The future (and current physically restricted state) of Capitol Hill and Central District movie theaters

(Image: Northwest Film Forum)

Remember going to the movies? Watching films on the big screen, the smell of popcorn, and boxes of Milk Duds is already a memory, one that will grow even more distant, according to Capitol Hill-area movie theaters.

Central Cinema is on hiatus, while the Northwest Film Forum has gone online, and has a Capitol Hill Arts District streaming festival in the works. Meanwhile on E Pine, the screen at SIFF Cinema Egyptian and the city’s annual film festival is a no-go.

“We’re shut down completely. We’re in stasis, I should say. We’re not closed closed. Everything is kind of turned off, shut down, cleaned out and unplugged, and put in mothballs as much as possible until we can go back in there and open up again,” Kevin Spitzer, co-owner of 21st and Union’s Central Cinema said. Continue reading

Suspect busted in act in reported burglary at Central District cafe — UPDATE

Seattle Police cars filled the intersection at 20th and Union late Tuesday night and took one person into custody after stopping a break-in in progress at the Central District’s Katy’s Corner Cafe.

According to East Precinct radio dispatches, a 911 caller reported the suspicious person around 10 PM and police moved into position around the E Union cafe and awaited the arrival of a K9 unit before contacting the suspect.

The suspected burglar was spotted inside the cafe and quickly taken into custody once officers were fully in place. We don’t know how the suspect gained entry or any damage to the small but popular cafe. The intersection was closed to traffic during the response.

UPDATE: A neighbor and CHS reader tells CHS the person briefly taken into custody turned out to be the cafe’s cleaning person who had been inside working. Thanks for the update. Sorry for the error!

UPDATE x2: Sounds like a stressful experience for the person caught up in this. One eyewitness says guns were drawn. Owner Katy Leighton describes what happened:

An employee had stayed late to have some down time and do a few extra chores. He had his headphones in and did not realize what was happening until he was surrounded and had guns drawn on him. Poor guy was put in handcuffs and was told that he was a good liar.

“He was doing absolutely nothing wrong,” Leighton writes.

Original report: The break-in and bust comes amid concerns across Seattle about the many small businesses that have temporarily closed during COVID-19 restrictions and empty neighborhoods creating fewer “eyes on the street” to discourage this type of crime. Continue reading

18th Ave’s Tougo Coffee one of the first confirmed Capitol Hill and Central District business casualties of the COVID-19 crisis

(Image: Tougo Coffee)

When it comes to the life of Capitol Hill and Central District businesses, we might not know with certainty about any sad passings until the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

Two neighborhood cafes are closing this week — one is clearly saying goodbye while the other’s fate is obscured by the fog of the crisis.

The Central District’s Tougo Coffee will become one of the area’s first confirmed business casualties of the COVID-19 crisis. Owner Brian Wells announced his decision Wednesday: Continue reading

Mixing meals and community, Feed The People grows in the Central District

(Image: Feed the People)

(Image: @arik.abdullah via Instagram)

Amid COVID-19 restaurant restrictions and with people mostly stuck in their homes, Feed The People has emerged in the Central District, combining food and community. The community kitchen now operates within Soulful Dishes at 18th and Yesler, owned by Jimaine Miller, “The Def Chef.” As Feed The People, Miller and a handful of local chefs are offering free meals to anyone in need.

“We just tell people to come knock on the door, and we ask them ‘How many?’ And I just make a box for them and off they go,” said chef Tarik Abdullah.

“All the food we’ve been getting has been donated from various restaurants, and people’s houses. We’ve been getting random stuff like a brisket from Woodshop BBQ. I made my own take on a pretty good sauce. I did a pulled brisket sandwich. I had a whole bunch of greens from Nurturing Roots Farms, and I made Cape Town Malala Sauce. I did stewed greens with that . . . Tomorrow I’m doing watermelon lemonade with a little bit of rosewater in it, and doing something with the beef, and then a chicken dish, and a couple veggie dishes. I’m doing parsnip soup. It’s kind of like Iron Chef, Chopped, for fun, just sitting around making dishes. We offer four dishes a day,” Abdullah said. Continue reading

Gang unit investigates after shootout near Central District park

Seattle Police are investigating after a shootout involving a dispute in the street and multiple vehicles spread shell casings but left no injuries along MLK near the Central District’s Powell Barnett Park Thursday afternoon.

According to East Precinct radio updates, multiple 911 callers reported the gun battle just after 1 PM Thursday near the north end of the park. Continue reading

To make Central District equitable development work, you’re going to need to eat — Kristi Brown’s Communion set to open in June

Kristi Brown in front of the under construction Communion (Image: Christopher Kim)

by Christopher Kim, UW News Lab/Special to CHS

Communion is finally coming together at 24th and Union in the growing core of the Central District.

Kristi Brown and her son Damon Bomar have been planning their new restaurant and bar with Africatown and Capitol Hill Housing for about three years in the earliest stages of the Liberty Bank Building project, an investment in equitable development offering below market rents for apartments and providing commercial spaces for local businesses to people that have been displaced by the gentrification of the Central District.

“They approached us before the final plans for the building were done,” Brown said of her key component in the mixed-use project’s goals for equitable development.

Opening a dining spot in the Central District where all different types of people can sit together to share a meal has been a dream for Brown, who has more than 30 years of cooking experience.

Brown is also the owner of the Beacon Hill catering business called That Brown Girl Cooks! featuring a menu and cooking style she calls “Seattle Soul.”

“I would say that it really describes my journey being from Kansas City and living in Seattle and all the different neighborhoods that I’ve lived in,” Brown said. “I just take a little bit of all of those things and merge them together.” Continue reading

Police investigate 18th/Pike gunfire

Police found a single shell casing but no injuries and no damage after gunfire near 18th and Pike Monday night. Meanwhile, statistics show that the city’s early year gun violence has been confined to areas outside the Central District and Capitol HIll.

Police were called to the 1500 block of 18th Ave around 10:30 PM to a report of a male who fired a single shot and fled the scene. Arriving officers found no victims and no damage but did locate a spent casing at the scene.

There were no arrests during a search of the area but one person was detained before being released.

Overall, reports of shots fired incidents were higher in the first weeks of 2020 compared to the same period last year but, according to the latest Seattle Police statistics (PDF), the East Precinct covering the Central District and Capitol Hill has been mostly free of gun violence with only three of the city’s 35 reported incidents.

Once an Ethiopian bakery, 19th Ave’s Good Neighbor Cafe hopes to stay a welcoming part of the Central District community

With reporting by Stevie Riepe, UW News Lab/Special to CHS

Sharon Healey, the new owner of the Good Neighbor Cafe, said she wanted to create a welcoming environment where anyone could come and feel safe.

“We wanted our business to be recognized as a place that was friendly towards all people,” Healey said. “We wanted people who came by to feel like ‘I am welcome,’ or ‘I can come in here and be safe.’”

Healey bought the cafe because she was hoping to have an outlet to help her escape from the frustration she feels in her work as an immigration attorney.

“Right now being an immigration attorney is a bit depressing,” said Healey.

With the current political climate, Healey said it was hard right now and that she was tired of always feeling frustrated. With so little she could do for her clients, she said she needed to get away from the office.

Healey and her daughter started searching for small restaurants or cafes to buy. They looked at several establishments but kept coming back to Good Neighbor Cafe. They liked the neighborhood and felt their creativity could blossom.

“We looked at several and we just kept coming back to this one,” Healey said.

The purchase also helped neighborhood business owner Asfaha Lemlem. He opened Good Neighbor in 2018 but told CHS that the business had struggled with the changing demographics of the neighborhood. Continue reading

There’s a 25,000-square-foot grocery coming to 23rd and Jackson — and it might just have Amazon’s name on it

Coming later this year to 23rd and Jackson

Bubbling to the surface years before this week’s opening, the first clues CHS discovered that retail giant Amazon was planning a new grocery store on Capitol Hill were small: city paperwork with project manager names and shell companies.

In the days leading up to the debut of E Pike’s Amazon Go Grocery, CHS started looking into a similar new set of bubbles that has started in the area — 23rd and Jackson in the Central District.


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There, where the neighborhood’s Red Apple was demolished in early 2018 to make way, construction continues to create the Jackson Apartments, two seven-story buildings from developer Vulcan Real Estate with a combined 532 apartments, a whopping 44,000 square feet of commercial space, a massive amount of underground parking with room for more than 500 vehicles, and, yes, a 25,000-square-foot grocery store. Continue reading

Upset Central Seattle parents demand accountability following KUOW’s investigation on abusive teachers

Chief Human Resources Officer Clover Codd, Superintendent Denise Juneau, Seattle School Board Directors Brandon Hersey and Zachary DeWolf sit on stage and listen to testimonies from parents, students and community leaders at a community hearing event in Quincy Jones Performing Center at Garfield High School on February 13, 2020. (Image: Xuan You Lim for CHS)

By Xuan You Lim, UW News Lab/Special to CHS

Seattle Public Schools offered apologies and some new promises at a community hearing event last week following KUOW’s investigation that revealed the district’s failure to remove abusive teachers from schools.

Earlier, KUOW reported that a math teacher at Capitol Hill’s Meany Middle School, James Johnson, called an eighth grader the n-word and punched him in the jaw. Not long after the incident, according to KUOW’s reporting, Johnson was transferred to the Central District’s Washington Middle School where the principal allegedly knew about Johnson’s misconduct before approving his transfer.

Johnson has since been placed on administrative leave pending ongoing investigations, according to KUOW.

The incidents — and the responses from officials — have left many questioning the district’s handling of incidents of abuse and its treatment of Central Seattle schools.

More than 100 parents, students and community leaders filled the seats in Quincy Jones Performing Center at Garfield High School for the community “listen and learn” event Thursday night where Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau, Chief Human Resources Officer Clover Codd, and Seattle School Board Directors Brandon Hersey and Zachary DeWolf listened to public comment. Approximately 40 people gave comments at the event in a rapid fire series of two minute time-limited sessions at the microphones.

Parents voiced their concerns about the wellbeing of the students in Johnson’s class who witnessed or experienced abuse. Many asked for counseling and support services for the students.

Mike Leitner, a parent of a senior at Garfield High School, read from his phone to put across his daughter’s request for counseling services to be offered to the students involved in Johnson’s class.

“Listen to the kids,” Leitner implored which was followed by applause.

Many called for accountability from the district and demanded apologies and answers from the four leadership on stage. Continue reading