Surviving for a decade in the Capitol Hill food and drink business requires a fighting spirit but Scott and Heather Staples faced more than their fair share of battles along the way. Their 10-year-old Pike and 10th Ave pub Quinn’s and its sister events space Sole Repair will soon have new owners.
“The restaurant industry is ever-changing and very challenging in Seattle right now, for several reasons,” Scott Staples said in the announcement of the restaurant’s pending sale. The announcement did not enumerate what those reasons are.
The new owners, brothers Charles and Peter Kim, declined to discuss the deal until it is final.
In December, Staples told CHS he was not selling Quinn’s but planning to take on new partners. It can pay to be a little cagey in this business.
Two major lawsuits have troubled the husband and wife restaurant group in recent years behind the scenes as they transitioned their transplanted Zoe from fine dining to an events space at 14th and Union.
The first stemmed from a June 2012 fall in the new Zoe after its move from Belltown when a woman sued after she said she slipped on the restaurant’s polished concrete floor. The lawsuit documented the woman’s hamstring injury, her tendon “torn from her pelvis,” and what the suit described as possible “permanent disability, limping, instability, and disfigurement.” The suit was settled out of court in October 2016. There are no records of any specific financial damages in the case and several of the documents are now sealed.
The second legal entanglement involved injuries of an altogether different nature as the Staples were sucked into the financial meltdown that followed the rise and fall of chef and restaurateur Brian McCracken. In 2016, CHS reported on the closure of McCracken’s 12th Ave joint The Old Sage and his $2.4 million bankruptcy filing. Turns out, the Stapleses got dragged into the mess over more than $140,000 in unpaid rent after they
subleased sold their old 2nd Ave location of Zoe to McCracken’s The Coterie Room project. That case finally settled in September 2017.
Along the way, you can also add in the 2015 auction in which the U.S. Marshals put 4% of the restaurant up for sale after early investor Mark Phillips was convicted of wire fraud and money laundering in a case involving fake invoices, a $2.3 million Seattle condo, and two $30,000 wristwatches. UPDATE: We’re told the Stapleses were able to buy the 4% share back at a “good price.”
At the front of the house, Quinn’s and its food+drink siblings have been doing better. In September, Quinn’s celebrated a decade at Pike and 10th by roasting a pig in a Pike/Pine street party. Back in 2011, eight-year-old Zoe made the move from Belltown to join brother Quinn’s. The 14th and Union venue was eventually transitioned to an events business in early 2016. The Staples said construction in the area had been a challenge and that the successful events business at Sole Repair convinced them to focus more effort on the opportunity. “Fine dining has always been a bit of a challenge and a labor of love. Coupled with the construction challenges, it made it easier,” Heather Staples said at the time. Meanwhile, the couple also expanded their burger ventures with a new Feed Co. at 24th and Union opening in late 2016.
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Staples has said his restaurants are based around applying classic techniques and training to more common fare. “What if you put a classically trained folks in a pub? What does that look like?” According to the Staples announcement, the new owners at Quinn’s intend to “manage the concepts in a similar manner.” They have also “offered existing employment to all Quinn’s staff,” the announcement reads.
When it is finalized, the Quinn’s deal will be the second Capitol Hill pub to change hands to start 2018. We reported here on the new owners of 15th Ave E’s Canterbury Ale House. Another longtime restaurateur, meanwhile, wasn’t able to find a buyer as Ethan Stowell shuttered his 15th and Pine Anchovies and Olives to start the new year.
As part of the planned transition, Quinn’s is planning to turn back the clock, offering some of the restaurant’s “most iconic items on the menu with a Throwback Thursday tribute.”
Diners are welcome to take a trip down memory lane with rotating options offered Thursdays, January 25 through February 22. The first installment will feature Pigface Nuggets, braised pig head fritter with Sriracha dipping sauce and Duck Deviled Eggs, an ultra-rich and extra-large version of the classic served with bacon and tarragon. Additional favorites that will be found on the Throwback menu include:
- Oxtail Gnocchi, braised oxtail meat, seared potato gnocchi, caramelized savoy cabbage, oxtail jus.
- Beef Tongue Philly, braised and shaved beef tongue, caramelized onions, fontina cheese “whiz,” house made milk bun.
- Chicken Fried Sweetbreads, braised sweetbreads breaded and fried crisp with smoked pomme puree and sweetbread gravy.
- Bagels and Foie Gras Cream Cheese, house-made bagels, foie fat confiture, cured foie gras whipped with cream cheese.
But we may have buried the lede. Included in the announcement comes word that Quinn’s has hired former Dot’s Delicatessen owner chef Miles James to lead the kitchen at 10th and Pike. We can hopefully catch up with him, soon.
You can learn more at quinnspubseattle.com.