After 30 Years, B&O Espresso May be Forced to Close
Frizzelle may lose his view yet.
An ominous notice has gone up at B&O Espresso on Olive Way: The building the B&O is in may be torn down to make way for yet more condos. “It’s kind of up in the air, and it won’t be for a while,” Katharine, a manager, told me when I called B&O. “The city put up a sign, and it looks like the soonest it would happen would be a year and a half from now.”
Nate, a Stranger reader who lives a block from the B&O, wrote in after receiving a letter from the city about the new development. Says Nate…
I am really, really furious: B&O is a landmark on capital hill… they have the best desserts ever, and it is such a good place I always keep going back! It is in the top 3 reason I moved here, and I always take friends & family who are visiting Seattle to B&O. The worst part is that they just finished printing all their 30 year anniversary flyers when they received the news. If they would at least provide enough space in the new mega building so B&O could open up again, I think it would be okay. I would prefer not to have a mega building like that on my block, but if B+O goes away it is going to change the feeling of the neighborhood drastically…. Well, if you guys think this is important, then you can get the word out right?
We’re on it, Nate.
Unfortunately your idea—make sure the B&O gets the retail space in the new building—isn’t going to work out. Majed Lukapah, who has owned B&O for 30 years, tells me that the developers talked to him about occupying the retail space in the new building, “but it’s very, very small, 2200 square feet. Once you put in a kitchen, handicapped bathrooms, a counter—there’s no room left for seating. We would need at least 3500 square feet of space.â€ť
According to Lukapah, B&O Espresso was the first espresso place on Capitol Hill, and one of the first three in the entire city.
“People are angry, and they think I’m the one to blame,â€ť says Lukapah. “People are saying it’s my building and I want to tear it down and build condos. People are asking me, `Why do you want to tear this building down?’ I say, `It’s not me, there’s nothing I can do about it!â€ť
There’s a meeting next Wednesday, April 19th, at Seattle Central Community College, at 6:30 PM. “Anybody who wants to complain can meet with the city at this meeting and talk with them,â€ť says Lukapah. “There is a chance, if people fight this, that we can save the building.â€ť
If the building can’t be saved, perhaps the developers can be convinced to expand the retail space to the 3500 square feet that Lukapah needs to keep the B&O in business.
In the meantime, if anyone knows of a space on Capitol Hill that’s at least 3500 square feet, Lukapah would appreciate a call.
UPDATE: Aw, crap. I tossed this up as quickly as I could, because I had to get home. I wanted to amend this post before anyone really saw it, but… too late. I’m already being called out in the comments. Isn’t the Stranger for density? We are, and I’m not all that upset about the demise of the one-story building that currently houses B&O. While B&O may be historic (or as historic as a thirty year-old coffee shop can be), the building its in isn’t really all that remarkable.
I was working toward my preferred solution at the end of my dashed-off post: Instead of pressuring the city or the developer to drop the project, we should pressure the developer to increase the size of the retail space so that B&O can stay on the site.
And even if the B&O doesn’t survive—God forbid—it hardly signals the end of Capitol Hill culture.