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18th Ave’s Tougo Coffee one of the first confirmed Capitol Hill and Central District business casualties of the COVID-19 crisis

(Image: Tougo Coffee)

When it comes to the life of Capitol Hill and Central District businesses, we might not know with certainty about any sad passings until the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

Two neighborhood cafes are closing this week — one is clearly saying goodbye while the other’s fate is obscured by the fog of the crisis.

The Central District’s Tougo Coffee will become one of the area’s first confirmed business casualties of the COVID-19 crisis. Owner Brian Wells announced his decision Wednesday:

Hello friends and family it comes with sad news that we are no longer able to financially continue to keep both of our cafes operating. We will operate the Central District Neighborhood cafe until Sunday. This is because I’d really love for the community to have closure with our closure. 13 wonderful years with you. The economic pandemic has taken its toll as it has everywhere else. We love you and thank you. Please visit our Yesler Terrace Neighborhood if you feel like you need a good walk. All of our staff over the last 13 years thanks you for the love support laughter and hugs.

The 18th Ave cafe survived early financial challenges to become a popular neighborhood hangout. Its still relatively new Yesler Terrace location will remain in business, Wells said.

Meanwhile, 12th Ave is also losing a cafe. Stumptown has shuttered its Seattle University-adjacent cafe “indefinitely,” according to staff.

“This location was a special place. A mix of amazing baristas, amazing customers and a space that’s set up in a way so people drinking coffee sit directly next to or across from each other so they’re more inclined to ‘actually talk to each other’ all combined to make a very close knit and special community space,” a CHS reader who tipped us off to the closure writes.

The company would not confirm if the closure is permanent.

“We are not commenting, at this time, regarding the status of any of our cafes,” a spokesperson said. “We will reach out in the future with updates.”

Once a cafe and roasting facility for the company, Stumptown 12th Ave stopped producing coffee beans in 2016 after the regional chain became a wholly owned subsidiary of Peets Coffee and Tea. Stumptown’s E Pine location was closed and is now home to Realfine Coffee.

So far, there have been relatively few announcements of neighborhood shops, restaurants, cafes, or bars that have decided to close for good. Many have shuttered temporarily as COVID-19 restrictions were put in place.

Others have braved the new world of takeout and delivery even as larger businesses like local chains including Molly Moon’s, Evergreens, Frankie and Jo’s, and Marination have opted to shut down. For some, insurance claims related to “Civic Authority” could be a looming issue if they remain open. Others have found the economics just don’t check out.


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11 thoughts on “18th Ave’s Tougo Coffee one of the first confirmed Capitol Hill and Central District business casualties of the COVID-19 crisis” -- All CHS Comments are held for moderation before publishing

  1. I forgot that Stumptown is now part of Peet’s.

    Bleh, as Peet’s coffee tastes like hot water mixed with potting soil.

    Glad we still have Caffe Vita and Victrola as local roasters. I just wish Olympia Coffee would open a location on the Hill….

    • To be fair, Stumptown quality had already decreased significantly after it was sold in 2011 to TSG Consumer Partners, who took it national before selling to Peet’s.

      • Oh, so that’s what happened?

        No wonder their Seattle expansion always seemed so lackluster…they must’ve expanded, then sold, then the new owners simply didn’t want to invest in Seattle so it all just stagnated.

        Probably best that is goes away then.

        Of course, I’d love to see some of the lackluster local chains go as well…***cough, Ladro, cough, cough***.

  2. Uh-oh…this hurts. Our family watched Obama’s inauguration at Tougo’s…we went there for years…to Stumptown on 12th as well. Best of luck, Brian!

  3. Based on Brian’s comment on the Tougo instagram post, the 18th Ave shop is not permanently closed. When asked on the thread ‘is this permant?’, his answer was ‘we pray not’.

    • Yes, I am thinking that this does not necessarily seem permanent, and after getting a coffer to-go there this morning, I think permanent is very up in the air.

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