How crappy is this Inauguration Day on Capitol Hill? Even chocolate can’t help you.
The ownership of Broadway’s Dilettante Mocha Café announced Friday afternoon that by the end of January, the “Chocolate Martini Bar” will serve its final desserts in the neighborhood where the company was born:
It is with a heavy heart that we must announce our impending closure. We are sorry to say that we will be closing our doors at the end of business hours on Sunday, January 29th, 2017. We have been proud to be a part of the vibrant Capitol Hill community for 41 great years, sharing our love of espresso, good food, strong drinks, and all things chocolate and dessert. Words cannot express our appreciation for all the memories throughout the years. Thank you!!
A call to the Broadway at Mercer cafe confirmed the closure plans and that the company was planning to keep its other cafes open. A manager told CHS that he was grateful Dilettante’s ownership gave employees a few weeks before closing.
Longtime fans of chocolate cake will also be grateful to have time for one last visit. The company started in 1976 with a cafe called simply “The Dilettante” in the 400 block of Broadway where Pizzeria Ottantotto does its wood-fired thing today.
The company provides an entertaining history of the company on its website:
1976: A New Chocolate Enterprise
Inspired by the hand-written notebooks of his Grandfather Earl and Great Uncle Julius, Dana Davenport opens the original Dilettante Chocolates location (then named, “The Dilettante”) in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. With training from his Father Jerome and Uncle Irving, he focuses on chocolate truffles, fine pastries, and coffee service. He also perfects his Ephemere® Chocolate Sauce, creating the foundation for Seattle’s first mocha experience.
In 2006, the founders sold the company to Seattle Gourmet Foods. By May of 2008 the original location was shuttered and Dilettante’s new owner Kathy Taylor took her Ephemere sauce down the street that fall to be part of the newly opened Brix building.
Dilettante had grown to seven cafes in the Seattle area but Broadway remained its only chocolate martini bar. It also sells chocolates and chocolate sauces under the Dilettante brand.
UPDATE 1/23/17: A company representative tells CHS the closure came as Dilettante was focusing its businesses.
“We’ve got this great chocolate brand. We have these cafes around the Seattle area, we’d like to have more of them. And then we have… a martini bar,” Dilettante’s Dan Graham said Monday.
Graham said that factors like Seattle labor costs were secondary.
“There’s no question that the changing labor rates have a huge impact to the kind of service that you can provide to guests,” Graham said “But I wouldn’t point to the labor wage as being the decider on Broadway.”
Instead, Graham said the company’s “Mocha Cafe” concept fits more snugly into its longterm goals and business model.
“It’s a slightly different concept than our mocha cafes,” Graham said. “It’s been part of the fabric of Capitol Hill for a very long time. It sort of evolved into a full service cafe and martini bar.”
Graham said part of the next steps for the company is deciding what to do with the Broadway space. Dilettante’s parent company purchased the premier commercial condo unit in the Brix building for $1.2 million in 2007, according to King County records. It is a turnkey restaurant setup that the company could put on the market or decide to lease.
As for Dilettante possibly returning to the Hill someday with a Mocha Cafe, Graham said you never know.
Some staff, meanwhile have the opportunity to join the company’s other locations, while others will join what Graham said seems like a strong food and drink service job market. The company also wanted to give employees and longtime patrons as much forewarning as possible.
“We didn’t want to just shut the doors,” Graham said. “It will be something that is missed.”
The closure adds another hole to Broadway’s commercial fabric after Charlie’s closed — again — earlier this month and the American Apparel at Broadway and John will shut down after its parent corporation’s bankruptcy meltdown.