New sports bar/cafe opens on East Union

For those of us close to the Capitol Hill/Central District border, get ready to welcome a new bar to the neighborhood.  Auto Battery, a sports bar/cafe opened up yesterday at 1009 East Union Street. It opened next door to Po Dog.  Po Dog’s owner Laura Olson has an ownership stake in Auto Battery as well.  Auto Battery features two shuffle board tables, ten flat screen monitors (one of which will be attached to a Wii), free wifi, beer, cocktails, po dogs and Macrina baked treats.  Daily hours of operation will be 8 am to 2am.  

Fixx Coffee Bar arrives at 23rd & Madison

Fixx Coffee Bar (a new CDNews sponsor) recently opened up shop at 2310 East Madison Street. If that address sounds familiar to you, that would be because Cafe Char most recently occupied the site. Cafe Char had a short, volatile history at this space. But, if you recall a bit further back, The Fargonian Coffeehouse enjoyed a successful run on that block until it shuttered in 2006.

Fixx has learned a few lessons from Cafe Char. Chiefly, its hours of operation are straightforward 7 am to 6 pm 7 days a week. Second, it has partnered with Fremont Coffee Company and serves its beans. Aric Annear, Fixx’s manager, is also part-owner of Fremont Coffee Company. He explained to us that a distinguishing characteristic of Fremont’s beans compared to others (such as Vita, Herkimer, etc), is that they shy away from Starbucks-like dark roasted beans. Fremont’s beans are a more light roast. Bluebird Cafe is an example of a local cafe that serves Fremont’s beans. In turn, Fixx sells Bluebird Ice Cream. In fact, the coffee ice cream sold by Fixx incorporates Fremont’s beans.

All espresso drinks are double shots. There is free wi-fi. Stop by and give them a try.  

Apply now for free trees from city

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is offering free trees to Central District residents through the Tree Fund. Groups of neighbors from at least five households living on a street or block can request from 10 to 40 trees per project.  In addition, every participating household can have a fruit tree for their own yard.  The deadline to apply is August 16.

According to Thomas Whittemore, a Neighborhood District Coordinator for the East District, the process is straightforward: “The trees are free so all you and your neighbors need to do is apply, get a little training, dig a few holes, water and …voila, a tree canopy begins to take shape.”

This is the 15th year that Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is providing free trees through the Neighborhood Matching Fund’s Tree Fund program.  Through the Fund, Seattle residents have planted more than 20,000 trees and built stronger community connections along the way.

In 1972, Seattle’s land area had a tree cover of 40 percent. Now, that cover has dropped to 22 percent.  This decline threatens nature’s ability to help manage storm water, reduce erosion, absorb climate-disrupting gases, improve public health and clean the air.  The goal of the Tree Fund program is to increase the percentage back to 30 percent, build community, and promote a clean and green environment for Seattle’s streets.

Ethiopian Eats Series: Lunch at the Blue Nile

The second post in our Ethiopian Restaurant Series takes us to the Blue Nile at 456 12th Avenue. Of the CD Ethiopian Restaurants we have visited so far, Blue Nile is easily the most accessible to those new to Ethiopian cuisine. First, it has a functioning website, so that you can peruse the menu and become comfortable with the choices. Second, it is open for weekday breakfast and lunch (lower investment of time and expectations than dinner). Finally, spices are applied with a light hand.

Set on 12th Avenue, just a block south of Watertown Coffee, Blue Nile is a small blue box of a restaurant.  On the first occasion that we visited, Ghana v Uruguay played a World Cup match on the flat screen LCD television mounted to the wall. A group of Ethiopian men had pushed chairs against the back wall and were watching the game intently.  They sweetly humored the sole Uruguay fan in the restaurant, while sipping Lipton tea.

We ordered the Vegetarian Combo for $11. This was a standard Ethiopian vegetarian mixed plate composed of Shiro Wot, Gomen, Tikka Gomen and green beans and carrots.  As usual, the Gomen (typically Collard greens) was my favorite.  We found the Shiro Wot blander and a bit more mashed than usual.  Our trick of pairing the Gomen & Shiro Wot in one bite did not compensate for the lack of seasoning in the Shiro Wot.  So, we asked for and received some Awaze (a mild chili paste).  This solved the seasoning issue.  As it turns out, we left the restaurant at the right time – when Ghana and Uruguay were tied 1-1.  We avoided the agony of the penalty shootout (wherein one of the Uruguay players blocked a Ghanian goal with his hand calling it “the hand of God”).

Earlier this week, we returned to the Blue Nile.  No World Cup game but “Say Anything”, a movie that was filmed in Seattle, played on the television. We sampled Blue Nile’s fantastic Foul ($7). Foul is spiced fava beans in olive oil with diced tomato and onion.  At Blue Nile, they serve the Foul with diced Jalapeno and Feta cheese crumbles. Instead of the flatbread that is served alongside at Middle Eastern places, Blue Nile’s Foul is accompanied by perfectly toasted loaves of thin-crusted bread, .

Blue Nile service is friendly and appropriately attentive. However, English comprehension may present an issue. On one occasion, we asked both our waitress and the proprietress if we could have some Tej (honey wine), but neither seemed to comprehend what was asked for.  We did not press for the wine, since it was lunchtime, and we were full.

Dixon’s Used Furniture open for business

Have you been looking for a cheap used furniture place that is not quite as hit & miss as Goodwill?  If so, you will be happy to hear that Dixon’s Nothing New Used Furniture is now open for business at 912 12th Avenue (in between Majiles Cafe and the planned Habibi Restaurant).  We stopped by and found them helping customers already.

You may remember Dixon’s from their old location at 12th Avenue East and Pike (in the Packard Building).  They closed Dixon’s Used Furniture in 2005 and then opened up a bed and mattress store at the same location.  The latter closed, when the Packard Building began development to a mixed use building. 

In our post on Habibi Restaurant published last week, we had an incorrect photo of 912 12th Avenue.  The correct photo now appears in the post. 

Habibi Restaurant planned for 12th Avenue

Thanks to tips from CD News readers, we investigated recent construction activity in the 900 block of 12th Avenue.  We spoke to Adel Abud, the individual authorizing the development at 908 12th Avenue and the owner of neighboring Majiles Cafe, about his plans for the site.  Abud confirmed that he is planning to open a Middle Eastern eatery called Habibi Restaurant.  He said that construction at the site has just begun and he hopes to open the restaurant by the end of 2010.

CD News reader Bill Zosel alerted us to the fact that 908 12th Avenue has historic significance for the city:  “This is the building on 12th Avenue that was the home of Doc Hamilton’s Barbecue also known as the 908 Club —mentioned extensively in Paul deBarros’s book “Jackson Street After Hours”.  Possibly the most notable ‘speakeasy’ in Seattle back in the day.”

The Seattle Times corroborates Zosel in an article they published in 1996 about the SPD’s Prohibition-era Dry Squad:

BUT ALTHOUGH A MAJORITY OF [SEATTLE]CITIZENS SUPPORTED PROHIBITION MEASURES, a similar number was unwilling to obey these laws once in force.  

As a result, speak-easies multiplied, and rum runners and moonshiners happily provided all the supply they needed. Proximity to Canada ensured that the Northwest would have a steady, though high-priced, flow of liquor.

Trucks and cars loaded with cases of contraband jolted through fields and forests to sneak across the border, but the daring rumrunners, dodging Coast Guard patrol boats, brought most packaged whiskey into Washington. In high-powered speedboats, equipped with false bottoms or cleverly concealed compartments, they made nightly trips depositing their secret cargo on the docks and beaches of Puget Sound. 

Roy Olmsted, a former Seattle Police officer, ran the most notorious and successful of these operations, reputedly netting as much as $200,000 a month.

Federal enforcement officers could not figure out how he consistently evaded them until finally learning that his wife, a radio broadcaster, relayed coded messages to the smugglers during her evening program of children’s stories.

One of Olmsted’s best customers was John “Doc” Hamilton, the urbane proprietor of Seattle’s most popular speakeasy. Doc’s Barbecue Pit on 12th Avenue near Marion Street attracted the cream of Seattle society with its fine cuisine and even finer selection of wines and liquor.

For many years, “Doc” was able to keep his business running by judicious payments to local law-enforcement officers and by the fact that most of the city’s high-placed judges and politicians frequented his establishment.

Reel Grrls wins 2010 Mayor’s Arts Award

Out of 459 applications, Reel Grrls is one of three organizations and three individual artists to receive a 2010 Mayor’s Arts Award.  Reel Grrls is a Central District nonprofit whose goal is empower girls through film.  As winners of the the this award, Reel Grrls will be recognized by Mayor McGinn at a Bumbershoot ceremony on 9/3/10.  In addition, they will be featured on Seattle Channel programs and City Arts magazine.  They run several summer programs, including the 2010 Summer Apprenticeship Program (deadline is 7/1/10).  

Here is the Reel Grrls backgrounder submitted for the award:

Founded in 2001 by Malory Graham, Reel Grrls is an award-winning program devoted to empowering young women through media production.

Reel Grrls’ mission is to cultivate voice and leadership in girls at a vulnerable time in their development. The participants don’t just drop into a computer lab after school – they develop lasting relationships with women filmmakers and learn skills that propel them to leadership roles in their community, college scholarships and careers in the media industry. More than 60 percent of participants, many of whom are low income and at-risk teens, receive scholarships.

Reel Grrls offers a variety of hands-on workshops in specific skills including animation, cinematography, script writing and more. The organization offers day camps, weekend and after-school workshops, and an apprenticeship program in which advanced students provide professional video production services to Seattle-area nonprofits.

In addition to providing young women with access to resources that allow them to create meaningful films, Reel Grrls helps teens showcase their work at festivals and local public screenings. Reel Grrls films have been screened and honored at more than 80 film festivals in the United States and abroad. Recent highlights include winning two Student Emmys from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and official selections in the Los Angeles Film Festival, the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festivals.

For the past two years, Team Reel Grrls, a group of 10 Seattle-area women filmmakers who also serve as Reel Grrls mentors and staff, have received top honors in the International Documentary Challenge. In 2008, Team Reel Grrls won best film out of a pool of 150 international contestants and took home two 2009 jury awards, including best editing.  

"Street Girls" sign stolen from Bottleneck and Cafe Char closes for good

Erin Nestor, the owner of CDNews Sponsor Bottleneck Lounge, reports that the “Street Girls” sign that used to hang by the second bathroom was stolen between 5 pm on June 7th and 12:30 a.m on June 8th.  Here are the details from Nestor:

It was firmly secured to the wall by our second bathroom, where it has been displayed since we expanded the bar last August.  The sign is small enough (approximately 14” by 10”) that it could be slipped into someone’s bike messenger bag or under a coat and walked out of the bar (quickly) without drawing the bartender’s attention.  

Last Monday was rather slow and as such I’m confident that we’ll get to the bottom of this.  In the interim, through twitter and our facebook page (check it out as there are a couple of good comments) we’re asking for its return.  If someone walks in by tomorrow and simply hands us the sign – we’ll ask no questions nor will we assume that the messenger is the guilty party.

When you own a bar you become accustomed to the occasional ‘removal’ of petty items – we’ve never been able to keep PBR glasses in stock, our Irish flags fly out the door during St. Patrick’s Day and I won’t even go into the constant disappearance of the Peroni glassware.  I can chalk that up to the cost of doing business.  But the removal of a framed item from our very wall irks me – we purchased it from a friend of Rachel Maxi’s about six months after we opened – it was a great garage sale ‘find,’ an item imbued with nostalgia, and it’s now a heartfelt loss.  I suspect that someone who has only visited our bar on rare occasions now has it hanging in his/her house.  And we want it back.

Last month, Cafe Char quietly shut its doors.  We contacted Endanchy Girma, Cafe Char’s owner and the owner of the 2314 East Madison building it is housed in, who explained the reasons for Cafe Char’s closure: 

After trying so many different ways to keep the shop open, I just realized I do not have the time. I travel quite a bit so hiring someone to run it on my behalf is so difficult.  I am trying to lease it so someone with the experience to take over.   Theresa (the lady who opened the shop in March)  had to go to South Africa for family emergency. 

Girma is currently seeking a tenant for the space.

Washington Hall and Japanese Cultural Center win $165k

In April 2010, CD News informed you of a contest put on by our then sponsor, Partners in Preservation, to award up to $1M in preservation funds to various historic and culturally significant sites across Puget Sound. 

Tuesday, Partners in Preservation announced additional eleven historic and culturally significant sites in the Sound area to receive sizable grants for historic preservation projects.  The Central District managed to snag two of the eleven significant grants.  Washington Hall received $90,000 to install new electrical service to allow the safe operation of the theater, and the Japanese Cultural & Community Center won $75,000 to rehabilitate the Center’s primary facades, including siding, windows and entry porticos.

The Urban League Building did not walk away empty-handed – receiving $5,000 as a consolation prize. 

Where to watch the World Cup in the CD – Updated

CDNews sponsor Bottleneck Lounge open its doors extra early on Saturday June 12 at 10:30 am, so that you can settle down before the USA v England match kicks off at 11:30 am.  Folks in jerseys – any soccer jersey – will enjoy $3.50 drafts.  Draft beer selections are Trumer Pilsner, Manny’s Pale Ales and Odin Ruby.   

If you’re seeking more Francophile surroundings, Cafe Presse hosts a World Cup Kick-Off Party Friday June 11 from 7 am to 9 am.  You can watch Mexico take on South Africa, the host nation.  Party features include the following:

  • Free Popcorn
  • $3 Modelos and Mimosas
  • Give-AwaysWin a reserved table at Café Presse for the Final Match on July 11
  • Croque/Frites/Oeufs Mayo punch cards available only during World Cup matches  

Ras Dashen and most of the Ethiopian restaurants in the area have televisions that will be tuned to the World Cup.

For family-friendly surroundings, catch the replay of World Cup games at Madrona Eatery & Ale House.

Here are some options over towards Capitol Hill, including what might be the biggest party in Seattle – at Neumos.

Update: Two CDNews Sponsors will be showing the World Cup as well – All Purpose Pizza (will be open at 9 am – their usual time – will offer “cheapie mimosas, special World Cup B’fast Pizza and Fritata of the weekend” & Twilight Exit will open at a special time 10 am on Saturday & Sunday   “$1.50 Pabst Draft, $3 Microbrew Drafts, $2.50 Well Drinks, and $5 Mimosas until 8pm”