RIP Nate’s and its family of good eats at 13th and Jeff

Nate’s in happier times

Nate’s Wings & Waffles, Happy Grillmore, and the Central District Ice Cream Company — a trio of joints co-owned by Darren McGill that made 13th and Jefferson a busy spot for soul food and good eating — are permanently closing up shop as the COVID-19 crisis drags on, adding to the list of Capitol Hill and Central District businesses unable to recover amid the pandemic.

When the coronavirus hit and companies like Amazon and Redfin pulled out of office catering orders, the 13th and Jefferson sister restaurants could no longer stay afloat.

“it was like one thing after another,” McGill said. “It wasn’t just because of COVID — that was the main underlying cause but rent increase, food cost increase, everything was going up and then this happened and it was like the last straw.” Continue reading

Reopening: Capitol Hill’s Office Nomads leads way in figuring out what COVID-era coworking means

(Image: Office Nomads)

The new world of COVID-19 brings drastically changed landscapes for many Capitol Hill businesses. Born on Boylston 13 years ago, “Seattle’s original coworking community” Office Nomads has left its street behind and transitioned online after closing its office space at the end of July.

“The thread that binds all of our members is that they can work from anywhere,” Office Nomads co-owner and founder Susan Dorsch said. “All of our members prefer to work together and to work in a shared workspace, I do as well, but what we’re doing right now is not about preferences. What we’re doing right now is about safety.”

Office Nomads has long served as a hub for remote workers seeking a communal working environment — including students, entrepreneurs and freelancers — at its Boylston Ave spot. Since the business began in 2007, a burgeoning scene of coworking spaces has emerged on the Hill. But coworking’s day appears to have been a short one. COVID-19 has snuffed out thousands of jobs here and sent thousands more into a semi-permanent “working from home” lifestyle. Office space and social distancing just don’t mix. Continue reading

Council will put together new Seattle COVID-19 relief bill after mayor’s veto over emergency reserve spending

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Calling the spending plan irresponsible and saying it will drain the city’s emergency funds too quickly, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan has vetoed the City Council’s big business tax spending plan including millions in immediate COVID-19 economic relief.

The council’s unanimous support for the plan including rental and food assistance, and boosts for small businesses likely means it can overcome the veto and tap the some $86 million in funds it had lined up from Seattle’s emergency reserves.

Mayor Durkan says the city might need that cash next year and beyond. Continue reading

Reopening: Live theater during a pandemic — Some turning to live-stream, others on pause

1984 at 18th and Union (Image: 18th and Union Theater)

When the pandemic shuttered Seattle’s theaters and playhouses in March, the Central District’s 18th & Union was in the middle of an adaption of George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.” By the third week of production, it became clear the venue had to close.

“I think we were lucky that we at least got three solid weekends in before closing,” actor K. Brian Neel said. “I know a lot of theater artists who had to close shows right before opening or right towards the end of the rehearsal process and that would’ve been frustrating.”

According to state reopening guidelines, live entertainment falls under Phase 4 — the final stage — and King County has lingered in Phase 2 for over a month now. As cases rise across the county and Washington rolls back phased reopening, theater companies and accompanying venues are tasked with adapting live theater to an online format or staying closed indefinitely.

And for those planning to reopen in some capacity with live actors, performances will look markedly different.

Theaters reopening or not?
18th & Union is planning to live stream shows out of its space this fall with up to two cast members six feet apart. Producing director David Gassner says the venue has multiple shows — yet to be announced — lined up for September, and the studio is setting up with cameras and other necessary equipment.

“There won’t be any stage combat, there won’t be any kissing, there won’t be any touching — so we’re having to choose the kind of shows that we present knowing that those are the constraints,” Gassner said. Continue reading

Reopening: Retail under quarantine, Drizzle and Shine welcomes Capitol Hill shoppers with comfort

(Image: Drizzle and Shine)

Capitol Hill’s “eco-first” fashion boutique Drizzle and Shine temporarily closed at the end of March in accordance with the state’s COVID-19 response plan. Now the shop has reopened, but with a few changes: contactless payment, limited store occupancy and a 24-hour quarantine of clothing items tried on but not purchased.

Capitol Hill retail shops like Drizzle and Shine began reopening their brick and mortar stores once Phase 1.5 was approved at the beginning of June. Now in Phase 2 of reopening, they can offer in-store retail with maximum 30% customer occupancy.

Drizzle and Shine owner Jean Coburn said adaptability has proven essential to the shop’s continued business over the past few months, as sales transitioned from mostly in-store to entirely online to now a mixture of both. Continue reading

Mayor Durkan talks increased COVID-19 concerns and SPD crowd control in ‘virtual town hall’

Following a weekend of heavy-handed Seattle Police crowd control on Capitol Hill and with COVID-19 numbers rising, Mayor Jenny Durkan held her sixth “virtual town hall” since the start of the pandemic, this time to hear from residents of Southeast and Central Seattle neighborhoods including Capitol Hill and the Central District. City officials responded to citizen questions about the police’s continued use of aggressive crowd control tactics at protests and announced plans to increase coronavirus testing in the coming weeks.

South Seattle and the Central District have seen some of the highest COVID-19 rates in the city, with King County reporting 8.8 positive tests per 1000 residents in South Park and higher numbers extending into South King County.

Tuesday, the Washington State Department of Health released its latest “situational report” showing the outbreak continues to grow in the state and hospitalizations and deaths are now on rise.

“What we do know is that our BIPOC communities, our communities of color, are particularly disproportionately impacted,” said Patty Hayes, director of King County Public Health, on the systemic health and social inequities contributing to BIPOC communities having more “chronic conditions and the inability to work from home.” Continue reading

Founded on the belief that every day on Broadway can be brunch, Americana becomes a Capitol Hill COVID-19 closure

(Image: Americana)

The chef who came out of the kitchen to take over and grow a Capitol Hill weekend brunch favorite into a Capitol Hill every day of the week brunch favorite says he plans to stay far away from the restaurant business.

Chef Jeffrey Wilson — a man who loves cooking so much he signs his email Cheffrey — has announced that Broadway’s Americana has permanently closed.

“The seating capacity was not our limitation,” Wilson said.

The restaurant capacity restrictions part of attempts to slow the spread of COVID-19 didn’t matter in the end for Americana, Wilson said. After taking on Ads Paycheck Protection Program loans to pay his workers as he kept the restaurant closed for weeks, Wilson reopened Americana as restrictions were lifted only to find that much of his dining business had disappeared.

His decision to close was made all the more obvious as he watched the numbers at the Broadway Alley restaurant. “The month leading up to it was a drastic decline in sales,” Wilson said. Continue reading

District recommends Seattle schools start with closed campuses, but ‘remote learning is not synonymous with online learning’

Amazon has donated 8,200 laptops for Seattle school kids (Image: Seattle Public Schools)

As its children enjoy a summer break limited by COVID-19 restrictions, Seattle Public Schools announced plans this week for fall classes to begin remotely.

The Seattle School Board has yet to approve the recommendation and the extent to which remote instruction will move online remains up for debate.

On August 12 the board is set to vote on the district’s remote learning recommendation, which also calls for increased professional development for educators, including racial equity training, and “predictable and consistent teaching/learning schedule on common platforms, using up-to-date resources.” Continue reading

Inslee not rolling Washington back but adding restrictions to restaurants and bars to slow COVID-19 spread — Plus, eviction moratorium extended

Faced with a steadily rising number of new COVID-19 cases, Gov. Jay Inslee has opted for a limited roll-back of the state’s reopening, announcing Thursday he will place restrictions on restaurants and bars in an effort to slow the outbreak.

The new restrictions set to be in effect starting in two weeks will close any indoor service at bars and limit indoor dining to groups including only members of the same household as well as require alcohol sales to end by 10 PM.

For areas beyond King County under Phase 3 restrictions, table size will also be reduced to a five-person maximum and overall capacity will be capped at 50%. Any game areas like pool tables or arcade games must also be closed down.

In addition to adding further challenges to Capitol Hill restaurants, the changes could be a blow to the few bars that have braved attempts at reopening with Phase 2 limitations. In early May, Washington’s liquor and cannabis board temporarily legalized takeout cocktails when purchased with food providing one potential revenue stream. Others like Canon have also begun experimenting with retail.

Meanwhile, Inslee also announced Thursday that the state’s moratorium on commercial and residential evictions will be extended into October. CHS reported last week on record unemployment including one in five people on Capitol Hill and one in four in the Central District filing for benefits so far during the pandemic. Continue reading

On Capitol Hill, one in five — and in the CD, one in four — filed for unemployment in months since COVID-19 closures set in

Merchants board their windows for the impending COVID-19 zombie apocalypse

Since the start of widespread closures of businesses across Capitol Hill, the Central District, Seattle, and the state to mitigate COVID-19, thousands have been temporarily or permanently laid off. With rising COVID-19 numbers across King County and the halting of phased reopening, economic recovery remains uncertain.

In the Capitol Hill neighborhood, more than one out of five working age adults filed an unemployment claim over this spring and early summer, and in the Central District the number is even higher with more than one in four working age adults filing for unemployment. Continue reading