All-Purpose Pizza owner puts her shop up for sale

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.

0 thoughts on “All-Purpose Pizza owner puts her shop up for sale

  1. Correction. John and I weren’t remarried to each other, we both have exes. The main reason we decided to put APP on the market last January was because John decided to apply for he Medic One program which would be a significant comittment that, with his application, we felt like perhaps the time was right to try and ease out of the business for a while. Nonetheless, I love what I do and are all comitted for the long haul! We are in our 6th year and feeling good about the future no matter where it takes us.

  2. We have many years left on our lease and will be staying in business if a sale doesn’t occur….

  3. That place was overpriced and not very friendly to us neighborhood folks. I mean the original Central District residents, not the new yuppie type.

  4. I hope they find a good owner. Few good pizza choices in the neighborhood, and this is definitely the best. I wish them all the best in finding new ownership…

  5. We just started frequenting APP in February and we really enjoy it. Had our first delivery order over the weekend. I was eating leftovers for two days straight and enjoyed every bite! I hope the business keeps going, and we’ll be here to support it if it does!

  6. We’re from NY and moved into the hood (29th and Spruce) about 2 years ago. Being from NY, pizza is our life – we love it. As much as we’d LOVE to support local businesses (our pizza of choice right now is Piecora’s, we lived in Capitol Hill for a few years and this was walking distance), we were very turned off at the hours and prices. I’m not complaining, I realize you charge what you charge for a reason but since moving close to APP, we’ve only been there two times. We love the hood and have many friends that have opened (and closed) restaurants, mostly in NY – so we know how hard it is to maintain. But the hours really bugged us – I can’t recall how many times we’d walk by at 1 or 2 on a Sunday and yearn for a beer and a slice. After a few times of utter disappointment, we just don’t view it as a viable place to eat and drink. With a kid on the way and a dog that loves strolls, we’re hit you guys up again this summer but just know that we tried. Good luck and we’ll see you soon!

  7. I also love Piecora’s. It’s closer to our house and we have been steady patrons for years…something about APP though…it’s really tasty! :)

  8. I agree! We really need more places to stay late. In order for this business to survive, it has to get people in the door. I’m very glad to hear about slices because I have been asking about that for years. I would def say too that there needs to be a happy hour.

    Kedra-

    We know how hard your working and we want to support you because you are doing a service to the community. Hang in there :)

  9. First of all, it’s “riddance” – second, what do you mean “original Central District residents?” Is everyone that moves into your hood now “yuppies” or do you just not like the way they look? What exactly are you saying? It’s people like you that make this neighborhood intolerable at times – most of our neighbors are awesome but it only takes a few bad seeds (hello) that will keep it from blossoming into a vibrant, eclectic neighborhood. Accept that fact that new businesses and people are moving into your neighborhood (actually, I don’t even think this is technically the CD, more like Leschi) and accept them with grace. No one is acting any different towards you or treating you with any disrespect – open your eyes and realize that the world isn’t out to piss you off.

  10. we used to be open for lunch (we also used to be open later). Used to be. There just wasn’t enough business to sustain the cost of labor. It isn’t that we never tried or were opposed to it, it’s just that the business in the neighborhood at anytime during the day/weekends was enough to make ends meet so we shut it down and ran hours that we had business.

  11. Clarification: we wanted an afternoon beer and slice, so were looking for hours more to the tune of Noon to 10(M-Th) and possibly open later on weekends, NOT for you to stay open past midnight all the time ;)

  12. We were simply looking to pass the torch for reasons that are very personal to our family…I am committed to my business and the neighborhood and community and will remain so if we can’t find a good fit.

  13. My boyfriend and I just moved to the neighborhood (from Cap Hill) in November 2010 and tried APP for the first time a couple weeks ago. We loved it! Great little neighborhood-y place, good food and good beer. We’ll be back and wish the owner the best of luck in whatever direction she ends up going.

  14. Original CD residents? So you are Italian from “Garlic Gulch” or Jewish? if not, what ethnic group did you displace when you moved in? So tired of this eternal whining about ‘original CD residents’ that’s complete fiction.

  15. Technically it is Leschi. And why? Because a change was made in the past decade to incorporate parts of the CD into Leshci. Why? Because it raises taxes forcing long time residents to leave for the new yuppies. Why would I want to embrace people that treat me poorly? Cross the street when I approach? Treat me with complete disrespect while I am in their stores? Cops didn’t start responding to calls until the demographics changed. The neighborhood was once a vibrant cultural center for people of color. You guys have every other neighborhood in Seattle, except for the south end. You don’t think the displacement of our community shouldn’t bother us? I was treated poorly on two separate occasions at that pizza parlor and I am not the only one that who had that experience there. How can I embrace the changes when the changes make me feel alienated from my very own community and home?

  16. And to answer your question. No I am not Jewish or Italian. I believe Native Americans where the first ones here, so that is who was originally displaced. I always find it funny when I hear non-natives bring up the subject of displacement, as it is the ultimate sign of white privilege. You guys really don’t want to start a debate with me. I am far more intelligent and educated than you will ever be.

  17. If you wanna get technical about neigborhood boundaries, it IS the CD. The CD goes all the way to the water, including all of Leschi. Leschi, Judkins Park, and all the rest are just subsections of the CD.

    Also, higher taxes? Uh… no. There’s no such thing as a neighborhood tax, we’re all paying the exact same Seattle tax rates.

    I moved to the CD because I got priced out of the U district. Folks getting priced out of the CD are moving to Delridge. Folks getting priced out of Delridge are moving to the Kent East Hill. Folks getting priced out of Kent are homeless. Seattle just needs more apartments, period. We’ve got a shortage and it’s driving prices up. It’s insane. I spend 75% of my income every month just to rent the cheapest duplex in the city.

    And no independent pizza shop is ever going to beat a big chain on price. You can’t do it unless you’re buying cheap ingredients on a national scale (like Domino’s). You’ve gotta compete on quality; that means higher prices. All Purpose, MAD, Pagliachi, they’re all in the same boat.

  18. How come every time people bring up displacement or color people get all up in arms? It happened. It’s happened to every racial group except for white people.

  19. We love APP, always have. It’s an excellent place for families and the owner couldn’t be kinder. I love the new menu changes and will be excited to see if they introduce more new items.

  20. Good grief, I can’t believe anyone (especially from NY) would prefer Piecora’s to anything –except for maybe Domino’s or Pizza Hut. I had a large pizza from them a few weeks ago and it left me wondering– did I have to SPECIFY it needed to actually have taste? Talk about downhill….that pizza isn’t worth eating anymore. I understand pizza is very subjective, but really…. APP is way better.

  21. JimS: Ignorance really is bliss. I’m not saying APP is bad but I am saying Piecora’s is good. If you’re not from NY or haven’t lived there, you really have no basis for your comments so keep them to yourself. My wife and I – having GROWN UP in NY, know pizza. You sound like one of those jokers who insists that Chicago pizza is comparable to NY pizza.

  22. two-0-sick: first of all, with all your self proclaimed “intelligence,” you should have learned in debate class that saying you’re smarter than the next guy automatically disqualifies you from that classification. That’s lesson #1 for today. Second, if you’re so intelligent, what exactly does “good riddens” mean? And please don’t call it a typo since the “ance” types nothing like “ens” – there’s no masking your vocabulary. Third, GET OFF YOUR HIGH HORSE – so you lived in the CD for a few years before anyone; that gives you the right to denigrate the new neighbors as if they’re all out to get you? Take a look in the mirror – maybe it’s the vibe you put out that causes people to cross the street when they see you coming. Maybe it’s the elitist attitude that led to the people at APP to treat you with disdain or not as well as you’d like. You need quit fighting the changes in “your neighborhood” and embrace them as best you can.

  23. Seattle pizza just plain sucks! No matter where you go, it’s always bland, soggy, limp, and uninspired. The closest thing to real pizza in Seattle is probably Hot Mama’s, which is just sad. Plus, pizza in Seattle always costs like $30. And don’t get me started on the lack of waffle joints or decent mexican food in this town. Step up your game, Seattle.

  24. Hi Joe. I’m from NY and so is most of my family and Piecora’s sucks. I have given it a try more than once because people kept saying it was good but it’s not. It’s not good by a Seattle standard, by a Chicago standard or by a NYC standard. On another note, what’s with all the name calling in your comments?

  25. RE: Joe
    The whole high horse thing and elitist attitude label falls kinda flat when it becomes a pots and kettles type of statement. Just sayin’. Also, I’m not sure if you are in the position to critique what two-oh-sick is saying about his experience in the neighborhood. If you have never walked down the street as a black guy I don’t think you have the right to say that it’s him that is causing people to cross the street or treat him differently in a store. It happens all the time. Just because it is not your experience does not mean it’s not happening. Telling him to embrace people who demonstrate that behavior is just insulting.

  26. JB: Telling someone who clearly demonstrates a propensity for angst and altercation to get off his high horse is hardly antagonistic. You’re just arguing for the sake of arguing – whether its over pizza or to defend this guy. Are you black? Have you lived in the community before the gentrification? Do you know how it feels when a black person walks down the street in Seattle? If not, then you have no basis for argument and are just trying to get a rise. And what part of NY are you from? Syracuse? Lake Placid? Because it’s certainly no where near Brooklyn or NYC, I can tell by your demeanor. As for the name calling, I call it as I see it – TRUE NY STYLE, I don’t sugarcoat. You’ve obviously been here too long when a few jabs gets your panties in a knot.

  27. What I’m saying is you clearly demonstrate a propensity for riding a high horse (whether it’s about pizza or race relations) and so your comment is hypocritical. To answer your questions:

    Are you black? Yes

    Have you lived in the community before the gentrification? Yes

    Do you know how it feels when a black person walks down the street in Seattle? LOL. We are not one unit so no I don’t know how every black person feels walking down the street in Seattle. I know we share common experiences in certain instances. I’m surprised you worded the question like that!

    what part of NY are you from? Washington Heights

    And as for the name calling, that is not true NY style, that is your style and it is offensive to me and I’m sure others as well. Even if you put some sugar on your vitriol I wouldn’t touch it. Like I said I have been here since the 80′s and I go back to NY every year to see family. I’m starting to doubt you are even from NY. Or perhaps you moved there from Kansas, before you moved here. Where ever you are from, you must have been away for too long to forget that when you say hateful things people may call you on it.