Baker Johnson and pastry chef Crystal Chiu have teamed up to create a new vision of the neighborhood cafe — “a fresh start,” Johnson says, “bountiful, and bright, and ever-changing.” Continue reading →
The spirit of Groucho’s lives on at 17th and Galer. The Volunteer Park Cafe is open again on Capitol Hill.
Melissa Johnson and Crystal Chiu are so busy in the overhauled kitchen and the cases are so full that they have barely had time to update the website or post operating hours. Those things will come.
UPDATE: “Now that the cat’s out of the bag, will we see you this weekend? We’ll be here with pastries, snacks and drinks galore (wine pours by the glass included 🍷) and AC,” the cafe’s latest update to Instagram reads.
For now, the Canlis veterans are learning the ropes of operating this new iteration of the neighborhood favorite. VPC is now the Volunteer Park Cafe and Pantry, a nod to aspirations to revive more of the cornershop spirit of one of the last spaces of its kind in a city that used to be a little more mixed in its “Neighborhood Residential” uses.
Restarting that history has been a chore. James DeSarno, principal at D3 Architects and co-owner of the Freehand Cellars winery, purchased the 1904-built, two-story market and apartment on this corner of northern Capitol Hill’s single family-dominated residential zone in a $1.4 million deal that was in the works for months after a previous plan to purchase the property fell through. DeSarno said his plan for VPC was to try to keep a good deal of the relationship with the neighborhood in place with cafe and coffee offerings but add a renewed focus on wine featuring his Yakima Valley winery’s creations.
For its start, the Volunteer Park Cafe is focused on daytime offerings and its pastry case along with a well-stocked selection of bottled libations. Continue reading →
Nearly 14 years of baking and cafe goodness has come to an end at 17th and Galer where there is also an uncertain future for the 117-year-old house that stands there.
The Volunteer Park Cafe served its final batch of muffins, scones, and breakfast sandwiches over the weekend under owner Ericka Burke who announced the restaurant’s closure with a post celebrating the Biden-Harris victory while bidding a bittersweet farewell to the home and business:
It is a HAPPY SAD day. We have new president in the house and tomorrow will be our last day in this #littleyellowhouse. It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye- it’s been a wild ride. Our hearts are filled with optimism about the future. It’s been 15 years of #alwaysfreshgoodness. We are excited as we move forward to find goodness in everything that crosses our paths. On this little corner we have experienced so much- joy, challenges, life, death, but most of all LOVE and FRIENDSHIP. For that we are immensely GRATEFUL. Thank you. To my VPC ride or die crew-thank you from the bottom of my heart. You all made VPC happen. I could have never done it without your talents, huge hearts, your scrappy determination. You are my family and you always will be. I LOVE you. We will see you on the flip side. Peace out and thank you for so many years of support!
The closure comes following the 17th and Galer’s cafe’s reopening in May after a temporary shutdown under COVID-19 restrictions that also threw a planned sale of the house and business into limbo. Continue reading →
Volunteer Park Cafe is set to return — with pizza… and more (Image: Volunteer Park Cafe)
The deal to buy the Volunteer Park Cafe and the old house turned neighborhood market it calls home is on hold. But it is not exactly back on the market, either. Here’s what is certain.
After weeks of a COVID-19 restrictions-forced shutdown at 17th and Galer, the cafe is being readied for a Mother’s Day return to business and a renewed effort to serve its northern Capitol Hill neighborhood with baked goods, to go meals, and provisions.
“The deal not going through made me put my boxing gloves back on,” owner Ericka Burke tells CHS. “I’m trying to make it work.” Continue reading →
The Capitol Hill real estate market remains hot enough that any transaction can create a buzz as neighbors wait to find out who will be moving in. At 17th and Galer, the excitement is even tastier — it comes with scones.
Volunteer Park Cafe has new owners after one of the more interesting transactions in Capitol HIll food and drink history. Andria Millie, Alisha Chou, and James DeSarno announced Monday they are the winning bidders for the much loved cafe:
Millie and Chou, who met in 2005 while working at Dahlia Lounge, reunited to buy VPC from chef Ericka Burke. DeSarno, principal at Seattle-based D3 Architects and owner of Freehand Cellars in the Yakima Valley, purchased the property and holds a minority stake in the cafe.
Will you be the next cafe owner at 17th and Galer? (Image: NWMLS)
It probably really is a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” The 1904-built, two-story market and apartment these days known as the Volunteer Park Cafe is for sale. And, yes, the popular neighborhood cafe in the middle of some of Seattle’s most expensive residential real estate is part of the $1.7 million package.
“It’s a very, very unique deal. It’s so unique for the owner of the business to own the building as well in a location like this,” co-broker and Seattle commercial real estate expert Laura Miller tells CHS.
“The neighborhood should be really happy about the opportunity. It’s a great building,” Dustin Van Wyck, the other broker working on nailing down a deal for the property said.
Amid worries that coming rains could wash them away to dangerous sewer pipes or sad lives as an invasive species in Lake Washington, the Stevens Elementary goldfish have been rescued by Seattle Public Utilities.
Friday, the department thanked CHS and the many readers who brought attention to the curious little wonder of the “secret” underground pond in the school’s catch basin:
SPU first learned of the goldfish from the Capitol Hill Seattle blog, which reported that the fish had become a “curious kind of campus mascot,” and several community members who reached out to inquire about the possibility of a rescue operation. While SPU was glad to see the fish faring well in the catch basin, it was necessary to relocate them as soon as possible.
It’s a peaceful, mostly quiet existence. And friends seem to drop enough granola bar bits from above to augment whatever goldfish chow exists naturally in the storm drain of a Capitol Hill elementary school.
It’s not exactly clear when or how they arrived, but two fish continue to make the Stevens Elementary campus near 19th and Galer their home. Continue reading →
Thursday afternoon on Capitol Hill, CHS found a group gathered on the corner of 19th and Galer outside Stevens Elementary to bring attention to their push for increased wages for teachers, librarians, and other school staff. Continue reading →