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

With birria and churros, Carmelo’s Tacos opens new, just a little bit larger 12th Ave location

The Asada Tacos at the new Carmelo’s

Born as as a walk-up counter with the slimmest of seating areas part of the Hillcrest Market, tiny Carmelo’s Tacos is getting bigger with its new 12th ave at Cherry location now open.

“It’s been fun. A lot of people are coming out to try the birria and new items,” manager Miguel Cruz says. “We feel the support from the community. We’re grateful.”

Cruz said the new location is picking up speed, serving 100 to 150 people a day — still nowhere close to the staggeringly busy pace the original location inside the quick mart at Summit and E Olive Way has kept up through the pandemic. Continue reading

Capitol Hill’s streets filling with pandemic-era restaurant patios — Will they stay?

Plum’s “greenhouse” seating on 12th Ave

As Washington’s reopening speeds, there are signs that getting “back to normal” too quickly could be part of a new uptick in the spread of the virus. For Capitol Hill’s restaurants lucky enough to have a safe stretch of pavement nearby and the foresight to invest in some creative solutions, street patios have been a business lifeline allowing what officials say is a safer approach to reopening in the food and drink economy.

Across the Pike/Pine nightlife area, CHS found a diversity of designs and solutions in place across the neighborhood. But we also heard the same thing again and again from owners facing the uncertainty of a drawn out pandemic future.

“We would love to have this long term but the special permitting is set to stop in October unless the city changes something,” the folks at Cafe Pettirosso tell us. “We will have this as long as possible, it has helped tremendously.” Continue reading

The Seattle Police Department has taken down its West Precinct wall — Is the East Precinct next?

The heavy cement “eco blocks” are tumbling and being carted away outside downtown’s West Precinct Tuesday but Seattle Police officials aren’t ready to say a twin fortification added to the East Precinct will also be torn down soon.

“Nothing has been announced for the East wall yet,” an SPD spokesperson tells CHS.

The spokesperson confirmed social media reports of the West Precinct wall’s removal and said while the barriers are being taken down, the lobby area of the downtown precinct will remain closed for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19 concerns. Continue reading

Blotto — ‘pizza and wine and pantry’ — coming to former Chungee’s space on 12th Ave

(Image: Blotto)

After working in a 200-square-foot space, the Blotto guys will have just a little more room to work inside the former Chungee’s (Image: Blotto)

A popular Broadway pizza pop-up is set to bring new life and a new cornershop to 12th and Denny in the space formerly home to Chungee’s.

CHS introduced you to Blotto in December as the pizza venture put wholesale Greek bakery Paximadi’s Broadway commercial space to work refining its recipes for 14-inch New York and Neapolitan pizzas with crusts that are thin and crispy and rims of puffy, chewy dough.

Now Jordan Koplowitz has announced plans to take Blotto to the next level, taking over the old Chungee’s space to build out a new market, patio, and pizza shop. He describes the project as “a restaurant corner store mega mart super shopping center / BevMo on 12th and Denny.”

“There will be pizzas. There will be wines and beers. There will be sides and pantry items. And there will be outdoor patio ~vibes~” Continue reading

With ‘Mother Africa’s finest coffees,’ Boon Boona coming to 12th Ave

(Image: Boon Boona)

(Image: Boon Boona)

Renton’s Boon Boona has grown as a roaster and community center bringing African coffee culture and beans to the Pacific Northwest cafe scene.

Soon, you’ll be able to find those beans and community on 12th Ave.

“Boon Boona is how we say coffee,” owner Efrem Fesaha tells CHS. “But I focused on the East African community first, then coffee and an experience that is more culturally aware.”

Boon Boona will open its first Seattle cafe later this year in the 12th Ave space formerly home to Cherry Street Coffee House across from Seattle University and neighboring the 12th Ave Square Parkan open space that could perfect for small events and gatherings that is crying out for a neighbor like Boon Boona.

Boon Boona opened on 3rd Street in Renton’s downtown in 2018 and became a popular venue for musicians and artists.

Fesaha says the path to establishing Boon Boona and growing its business has been a long one. Continue reading

Capitol Hill counter legend Carmelo’s Tacos opening new location on 12th Ave — this time, with tables

Thanks to a CHS reader for the tip!

(Image: Carmelo’s Tacos)

Add one more to our roster of Capitol Hill bars and restaurants to look forward to in 2021. Carmelo’s Tacos is expanding with a second location — and, when we can finally go back inside, this new Carmelo’s will have tables.

The new Carmelo’s is being readied to open at 12th and Cherry across from Seattle U near the Cherry Street Coffee and 12th Ave Square Park. Continue reading

Design review: First look at proposal for preservation incentive-boosted project that will rise above 110-year-old E Pike Rowland building

Wednesday night will bring two virtual design review meetings that could help set the course for new developments on Capitol Hill in 2021 including a project planned to preserve the E Pike facade of the 1910-built commercial building that has been home to Gay City and Kaladi Brothers as part of an eight-story, incentive boosted mixed-use project.

CHS reported on the early plans from developer Hunters Capital and longtime property owner Chip Ragen to redevelop the corner of E Pike and Belmont.

Wednesday night, the Studio Meng Strazzara-designed project will take its first step in front of the East Design review board. Continue reading

Velocity Dance Center seeks new home as COVID-19 crisis brings 24-year run on Capitol Hill to an end

(Image: Velocity)

A symbol of the neighborhood’s efforts to bring its arts organizations and venues forward amid gentrification and soaring rents, Velocity Dance Center has announced it is leaving its Capitol Hill home due to “financial hardship brought on by the pandemic and government-mandated closures” during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

“As Velocity takes this step to stabilize amidst uncertainty, we recognize and make room for the grief and joy that mark growth and change,” the center’s announcement reads. “We are reminded that it is all of you who make Velocity a place of creativity, connection, and care. We are so grateful for all the memories we’ve made together in the space. We understand your grief. We feel it too. But we are also excited to be more flexible. To have the ability to look forward to future programming, collaborations, and a new future home.”

Velocity has been facing the challenge of a possible end to its 12th Ave center in recent years as the nonprofit faced the pressures of the increasingly expensive neighborhood. Continue reading

The latest Capitol Hill food and drink trend: hibernation

Some of the neighborhood’s main remaining active food and drink players are pressing pause on their hard-fought efforts to re-configure businesses for takeout and creative streetside patio set-ups, opting, instead, to try to wait this all out.

“This isn’t a goodbye and it’s not forever, rather a see you soon,” the announcement from the Derschang Group about its decision to temporarily shut down Oddsfellow Cafe reads.

The shutdowns will bring more plywood to the already mostly barricaded nightlife and business districts. And they will put hundreds of workers onto unemployment after what turned out to be a temporary burst of reopening activity under the summer and early fall’s downturn in new cases and lightened restrictions on businesses

The popular Oddfellows is not alone in Capitol Hill venues opting for a December — and longer? — slumber. Continue reading