Owner Justin Cline announced the plans for the Capitol Hill shop to close at the end of December after just under two years of business.
“I am proud of the team we have had there, and they effort everyone put into making it work. It just didn’t. It is not the right area for us,” Cline wrote. “We knew the cost of rent when we went into this space, but we thought we would have the traffic to support it. That did not happen. The wonderful employees are going to work at our other locations, and we have some new projects in the works.”
Cline did not respond to our questions about the timing of the closure. CHS heard rumors about the shop’s impending exit from the street last month amid some worry over the closure of another 15th Ave E sweet shop — the vegan soft serve and dessert joint Sugar Plum. The closure also adds to a year of change for the tenants in the commercial building long-held by the Stratton family. In July, CHS reported on the sale of Full Tilt neighbor Smith as Linda Derschang continued downsizing of her Seattle food and drink holdings.
Full Tilt’s exit joins a small wave of Capitol Hill closures to end 2019. Many involve larger spaces and most involve even larger leases. Matt Dillon, one of the first in this latest wave when he announced his award winning Sitka and Spruce would close at the end of the year, summed up what any prospective Capitol Hill food and drink entrepreneur should be asking before opening — “How many restaurants are opening, and how expensive it is to be a small business person in Seattle? It didn’t make much sense,” Dillon said. The next question for 2020 will be how many will still try. Some, like new E Madison Lao restaurant Taurus Ox’s trio of first-time chef owners see the environment in Seattle and realize the only way to make it work is to innovate on the business side as much as they do in the kitchen.
Cline had toyed with being part of the neighborhood with something different. In 2015, he had plans to open a Full Tilt shop specializing in ice cream pops as part of the Uncle Ike’s complex at 15th and Republican but that plan was put on ice. “I’m more comfortable in that area than dealing with the bros in Pike/Pine,” Cline told CHS at the time. “We’re more about kids, family. A punk Chuck E. Cheese.”
Full Tilt debuted on 15th Ave E in January 2018 bringing its mix of unusual, Seattle-inspired ice creams and arcade games to the former Starbucks space. “This building was built for them 25 years ago,” Full Tilt’s Cline told CHS about replacing the coffee mega chain. “When they decided to move, Linda Derschang called and said she wanted us to be her neighbor.”
But by the end of 2019, Derschang has moved on and Cline’s business, apparently, wasn’t finding ice cream sales to be able to keep up with the cost of a 15th Ave E lease.
UPDATE: A new tenant will be taking over the space. We’ll have more details soon.
UPDATE x2: Not so fast. Full Tilt ownership said there was someone signed up to take over the lease. The representative trying to lease the space tells CHS, nope, the search for a new tenant is still open. You can find contact information at the shop.
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