About Margo Vansynghel

Margo Vansynghel is a journalist and photographer based in Seattle. She covers news, human interest, business, art and lifestyle for newspapers and magazines and makes documentary photography series.

A Sway and Cake on every Pike/Pine block — between 12th and 11th Ave

Tamara Kilburn has new racks to fill as she opens a second Sway and Cake at 12th and Pike (Image: Margo Vansynghel)

For years, the high-windowed corner of 12th and Pike was filled mostly with people, packages, and mail coming in and out of the Post Options Business Center. Those years are over. And no, the longtime Capitol Hill shipping and mailing business is not closing. It just gave up some of its lesser-used space to a new tenant in the building, the upscale multi-brand clothing boutique Sway and Cake.

The boutique will be the second outpost of the Sway and Cake family on Capitol Hill. The other is tucked away in the nearby preservation and small biz-friendly development Chophouse Row. The second Sway and Cake opens at 12th and Pike next week.

Owner Tamara Kilburn doesn’t have to stray far from her original store. The new space is only a three-minute walk from Chophouse Row, where Sway and Cake sits between bicycle shop Good Weather, vegan restaurant Plum Bistro and gift shop Knack. A great location, Kilburn says, but, as she realized a couple of months ago, it doesn’t have the street foot traffic or light she craves. Continue reading

On the List | Passover-Easter-4/20, egg hunts, Wa Na Wari, Small Mouth Sounds

Sometimes the Easter Bunny shows up at Block Party (Image: CHS)

This week’s a big one for lovers of holidays. Although it all depends on the object or subject of worship, there’s something for nearly everyone this Easter weekend and start of Passover. Chabad of Capitol Hill hosts a Traditional Passover Seder (April 19, 7:30 pm) with hand-made Shmutah Matzah and kosher wine. There’s also Easter Sunday (check out the list below for Easter egg hunts plus Easter dinner and brunch specials on and near the Hill), which is bookended by the holy days of green festivities, 4/20 and Earth Day. Redhook Brewlab is folding the two holidays into one weekend of “IPA Daze” fun, which includes a beach clean up, a baby goat farm and “psychedelic coloring.” At Broadway Performance Hall, comedians try to tell jokes while getting a little too high while Uncle Ike’s in the CD will have a bouncy house and climbing wall as part of its 4/20 celebration.  If you’d rather bow down to David Byrne’s genius or the Satanic Temple, the Northwest Film Forum and SIFF’s Egyptian Theatre have you covered. For more profane fun: Bar Sue’s hosting its sixth annual pickled egg eating contest while over at Vios, Bagel-buffs get their last (at least for now) chance to get a taste of Matthew Segal’s kick-ass bagels. Check out this week’s to-do list below, plus find more events on the CHS Calendar.

WEDNESDAY, April 17: While hurtling through space on his way to the International Space Station (ISS), South Korea’s first astronaut, Ko San, did not miss the taste of his favorite foods. The Korea Aerospace Research Institute made sure there was kimchi for him. Such is the devotion kimchi — a traditional fermented Korean side dish made out of Napa cabbage, daikon radish, and Korean red pepper flakes — inspires. At The Works, learn about the history of the condiment and how to make your own.  The Works, 6 PM Continue reading

‘High tech dog houses’ where you can park your pup coming to Capitol Hill

(Image: DogSpot)

For the first time in 50 years, Seattle has more than 100,000 children. But we all know there are way more fur babies on Capitol Hill.

If it comes to being the most dog-friendly city in the US, Seattle is top dog. That’s according to real estate broker Redfin and Rover, the Uber for dog sitters and walkers. The companies compiled a list of cities with the highest amounts of dog walkers, sitters and walks, and combined the data with the amount of home sale listings that mention “dog”. Both Seattle-based companies announced that their hometown was the number 1 dog-friendly city. Chicago and Denver came in second and third.

Brooklyn-based company DogSpot has come to the same conclusion: People in Seattle love dogs (and walking them). Next month, the company will install six high tech dog houses — to leave Fido in while shopping — in the Seattle area, including on the Hill, in a partnership with supermarket chain QFC.

“Seattle’s a tech-friendly and dog-obsessed city,” says Rebecca Eyre, director of communications at DogSpot. “Those things make it an amazing market for us.” Continue reading

Will more Capitol Hill businesses become pay transparent? Molly Moon’s, leading by example, hopes so

(Image: Molly Moon’s)

If you weren’t surprised by the revelation that a survey found nearly 50% of men believe the gender pay gap is “made up,” the kind of emails people have been sending to local ice cream chain Molly Moon’s won’t shock you either.

“We’ve received emails with people saying they’ll no longer be customers of ours because of our stance on pay transparency citing that women simply need to work harder and to stop whining,” Katie Cole, marketing director at the company, says.

What are the emailers upset about? The fact that founder and CEO Molly Moon Neitzel announced on April 2, Equal Pay Day, that the company had officially become pay transparent. Continue reading

Can DeWolf win District 3 running against ‘homelessness, rising housing costs, anti-worker values, regressive taxes’ — and not Sawant?


When Zachary DeWolf took the mic at Tougo Coffee on Yesler Way to announce his candidacy for Seattle City Council District 3 Tuesday morning, he made sure to make one thing clear. “I’m not running against whoever is in office,” he said, flanked by his husband, friends, and community leaders including Tunny Vann from the Port of Seattle and Sokha Danh of the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation Development Authority.

With his candidacy, DeWolf, a citizen of the Chippewa Cree Nation, the first out gay Seattle Public Schools board member, former Capitol Hill Community Council president and program manager for regional homelessness agency All Home King County, joins an already-crowded race to dethrone incumbent Sawant, who is running for a third term.

During his speech, DeWolf posited that his opponent was not Sawant, but rather “homelessness, rising housing costs, anti-worker values, regressive taxes and fees.”

Still, he also said “we need to ask ourselves if any of us are better off than we were eight years ago or if any of our community’s problems have been solved during that time. I also believe we need a leader who is uncompromising and absolute in their commitment to listen to their constituents rather than allow their own personal politics to set their agenda. While it might be easier to deliver soundbites or yell our problems away, we simply don’t have time for that anymore,” which reads as a critique of Sawant, who has been charged by opponents and critics of choosing rallies over results, her Socialist Alternative organization over D3 constituents.

Continue reading

On the List | Basement Bazaar, Spring Polish Bazaar, Capitol Hill Art Walk April edition

Sunday at Dino’s (Image: Basement Bazaar)

Love pickle soup, borscht, pierogi, Polish sausage, and cabbage rolls and Polish beer? At the Annual Spring Polish Bazaar at the Polish Restaurant Dom Polski lovers of Polish food and arts and crafts can get their fix this Saturday. At 2.30, the Polish choir Vivat Musica will perform traditional songs.

Some very different tunes will resound during Century Ballroom’s Dance Day, where aspiring dancers can try nine different dance styles, including Kizomba, Lindy and Salsa for $15, and Record Store Day, with special deals and performances/DJ sets byDJ Explorateur and DoNormaal at Everyday Music. Find more things to do and eat below, or on the CHS Calendar.

WEDNESDAY, Apr 10: Ken Workman, the great, great, great, great Grandson of Chief Sealth, will welcome visitors, in Lushootseed, to the spring installment of Northwest Film Forum’s Poetry in Translation reading series. The series showcases the literary traditions of Seattle’s immigrant and Native communities by sharing poetry and song in their original languages (plus English translation). Readings by indigenous poets, including Duane Niatum, fabian romero (Purepécha) and, Sasha LaPointe will be followed by a screening of Water is Life, a gorgeous, monochrome visual poem in Duwamish language made by local filmmaker Tracy Rector. Northwest Film Forum, 6.30 – 7.30 PM Continue reading

Old Capitol Hill makes a comeback at Scratch Deli turned Capitol Hill Vaudeville vintage market and cafe

Ferdous Ahmed
(Image: Orlin Nedkov)

Early this year, Lisa Sandoval — who goes by Vera Violet — was having coffee on the hill but felt like a hearty sandwich. She decided to go to Scratch Deli. When she got to the door, she learned, to her surprise, that it was closed. “So I ran down to Bergman’s [Lock & Key] next door, and I’m like: What happened?”

It turned out that the beloved 12th Ave. sandwich shop had shuttered for good in December after six years on the Hill.

Now, Sandoval is renting the over 100-years-old house herself. Mid-March, during the Capitol Hill Art Walk, she and Capitol Hill fixture Ferdous Ahmed reopened Scratch Deli as Capitol Hill Vaudeville, a DIY vintage market, and cafe. Continue reading

On the List | SpringShot festival, Balikbayan Filipino Eats pop-up, poet Morgan Parker

The Canterbury hosts a Mario Kart tournament Saturday

The city has been getting some nice shots of spring recently. With some clouds headed our way this week, a visit to SpringShot, a festival at 18th & Union featuring a clowning performance, might be a good idea.

There are plenty more exciting performances on and around the Hill this week, including a play about black queer parenthood written by Seattle civic poet Anastacia-Renée at Annex Theatre, Washington Ensemble’s bloody horror-comedy Feathers and Teeth at 12th Avenue Arts and stand-up by Portland Queer Comedy Festival co-founder Belinda Carroll at Club Comedy Seattle. Find more performances and things to do plus eat on the list below, and on the CHS Calendar.

THURSDAY, April 4: Many of us have grown up with the idea that poetry can’t, or shouldn’t, be funny. Hearing Morgan Parker (author of There are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé, and Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night) read her work out loud dispels that notion. In Parker’s case, it’s the wry kind of comedy, soaked with the pain of being alive and walking through the world as a Black woman. Parker excavates the experience in her newest pop-culture laced collection of poems, “Magical Negro,” from which she’ll read at Hugo House. Hugo House, 7 – 9 PM Continue reading

A changing of the bar taco guard on Broadway as El Xolo joins Nacho Borracho

With his ball cap, tattoo-covered arms and small black studs in each ear, having a beer at the bar of Nacho Borracho on a Saturday afternoon, Ricardo Valdes could be any regular customer.

But he’s not. Starting Monday night, the chef will be whipping up tacos behind the flower-adorned walk-up counter in the back of the Broadway bar. Continue reading

With solution to ‘aspirational recycling,’ Ridwell growing to pick up what Amazon leaves behind

Ridwell’s Justin Gough (Image: Ridwell)

It’s one of those perfect spring afternoons. The sun rays glitter on the water of Lake Washington. Ryan Metzger swiftly opens up his car door, walks up to the porch of a grand Leschi house and immediately reaches for the trash.

To clarify: it’s very clean trash meant for recycling; and the people who stuffed it all in cloth bags in the white bin on the porch knew Metzger, CEO of the local recycling startup Ridwell, would be there to pick it up. They pay for Ridwell’s subscription service (which starts at $10 a month) for pick-ups of used light bulbs, batteries, clothes, plastics and other materials that shouldn’t go in the garbage or are better off recycled and reused.

Metzger fishes one small bag out of the bin filled with a couple of batteries. Another is stuffed with old clothes, and a third one brims with what fits in the ‘plastic film’ category of scrunchable plastics, including ziplock bags and dry cleaner bags.

“It’s a lot of Amazon packaging,” Metzger says, while he opens the bag to check its contents. “Bubble-wrap-envelopes and stuff, which doesn’t fit in regular recycling.” Continue reading