Signs of Capitol Hill normalcy: Vivace returns — Plus, Capitol Hill’s COVID-19 ‘Phase 1’ takeout cocktails

(Image: Espresso Vivace)

This week started with another step toward normalcy on Capitol Hill — Espresso Vivace is back open:

Vivace will open it’s Brix location at 532 Broadway Ave. E. tomorrow morning at 7 AM for coffee to go. In addition Alley24 will be open at 10 AM both of which close at 5 PM. 321 Broadway,our sidewalk bar, will open on Saturday.

Hope you can make an announcement for our devoted customers



The heart and soul of Capitol Hill craft coffee for more than 30 years, Vivace joins the hardworking core of neighborhood coffee joints that have been pulling shots and foaming oat milk throughout the outbreak. Feel free to add a thankful shoutout to your favorite in comments.

As Capitol Hill food and drink gears up for the challenges and opportunities coming in the transition to “Phase 2” restrictions for restaurants and bars, an in-between period could carry on for a long while as your favorite neighborhood joints try to recover with creative — and tasty — “to go” creations. Continue reading

After nearly 30 years, the Broadway Urban Outfitters is closing

Urban Outfitters

The exit of Urban Outfitters will leave a hole at Broadway and Harrison (Image: CHS)

Youth-oriented fashion retailer Urban Outfitters is packing up and moving off of Capitol Hill and the Broadway corner it has called home for nearly three decades.

Workers were reported clearing out the relatively giant two-level store on the northern end of the Broadway Market shopping center Monday afternoon.

A store manager confirmed the end of the lease and the UO’s closing with CHS just as other neighborhood retailers are gearing up for curbside pick-up and relaxed outbreak restrictions.

While the COVID-19 crisis and financial impact still swirls, the Urban Outfitters exit has been in the works since last summer when the shopping center began marketing the lease for the space. Continue reading

CHS History Classic | The Julia’s building, past to present: groceries, Ileen’s, and Ernie Steele’s

Ernie Steele's, 300 Broadway E, 1962

Ernie Steele’s, 300 Broadway E, 1962 (Washington State Archives King County property records, parcel 600350-2080)

This CHS History Classic first ran in 2016. With many of our favorite Capitol Hill spaces facing an uncertain future, let’s look again at this important block’s place in the neighborhood’s history.

By Robert Ketcherside

Julia’s has become one of the most venerable nightlife spaces in Seattle. The drag-bar-restaurant has been open for 15 years now, and I think you qualify as a Capitol Hill old-timer if you remember further back than that.

The building’s time as Ileen’s and Ernie Steele’s is worth going over again for the newcomers. And hey, it seems the first few decades of the building need to be covered for the first time.

In the beginning

The Seattle Public Library’s online 1907 real estate map shows that things were quite different for Julia’s lot. There were just a couple of tiny buildings here along Broadway that didn’t even deserve addresses. There was a house on Thomas Street. Continue reading

Fries a casualty of social distancing at Broadway Dick’s Drive-In

Customers line up at the Broadway Dick's

Nothing unusual about a line at Dick’s (Image: CHS)

A burger and fries

(Image: Dick’s Drive-In)

“All locations are OPEN today, Thursday, May 14th… Fresh hand cut fries🍟 are available at all locations with the exception of Broadway”

It might be one of the cruelest blows of COVID-19-locked down Seattle mass culture — the small semblance of normality that Dick’s Drive-In is open and serving in the middle of these strange days with burgers, shakes, and fries… with the exception of Broadway.

“Our primary product is a burger and fries are a side,” Jasmine Donovan, president of Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants tells CHS. “It was the way that the kitchen is set up and the way the food flows from production to the window where the customer’s ordering — it was fries that cause the biggest bottleneck and the one thing that we could offer potentially an alternative product for.”

The Broadway exception is not some kind of Trump-era retaliation and is probably not a punishment by god. It’s about architecture. Continue reading

Phase 2: Hopes of Capitol Hill food and drink survival at ‘50%’

Capitol Hill food and drink venues have started telling customers about a new requirement for service. If you want to eat or drink, you first will need to provide a phone number and an email address.

The “contact tracing” data collection — familiar to, say, registering on a new website but not necessarily grabbing a burger for takeout — is part of a new roster of requirements and restrictions for Washington’s restaurant and bar industry as the state prepares for its “Phase 2” loosening of the COVID-19 lockdown that could be in place in June if infection rates continue to fall.

The opportunity to restart comes with a roster of changes in business practices and resources that must be in place for restaurants, cafes, bars, and taverns around Capitol Hill to reopen. Top of mind for most owners trying to sort out what comes next for the hundreds of venues and thousands of workers across the area is how to make the new math pencil out.

“We’re going to be back where we were in 2008 with the recession,” Capitol Hill food and drink veteran John Sundstrom of Lark says. “Our hope… this is such a big reset moment for the economy and the way we look at people’s lives… there is an opportunity for change.”

State requirements issued for the industry this week include 13 points of new guidelines: Continue reading

Seattle Central’s Capitol Hill growth plan includes new tech building on Broadway, student housing replacing parking garage

Student housing rendering

The longterm plan? Replace SCC’s massive parking garage with student housing

A proposed set of updates to Seattle Central’s growth plan could mean some big changes for the school and the neighborhood over the next 20 years including a new technology building on Broadway and new student housing replacing the school’s massive E Pine parking garage. In more normal times, the master plan update would be chugging along right now, holding meetings, gathering public comment, revising drafts of the proposed changes. Typically, this sort of update would take two years.

But like everything else, the update is on a kind of pause while we wait for the COVID-19 crisis to shake out.

Seattle Central, like all large institutions (mostly colleges and hospitals) across the city, has its own land use master plan separate from the surrounding neighborhood. The current plan for Seattle Central was developed in 2002, with the idea that it would last for 10 years. So, in true Seattle style, here we are 18 years later doing the update.

But even that will take longer than it usually would. Brittney Moraski, a member of the advisory committee studying the update, noted there is a moratorium on meetings for their committee and others like it, owing to virus concerns. Meetings through June have been canceled. July isn’t looking good, either.

“Our work has been paused,” she said.

Some of the process has moved online. Continue reading

Police: Broadway bank burglar turns out be intoxicated — and lost — man

Seattle Police gave a highly intoxicated man busted in a reported break-in at the Broadway Bank of America early Thursday morning just what he needed: a ride home.

Police and Seattle Fire were called to the Lyric building at Broadway and Thomas around 2 AM Thursday after a fire alarm was set off and a man wearing a red flannel shirt and black ball cap could be seen moving around carrying a bag.inside the bank’s foyer.

Arriving officers set up in the street outside the bank’s Broadway entrance and began hailing the burglary suspect by bullhorn.

According to the SPD report on the incident, the man complied and put his hands up as he exited the building. Continue reading

New effort launches to connect neighborhood businesses to ‘stay home’ shoppers

You can’t shop inside Ghost Gallery right now. But you can shop Ghost Gallery online via (Image: Ghost Gallery)

A Capitol Hill-based design firm is working to help local businesses across Seattle connect with their “stay home” customers in the wake of virus-related closures.

“I came up with this idea of like an Etsy for neighborhoods,” said Sara Green, principal and creative director at DEI Creative.

Local businesses, hard-hit by virus-related restrictions, have been hustling to find new ways to generate income, and the Support Local site developed by DEI is one way for them to do that.

The websites are a bit like a virtual shopping mall, featuring at least a few products from dozens of different stores in the neighborhood. The program launched first in Ballard, and the site there features clothing, furniture, toys, books, beer, and the ever popular gift cards from a number of businesses around that neighborhood.

Or, you can buy things from them at the support local site

And even after the virus has run its course, and we’re back to going to stores in person, Green said she hopes to keep the site going.

“My intention is for this not to go away,” she said. Continue reading

Hoping for the best, Capitol Hill small biz fundraisers boosted by anonymous $10K gifts


Who wouldn’t give $10,000 to help Hardy and Buster?

Two neighborhood shops in need are cautiously optimistic — Is there an anonymous neighbor helping to save Capitol Hill businesses one secret $10,000 gift at a time?

Harvard Ave’s Twice Sold Tales is one recipient. After launching its fundraising appeal to help save the used book shop and a post on CHS, an anonymous $10,000 donor joined more than 100 others to help owner Jamie Lutton leap beyond her goal of “one month’s rent.” Continue reading

Farmers market not yet returning to Capitol Hill but U District and Ballard re-start sowing a few seeds of hope

Seattle’s farmers markets are taking a slow approach to reopening in the city with two locations ready to serve customers and help keep vendors in business when they return this weekend.

Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets says that is working with health experts and local officials to restart in Ballard and the University District.

If things go well, the return of the Capitol Hill farmers market on Broadway could soon follow. Continue reading