About Megan Hill

Megan Hill is the Editor of Central District News. She's also a freelance food, travel, and feature writer.

Woman suing CD Ethiopian restaurant and pushing for restaurant grading system

Seattle resident Sarah Schaht is suing Central District restaurant Ambassel Ethiopian after she contracted a debilitating E coli bacteria infection. Schaht is now crusading for a simpler grading system and to make public the grades King County health officials assign restaurants based on their latest health inspection.

As KIRO reports, “Schaht chose the Ethiopian restaurant because customers on Yelp gave it nearly four stars.  What she didn’t know was the restaurant had failed six health inspections since 2010 and had one of the worst inspection scores of any Seattle restaurant last year.” Workers were flagged for not washing their hands. Insects and rodents were spotted in the restaurant, and raw meat was being prepared on the same surfaces as cooked food. Health officials shut down Ambassel, though the owners have reopened as Laco Melza, which doesn’t yet have any Yelp reviews.

As a result of Schaht’s efforts, Seattle and King County public health officials are asking for input on their inspection system, which you can provide online.

More from KIRO:

Schaht has started a petition to pressure King County health officials to adopt a simple letter grade system, in which restaurants are required to post an A, B, C or F grade in their front window so diners know how the establishment performed on its latest inspection. Cities in nine states have letter grade requirements, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City. After going to the letter grade system in 2010, New York City’s Department of Health reported a 14 percent decline in salmonella cases in the first 18 months.

In L.A. County there’s been a 20 percent drop in the number of people hospitalized with food-related illnesses.

You can sign Sarah Schaht’s online petition, and learn more about how other restaurants fared in their latest inspections.

Feet First’s Stairway Walks Day includes walk through Madrona and Leschi

Feet First image

Feet First image

Walkability nonprofit Feet First is hosting its second Stairway Walks Day this weekend, with 18 guided neighborhood walks across the Seattle area.

Central District residents can explore the stairways of Madrona and Leschi:

Madrona and Leschi
In the late 1800s, electric trolleys first reached this bluff high above Lake Washington. New development quickly followed, leaving a legacy of stairways. We’ll explore some of the neighborhood’s discreet stairs and passageways, with their lake-spanning vistas, gorgeous old homes and beautiful volunteer-supported greenspaces.

Walk Leaders: Feet First Neighborhood Walking Ambassador, Suzanne Youles
Numbers: 3.2 miles; 371 steps down, 299 steps up.

You can join in on Saturday, February 8, from 10am to 12pm. Feet First is suggesting a $5 donation per participant. Space is limited to 25 participants, so be sure to register soon at Brown Paper Tickets.

The People of the Central Area: Brooks Andrews, Pastor, Japanese Baptist Church

This post is part of a series of profiles of Central District residents, part of the “People of the Central Area” project developed and written by Madeline Crowley.

photo by Madeline Crowley

About Brooks Andrews

Brooks’ life reveals that the twists and turns during a profound search for meaning can sometimes bring you to the very same place you began, yet entirely transformed.

Pastor Brooks Andrews on the Central Area Community of the Japanese Baptist Church:

Did your family live near the Japanese Baptist Church in the Central Area?

We lived just down the hill, east of the Church on 15th and Alder.
During World War II (WWII) internment/incarceration of the Japanese-Americans from this church, your father made a startling decision. Could you talk about that?

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Order 9066 by President Roosevelt sent all the Japanese on the Pacific coast to American concentration camps in the west.
Mother’s Day in 1942 was the first Sunday that the Japanese Baptist Church (JBC) and the community had been emptied of all the Japanese. This meant that Dad (Pastor of the Church) didn’t really have a job here in Seattle anymore. So, he decided that we would be moving to Twin Falls, Idaho (to minister to those in the Camp). That was about 20 miles from one of the camps, called Minidoka. And so, in late summer/early fall of 1942 when I was five-years old, Dad packed us in the car and moved us to Twin Falls.

Do you remember any feelings about that move?

I was five, so I’m not sure I remember any feelings about it, perhaps I thought it was an adventure. I do remember arriving in Idaho at the house Dad had rented for us to live in. I looked out the car window and said, “Where are the Twin Falls?” I was looking for water, for waterfalls, but it was just a house.

To read the rest of the story, click here.

Public invited to have a say in Seattle Public Utilities’ future

Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is seeking public input in “developing a strategic business plan to guide the utility’s investments, services and rates through the year 2020 — with the goal of keeping Seattle one of the best places to live.”

SPU will hold several community meetings to that extent, including one in the Central District:

February 5, 2014, 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Garfield Community Center

2323 East Cherry Street, Seattle, 98122

According to SPU, “The primary goal of the public meetings is to provide direction for the utility — in a way that reflects customer values, provides rate predictability and results in the best value for customer dollars.”

Additional meetings are below:

February 13, 2014, 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

High Point Community Center

6920 34th Avenue SW, Seattle, 98126


February 20, 2014, 6:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Magnuson Park – The Brig

6344 NE 74th Street, Seattle, 98115


February 22, 2014, 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

North Seattle Community College, Room CC1161 in the Conference Center

9600 College Way North, Seattle, 98103


March 1, 2014, 10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Van Asselt Community Center

2820 South Myrtle Street, Seattle, 98108


Can’t attend a community meeting? Customers are invited to take a survey online and learn more at www.seattle.gov/util.


One of Washington’s first charter schools will open in the Central District this fall

FPSCS Logo Draft 3The Central District’s First Place School is set to become one of the state’s first charter schools — and it’s the only elementary school on the list.

First Place School — which will become First Place Scholars Charter School — was founded 25 years ago as a tuition-free private school. When Congress passed the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, First Place changed its mission “to work with children that experienced trauma from severe poverty and/or high mobility and could not succeed in traditional classroom settings,” says Sheri Day, Acting Executive Director at First Place. The school is located at 20th and Spruce in the former Odessa Brown Clinic building. First Place will open with charter status in the fall of 2014.

First Place sent a press release with more information on the school:

First Place has been operating as a tuition free private school for 25 years beginning in partnership with Seattle Public Schools and in response to the need at that time for support for homeless students. As laws changed, First Place worked with children suffering from trauma as a result of severe poverty and to support the whole child, working with the whole family to create stability.

FP Charter is supported by volunteers and community partners – and now public funding – to provide academic enrichment, mentorship, and fundraising supports.

As a very small non-profit, the number of students served has been limited. Becoming a charter will allow First Place Scholars Charter School to serve children throughout their elementary school careers and create even larger long term change in the lives of these children. First Place Scholars Charter School will provide current best practices in education to more students. As a new Charter School, First Place Scholars Charter School looks forward to a long bright future and thanks the commission for affording us this opportunity.

23rd Avenue Corridor to get fancy public artwork

The Central District, as part of the 23rd Avenue Corridor Improvements Project, will soon be getting some new public art. Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture announced last week that artist Martha Jackson Jarvis will create the piece.

Among the project’s many improvements to the area around Union, Cherry, and Jackson includes art focusing on “historically relevant narratives of the neighborhood and stories of the people who have lived or created significant impact in the neighborhood.” Jackson Jarvis, creator of many public art projects, will be tasked with meeting that goal. The Washington, D.C.-based artist has shown work at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), Studio Museum of Harlem (New York) and Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow).

We don’t yet have details on where the art will go, when it will be installed, or what Jackson Jarvis will choose to focus on.



Celebrate Black History Month throughout February

February is Black History Month, and throughout the Central District you’ll find numerous opportunities to celebrate, learn, and engage.

The Northwest African American Museum has a full calendar:

New Exhibition Opens!

Baseball in Washington’s black communities has a strong but quiet history. Most people know the segregated history of our national pastime, but few know how the story played out on the baseball fields in Seattle and throughout Washington. Left without a professional Negro Leagues team until 1946, much of our State’s black baseball history was undocumented. Pitch Black features vignettes of this rich history using iconic artifacts, photographs, and oral histories. Organized by NAAM. On view in the Northwest Gallery through November 9th.

Thursday, Feb. 6, 7pm

Free with admission

Should Black History Month be ended? That’s the question explored by African American filmmaker Shukree Hassan Tilghman as he embarks on a cross-country campaign to do just that. Both amusing and thought provoking, the film investigates what the treatment of history tells us about race and equality in contemporary America.

Sunday, Feb. 9, 12–3pm

Registration will open on January 30th, $10 per person; Free for Members.

Join Northwest artist Marita Dingus for a tour of her new exhibition Marita Dingus: At Home. Objects from Dingus’s home, including her collection of African and Caribbean figures, are the basis of this intimate and revealing exhibition. In contrast with the gallery setting, a series of photographs taken by Spike Mafford will show how the artist actually lives with her art. Following the tour, Marita will conduct a quilt patch project for visitors to record a memorable event in African American history while learning about the history and influences of traditional African textiles on her artwork.

Thursday, Feb. 13, 5pm

Free with admission

This film surveys the life and times of singer/ actor/activist Harry Belafonte. From his rise to fame as a singer and his experiences touring a segregated country, to his provocative crossover into Hollywood, Belafonte’s groundbreaking career personifies the American Civil Rights Movement and impacted many other social justice efforts.

THE BLACK SOUNDTRACK with Charles Mudede
Saturday, Feb. 15, 7pm

Tickets: $10; Free for Members. Ticket available on February 1st

Writer, filmmaker and cultural critic, Charles Mudede will help us celebrate the black image on the big screen by exploring sections of global cinematic history using film clips and musical scores inspired by international musicians, directors, and thinkers. Later he invites listeners to discuss what they see and hear.

Presidents Day, Monday, Feb. 17, 11am–5pm

Sponsored by

Free admission

with a dynamic offering of programs throughout the day. At 1pm local historian Judy Bentley co-author of Free Boy, will present curriculum materials related to the remarkable story of Charles Mitchell, a 13-year-old slave who escaped from Washington Territory to freedom in Canada on the Puget Sound’s tiny Underground Railroad. At 2pm, storyteller Eva Abram will present an interpretation of Charles Mitchell’s life. Art-making activities for kids of all ages are available on a drop-in basis throughout the day.
Light refreshments will be served. Free admission is made possible by Bank of America.

Thursday, Feb. 20, 11am–noon


Gifted griots—or storytellers—enchant both young and old with tales recounted following oral traditions. Children of all ages are invited to experience the ancient art of storytelling with stories from around the world or just around the corner.

at Barnes & Noble Pacific Place
Saturday, Feb. 22, 11am


Bring your little ones to hear Museum Educator Katie Williams read from the award-winning children’s book Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine. A portion of purchases made in-store from February 15 thru 22 will be donated to NAAM – be sure mention us when you check out!

Afrofuturism: A Journey Through Race and Time
Thursday, Feb. 27

Presentations start at 7pm
Free with admission

Some say Afrofuturism is a practice of discovering what lies beyond the here and now, through the lens of the African American experience. Great artists of our time are creating visual art, sounds, and stories that explore outer-space and inner worlds, technology, society and race. Join us to learn more about Afrofuturism and the artists, through the quick presentation style of  PechaKucha. Let Seattle’s foremost thought leaders and visionaries take you on a fantastic voyage through race and time. Presenters include: Sandra Jackson-Dumont, Donald Byrd, Charles Mudede, Zola Mumford, Christina Orbe, and more… .


At the Experience Music Project, an event relevant to the Central District:

In celebration of Black History Month, The EMP Museum, Ezell’s Chicken and Brandkings are taking out time this February 1, 2014 to bring people together to reflect on the
causes and effects of gentrification for an event titled “Through The Eyes of Art.” The evening will feature an
art exhibit, from local painters and photographers, a keynote address by Seattle City Councilmember, Bruce
Harrell and a live performance and video presentation, from hip-hop artist Draze. Tickets are free but must be reserved on Brown Paper Tickets.

At Capitol Hill’s Annex Theater, a play called Black Like Us:

Black Like Us is the story of an African-American woman’s decision to pass for white in 1958. It follows her story, and those of her sister, her daughter, her three granddaughters, and her two grandnieces, as they all in turn discover her secret-and each others’ existence.

Black Like Us runs during February, and while staging it during Black History Month is certainly intentional, this is a play about much more than race. It is at its core the story of a family, and of the sweet, complex, and exasperating relationships that exist between sisters. It is also the story of a family that lives in Seattle, and the history of the Central District and the Civil rights movement in this city are woven into the narrative. With a diverse all-female cast, a dash of history, and a lot of humor, Black Like Us explores the effect one woman’s decision has to reverberate through the generations.

At the Garfield Community Center, an event called One Human Race:

Sunday February 23, 2014
2:00 – 4:00 pm
2323 E Cherry St
Seattle, WA 98122
What did Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and Baba Guru Nanak teach about equality and non-discrimination? What remedies did these holy founders prescribe to combat racism? Are religious mute on this issue? Join us at this unique interfaith event as we explore these questions and more.
Regsiter for event: http://www.amiseattle.org/RegisterForEvent.aspx?INo=28
SPONSORING ORGANIZATION: Ahmadiyya Muslim Community – Seattle
CONTACT: Waqas Malik
CONTACT PHONE: 206.851.0788
CONTACT EMAIL: [email protected]
Read the event flyer


Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments and we’ll add to the post!