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Scratch Deli — with a butter chicken sandwich and a side of nostalgia — set to say goodbye to Capitol Hill

(Image: CHS)

It’s time to dust off that obituary you wrote last year for Capitol Hill. Another of the neighborhood’s one of a kind, eclectic, inventive, and slightly worn hangouts is set to fade into history.

Scratch Deli, born six years ago in — we’re not kidding — 12th Ave’s People’s Republic of Koffee — will close later this month.

“I have been with Scratch since the very beginning. And. I. Am. Exhausted,” co-owner Laura Rains tells CHS.

Rains and three coworkers took over Scratch in 2016 and set out to give ownership on Capitol Hill a try. The new owners didn’t make any big changes beyond Scratch’s hours with a switch from a day or two off each week to remaining open from 10 AM to 5 PM every day.

The deli and its regulars provided a solid enough business to build off of but the long hours and pull of new careers and new cities and new lives conspired with an increasingly challenging and competitive environment for Capitol Hill restaurants to inspire the new owners to move on.

“Then, a new deli here. A new sandwich shop there,” Rains said. “There’s only so much sandwich money going around.”

The kitchen’s need for expensive upgrades was the final push they partners needed.

Scratch was born when the deli joined forces with Tristan Devin’s cafe People’s Republic of Koffee at on 12th Ave in 2012. It lived on following Devin’s death later that year.

Its block of 12th Ave is also changing — and not. A unique cohousing project and the architects from Schemata Workshop have a new building to the north. Next door to the south, Bergman’s Lock & Key has somehow remained immune to the shifts. But the rest of the block is set for a new mixed-use development as a new property owner recently acquiring the auto garage parcels for more than $10 million.

At Scratch Deli, Rains says the ownership hasn’t decided on a final day of business yet but they expect to be closed by December 23rd as they sell out their inventory, crossing items off the menu as they go. There are also lots of Scratch Deli t-shirts left to sell. Rains said she is planning to take some time off after the closure and will be happy not to be commuting from Kent after a move a few years ago. And who knows? Maybe someday she might be ready to get back into the sandwich business down south.

Rains says the group is planning to put together a message for customers who stop by Scratch who might not have heard about the closure. “With regulars that we’ve had all six of those years,” Rains said, “we want to thank the community from the bottom of our hearts.”

Scratch Deli is slated to close later this month. You can stop by 1718 12th Ave to say goodbye.

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2 thoughts on “Scratch Deli — with a butter chicken sandwich and a side of nostalgia — set to say goodbye to Capitol Hill

  1. Nooooooo! God damn it. It was sad enough when Tristan Devin/People’s Republic of Koffee passed away. But I was really hoping against hope Scratch would be able to make it against the increasingly tough odds on the new gentrified Capitol Hill. But I guess not. We (my wife, dog, and I) were regulars. Thanks you guys. You are the best and you will be missed.