About Mark Van Streefkerk

Mark Van Streefkerk is a freelance writer and social media manager whose work has appeared in Barista Magazine, Fresh Cup Magazine, and Queerspace Magazine. When he's not writing, he's probably biking to his favorite cafe or vegan restaurant. Find out more about him at markvanstreefkerk.com.

Catch award-winning Ben’s Bread pop-ups at 12th Ave’s Southpaw

(Image: Ben’s Bread)

These days, pop-ups, takeout dinner kits, and ordering online are just some options restaurants, and consumers alike have had to navigate in the new pandemic-normal. For Ben’s Bread however, husband-and-wife duo Ben and Megan Campbell have been operating bread pop-ups for almost six years. Last year when brick-and-mortar establishments shuttered temporarily, to later transition to takeout, Ben’s Bread maintained their monthly pop-ups at Southpaw on 12th Ave. throughout the pandemic without missing a beat.

“When we first started . . . I remember having to explain to people, ‘Okay, you just order and you pay for it online, and you show up at this place and time where it’s ready for you. You don’t have to pay once you show up.’” Campbell said. “That was so much of our effort was convincing people that we were real people who weren’t trying to take their money, and they’d show up and there would be bread. Now . . . . People are used to looking online for where to get their food, planning it in advance, going out of their way and making a little extra effort to find something they think is going to be special. We were already set up to do that.” Continue reading

Cherry Street Mosque and Wa Na Wari raising funds to preserve neighborhood centers in the Central District

The Cherry Street Mosque has a history of housing Jewish and Muslim communities over the years. With a new fundraising effort, the emerging Cherry Street Village hopes to repair the roof and water damage to the upper floor of the building. (Image courtesy: Samia El-Moslimany)

In its current state, the Cherry Street Mosque at 720 25th Ave between Cherry and Columbia streets is in need of significant repairs, mainly to fix the roof and water damage to some of the upper level classrooms. With a fundraiser, collective members of Cherry Street Village are raising funds to raise the roof, ushering in a new era for the building as a center for the faith-based and secular arts groups that form the collective. The future home of CSV will include Al-taqwa Mosque, Cherry Street Mosque, Dunya Productions, Kadima Jewish Reconstructionist Community, the Salaam Cultural Museum and the Middle East Peace Camp. So far CSV has raised over 42k of their 150k goal needed to repair and restore the building.

The two-story stone and brick building with a terracotta tiled roof was built in 1930, originally as the Seattle Talmud Torah School by Benjamin Marcus Priteca, a noted architect who designed some of Seattle’s earliest sites of grandeur, including the Coliseum Theater (now downtown’s Banana Republic), the Paramount Theater, Temple De Hirsch Sinai on E Pike, and many other movie theaters on the west coast.

Working on a pay-as-you-go basis with Olive Construction, CSV was able to start roof repairs in mid-February, installing a composite roof, but is awaiting additional funding to restore the terracotta tiles and repair water-damaged classrooms. Continue reading

URL Coffee introduces a design-savvy café on First Hill

Over a year in the making, URL Coffee features a specialty coffee menu, plans for a future in-house food program, and an eye for design. URL’s shelves and table are by Italian designer Enzo Mari (Image: URL Coffee)

The playful, design-forward URL Coffee at 524 Broadway just opened in mid-March, and despite being sandwiched between a couple other cafe options at Sharetea and QED Coffee, URL is already carving out a unique space on First Hill. Launched by wife and husband duo Zoey Jung and Ethan Choi, URL aims to provide a “healthy pleasure,” that begins with coffee, and expands beyond just caffeination alone.

Jung studied art in South Korea, running an art studio there, and Choi worked as a vintage designer furniture collector, but both had shared interests in coffee and food. After they moved to Seattle, they started searching for a café location in November 2019. After three months, they decided on the roughly 1400 square foot space on Broadway, signed the lease, and shortly after that, the pandemic hit. Jung said they endured “endless delays, in every single step” of the buildout.

Now open for business over a year later, either for takeout or limited seating at 25% capacity, the café boasts a stylish interior of eclectic tastes.

“We wanted to create a unique mood at URL by gathering the beauty that we have imagined, all in one place,” Jung said. “We mixed mid century modern designer furniture with contemporary furniture . . . URL presents new beauty by bringing together old, established things, Eastern and Western things, and things from different times and spaces.” Continue reading

Vain rehomes its freak-flagship salon on Capitol Hill

Some recent Vain color (Image: Vain)

A Seattle institution for adventurous and colorful hairstyles, and some truly legendary parties, boutique salon Vain has moved its downtown flagship location to new Capitol Hill digs on 1121 Pike Street. Cozied down between Black Sparrow Tattoo and Club Z, Vain opened for business earlier this month. The move signals the company’s rebirth of sorts from the pandemic, and a new chapter in Seattle’s coiffed counterculture.

Growing in the Belltown building left behind by the move of legendary Seattle club The Vogue to Capitol Hill, Vain was born into the city’s changing punk ethos. Vain owner Victoria Gentry remembered that neighboring businesses didn’t exactly appreciate The Vogue’s noisy shows, but with a salon, “You still get all the freaks without the noise.”

The move to Capitol Hill has been in the works for a while, Gentry said. The former location — in downtown, or Belltown, depending on who you ask — is part of 1st Ave Seattle history, an area now unrecognizable from when Vain first set up shop in the late 1990s, Gentry said.

They already had many clients from Capitol Hill, and the fact that downtown business had significantly slowed during the pandemic all factored into the decision to move. The new location is just on the other side of Boren, still within a mile of the old space for dedicated downtown and Belltown clients.

“I had already been planning on [moving] for quite a while. I had been waiting for the lease to run out to make a move. It got delayed a little bit because of COVID,” Gentry said. “Our connection to the Capitol Hill community has always been really strong. In a way it does feel like [coming home]. I’m excited to reconnect with arts groups and artists.” Continue reading

Cafe Avole brings Ethiopian coffee tradition to the Liberty Bank Building

(Image: Cafe Avole)

Cafe Avole is hard at work building out their second location in the Liberty Bank Building, joining other Black-owned businesses like Earl’s Cuts and Communion in development around 23rd and Union.

Ethiopian-owned, Cafe Avole sources, roasts, and sells high-grade coffees from Yirga Ch’Efe and Guji. Cafe Avole launched their flagship store in 2016 at the corner of Rainier Ave S and S Holly in Seattle’s Brighton neighborhood. The cafe offers Ethiopian food, community pop-ups, and, in pre-pandemic times, jebena, a central part of the coffee ceremony for Ethiopian and Eritrean households. The second location in the Liberty Bank Building is slated to open in May or June, depending on the progress of the buildout.

“We started our initial conversation [with the Liberty Bank Building] in 2018, right before the building was complete,” said Solomon Dubie, co-owner of Cafe Avole along with Gavin Amos and Getachew Enbiale. “We were supposed to try to get in there shortly thereafter, but things got held up, and then COVID hit. It was postponed for a little while.” Continue reading

The Cayton-Revels House: a landmark to Seattle’s Black history on 14th Ave E — UPDATE

(Source: Seattle Landmark Nomination: THE CAYTON-REVELS HOUSE)

Capitol Hill’s historic Cayton-Revels House is up for nomination for landmark designation Wednesday afternoon with the City of Seattle. Built in 1902, the Queen Anne Victorian-style house was once the home of Horace Roscoe Cayton, publisher of Seattle Black-owned newspaper the Seattle Republican, and his wife and associate editor Susie Sumner Revels Cayton. Community members and the home’s current owners say the landmark designation would be a significant and necessary acknowledgement of Seattle’s Black history.

CHS reported here on the efforts of the 14th and Mercer structure’s owners to achieve landmark status and protections for the 1902-built house, honor the Cayton-Revels family, and recognize the legacy of the racial covenants that shaped Capitol Hill. According to the landmarks nomination, “the Caytons were one of only three Black American families living in today’s definition of Capitol Hill​ before racial restrictive covenants barred non-white residents in 1927.”

You can learn more about the meeting and how to provide public comment here.

UPDATE: The board voted unanimously for the house to move on to the designation phase. The big vote will take place in early April.

The Seattle Republican was one of the most widely-read newspapers in the region at that time. In print from 1894 to 1913, the Republican appealed to national and local audiences of all races, but primarily focused on local politics and the Black experience. Horace Cayton, born a slave on a Mississippi cotton plantation and educated at Alcorn University, made his way to the Pacific Northwest in pursuit of greater freedoms in the frontier-era West. As Seattle changed from a frontier town to a growing city with increasingly racist power structures and property covenants, Black families were pushed into the Central District, where the Cayton-Revels eventually relocated.

“The Caytons were one of the most well-known Black American families in Seattle at the turn of the 20th century because of their business and political involvements,” said Taha Ebrahimi, a Capitol Hill resident who researched and wrote the 142-page landmark proposal for the Cayton-Revels house. Continue reading

Capitol Hill exit interview: Michael Seiwerath reflects on the fight for affordable housing and arts advocacy

Seiwerath during a 2014 neighborhood safety walk

One of Capitol Hill’s leading affordable housing and arts activists Michael Seiwerath is taking his expertise to South Seattle as the new Executive Director of SouthEast Effective Development (SEED). Recently the Vice President of Advancement and External Affairs at Community Roots Housing (formerly Capitol Hill Housing), Seiwerath oversaw fund development, communications, and government relations for the nonprofit since 2008. During that time he was the founding Executive Director of the Community Roots Housing Foundation, an independent nonprofit that helped fund Community Roots. He was also an important part of creating 12th Avenue Arts, and establishing the Capitol Hill Arts District in 2014, the first of the city’s arts districts. At SEED, he will work with partners like HomeSite, Rainer City Arts, and the City of Seattle to create affordable housing, arts and economic development for Columbia and Hillman Cities.

Before joining Community Roots Housing, Seiwerath was the Executive Director of Northwest Film Forum. During his 12 years there, Seiwerath helped start the state’s first nonprofit cinema, The Grand Illusion Theater, and oversaw the NW Film Forum’s development of its current home on 12th. (12 seems to be a magic number for Seiwerath.) He is also a film producer, having worked with Charles Mudede on films like Police Beat in 2005 and last year’s Thin Skin.

As he looks back on a legacy of creating lasting affordable housing and arts spaces on Capitol Hill, Seiwerath shared his reflections with CHS about what has changed, and what hasn’t.

Some answers have been edited or condensed for brevity.

What are some reflections on your last 12 years of working for greater affordable housing and preserving arts spaces on the Hill?

Well, it’s hard when you’ve been working on something for a decade and it’s only gotten worse. It’s encouraging that our elected officials now recognize the scale of the homelessness and affordability crisis. That’s progress. We’re still not there yet on the political will to prioritize sufficient resources to solve the problem.

A positive thing I’ve seen in [my] 12 years is partnerships. 12th Avenue Arts was an innovative partnership with performing arts groups, nonprofits, [and] affordable housing in the city. Liberty Bank Building is a partnership with a higher capacity, long standing developer and Black-led community based organizations in the Central District. We’re doing it again with Africatown Plaza across the street, and the LGBTQ-affirming low-income senior housing on Broadway. I’m really proud the goal is to have GenPRIDE own its ground floor home.” Continue reading

$15 Now: Seven years later, Seattle’s smallest employers hit minimum wage milestone

Seven years later, $15 Now has raised the minimum wage across the board in Seattle

A marcher at a 2013 rally for the $15 minimum in Seattle (Images: CHS)

The seven-year plan to raise Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 has finally come to fulfillment, and local small businesses, beleaguered by the pandemic, are rising to meet the new benchmark.

Unanimously approved by the Seattle City Council in 2014, Chapter 14.19 required businesses in Seattle to incrementally raise their minimum wage each year until reaching $15 per hour over seven years. At the beginning of this year, Seattle’s minimum wage increased to $16.69 per hour for large employers with more than 500 employees. Small businesses with less than 500 employees are required to pay $15 per hour only if they pay $1.69 per hour towards medical benefits, or the employee earns $1.69 per hour in tips. If neither conditions apply, the small business is required to pay $16.69 per hour. Going forward, minimum wage increases will be in keeping with inflation. Right now, Seattle’s minimum wage is the second-highest in the U.S., just 15 cents behind Emeryville, Calif.

The $15 minimum wage was a central part of Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s campaign in 2013. At this time, Sawant has not replied to CHS’s requests to discuss the milestone.

Mark Rosén, acting president and CEO of the GSBA, pointed out that the wage increase was initially approved in a very different time. No one could have anticipated COVID-19 and the precarious position Capitol Hill retailers and restaurants would endure. Continue reading

Here Lie Ten Suffragists: Capitol Hill’s Lake View Cemetery part of effort to mark history of women’s right to vote

A grassroots movement is honoring the gravesites of Washington suffragists including some right here on Capitol Hill, marking 100 years of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote and providing an important reflection on the past as the first woman to be elected U.S. Vice President prepares to take office.

Washington state won and lost the women’s right to vote four times before the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, a process that took resilience and determination.

“[Suffragists] had to continually fight these societal norms. As much as they tried to use logic and the constitution, what really won the argument was these women had to demonstrate that . . . just because they got the right to vote doesn’t mean they were going to abandon their domestic duties and their husbands and their children,” ThankHer2020’s organizer Starlyn Nackos explained.

“It’s frustrating, but it’s also fascinating at the same time. The women that were so influential and successful were the ones who used those arguments. The first time women were able to successfully vote was because they hosted a picnic luncheon at the polling station.” Continue reading

For pop-up pizza — and a recipe zine — get Blotto on Broadway

One of Blotto’s pies: Briny Greens, with market greens, taleggio, olives and capers (Image: Blotto)

came from the design world before transitioning to start pizza pop-up Blotto, a word that’s old-fashioned slang for “really drunk” (Image: Blotto)

You’d probably never know it, but hidden at the back of Broadway Alley is a small bakery that hosts Blotto, a pizza pop-up, every Thursday. The “200ish”-square-foot space is a commercial kitchen for Paximadi Co., a local, wholesale Greek bakery, but once a week Jordan Koplowitz rents out the space to make and sell pizzas made with local grains, naturally leavened dough and seasonal ingredients.

The pop-up’s beginning came slightly after the release of a zine in July that featured recipes from Koplowitz’s friends throughout the food and beverage industry. Now sold out, sales from the zine raised $1,030 for the Seattle BIPOC Organic Food Bank

Koplowitz works with partner Christy Wyble, and friend Caleb Hoffmann to debut about four pizza choices every week, along with a salad and dessert option. The weekly menu drops online every Monday at noon for pre-order. Orders are available for pick up at the Broadway Alley bakery Thursday from 5:30 PM to 8 PM. So far, Blotto has been selling out every week. Continue reading