They said 2017 would be better. They were wrong. In an already bummer week, the reborn Charlie’s on Broadway has told employees not to come in Tuesday and posted the dreaded thank you note to the community in the window of the entrance:
With the ending of our one-year lease, we were faced with a difficult decision. Charlie’s holds a special place in our hearts. However, due to economic factors of the restaurant industry, as of Tuesday January 10th, 2017 we will be closed. Being a part of the Capitol Hill community has been an honor, and we will miss the community deeply.
Charlie’s on Broadway, at least in its latest incarnation, is gone.
Reborn under The Lodge Sports Grille family of restaurants, Charlie’s reopened in December 2015 with an attempt to keep the basic 217 Broadway E recipe the same while updating the business just enough to help it survive for another 39 years.
That attempt, ownership said in its letter thanking customers and notifying them of the immediate closure, did not work out.
UPDATE 2:00 PM: The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in November listing ten businesses it operated including Charlie’s. The filing listed total liabilities of more than $5.7 million. Included in that was a nearly $2 million disputed claim from the IRS, more than $860,000 in a disputed claim from Homeland Security/ICE Investigations, and $750,000 owed to the state. The company owned by husband and wife Shawn Roten and Elizabeth Stewart according to state records continues to run seven restaurants under The Lodge Sports Grille brand in the Seattle area with an eighth on the way. In November, owners told the West Seattle Blog the company was proceeding with an opening in that neighborhood despite the filing. According to state records, the corporate registration for the holding company is inactive and expired last August.
With Capitol Hill Station in place and Broadway hopefully on the upswing, we asked Roten about the timing of his decision not to sign up for a longer lease after the first year agreement ran out.
“That’s what we were kind of looking forward to,” Roten said. “The sales were just really low. Lease was too high, sales were too low.”
Roten said with the bankruptcy process underway, he had to close underperforming locations. “The Lodge is a reorganization. I was a little overaggressive on expanding. In six months, we’ll be OK.”
Roten did leave a parting gift on Broadway — the brand stays with the building meaning a new tenant could give the old Charlie’s another spin.
“I think it’s a mom and pop organization kind of place,” Roten tells CHS. “If somebody wanted to operate it themselves, be there every day, they could definitely make it work.”
Longtime owner Ken Bauer helped open Charlie’s in 1976, taking it over in 2000 after the restaurant’s namesake owner passed away. As the end of the lease agreement approached, Bauer started looking to sell but found no buyers for years. CHS broke the bittersweet news of Bauer’s long-awaited retirement and Charlie’s first closure in June of 2015.
The Charlie’s recipe, however, would never fully be replicated. Bauer reached an agreement to sell only the restaurant’s name to the new owners meaning many longtime Charlie’s favorites would never return to the menu.