Bar Ferdinand employees to take over with new wine and bottle shop project as chef Dillon cuts ties with Capitol Hill restaurant scene

Upper Bar Ferdinand when it debuted in 2015

It is time to turn over the dirt and grow new things inside Capitol Hill’s Chophouse Row. Chef Matt Dillon’s last Capitol Hill connection has been severed. Bar Ferdinand is no more. But a new wine-focused project is already being lined up to take its place. The group of food and drink experts taking on the venture include two of the now dearly departed wine bar’s staff. They are ready for new things moving beyond hand wringing over the state of the city’s dining scene.

“As far as speaking eloquently about how Seattle is changing, that has been litigated,” chef Eli Dahlin tells CHS.

“We’re not trying to change Capitol Hill,” he said. Continue reading

Juice Club planning a ‘natural wine party’ on E Denny Way

Organic, low intervention, simply complex, imbued with possible health benefits, it is no surprise that natural wine is becoming the official beverage of our times — or, at least, the official beverage of Capitol Hill, Seattle circa 2020.

Juice Club, a popular pop-up project that has grown into a Seattle phenomenon around the city’s bar scene, is making plans for its first rooted investment with a new joint on E Denny Way on the ground level of the Saint Florence.

The E Denny facing space in the 1914-built masonry apartment building just up from the E Olive Way intersection underwent a recent overhaul and is awaiting a new tenant. A state liquor license application shows the Club lining up to create a new “beer/wine specialty shop” in the space indicating a project leaning more toward the event and retail end of the natural wine spectrum. Continue reading

La Dive — dark and cozy and comfortable and pink — now open on E Pike

Opatz, Custer, and Gurwitz

La Dive, a new natural wine bar and hangout from one of the creative forces behind Montana and Nacho Borracho, is ready for its new pink bar top to add a new layer to Pike/Pine nightlife.

“Sometimes I want to have a glass of wine,” Kate Opatz said at a friends and family debut for the new E Pike venue. “It’s still dark and cozy and comfortable but, yeah, a little more grown up.”

CHS reported this summer on the plans for Opatz to team up with first time owners Ani Custer and David Gurwitz on the transformation of the former Other Coast sandwich shop into a new bar with a minimalist approach to great wines — and some more outrageous elements like champagne bong “chambongs” and frozen wine slushies like friesling and frojolais.

The trio’s match-up is a good pairing. Custer grew her knowledge with the Garbage People Love Wine pop-ups, while Gurwitz built on his experience at Lark and Spinasse to build La Dive’s menu of bar toasts and dumplings. Opatz, meanwhile, has been part of creating successful neighborhood bars outside of the Pike/Pine core. Montana and Nacho are, affectionately, labeled dive bars. Continue reading

Freedom! Capitol Hill is getting a ‘self pour’ wine and beer bar

Wine entrepreneur David Clawson is back in the States and ready to lead a revolution of freedom in the wine and beer biz while putting an important Capitol Hill cafe space back into motion. He may have been “Brexited,” as he puts it, but his new battle in Seattle on the north end of Broadway will be about “self pour” and the freedom to explore beyond the class system of fine wine.

“We are flipping all that on its head,” Clawson tells CHS. “Why not let the customers try an amazing range of variety and wines.”

In coming days, construction will begin to overhaul the former Starbucks indie-flavored Roy Street Coffee into a new cafe by day, wine and beer bar by night venture.

Clawson is still working on a name for the project but he knows what will be at the center of it — self pour.

It will be an experiment — the cafe will be the first in the region to venture into what Clawson said is a popular and successful UK and European trend — in wine and beer democracy.

“You’ll go in, get a card, and use the machines — like a credit card — select, dispense different pour sizes. Hit the button, off you go,” Clawson explains.

“It’s giving them freedom to try a huge range — likely more than 100 wines and beers by the glass, more heavy on the wine. And letting people do what they want.” Continue reading

‘An opportunity to ‘buy back the block,’ Pike/Pine’s Poco has new owner

(Image: Poco)

Tiny Poco, born as a Capitol Hill wine bar and then evolved along with the rest of the Hill into a cocktail bar, is coming around to emphasize the grape, again, on upper E Pine near 15th Ave E.

It’s a quiet transition led by a new owner for the 13-year-old venue. Quieter still might be the more important story behind the bar at Poco. One of the few Black-owned businesses on Capitol Hill will remain so.

“In addition to just being on Capitol Hill nearby to where I live, the fact it was a Black-owned business was important to me,” Rashida Burnham tells CHS.

“I’ve lived in the Central District for a while now. I’ve seen gentrification. I thought this was an opportunity to ‘buy back the block.’ I’m proud of that.” Continue reading

Sustainability by the glass as Footprint Wine Tap opens on E Madison

Footprint Wine Tap — “Seattle’s first sustainable keg wine on tap bar” — is now open on Capitol Hill.

CHS first introduced you earlier this year to Seattle wine expert Kenneth Dillon and his plan to overhaul a shuttered E Madison beer tap concept into a new experiment in wine enjoyment and retail.

The sustainability-focused Footprint has set out to feature a wide selection of sustainably sourced, organic, or biodynamic wines from mostly local wineries with pours from kegs available on tap to cut down on waste and, some say, provide a better product. Continue reading

Merlot, pinot, and chardonnay on tap with less waste the plan for Capitol Hill’s Footprint Wine

Seattle is beer country with more breweries than any other city in the nation. Kenneth Dillon, a Seattle wine aficionado, has decided to do something about evening the score — and doing it with a new, more environmentally friendly approach.

Dillon plans to open his own unique Footprint Wine bar and tap on E Madison by September.

“I’m happy to now be joining the Capitol Hill wine community and hope to give a little back to the community one glass of wine at a time,” Dillon said.

Before realizing he could work with wine as a career, Dillon spent 10 years in human resources, including four at the University of Washington. He always had a passion for the grape since it was legal for him to drink it, but didn’t actually break into the industry until 2016. Continue reading

Aluel Cellars brings tasting room experience to Capitol Hill

Light rail doesn’t yet reach Woodinville so wineries are, more and more, coming to the cities where their growing base of customers live. Capitol Hill real estate is, so far, too expensive for anybody to try to make their wine on Broadway but we have a start.

Aluel Cellars is now open inside new construction on E Thomas just below Broadway.

“This is much smaller than what they’re doing in SoDo,” Samuel Hilbert told CHS in our visit to the shop during its pre-opening preparations. “But it’s still an urban tasting room.”

The tasting room from Hilbert, who also works in real estate, and Oh, a lawyer, is just a block from Broadway in a space that was originally intended to be an office set-up in a live/work loft but has grown into an intimate and affordable place to build their dream business. Continue reading

Capitol Hill not getting an urban winery — but Aluel Cellars tasting room to open this summer

Blessed by copious amounts of freshly brewed beer and recently roasted coffee, Capitol Hill has only a couple liquor distilleries. It has even fewer wineries. Aluel Cellars won’t exactly change that. But the new business slated to open this summer on E Thomas just off Broadway will give Capitol Hill a tasting room for one of the city’s best urban wineries.

Partners in love, life, and now wine, Samuel Hilbert and Alex Oh are teaming up to open Aluel in the newly built Westside off Broadway building. With a cutesy name to give you warm feelies, the new project will create a tasting room a block from Broadway featuring the fine works of SoDo winemaker Bart Fawbush of Bartholomew Winery.

“We want when people walk in for it to feel like they’re in a winery tasting room,” Hilbert tells CHS. Aluel Cellars will feature 10 to 15 of Fawbush’s creations along with Aluel “private label” choices. You can stop in to taste — and, hopefully, buy. Aluel will also feature cheeses and chocolate pairings and the loft space in the new street-level commercial berth in the six-story development can be used for events and meet-ups. Continue reading