Community & Business Development Update – August 2014

Karen True, Director of Business Development

Everybody’s talking…

Café Nordo co-founders Erin Brindley and Terry Podgorski fell in love with Pioneer Square when they produced last year’s spaghetti western, SMOKED!, at The Kitchen by Delicatus. Later, after they tired of moving their live theatre-dinner productions from venue to venue, they decided to look for a permanent home in our neighborhood. Last month they announced they are ready to begin the build-out of Nordo’s Culinarium in the Globe Building. They’ll take the space at 109 S Main that runs along Nord Alley. (Nordo’s on Nord Alley. Fun, yes?)

The press is all a-twitter about the news. (Check out a couple of articles here and here.) While we’re thrilled about bringing live theatre to Pioneer Square, it’s especially sweet because of the deep connection Erin and Terry feel to our neighborhood. So much so, that they asked to share a personal letter with all who live and work in Pioneer Square. This one’s for you. Read it here.

As you know, things are picking up quickly on the retail front. Several new businesses are busy building out their spaces and should be opening their doors for business by fall.

  • Velouria – in Stadium Place. Owners Cat Wilcox and Chika Eustace are thrilled about being part of the Pioneer Square community. They sell all U.S. and Canadian-made goods with an emphasis on Pacific Northwest designers.  “We love the personal touch of handmade items that are not mass-produced, and above all, goods that are beautiful and high quality.” They will be open in Ballard for a few more weeks. You can check them out on instagram (@hellovelouria).
  • Dry Goods Design – at S Main St & Occidental Ave S. Keli Faw just got the keys on Friday and is hard at work to get the space opened on August 29th. They’re planning an opening party on Friday, September 5th. “We are so excited to be providing a space where people can work as individuals and with others to use their hands (and often a machine) to make something or everything, providing both  machines and tools for our students. Our fall class schedule, including ‘Lunchbreak Lessons’, will range from ‘This is a Sewing Machine’ to advanced garment construction classes, dyeing workshops, hand lettering, embroidery and more.” In addition to classes, Dry Good Design will offer a thoughtfully and lovingly curated selection of fabrics, notions, home goods, stationery, and more.
  • Clementines – on Occidental Mall, next door to London Plane.  Linda Walsh is moving her popular women’s shoe store from West Seattle to Pioneer Square. She’s all about fabulous women’s shoes and clothing. She said they are on a tight timeline, but are “up for the challenge.” She hopes to be open within 4-6 weeks. “If we aren’t open in time for the big weekend in September (Seahawks on September 4–Design Festival sets up the following day) we will be around to pass out coupons to use at the new space.”
  • Cone & Steinerin Stadium Place. In addition to everything else we might find in an urban general store, they’ll have a “growler station” with local beers. We’re all watching those windows, waiting for the paper to come down and the doors to open…
  • Elm Coffee – in Pacific Commercial Building at 2nd Ave S & S Main St. The roll out menus for the Elm Coffee micro-roaster and cafe will feature some lightly roasted excellent coffees from Guatemala, Colombia and Ethiopia.  Perhaps a few choice Kenyans on occasion, too.  Owner, Brendan Mullally, explained, “We want to be a comfortably elegant café. Super friendly, non-pretentious service is paramount.  Great clean coffees served simply.  Occasional special treats like affagotos, espresso with bitters, horchata, and home-made peppermint mochas.” Brendan hopes to be serving coffee for the neighborhood by the end of September.
  • Good Bar – in the Pacific Commercial Building at 2nd Ave S & S Main. Though the build-out is taking a little longer than expected, Good Bar owners say they’ll be open for happy hours and dinners this fall.
  • Sprout – next door to Smith Tower on 2nd Ave. Michael Kelly’s vision of a restaurant where everything on the menu is healthy (really, everything!), is on track to become a reality. He’s hard at work building out the space and will keep us posted as things unfold.
  • Fleurt – on S Washington St, next to Pioneer Passage Alley. We’re having fun watching this lovely space come to life. Stay tuned. Flowers ahead.
  • Seattle Sounders – in the Washington Shoe Building on Occidental Ave S. This is late-breaking news: in addition to moving their offices to Pioneer Square, the Sounders are developing plans to open something very special on the street for the public. Curious? So are we. More details soon.
  • Pizzeria Gabbiano – in the Pacific Commercial Building at 2nd Ave S & S Main St. Mike Easton is in the thick of putting the last touches on his fabulous space in preparation of opening. It should be any day now…

I had hoped to write about some of our existing retail and restaurant businesses this month—both those who’ve weathered multiple economic turns and those who haven’t been open as long. While it’s fabulous fun to talk about what’s new, this neighborhood works because so many are committed to a bigger vision of Pioneer Square and believe in the possibilities. New stores and restaurants complement what long-established favorites put in place.

So…I’m going to work to pull together a few new stories about old favorites and how they helped set the stage for the new. Got some ideas? Please share. The coffee’s on me!


Karen True

Director of Business Development

Alliance for Pioneer Square

Business & Community Development Update – July 2014

World Cup viewing in Nord AlleyThe amount of activity in the neighborhood is dizzying. New leases are getting signed, spaces are in build-out mode, and doors are opening for business. Sidewalk cafes are popping up just in time for our long-awaited summer. The farmers market, ArtsParks installations, and buskers are back in the parks. And the World Cup is bringing people together in bars, restaurants, conference rooms, lobbies, and Nord Alley. Where else could you possibly want to be right now?

The new Pioneer Square Map & Guide will be out soon, but here’s a head start on what’s new and unfolding. While it’s easy to get caught up in all that’s new and shiny, remember our existing businesses have been hard at work making this the neighborhood where others want to set up shop. So get out there. Take a walk. Visit a new restaurant, whether it’s new to Pioneer Square or new to you. Meet a friend for happy hour. Buy something for yourself, just because you can. Enjoy your neighborhood.


Newly open for business

Joe’s Cantina

Tango Zulu (opening July 3)

Damn the Weather

The Hidden Alchemist


The Cellar at E Smith Mercantile

Hall Spassov Gallery (opening July3)


Coming soon

Pilchuck Glass School – office and gallery

Good Bar

Pizzeria Gabbiano

Elm Coffee


Taylor Shellfish



Quality Athletics

Cone & Steiner



All of the Above: What’s Behind the Revitalization of PSQ

The Washington Shoe Building with cranes at Stadium Place in the background

I’m the first to say that I’ve got the best gig in town.

People seem most intrigued by the “retail recruitment” aspect of my work for good reason. What’s not to like about being the neighborhood matchmaker? I get to connect brilliant retail and restaurant businesses with fabulous spaces in our beautiful historic district. Beat that.

It’s not about filling vacant street level spaces with whomever is ready to sign a lease. Far from it. It’s about finding those quality, intriguing, and relevant retail businesses that will make Pioneer Square an even better place to live, work, and visit. The recruitment strategy developed in 2012 with the help of community stakeholders suggested guidelines for a particular mix of restaurants, retail, and services. It also recommended leading the recruitment effort with food. 26 new storefront businesses opened in Pioneer Square in 2013, 15 of them restaurants. More are scheduled to open in this summer. Not a bad start, right?

What kinds of retail businesses are great candidates? Sometimes it’s an existing business ready to expand or try a new concept. Other times it’s a new venture that’s been the dream of someone working behind the lines for someone else. Sometimes it’s someone I’ve personally invited to take a walk around the neighborhood. Others find their way here all on their own. My goal is to generate a buzz about all that’s happening in our business district. When creative entrepreneurs are ready to “set up shop”, we want them to think about Pioneer Square. Regardless of how they get here, my job is then to help new businesses understand the vision of the neighborhood, help navigate the waters of administrative permits and approvals, connect them to whatever resources might be useful, introduce them to other businesses, and help them spread the word.

As the story of Pioneer Square’s revitalization gets more attention, I’m often asked “what was the real turning point?” Was it the restaurants? The apartments at Stadium Place? The tech companies? The King Street Station renovation? The streetcar? The waterfront? The stadiums? The ….?

Of course, you know the answer. It’s all of the above. And it takes time. Stadium Place, for example, was over ten years in the making. No one program, including the retail recruitment and business development program that fills my days, stands alone. If the Alliance for Pioneer Square hadn’t partnered with so many community stakeholders to weave a sustainable infrastructure based on a comprehensive neighborhood plan, the changes we’re buzzing about wouldn’t stand a chance.

For instance, if it hadn’t been for those long-fought battles:

  • The streetcar route would have ended in the Chinatown/International District.
  • Metered parking would still go until 8:00 PM.
  • After losing those hundreds of parking spaces under the viaduct, there would have been no mitigation dollars to subsidize short-term parking in four neighborhood garages to be cheaper than street parking – and fund free parking for First Thursday.
  • There’d be no marketing of the neighborhood. (Think maps, social media, and those awesome bus ads!)
  • There would be no advocate at the table to make certain our interests are represented in talks about the waterfront, street civility, transportation and public transit, parks, historic preservation, stadiums, housing, etc.

We’re not done. Not even close. We’ll continue to move things forward, welcoming all who care about the future of Pioneer Square to be part of the effort. I’ll continue to watch for cool retail to complement the anchors who have been here for decades, as well as the newest kids on the block.

I welcome all ideas and suggestions about possible retailers – or other kinds of cool uses – that you think might add to the magic of Pioneer Square. What have you seen in another neighborhood or what did you see during that trip to Florence, Prague, or Nashville that would be perfect here? I want to know. The coffee’s on me.

Oh, and be sure to sign up here to join me at the neighborhood Spring Clean on April 19.

Director of Business Development

Community & Business Development Update – March 2014

Kristen-Honeycutt-Photo-Co_karensquare_smallJust sayin’…

Last week we heard from folks around the ‘hood who were thrilled to hear about Good Bar, the new venture by the owners of Marination Station, coming soon to the Pacific Commercial Building. We couldn’t be more excited and can’t wait to see that corner of the neighborhood come to life! (However, may we point out that we already announced Good Bar in last month’s newsletter? Our feelings are a little hurt, loyal readers.)

The newest London Plane is open and it’s a stunner. (Check out these pictures from a recent Eater post.) The food is, as you would expect, extraordinary. The retail side of things is a truly beautiful experience. And the flowers…….oh, the flowers…..

More BIG news and collaborations at Stadium Place… Cone & Steiner announced that they are opening a neighborhood market! Partners Josh Henderson (owner of Skillet & Quality Athletics), Dani Cone (owner of Fuel Coffee and High 5 Pie), and Retrofit Home owners Jon Milazzo and Lori Pomeranz plan to open their doors this fall. (Read more here.)  As if that wasn’t enough great news on S King Street, Jon and Lori announced that they will also be opening a Retrofit Home! Residents at The Nolo must be doing the happy dance, but this is great news for the entire neighborhood.

Reports from the Laika Lounge (co-branded with Trabant Coffee) grand opening last weekend were glowing. Though you may have missed that party, you can still get in on Chef Joseph Bollag’s special pre fixe Russian menu to be offered on March 15-16. Or just stop by after work to introduce yourself to Tatiana and the gang. Tatiana shared a little more about their vision. “Trabant is still in the same place; this is just an evolution. In addition to our menu of coffee, chai, and other beverages, we’ve added a fresh, local approach to Russian food and craft cocktails, making us more of a European style cafe. We’ve branded the food and cocktails side Laika Lounge. Trabant means ‘satellite’ in German and Laika (a Russian dog) was the first space traveler, so they fit hand in hand.”

Finally, we can announce that Damn the Weather will be opening in the space next to the New Orleans Creole Restaurant. Pioneer Square resident, Bryn Lumsden, has been working to make this place a reality for a long time. The paper should be off the windows for both places this spring.  Work is also underway at the future Taylor Shellfish and Intermezzo. But you already knew about those, right?

The days are longer and warmer. Get out there and see what’s happening in your neighborhood!


Karen True

Alliance for Pioneer Square

Business Development Director