Kedra Olsen did not expect to own a restaurant.
“I’m a server. That’s what I’ve always done,” she said. But since 2005, she has been at the helm of All-Purpose Pizza (a Central District News sponsor) at 29th Ave S and S Jackson St., more or less. Her husband John has been involved, but his main job is to work for the Fire Department.
The couple also went through a divorce and got back together. Olsen thought at first she could just concentrate on front-of-house duties in the restaurant, but now she finds herself working on the restaurant all the time.
“You’re always on when you’re in the restaurant business,” she said. If she can find some good people to buy the place, she would “take some time and let someone else pay me.” She is currently looking for prospective buyers for the pizza joint, but only if they meet her standards. If such a buyer can’t be found, she is prepared to keep going, she said.
Olsen does not want the restaurant’s patrons to think she is abandoning them.
“Everyone’s my family that comes here,” she said. “I just reached a point where I ask, ‘How much responsibility can I handle?'” She said the business would be far easier to handle if she had a partner.
The neighborhood has changed quite a bit since Olsen moved there in 1998. She opened All-Purpose Pizza (in a space that was formerly an auto body shop) during more tumultuous times for the area.
“When I opened this place, it was in the middle of a gang war,” she said. There was once an idea that Jackson St would be a connected, meandering retail corridor that would start at All-Purpose and end in Pioneer Square. But until recently, most neighborhood business organizing at her end of the street has been about crime.
The neighborhood has quieted down since then, but so has the economy. The past couple years since 2008 have been hard for the restaurant, as they have for many businesses. In early March, Olsen engaged the CDN community asking for advice in making changes to All-Purpose. As a result, the shop launched a revamped menu that took out some elements that were over-priced (such as charges for half-and-half pizzas and thin crust) and added gluten-free pizza dough to the menu.
But Olsen’s life seems for be headed in a different direction. She moved to Snoqualmie after being unable to find a four-bedroom house she could afford in the city, she said. In addition to paying off business debts, Olsen sees sale of the business as a way to move on.
“It seemed like a good way to transition away from this particular job into something else,” she said.
The Craigslist ad lists the shop for $175,000.