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Monday, March 11, 2013

The Canterbury Is Closing at the End of the Year, But...

Posted by on Mon, Mar 11, 2013 at 2:55 PM

For a long time, the suit of armor that greets you upon entering the Canterbury had a sign hung around its neck that said "Seat Thyself." The Canterbury—going on four decades old—is the world's best ye-olde-English-pub-themed dive bar, complete with dark wood beams, a fireplace, pool tables, shuffleboard, cheap liquor, and fried foods (as well as delicious soups made by the amazing Janice of Calamity Jane’s in Georgetown). As Charles Mudede has pointed out, the Canterbury is perfectly situated, almost equidistant from Group Health hospital and the Volunteer Park cemetery; this is how we should spend the long, cold days between infancy and death—sitting by a fire, drinking.

We love the Canterbury.

Capitol Hill Housing owns the building housing the Canterbury and the Fredonia apartments. (In case you're unfamiliar with CHH, here's some information on its mission: "Founded in 1976 as an outgrowth of community action, CHH currently owns and operates 44 buildings, providing safe and affordable housing to low- and moderate-income individuals and families in Capitol Hill and nine other Seattle area neighborhoods... We are committed to creating equitable and sustainable communities in central Seattle... We envision a diverse community that includes housing for individuals and families across a broad range of incomes.")

The Canterbury's lease is up at the end of the year, and CHH is not renewing the lease. CHH does not comment on lease issues with tenants.

Asked why the Canterbury's lease is not being renewed, Canterbury owner Stefanie Roberge admitted that the business has been late with its rent for the last five months and that there is a "cash-flow problem." She said, "They [CHH] wanted me to sign something that they were not responsible for me breaking my arm, and I wouldn’t say that they weren’t responsible for that, so they refused to sign off on the line of credit that we had had previously from our bank. They refused to sign off on it." Asked about the broken arm, Roberge said that "They [CHH] let the sidewalk get to the point where there was a hole about three inches deep. I twisted my ankle and fell and broke my arm and got a concussion," about three years ago. She said that CHH has a $50,000 lien on her home from when she bought the business 13 years ago, and that when she refused to sign something indicating she would not hold CHH responsible for her medical bills from the broken arm, CHH "exacerbated" the business' cash-flow problem by "not allowing us to get that line of credit again." (UPDATE: CHH has no comment.)

Roberge said she was about to write a check for this month's rent today. "It’s just so convoluted," she said. "What I really want to do is retire at the end of the year and sell the business to somebody—I want to sell the Canterbury to somebody else who wants to open a restaurant. But they [CHH] won’t let me do that." Why? "Because they hate us."

While CHH will not comment on pending lease issues with tenants, Capitol Hill Housing Foundation executive director Michael Seiwerath will say that despite rumors to the contrary, CHH is not moving its offices into the Canterbury space—CHH's offices will be relocating into the new 12th Avenue Arts building upon its completion.

Regarding the Canterbury space, Seiwerath also said, "There's a possibility that it will remain a restaurant or bar space." The process for finding a replacement tenant will unfold later this year.

You can share your feelings on the topic at tonight's Capitol Hill Housing monthly board meeting at 6:00 p.m. at Seattle University, in room 500E on the fifth floor in Casey Commons. Public comment (on any topic) is limited to 6:05 to 6:20; the rest of the meeting (except one discussion of the price of a property) is open to the public, but the Canterbury/Fredonia lease situation is not on the agenda. A website apparently organized by Canterbury fans, Save Our Canterbury, is asking people to call CHH and lobby to have the lease renewed, but it appears that ship has fully sailed. CHH indicated that there will be future forums for community discussion on the issue—we'll keep you posted. UPDATE: I may have inadvertently mischaracterized CHH's stance here; Seiwerath says, "It was not my intent to indicate that there will be future forum for community discussion. We are not planning any."

Convoluted, indeed. And too bad all around.

 

Comments (23) RSS

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Cato the Younger Younger 1
There are about three cool places on the hill to hang out without parents hauling their kids in and this is one of them.

Capitol Hill = Bellevue or Redmond
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on March 11, 2013 at 3:01 PM · Report this
seandr 2
Damn, that's a serious bummer.
Posted by seandr on March 11, 2013 at 3:08 PM · Report this
3
It's good to see that an important non-profit like CHH is being run by sensible people whose sole responsibility is to make sure that the organization is run in a sustainable manner. They provide a very important service to Capitol Hill and to the City and should not be burdened with a commercial renter who cannot be bothered to pay her rent on time.
Posted by imoncaphill on March 11, 2013 at 3:14 PM · Report this
michael strangeways 4
So. Damn. Depressing.

One of the VERY few, old school, non-gentrified/yuppified bar diners left on Capitol Hill.

And, ultimately, a new upscale watering hole will replace it with expensive food and communal tables.
Posted by michael strangeways http://www.seattlegayscene.com/ on March 11, 2013 at 3:17 PM · Report this
mr. herriman 5
Terrible news.
Posted by mr. herriman on March 11, 2013 at 3:21 PM · Report this
Jubilation T. Cornball 6
@3 - I'm with you on the CHH-run-responsibly thing but nothing here suggests that the owner "could not be bothered" to pay her rent. It looks like when she had the money, she tried.
Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball on March 11, 2013 at 3:35 PM · Report this
7
This is terrible news. Nothing with any character can survive here anymore. Seattle's one big wishy-wash of unaffordable and soulless money pits.

Also, say goodbye to the Alki. Ugh.
http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2…

Posted by Kelly O on March 11, 2013 at 3:52 PM · Report this
8
AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This has been my neighborhood bar for the past 7 years. shitty news. I know its going to be replaced with same kind of upper scale restaurant that's been popping up all along 15th.
Nothing against those places but the Canterbury is just some old school no-nonsense awesomeness.
Any chance they could sell it? The place is in dire need of a refresh, but the customer base is there.
Posted by Conrad McMasters on March 11, 2013 at 3:57 PM · Report this
Zurls 9
What part of this indicates in any way that CHH acts responsibly or is providing an important service? These are some serious issues and I think someone from the City or Olympia should have a look at how CHH is conducting business. With 44 building it seems highly unlikely that they give as much interest to the needs of their "low-to-medium income" tenants as they do to their own "sustainability". With the current douche-baggery of the Apodments scam running rampant with Seattle developers on Capitol Hill (and the City Council's either bribed obeisance or incompetent malfeasance) it would be nice to know if CHH have any Apodments in the works. Just that alone would be a telling indictment.
Posted by Zurls on March 11, 2013 at 4:05 PM · Report this
Rotten666 10
1. Yes, a shame that the beloved Canterbury is coming to it's end, but then again, um, pay your fucking rent on time.

2. For those lamenting the loss of "true" Seattle dives, get the fuck off the hill, crybabies. Nothing lasts forever, especially in a yuppified hellscape like Cap Hill. There is plenty of awesome places elsewhere.

3. Remember when the smoking ban went into effect? And you can actually smell the vomit and shit and mold in your favorite dives? The Canterbury probably smelled the worst. Well maybe not as bad as the Clever Dunne's. But oy, what a stink.

4. I love the Canterbury and will miss it. Lots of great memories.
Posted by Rotten666 on March 11, 2013 at 4:21 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 11
come up to wedgwood - the broiler's not going anywhere!
Posted by Max Solomon on March 11, 2013 at 4:25 PM · Report this
sikandro 12
CHS says "The decision not to renew the lease was reportedly made four years ago."

If that's the case, and if the Canterbury has only had trouble paying rent over the last 5 months or so, then CHH isn't giving them the boot because of issues in their ability to pay rent on time.

http://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2013/0…
Posted by sikandro on March 11, 2013 at 4:56 PM · Report this
13
It seems like a lot of people commenting didn't actually read the whole article...
Posted by g on March 11, 2013 at 5:12 PM · Report this
14
Capitol Hill Housing shoulders the blame on this one. As sikandro points out, we need to know more about how/ why CHH planned to evict the Canturbury for some time.

As a former CHH resident, I can say that it is well known that residents in the Fredonia (the apartments upstairs) tended to really get frustrated with the noise level of Canterbury patrons, as well as folks from the bar smoking and talking outside their windows late at night. That might have created pressure for CHH to produce a quieter environment, as well as to gentrify the space to bring in more revenue.
Posted by Trevor Griffey on March 11, 2013 at 5:13 PM · Report this
16
I got bit by a patrons dog in the bar. The patron disappeared while I cleaned the wound in the bathroom. The server told me the dog owner patron was a regular, and they knew him well. I asked the Canterbury to get the rabies vaccination information from the owner. They were less than helpful. It wasn't until the threat of legal action (which I didn't want to do) were they convinced to do something about the situation.

That they are having problems now doesn't exactly warm my cockels, but it does show that karma has a long memory.
Posted by ProstSeattle on March 11, 2013 at 7:19 PM · Report this
sikandro 17
@16. Considering how many people love the Canterbury, it sounds more like you had the bad karma coming.
Posted by sikandro on March 11, 2013 at 7:41 PM · Report this
18
Annnd capitol hill is officially 100% yuppie wasteland.
Posted by matt! on March 11, 2013 at 8:05 PM · Report this
19
The Canterbury is OK, but I miss the The Five-O Tavern, which turned into the fucking Hopvine.
Posted by mint chocolate chip on March 11, 2013 at 8:27 PM · Report this
meanie 20
Oh man, you mean people have to pay for stuff if you want it to keep it?

People who run run down dive bars with super low prices that cater to career drunks are bad at managing money?

man this is full of revelations.
Posted by meanie http://www.spicealley.net on March 12, 2013 at 9:42 AM · Report this
22
plenty of good neighborhood spots off the hill, guys.

I mean, yeah. this sucks. the canterbury rules and it's a shame to see them go. but everyone seems to think that Seattle= Capitol Hill.
Posted by gi on March 12, 2013 at 3:44 PM · Report this
23
Remember the old Canterbury ads back in the early 90s? "Conveniently located between the hospital and the cemetery!"

I will miss that place more than I miss the 5-0, Eileen's, the Gay 90s, and the Jade Pagoda rolled into one.
Posted by mitten on March 12, 2013 at 5:26 PM · Report this
24
Late on rent does not suggest non payment, we ARE current. I would rather be a little late on rent than stiff my employees.CHH can wait a few days they can't .
Posted by canterburystefanie on March 13, 2013 at 4:52 PM · Report this
25
By the way, The canterbury has paid OVER A MILLION $ in rent since my husband and I bought it in 1999
Posted by canterburystefanie on March 13, 2013 at 4:56 PM · Report this

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