15th and Madison’s Pioneer Square import, Intrigue Coffeehouse is the latest COVID-19 closure casualty on Capitol Hill.
Intrigue announced the permanent closure to customers last week:
It is with a heavy heart we must inform you that the Intrigue Chocolate Coffeehouse, due to challenges presented by Covid-19, is now permanently closed. The official statement is released and negotiations with the landlord have concluded. Soon we’ll be moving out! Thank you to the whole Capitol Hill community for just over 3 incredible years, from dream to completion.
In a complete and interesting post about the decision, owners Aaron Barthel and Karl Mueller describe how the 15th Ave coffee expansion for the confection business changed the company and the way it made its key element — its chocolate:
This level of chocolate experience was not often what customers were looking for at a coffeehouse, however. The truffles, in a sense, were great as giftable items, but too precious to be paired with coffee in the minds of our customers. So, we set to work making our own chocolate from the bean that was less expensive, non-perishable, and did not require as much explanation.
The business owners also slipped in some love for the coffee shop’s customers. “You brought your kind smiles and positivity to the shop every day,” they write. “You encouraged us and our staff. Know that together your small efforts made this coffeehouse what it was, and you are the stars of the stories we’ll tell for the rest of our lives.”
Intrigue debuted in the space formerly home to health cafe Healeo in early 2018 as an expansion from Intrigue’s Pioneer Square retail shop and waterfront kitchen operation.
Barthel and Mueller say the Capitol Hill closure comes paired with the news that Intrigue is also moving out of its kitchen and office space to make way for development, paring the company back to only its the Pioneer Square shop.
“Intrigue is now just Aaron and Karl again, with a website, one retail location in Pioneer Square, and a cookbook full of chocolate recipes,” they write.
While there have been fewer permanent closures so far around Capitol Hill and the Central District during the COVID-19 crisis than many expected, the pace has increased as restrictions are slowly lifted. But there are also hopeful moments. Americana, one recent addition to the “permanent” closure list, has sprung back to life under watch of an employee turned owner. We’ll have more on the return of Americana — and, yes, probably a few more closures — soon.
Capitol Hill and Central District COVID-19 Crisis Closures: CHS has tried to confirm all reported statuses. Please let us know if any information needs to be updated firstname.lastname@example.org -- LAST UPDATED: 12/29/20
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