderings of the 235-unit building while others that made way including Cafe Septieme and Pho 900, did not. Noah’s joined Bank of America in returning to the block — but under the company’s younger Einstein Bros. brand. The new Einstein Bros. opened for business in late 2012.

We’ve asked the Colorado-headquartered company for more information on the closure. The brand manages its own chain of outlets as well as a franchise program. In early 2015, the company announced it was closing dozens of “underperforming” locations. The company was acquired by a private equity firm in 2014. At the time, the company was said to “operate, franchise and license” more than 850 restaurants in 42 states. City and state records indicate the Broadway store as well as the three other locations around Seattle are owned and operated by the Noah’s company.

You're taking that down already? Yup. You putting a new one up? Nope.

You’re taking that down already?
You putting a new one up?

The closure represents more evidence of the struggles chain concepts and “limited service” restaurants have faced on Broadway despite the area’s booming population and busy assets like Capitol Hill Station. Many of these concepts — take, for example, MOD Pizza, have thrived in other environments around Seattle and beyond while struggling to catch with Capitol Hill customers. Meanwhile, franchises and chains have also exited the street as Seattle’s minimum wage schedule kicks in, treating the conglomerate-backed businesses often owned by local entrepreneurs like larger employers. So far, the exits have been matched mostly by smaller chains and local operations.

Wednesday, a worker was already removing the Einstein Bros. signs from outside the papered-over windows on Broadway. The blocks between the now empty store and Capitol Hill Station continue to have some major retail holes including the giant space left empty by the move of the Castle Megastore to E Pike. The exit of another giant chain was filled by the United States Postal Service when Officemax bailed on Broadway. Meanwhile, as the Lyric building went up, CHS was flooded with rumors of a McDonald’s coming to the block. With the demolition paperwork underway on First Hill, maybe it’s time to for another massive chain to give Broadway a try.


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27 thoughts on “Einstein Bros. bagel chain’s exit puts a new commercial hole in Broadway

  1. This seems to be an on-going problem on Capitol Hill. Fancy buildings replace old ones, with large expensive retail spaces that only big national chains can afford. Capitol Hillites refuse to patronize these national chains and they close. Now we have a bunch of big empty retail spaces in the most densely populated neighborhood of Seattle, within blocks of a hugely popular light rail station. Crazy.

    • Supply and demand will take care of this, no? Big property owners are all about the free market. When few are willing to pay the asking price, the asking price comes down to what the market will bear, right?

      Oh, maybe they instead stomp their feet, let the property sit empty, and lobby for more corporate welfare.

    • The chains go out of business because the local independent businesses are so much better here on Capitol Hill. It’s not just values, they actually have a better product. The new credit worthy tenants are successful local businesses that have drawing power, smart developers and property owners go out of their way to lease favorably to them to drive apartment tenants paying top dollar to live over an awesome local bakery.

    • “The chains go out of business because the local independent businesses are so much better”

      Please, tell me where I can find better bagel sandwich options. And don’t say Eltana.

    • J – You’re SoL but if Einstein is the gold standard for you, then maybe you don’t deserve it.

  2. Just a minor note: USPS only partially filled the old Office Max space. It was divided and there is still an empty portion that will likely stay that way for some time.

  3. Maybe I’m an old fart since I’ve been on Cap Hill since 1993 but there was also Eggcetera prior to Noah’s.

    As for why all these places go bust it’s not hard to see why. Rents on Broadway are business killers. Of the businesses on Broadway that are still here since I arrived in Seattle in fall of ’93 the shoe repair in the Broadway market is pretty much the only one left besides Urbane Outfitters. The QFC basically ousted whatever businesses didn’t leave because of the rents. Outside of Broadway Market it’s not much better. There’s nothing on Broadway that was there 20+ years ago.

    • The Deluxe, Rom Mai (Though it was called something else), Jai Thai, Dick’s, Anna Purna, Dilettante, Ha Na, Americana (El Greco/Table 219 re-branding not closing), Kim Chi, Cross Roads. Maybe not all there 20 years, but theses places have been stable and consistent for the vast majority of the time I’ve been here, since summer 1994. Fast food places have never done great, 2 Burger Kings came and went on Broadway. Compared to most other cities I’ve been to Seattle and Broadway especially has a shockingly low number of chain restaurants. And this is just the restaurants, there are plenty of chachki and vintage stores, etc. that have made it through the transition.

    • La Cocina. Pagliacci. Espresso Vivace (new location, still on Broadway). Vajra. Perfect Copy and Print (also new location). The Deluxe. Hana. Aoki. Dick’s. Dilettante (new location, still on Broadway). All Pilgrims Church.

  4. Louie’s got it, boiled then baked, and yes joseph, made on site daily, churning them out in factories is just sacrilege. i also want everythings with SALT, blazing bagels is pretty good but they’re all the way in sodo. i never got into eltana, they’re too dense and expensive. a bagel should be soft on the inside, hard on the outside. also, eggs for bagel sandwiches should be cooked on a griddle, not in the microwave like noah’s… yuck