Capitol Hill’s cats will love it. For the students and neighbors who hang out there for hours cramming, talking, and hanging out in one of the neighborhood’s largest, most bustling coffee houses, it will be a sad day.
Staff are telling friends and regulars that the Capitol Hill Cafe Solstice will shutter at the corner of 10th and Thomas mid-month. CHS has learned that neighboring veterinary clinic Urban Animal is set to expand into the space bringing an end to its five years as a cafe. It’s a much needed expansion, Dr. Cherri Trusheim tells CHS.
“We just don’t have enough room for the volume that comes through the door,” Trusheim said. “Quite frankly, it’s been crazy sometimes.”
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Trusheim said the big change grew out of discussions with Solstice ownership about possibly taking over a portion of the relatively large cafe’s space. But it quickly became apparent, Trusheim says, that Urban Animal could help Cafe Solstice out by taking over the lease for the busy but business-challenged space.
Owners Joel Wood and Doug Sowers have not responded to our inquiries about the decision. We’re told employees at Urban Animal and Solstice have been informed of the plans and Cafe Solstice’s U-District location continues to operate.
UPDATE 1:51 PM: Sowers declined to elaborate on the decision to close the Capitol Hill Cafe but he confirmed the plan is to close in two weeks. “We gave it our best go for five years,” he said. “It is a really expensive space.”
Cafe Solstice debuted on the back corner of the massive Lyric development in June of 2016. The project brought the business partners back to Broadway where Solstice was born as a coffee cart business. In addition to coffee and espresso, Cafe Solstice filled a daytime food gap on Broadway as an informal place to grab a quick soup, salad, or sandwich. Cafe Solstice Capitol Hill also serves up craft beer and wine.
The closure will mark the second large Broadway-area cafe to close down this year. The Starbucks-run Roy Street Coffee closed in April and its large cafe space remains empty even as new coffee players — and familiar old ones — enter the scene.
Urban Animal, meanwhile, debuted on E Thomas in 2012 and has grown into a busy, much needed service in a neighborhood filled with pets. Since, Urban Animal has expanded downtown and is preparing to open in White Center.
At around 2,900 square feet, integrating the cafe will basically double the size of the veterinary clinic. The plan, Trusheim says, is to expand the clinic into the cafe space starting in November to create a new, second waiting area and a separate cat entrance away from the dogs — “Which cat lovers will love,” Trusheim says.
Even though she’s excited about her business’s growth, Trusheim says she, too, will feel the loss of Cafe Solstice.
“It takes a lot of $4 lattes to pay for some expensive real estate,” she said. “A lot of sandwiches. No one is going to miss them more than me. This is not a hostile takeover.”