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$3.2M deal puts Broadway Grill property back in motion

(Image: CHS)

There isn’t a month that goes by that somebody doesn’t ask CHS what is happening with the old Broadway Grill. For six years, the answer has been nothing. That is about to change.

“It definitely will be kicking back into life,” prolific Capitol Hill real estate investor Ron Amundson tells CHS. “Paint, lights, a clean-up. It’s time.”

According to King County records, Amundson purchased the property home to the 1936-built restaurant building for $3.2 million in February.

Comes with salt and pepper (Image: CHS)

It has sat empty and in many ways untouched since the last incarnation of the Grill shuttered in April 2013, ending a 22-year run on Broadway.

A decrepit infrastructure and ungodly $15,000/month price tag kept it empty though a few projects gave the space a thought along the way before moving on.

Even with bad pipes and infrastructure challenges, the interest is understandable. The restaurant’s place in Broadway culture and LGBTQ brunch history is monumental starting with its opening in spring of 1991. “The Broadway Grill—later renamed the Grill on Broadway—was a shamelessly proud anchor for Seattle’s gay culture in the 1990s,” the Stranger wrote about the restaurant. “It had a racy menu of grilled chicken with whipped yams, a glass chandelier that looked like Carmen Miranda’s headgear on steroids, and a plastic clientele that looked like Carmen Miranda’s backup dancers on Social Security.”

In its final years, the Grill also suffered through an infamous bout of credit card hacking with a 2010 wave of fraud tied to a breach involving the restaurant’s point of sales system. In 2017, Roman Seleznev, the son of a Russian lawmaker and a prisoner once reportedly dangled in exchange for Edward Snowden, was sentenced to 27 years in the international scheme that included ripping off customers of the Broadway Grill and the Mad Pizza chain, among other local businesses.

Previous ownership of the property confirmed details of the sale with CHS. Lance Bon, manager of the family partnership that owned the property, took a philosophical approach to explaining why the property had stood empty for so long — and why it was now being sold. “Real estate has a lifespan,” he said. “That property is near the end of its life.”

This week, the Grill space is still filled with leftovers from the old restaurant including a table filled with salt and pepper shakers and paper lanterns still hang from the ceiling. The smudged roll-up doors provide a dingy view of the dark interior. A pile of blankets and trash is left in the doorway from the last time someone broke in to sleep. But Capitol Hill Station is bustling just a few blocks away, and the street is busy with pedestrians. Recent years of empty retail spaces seem to be fading into memory. It’s a “seller’s market.” Even Broadway’s old sex “megastore” space is full with a new, “new Broadway” tenant.

Amundson belongs to a generation of independent, smaller scale real estate investment that is still active on Capitol Hill despite the increasing presence of national investors. Much of Amundson’s holdings are dedicated to “buy and hold” and making space for neighborhood businesses. He also has backed development of some of his properties over the years with some plans playing out over years.

With the Broadway Grill, Amundson said he hopes to get the property in shape for a new tenant. “I’m just going to clean it up,” he says, “and see if there’s a restaurant out there that wants it.”

If that won’t pencil out, Amundson said the large, 5,500+ square foot space could be cleaned out, partitioned, and made available to retail.

And, of course, there are longterm opportunities for the buy and hold-minded Amundson. He also owns the property north of Broadway Grill that is currently home to Teriyaki and Wok and Capitol HIll’s only bikini coffee hut, Ladybug Espresso.


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31 Comments
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Prost Seattle
Prost Seattle
1 year ago

Finally!

Boo
Boo
1 year ago

If it’s a restaurant, I hope it’s a place with better service, better food, and drinks that actually have alcohol in them. BW Grill was so lousy I’d stopped going there by the end of the 90s. Surprised it lasted as long as it did.

urban
urban
1 year ago

Fingers crossed for development. That site, along with the Teriyaki place and 4 Zip Car parking stalls, with massing allowed by current zoning, could be built up to provide homes for idk 150+ people, just steps from light rail! And hardly a better place in the city to live an urban car-free lifestyle.

Stevie
Stevie
1 year ago
Reply to  urban

No one better touch my teriyaki and wok! That is a Capitol Hill icon. Ms. Jamie has been taking my food order there for over 14 years.

urban
urban
1 year ago
Reply to  Stevie

She’s great, huh! No reason she couldn’t move back into the new building. Ultimately, we (and America) needs more housing in dense areas. There are single family neighborhoods springing up as far away as Taheleh, Tumwater, Monroe, Squamish, Stanwood all with commuters that must drive to work, often as far as downtown Seattle & Bellevue. Those neighborhoods destroy habitat, clog roads, and significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions for their residents who must always drive anytime they need anything. Alas, it would be great if we could save the Jamies of this world, but it would also be great if we could turn 4 zip car parking spaces and a teriyaki stand into housing for hundreds of people who could otherwise be living hours away from where they work and play.

Bob Knudson
Bob Knudson
1 year ago
Reply to  Stevie

I agree with urban. The two properties are ripe for redevelopment. There is nothing of worth architecturally, and the recently-passed upzone makes the site prime real estate for an apartment with street-level retail.

It’s great news that the area will at last be activated!

Ryan Packer
Ryan Packer
1 year ago

Will they take the salt and pepper off the tables, or leave it for a taste of “neighborhood character”?

Xtian Gunther
Xtian Gunther
1 year ago
Reply to  Ryan Packer

Yeah, the previous owners, clearly, are/were greedy slobs. They cared about NOTHING but money. The city should have a code that prohibits owners from allowing their properties to languish in filth and neglect like that, complete with a tax escalation clause for long-term vacancies. Then, this kind of stuff wouldn’t happen at all. Pittsburgh used to have such a scheme, maybe still does? PS- If the city is sh serious about building more housing, they should raise height limits on wildly busy commercial corridors with train service to at least double what they currently are. It’s ridiculous.

oliveoyl
oliveoyl
1 year ago

Before it was the Broadway Grill it was simply The Broadway and it was the opposite of an LBTQ establishment but rather a swanky place that Seattle’s young-ish old money-ed folk hung out, snorted coke and dined on filets and fancy ice cream sundaes. The bar was the place to be in 80’s Seattle when Broadway boasted Boondock’s, BJ Monkeyshines and Henry’s Off-Broadway – oh the tales!

Prost Seattle
Prost Seattle
1 year ago
Reply to  oliveoyl

I remember Baffert’s, I don’t remember it being called Broadway.

oliveoyl
oliveoyl
1 year ago
Reply to  Prost Seattle

1980’s it was The Broadway and was owned by the group who later took over The Sorrento Hotel.

Genah
Genah
1 year ago
Reply to  oliveoyl

I could have sworn it was The Ritz in the 80s.

Doug
Doug
1 year ago
Reply to  Genah

Wasn’t The Ritz on 15th? Maybe it moved there from Broadway but I remember it on 15th when I moved to Seattle in 1991.

Bob Knudson
Bob Knudson
1 year ago
Reply to  Genah

If memory serves, The Ritz was at the location of the Coastal Kitchen.

Sloopy
Sloopy
1 year ago

I had many great times at Broadway Grill in the 90s and 00s but I hope it gets redeveloped. Neither the Broadway Grill building nor the Wok and Teriyaki building are architecturally notable. We need more housing.

Stevie
Stevie
1 year ago
Reply to  Sloopy

Teriyaki and wok is an icon of broadway. They deserve to be protected at all cost. I’ve been going there for over 14 years

Claire Petersky
1 year ago
Reply to  Stevie

Ever since Baskins and Robbins left, I lost interest in that place.

Genah
Genah
1 year ago
Reply to  Stevie

Icon? I’m more about the Baskin & Robbins that I grew up with being there.

Bob Knudson
Bob Knudson
1 year ago
Reply to  Stevie

I tried it once, thought the food was mediocre, and never went back. There are other, better teriyaki places on Capitol Hill.

Susi
Susi
1 year ago
Reply to  Sloopy

We need more *affordable* housing. 10.5% of apartments are empty here.

Sloopy
Sloopy
1 year ago
Reply to  Susi

Preventing market rate housing doesn’t create affordable housing. Also, there is no housing on this lot that will be lost.

If you want more affordable housing, start campaigning for more taxes for affordable housing. That’s how it’s funded, not by letting buildings sit vacant.

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
1 year ago
Reply to  Sloopy

Baskin-Robbins. No “&”.

Randy
Randy
1 year ago

Ron is such a slumlord and cheapskate. Real mixed feelings but overall glad it’ll be something soon!

Glenn
Glenn
1 year ago
Reply to  Randy

Agreed, do not expect much from him in the way of improvements, renovation, or new tenant and you will not be disappointed.

123A_D123
123A_D123
1 year ago

The lady who runs the teriyaki place is SO RIDICULOUSLY NICE. I wish the city would create an incentive for developers to keep established small businesses when they redevelop properties. I am a neighbor and would also like to see this property redeveloped but I would be really upset if we lost such a great small business.

Alocal
Alocal
1 year ago

After paying $3.5m it’s going to have to do some spendy dinners to make enough to cover the costs. More likely tear it down and build.

Prost Seattle
Prost Seattle
1 year ago
Reply to  Alocal

McDonalds! I kid, I don’t want the neighborhood to have a collective aneurysm.

Jim98122x
Jim98122x
1 year ago
Reply to  Prost Seattle

Well, considering that in just the time I’ve lived here, Broadway has had a Gap, a Jack in the Box, two Burger Kings, and a Taco Bell– it would be sort of like “Back to the Future”, wouldn’t it?

Spencer Fairbanks
Spencer Fairbanks
1 year ago

The almost hundred year old property should sadly be torn down. The property next door used to be a gas station and has old rotting tanks that must be unearthed at great expense. The restaurant’s new tenant would have to rip up the entire floor and completely remove and replace the Hvac system. No smart restaurant owner would assume such difficulties at such a high rent. And nobody could match the vision and brilliance of past owner Debbie Augustavo who championed and supported the gay community as she did. There will never be another Broadway Grill.

GregoryH
GregoryH
1 year ago

Redevelop it. Bring in more housing, and perhaps ground floor space for a bank. :O Of course I’m kidding about the bank.

As far as I’m concerned the previous owners have done a criminal disservice to the community by holding onto the property for 6 years (has it only been that long, it seems like a decade!) with that absurd rent that kept it empty.

Kim Dalan
1 year ago
Reply to  GregoryH

Bring back Office Depot! Hahahah