COVID-19 closures and a few hopes of new locations: Little Neon Taco, By Tae, Drizzle and Shine, and more

With word of a sad closing on First Hill — and some good news about some return visits planned for Capitol Hill — here are a few area COVID-19 crisis closures to catch up on.

  • Little Neon Taco: Even the lower rent from a reduced footprint couldn’t save the Boren favorite from small space master Monica Dimas. The three-year-old fixed-space home for her Neon Tacos is no more. Dimas announced the closure and said to watch for Little Neon Tacos at E Pike natural wine bar turned temporary COVID-19 era natural wine shop La Dive. “We are so grateful for the support of our friends and neighbors during this time,” Dimas writes. “We know that this year has been hard on everyone and while we are sad to be leaving our current location, we’re excited to partner with La Dive to keep doing what we do best: feeding good people good food.” Continue reading

Overnight burglary temporarily closes 15th Ave E Walgreens

QFC is leaving the street but 15th Ave E’s big chain pharmacy Walgreens is only temporarily closed.

Shoppers and customers hoping to have prescriptions filled found the 500-block pharmacy shuttered Saturday morning.

According to East Precinct radio updates, police were called to the store around 2AM to a break-in. It’s not clear how much damage was done beyond a smashed front glass door and what if anything was taken from the store but police were looking for a suspect wearing a dark hoodie with a white backpack and white gloves believed to have used a crowbar or a baton to bust the glass and break in. The suspect was last seen fleeing through the store’s parking lot, headed south, just before police arrived. Continue reading

QFC says will lay off 109 workers in Seattle hazard pay closures including 15th Ave E store

QFC’s decision to close two Capitol Hill stores including its 15th Ave E grocery over Seattle’s COVID-19 hazard pay ordinance will cost 109 workers their jobs, the company revealed in a state filing Friday afternoon.

Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification announcements are federally required for employers with 100 or more employees “to provide at least 60 calendar days advance written notice of a plant closing and mass layoff affecting 50 or more employees at a single site of employment.”

A QFC spokesperson did not respond to CHS’s inquiry about how many workers of the 109 are currently employed at the 15th Ave E store.

Parent company Kroger also blamed COVID-19 hazard pay requirements for its decision to close a Ralphs and a Food 4 Less in Long Beach, California. Continue reading

Pot in Seattle is too white: Social Equity in Cannabis Task Force shaping plan to create new opportunities in state’s retail marijuana industry

Owner Ian Eisenberg watches a 2016 protest targeting his Uncle Ike’s pot shop at 23rd and Union

By Melissa Santos /

A plan to bring social equity to the state’s mostly white marijuana industry was delayed by COVID-19. Now, things are inching forward.

Even before this year’s Black Lives Matter protests, Washington state’s legal cannabis industry had a well-known problem with race.

About 4% of the state’s population is Black. But Black people have a majority stake in only 1% of Washington businesses that grow and process marijuana, according to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, while roughly 3% of retail cannabis shops are majority Black owned. Some remain skeptical of those figures and say the picture is actually worse.

So, when former basketball star Shawn Kemp opened a shop that was initially billed as Seattle’s first Black-owned cannabis dispensary, headlines followed.

Except Kemp’s store didn’t do anything to budge those statewide numbers. In fact, he owns only 5% of the store that bears his name — and the business is actually majority white owned. The communications firm that originally promoted the store as Seattle’s first Black-owned cannabis dispensary later said it shouldn’t have done so.

For many, the dustup once again highlighted the lack of diversity in the state’s legal pot industry and the need to fix it. Continue reading

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

‘I will not open in Seattle again’ — Why Capitol Hill’s The Wandering Goose really closed

Earnhardt at the Goose’s 2012 debut (Image: CHS)

News that Capitol Hill bakery and cafe The Wandering Goose was closing permanently hit hard around the neighborhood and the city.

The 15th Ave E favorite’s biscuits and generous slabs of cake were a comfort and a popular neighborhood stop even through the challenges of COVID-19.

As the state is putting a new phased plan in place for reopening the economy after the latest virus lockdowns, owner Heather Earnhardt tells CHS the city needs to do more to support small businesses like the Goose.

“Our local politicians let us down honestly,” Earnhardt tells CHS. “It was impossible to acquire any funding or grants (not for lack of applying mind you) and the fact that we made it 10 months on our own doing only to-go is something I’m proud of.”

Earnhardt says that she and co-owner Mike McConnell, the founder and former owner of Caffe Vita, along with managing partner Alexandria Ladich did what they could to keep the business open through the various lockdowns and phases put in place to try to slow the spread of the virus. Continue reading

Reopening: Capitol Hill salons old and new return, adjusting to ‘new norm’ of masked haircutting

New colors at 19th Ave Salon by Brandon Madsen (Image: 19th Ave Salon)

Capitol Hill beauty businesses are adjusting to cutting and styling hair under state-mandated changes, including wearing PPE, issuing temperature checks and maintaining six feet of distance when possible.

For 19th Avenue Salon owner Jamie De Maria, implementing these safety requirements has been an important part of opening the new business. The salon had only been open for a week when COVID-19 restrictions shut the business down.

To his surprise, De Maria said the shop has not struggled with customers since reopening.

“We’ve been so beyond busy and turning clients away and working 12 hour days — it’s been insane,” De Maria said. “I would say 80-90% of our new customers are neighbors and residents of the community that have been walking by the salon seeing the construction happening and waiting for it to open and reading our reviews online.”

Salons got the go-ahead to reopen at 25% capacity under Phase 1.5 restrictions in early June and now have the option to expand to 50% capacity as part of Phase 2. Continue reading

After COVID-19 pause, Seattle development projects signing up for new review process

Developers around Seattle and across Capitol Hill this week are making the decision of whether to transition their projects into the city’s temporary “administrative design review” process to keep developments moving forward through the COVID-19 crisis.

The result will be a small flurry of new design review notices and 14-day public comment periods for a handful of Capitol Hill projects currently stuck in development limbo.

A letter from the city presents developers with two options: One, elect to put their projects into review by city planning staff in a process that will “re-trigger” public notice and open up a new 14-day comment window for each project, or, two, to “wait until the Design Review Board’s (sic) have resumed business” to have review meetings rescheduled under the citizen board process. Continue reading

Suspect holds up 15th Ave E Walgreens in reported drug heist — UPDATE

Police were searching the area around 15th Ave E Monday night after a reported armed robbery at Walgreens.

The suspect, his face partially covered by an N-95 style mask, reportedly had what appeared to be a handgun in his hoodie pocket. According to East Precinct radio updates, he fled the store on foot with six bottles of drugs stolen in the just before 9 PM heist and was last seen headed northbound on 15th.

UPDATE: Police say the suspect handed the Walgreens pharmacist a note “and demanded narcotics,” implying he had a handgun in his pocket and that he would shoot him if he did not comply.”

Police and a K9 unit were searching the area and the northeast edges of Capitol Hill. There were no reported injuries and no arrests.

UPDATE: SPD says a white Honda was seen near the area of the hold-up but the driver sped away and eluded police. Police reported finding a vehicle matching the description later in the night near 10th and Yesler. Officers attempted to chase the driver as he again sped away in a pursuit that ended at I-5 northbound Dearborn offramp where the suspect was able to flee from the scene on foot.

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Gunfire as 15th Ave E pot shop Ruckus held up in reported armed robbery — UPDATE

Gunfire shattered glass and an employee was reportedly grazed by a bullet in an armed robbery late Saturday night at E Republican and 15th Ave E pot shop Ruckus.

Just before 11:45 PM, an employee reported the gunfire as the suspect sped away in reverse before fleeing southbound on 15th Ave E. Police were searching for a silver or grey crossover type SUV  hatchback. Continue reading