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An investment in the eventual return of Capitol Hill sit-down dining, Artusi ‘facelift’ underway

(Image: @artusibar)

Despite the uncertainty ahead in the economy and in Capitol Hill food and drink, 14th Ave Italian aperitivo bar Artusi is making a big investment in the future of full service dining.

14th and Pine’s Artusi has broken ground on a renovation project overhauling its former layout. Expected to take about three weeks, the remodel is centered around shrinking the size of the interior bar along with installing new lighting.

“It’s kind of a double-edged sword because it’s like when would we ever have the time to do this,” Artusi general manager Angela Lopez said..

As COVID-19 safety measures continue to restrict dining-in capacity, Lopez says it ended up being a relatively good time to move forward with the renovation plan that has been in the works for a few years now.

“I know that things are uncertain right now but anytime you do a remodel that adds the ability to eventually seat more people once we get over the COVID hump, it’s an investment in more revenue and future business for us so we feel really good about it” Lopez said.

Beyond the bar reduction making it at least 30% of the size it was before, Lopez says they are putting in new track lighting and artwork, fresh paint on the walls, and adding more seating including a communal table for use when it is eventually safe to do so.

“The original bar that was constructed at Artusi was a little larger than it should have been,” Lopez said. “It was like a horseshoe shape that jutted out a little too far into the dining area and it’s been kind of hard to work the room really for so long.”

Artusi debuted in 2011 as part of an expansion of sister restaurant Spinasse. A couple years back, CHS looked at the history of the Italian fine dining establishment as it marked its ten-year anniversary. Born small but with a passion for amazing pasta, Spinasse and its sibling bar focus on flavors of the mountainous Piedmont region of northwestern Italy. Today, Spinasse is owned by Jonathan Klein, co-founder of Getty Images and food and drink entrepreneur Mikal Thomsen.

The adjustments won’t bring an end to Artusi’s placement as a cocktail-forward version of its sibling but it does represent a shift for the bar-restaurant. While having more space in the dining room will help Artusi adjust to COVID restrictions in the coming months, Lopez says the renovations are largely being made for when the restaurant can return to full capacity.

“A little bit of a facelift is always nice,” Lopez said. “It’ll be a much cleaner looking space with new paint and new lighting and the new bar will be a little bit more sleek.”

Sister restaurant Spinasse also got a few interior updates, including new paint and flooring, and is now open for 50% indoor capacity with outdoor patio seating also available. Takeout from the neighboring restaurants with a shared menu is also available daily from 4 to 8:30 PM. You can learn more at

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8 months ago

In these dark pandemic times, when some restaurants are closing permanently, this is good news. It’s great to hear of a business owner being optimistic for the future!