A still new project from a longtime presence in Seattle vegan food and drink has exited 15th Ave E. Vegan sweet shop Sugar Plum closed unexpectedly earlier this month with a paper sign on the door and everything moved out in an overnight shuttering.
Owner Makini Howell confirmed the closure with CHS and said Sugar Plum would be moving but did not provide further details. Her website says Sugar Plum sweets are now available at the 12th Ave complex where her popular Plum Bistro is located.
Howell, one of a small group of Black business owners in the Capitol Hill food and drink community, debuted the new vegan sweets concept in 2015 in the 15th Ave E space her family has done business in since the Hillside Quickie Cafe opened there in 2005. The vegan concept shifted over the years including some time as the Sage Cafe before Howell rolled out Sugar Plum four years ago. “I want it to be an exciting spot to come have a treat. Imagine amazing, big chocolate chip cookies,” Howell told us about her plans which also included vegan bars, brownies, donuts, sweets, soft-serve and more.
But while other plant-based sweet treat players emerged and drew long lines like Frankie and Jo’s, Sugar Plum seemed to struggle on 15th. The sweet shop was on trend but never really caught its rhythm with Howell also kept busy during a stint as a touring chef for Plum fan Stevie Wonder and expanding her 12th Ave offerings when she took over a former steakhouse restaurant to make room for her Plum Chopped vegan salad and sandwich concept and expanded space for her growing catering business.
Meanwhile, in 2018, Full Tilt ice cream moved in on the same block.
In addition to Sugar Plum, Howell also created the “streatery” in front of the shop under the city’s parklet program. Designed by Graham Baba architects and constructed by Weld and Glue, it features a garden design by Bevington Floral. The hybrid streateries combine a parklet concept with traditional sidewalk patios to create small seating and deck areas for customers in sections of the streetside typically reserved for parking. They are paid for and maintained by sponsoring businesses. We’ll now get to see what happens when a new commercial tenant moves in.
But more importantly, the closure marks the end of a longtime presence on the street. Howell has hosted 4th of July vegan barbecues at the location through the years and the various concepts in what has grown into a Hilltop tradition. Howell’s exit from the shop apparently now brings the barbecues and her 15 years on 15th Ave E to an end.
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