About Lena Friedman -- CHS Intern

Lena Friedman was born and raised in Capitol Hill and studies psychology at Whitman College. She covers news for Whitman’s student paper, The Wire, during the school year and enjoys singing a cappella, running a food instagram @sweetnseattle and reading memoirs during her free time. Find her on Twitter @LenaSFriedman or email her at friedmls@whitman.edu.

Capitol Hill restaurants reach new neighborhoods with expansions including Aviv Hummus Bar’s meaty counterpart and Due’ Cucina’s second opening

(Image: Aviv)

After months of operating under COVID-19 restrictions and uncertainty, some Capitol Hill-born restaurants aren’t just digging in to survive but expanding with new locations and what they hope will be recipes for long-term food and drink success.

15th Ave E’s Aviv Hummus Bar is opening its sister restaurant Aviv Shawarma Bar in South Lake Union and Broadway’s Due’ Cucina pasta shop has expanded on the Eastside. Both business expansions began as pre-pandemic endeavours, but offer cuisine well-suited for the coronavirus age of relying primarily on takeout.

Meanwhile, a 15th Ave E original has expanded to Ballard and a sibling of Broadway’s Lionhead has risen near Climate Pledge Arena.

Aviv Shawarma Bar
This shawarma-centered street food spot has opened South Lake Union from the creators of Capitol Hill’s vegetarian friendly Aviv Hummus Bar.

David and Jodi Nussbaum opened their hummus and falafel eatery back in 2017 on 15th Ave E and have been waiting for the right location to bring their shawarma vision to life.

Situated in the up and coming South Lake Union tech area and not far from Capitol Hill, Nussbaum believes the new spot will have adequate foot traffic for the authentic shawarma street food experience of “seeing a glorious, large stack of meat slow rotating in front of a vertical flame that slowly cooks the meat with each rotation, dripping the succulent juices down.” Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Flowers on 15th still managing to bloom with community support

Soto (Image: CHS)

The holiday season is typically a bustling one for Flowers on 15th — one centered around custom floral wreaths, festive centerpieces, and sprawling flower displays.

This year looks different for the flower boutique, as owner Alex Soto makes contactless deliveries and preps curbside pickup orders inside the shop’s small space, now filled to the brim with greenery.

“Christmas is our most joyous time that we offer our most crafty things,” Soto said. “This pandemic has cut everything down.”

Soto, who previously worked for over a decade as a wholesale flower broker, has run the shop for 30 years alongside life partner Caroline Morton. They officially named it Flowers on 15th in 2002, although it was a flower shop beforehand. Continue reading

With applications due for $4M next round, 10 Capitol Hill and Central District $10K Seattle small business relief fund grantees weigh in

If you own one of the 9,000 Seattle businesses that applied for a $10,000 city grant early on in the pandemic but weren’t chosen during the first three rounds, there may be hope once again.

Seattle’s Small Business Stabilization Fund, rolled out in March, has now been revitalized as part of the City Council and Mayor Jenny Durkan joint $5.5 million COVID-19 small business relief package passed in August. Of the businesses selected in this upcoming round, at least two thirds must have five employees or less and identify as “high risk of displacement or highly disadvantaged.”

So far, 469 businesses have received grants through this fund and over 60 of them are in District 3 neighborhoods including Capitol Hill and the Central District. The application period for this next round closes on Monday. You can learn more here.

For some Capitol Hill and Central District businesses, the grant was a necessary part of staying afloat during a time when federal and other sources of funding weren’t panning out. For others, it’s just one part of a larger effort to withstand the ongoing pandemic, especially in light of recently  tightened COVID restrictions.

  • SugarPill: The Pine and Broadway apothecary was one of the first businesses to receive a city grant. Owner Karyn Schwartz says it was the first type of governmental funding SugarPill received, coming through at a much needed time when invoices from the previous holiday season were piling up along with rent and payroll. “Without that grant, SugarPill would quite possibly have not survived,” she said. “It was a godsend in the early days of the pandemic.” Situated just down the block from 11th and Pine, she says the grant carried SugarPill through six straight weeks of near total closure as limited capacity shopping and curbside pickup were halted during this summer’s Capitol Hill protest zone. “It provided me, most importantly, with a little extra time to think about my next move, and to do the horrific work of applying for every other kind of assistance with a slightly less paralyzing sense of panic,” Schwartz said. Continue reading

Queer identity, connection, and belonging on Capitol Hill: Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s new memoir The Freezer Door

(Images: Alex Garland for CHS)

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore’s new memoir The Freezer Door, available November 24th, describes a search for belonging and connection in pre-COVID times — a story told through vignettes of desire, intimacy and social interaction in bars and public spaces on Capitol Hill. She wondered if it would still be relevant during its pandemic release.

“I was worried because I wrote the book very much in a present tense and it’s very much about what I consider now,” Sycamore said. “[But I’ve found] the themes of loneliness and alienation and the search for connection are actually even more accessible to people.”

Told in a mix of prose and poetry, Sycamore takes the reader through her daily life experiences visiting Capitol Hill landmarks from Volunteer Park to the Broadway Market, all the while reflecting on queerness, embodiment, trauma, loss, desire, belonging and the gentrification of the neighborhood and city at large. Continue reading

Born in the COVID takeout era, tiny Spice Box opens on Broadway

(Image: Alex Garland/CHS)

A new Indian restaurant is now open for takeout on the Broadway slope between Pine and Pike, bringing electric blue color and flavorful spices to Capitol Hill.

Spice Box has a full menu of traditional Indian cuisine as well as modern Indian-fusion options, including chicken tikka wraps, aloo tikki burgers and lamb korma.

“We are still in the process of building our menu and bringing new things in — we want to see what people like or don’t,” co-owner and chef Jatin Grewal said. “So we are in a constant change of the menu over the next couple months.”

He opened the restaurant mid-October alongside fellow chefs Jagminder Singh and Navjit Singh. The business partners hope to bring new flavors and a new feeling to the space formerly home to Moti Mahal Indian Cuisine and a past location of the Taco Del Mar chain.

“We all used to drive for Uber and Lyft and, since we used to work in Capitol Hill, we used to drive by this place all the time,” Grewal said. “We always loved this location but we had this idea in our mind that we can do so much with [it].”

Grewal says they leapt at the chance to take over the space in August after learning via mutual friends that it was up for sale, and they began remodels and repainting shortly thereafter in September. Continue reading

Coming to 15th Ave E: Kobuta and Ookami Katsu and Sake House

Design renderings for the new restaurant (Image: Kobuta & Ookami Katsu and Sake House)

(Image: Kobuta and Ookami Katsu and Sake House)

A slice of Japan — in the form of traditional Japanese katsu — is on its way to Capitol Hill.

Kobuta and Ookami Katsu and Sake House is set to open this February in new construction on 15th Ave E and will feature chicken katsu, tonkatsu, cheese katsu, curry katsu and rice burger katsu along with premium sake and other liquors.

“Katsu is [a] very common meal in Japan,” owner Sue Phuksopha said. “We would love to create our place to be a casual street dining style and casual hang out spot with Japanese vibes like those restaurants in the small alley in Japan.”

Phuksopha, who has over 20 years of experience working in the food industry and owns Thai 65 Cafe in Redmond, will run the business alongside fellow food industry vet Don Tandavanitj and his family. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s Food is Love hoping for support to continue meal delivery program beyond 2020

(Image: Food is Love)

Food is Love. It’s the name of a meal delivery project that started when pandemic restrictions set-in but not a new concept for Linda Di Lello Morton and chef Tamara Murphy, co-owners of “Earth to Plate” restaurant Terra Plata.

“The mantra that we’ve had since I met Tamara 20 plus years ago is we feed people and food is love,” Di Lello Morton said.

Di Lello Morton and Murphy started the Food is Love Project in March alongside Broadway Business Improvement Area director Egan Orion and community advocate Marina Gray. Their mission is to provide meals for food insecure families and in turn bring business to local restaurants.

“It really is this immense win-win for our local small businesses — our restaurants — and for families that need a little extra support when it comes to food,” Orion said.

The program currently feeds over 300 individuals from Seattle Public Schools families and around 100 people living in homeless encampments. Over 21,000 meals have been delivered so far, from restaurants including Din Tai Fung, Pagliacci Pizza and Rancho Bravo Tacos.

Over the past seven months, Orion says food delivery has shifted between providing families with around one to three weekly meals.

So far Food is Love has largely depended on fundraising and donations to compensate restaurants and cover expenses but, thanks to a $40,000 grant from United Way of King County, the project is set to continue as a biweekly delivery service through the end of the year. Continue reading

2020 General Election endorsement round-up: The race in the 43rd, Harborview expansion, Prop 1 transit improvements, and, finally, a chance to vote against Donald Trump

King County Elections workers have been making extra trips to empty out the Broadway ballot drop box. Officials say in the first five days of ballot collection, county voters turned in about ten times the typical number of ballots. It’s time for the rest of us get the civic duty job done. In addition to electing a president, Capitol Hill and Central District residents can vote on state legislature positions, seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, important funding for Harborview and public transit, and a schoolwide sex education referendum. Here’s how August’s primary played out. If you’re looking for some guidance we’ve compiled endorsement summaries for the races on the General Election ballots in the Capitol Hill and Central District area, below.

2020 GENERAL ELECTION ENDORSEMENT SOURCES: 43rd District Democrats, 37th District Democrats, King County Young Democrats, The Urbanist, The Stranger, The Seattle Times, the Civic Alliance for a Progressive Economy (CAPE) ratings and Fuse Washington’s Progressive Voters Guides

President: Go ahead. Fill in the bubble and begin the release of 45 months of anxiety, sorrow, and regret about what happened in 2016.

7th Congressional District: The Stranger, King County Young Democrats, 37th Legislative District Democrats, and 43rd District Democrats all endorse incumbent Pramila Jayapal, who far outpaced Republican challenger Craig Keller in the primary. The Stranger lauds Jayapal’s progressive record, including her work on the Paycheck Recovery Act, student debt reduction and climate advocacy.

9th Congressional District: Since 1977, Democrat Adam Smith has represented the 9th district, which encompasses the Central District. He’s also widely endorsed by the 37th Legislative District Democrats, The Stranger, King County Young Democrats, The Urbanist, and the Times, with the latter pointing to his work on affordable health care and immigration reform policies. Republican challenger Doug Basler received 15% of primary votes compared to Smith’s 74%.

Referendum Measure No. 90: 43rd District Democrats, 37th District Democrats, King County Young Democrats, The Stranger, The Urbanist, Fuse Washington and The Times are all in favor of approving this bill, which calls for required, comprehensive sexual health education in K-12 schools statewide.  Continue reading

Move over Dreamboyz, the hot dog era has arrived on Broadway as Soul Shack opens in longtime Capitol Hill coffee kiosk

Shamont Andrews at the Soul Shack (Image: CHS)

The 80-square-foot kiosk at the southeast corner of Broadway and Harrison has had its fair share of paint jobs and business turnover in recent years.

In a change from the many coffee shop iterations that have laid claim to the space, hearty soul food and hot dog stand Soul Shack on da Hill is now open as of October 1st.

“Our mission with Soul Shack on da hill was to bring a Southern, diverse cultural-based food to Capitol Hill,” co-owner Kyshaun Wilson tells CHS. “We feel like there’s not a lot of Southern, soul food within this area.”

Wilson runs the business alongside fellow food industry entrepreneurs Shamont Andrews, Qiuandre Austin, and Otis Timpleton.

Soul Shack’s current menu includes barbecue smoked ribs, lollipop chicken wings and “RoyalDogz,” their handmade line of smoked beef, pork and chicken hot dogs. Continue reading

After decades of recycled fashion retail, Capitol Hill consignment shop Take 2 is closing

(Image: CHS)

(Image: Take 2)

After 36 years on Capitol Hill, Take 2 New and Recycled Apparel is permanently shuttering at the end of October — adding to a growing list of businesses unable to withstand the long term effects of the pandemic.

Owner Sarah Star Simpson says the longtime 15th Ave E consignment shop has depleted its finances after months of adapting to COVID-19 restrictions and dealing with the compounded effects of protests deterring customers from the area and street construction halting foot traffic out front.

“All of my personal reserves have been exhausted to support the business even with my very kind landlord giving me a break on rent,” she said. “It just has not been enough business to be viable.” Continue reading