Here’s what owner Stowell says about closing Anchovies and Olives

(Image: Anchovies and Olives)

After eight years of business, Anchovies and Olives will close to end 2017. Seattle restaurateur Ethan Stowell, one of the city’s most prolific chef/owners, says not to try to read too much into the closure. It’s not always about trends and demographics. Sometimes, it’s just time for restaurants to close.

“We’ve loved this restaurant,” Stowell said Thursday after the announcement of its planned December 31st last night of service at 15th and Pine. “You never want to close down a business. You wish everything was a home run.”

Eight years ago, A&O’s Italian seafood concept helped Ethan and Angela Stowell build on their start in building a small Seattle restaurant empire. The parking situation was easier back then with a big, mostly empty parking lot right across the street. Years of development has taken up that open space. Stowell said that became part of the drag at Anchovies and Olives.

The other part was the natural evolution of the neighborhood. Capitol Hill didn’t really spread to the east the way you might have thought it was headed a decade ago. It will probably get there someday as the eastern Hill collides with investment and gentrification around 23rd and Union. But Stowell said Anchovies ended up outside of the main centers of Capitol Hill where other Stowell properties like Rione XIII — which opened in 2012 on 15th Ave E — or Tavolata — which opened on E Pike in 2016 — make their homes.

Stowell’s neighboring Bar Cotto, meanwhile, will stick it out and hold down the fort. The joint remains open and will add a new element in the new year as it gets the run of the old restaurant as an expanded event space. Stowell said the package of Anchovies and Olives remains on the market — you can buy them both for $300,000 if so inclined:

Two concepts for the price of one in Capitol Hill, Seattle! Two chic, modern destination spots within the heart of Capitol Hill. Incredible opportunity to own two restaurants in the heart of Capitol Hill! Share your management/kitchen overhead to oversee two distinct concepts with shared restrooms or knock down a wall to create one larger concept. $650,000 worth of build out, wood burning pizza oven, Type 1 hood, two bars, top of the line kitchen equipment, patio, modern build out. Last year these establishments net 1.5 million in yearly sales combined and were profitable with management teams in place. Owners are not currently pulling any shifts. Or manage the dining room/kitchen yourself and really make some money! Long term lease available. Key management will probably not stay with new ownership group.

But Stowell is also ready to see how the new event space business works out.

While some long time fans will be sad to see it go, Stowell doesn’t seem like the sentimental type.

“Some restaurants just have a life,” he said. Our company has changed as well. If something is underperforming, it doesn’t make sense to maintain it. We made the choice to move on.”


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5 thoughts on “Here’s what owner Stowell says about closing Anchovies and Olives

  1. For those who think that removing parking, both through private development and installing public infrastructure such as bike lanes, is no big deal….please note that Ethan Stowell says the lack of parking near A&O is a significant factor in its closing. There are indeed negative consequences for what’s happening in Seattle, and this is one of them.

    • Then maybe he shouldn’t have relied on that parking lot remaining there, since the condo development that was originally going to be there was slated to go up right after the one on the north side of Pine (between 14th & 15th). It was delayed due to the crash. That is way different than a more permanent parking solution. He had no say or rights to what happened with that parking he said was a factor. That said, there are restaurants on 14th and 13th that seem to do well and they face a similar parking issue. I don’t know the solution, but yeah, if his business model relies on people who drive there, he should have locked in parking for his customers. Sounds like a blame game for a failed restaurant.

    • Bob, you seem to be jumping to a conclusions (focused on a personal concern/issue?) that are not entirely upheld by what was reported. Parking was indicated as a drag on the restaurant, but that was secondary to A&O’s location outside of the neighborhood centers. That part of 15th never blossomed in the way other areas have (look at the turnover in businesses in the vicinity—I believe A&O may be the longest running one in its area). I would wager that parking is no better for Rione or Tavolata (likely much worse), but their locations in neighborhood centers (and nearby plenty of other restaurants) means they have more people readily available to drop in.

    • @dang: My comment is based on what the owner of the restaurant said about the parking issue being a problem for his place. But I agree that it was only one contributing factor to its demise.

  2. Can we talk about the music at A&O – I’m with-in walking distance but the awful music which seems to be picked by the kitchen has kept me away. We have great DJ’s in this city who will put together playlists – more restaurant owners should rely on them instead of their hostess or line cook.

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