Leon Capelouto’s plan for Premier Liquor Store in The Junction

Just spoke with Leon Capelouto, the longtime Junction entrepreneur/property owner, who confirms he will run the soon-to-be-former state liquor store in his Capco Plaza, without much change – for starters – from its current operations. The state branded it Premier Liquor Store before opening it nine months ago, and that’s the signage/name that Capelouto tells WSB he is keeping for now. He says it’s “still going to be a premium liquor store, going to carry a lot of items that people can’t find elsewhere – it’s one of the most complete liquor stores in the state of Washington.” He says he is “hiring all the people who worked there, so the personnel will be the same.”

We followed up with Capelouto after reporting the state’s announcement yesterday that it would close most stores one or more days before the official transition to privatization next Friday. The last day for both West Seattle liquor stores will be next Tuesday, May 29th. Capelouto says he is one of a handful of new liquor-store owners who then will be opening their stores the first day possible, Friday, June 1st – as building owner, he said, he was able to “get a jump on” the process. (The state’s auction – in which Capelouto bid $225K for licensing rights – did not guarantee all bidders the right to the locations; they had to negotiate with property owners.)

He has plenty of retail experience, after all – as owner of the Shafrans clothing store in The Junction for more than 40 years, just steps away from Capco Plaza, which also is home to QFC and Petco stores and Altamira Apartments, as well as smaller storefronts on the building’s east side. He also was high bidder for a state liquor store he will operate in Issaquah.

Bottom line for the Junction location, he says, “West Seattle needs a fine liquor store. … I know the community wants to keep that store.” Though it will be open June 1st with, for starters, the same hours as the state has kept, he says it’ll be a work in progress and that there will be an official “grand opening” somewhere down the line.

Other West Seattle retailers planning to sell liquor include eight of the nine grocery stores (PCC Natural Markets [WSB sponsor] still hasn’t decided) and all four drugstores. (We’re checking on the Westwood state-store site.)

22 Replies to "Leon Capelouto's plan for Premier Liquor Store in The Junction"

  • Stephanie May 23, 2012 (10:29 am)

    I applaud Capelouto for keeping the same employees. And how nice to be able to use the same location, it is so beautiful inside!

  • cher stefano May 23, 2012 (10:41 am)

    West Seattle Thriftway will also have a liquor dept.correct?

    • WSB May 23, 2012 (10:44 am)

      Yes. In the last line, I wrote, all but one local grocery store – PCC – will have liquor. That means you’ll find it at Thriftway, Metropolitan Market, both QFCs, all three Safeways, and Trader Joe’s. Target too (which is now a grocery store too, you might recall). And as noted, the drugstores (both Rite Aids, both Bartells, [edit to add] both Walgreens).

  • YarnCore May 23, 2012 (10:50 am)

    I’m hoping this is kind of like a BevMo situation, where you can find any liquor you may need including things you can’t find anywhere else

  • Mike May 23, 2012 (10:52 am)

    Is this one of the liquor stores that QFC will block due to the lease? Or does he own the plaza?


  • LanceR May 23, 2012 (10:53 am)

    With yesterdays news that QFC was exercising it’s right to block a couple of the small liquor stores and requiring them to move, I’m assuming that because Capelouto owns the building, that QFC as a tenant won’t block this?

    I couldn’t remember if the premier store had 10,000+ feet to not even be an issue.

  • Trying! May 23, 2012 (10:54 am)

    What happened with the one mile away restriction that QFC was enforcing?

    • WSB May 23, 2012 (10:55 am)

      If you mean yesterday’s story in the Times, that was reported as involving only two areas, neither here. And of note in this particular case may be the fact that Leon Capelouto owns the building in which QFC is a tenant and in which he will operate this store … TR

  • vraxvalhalla May 23, 2012 (12:51 pm)

    I was in the Westwood store yesterday. The employees I spoke with said the store will close, and they will be working at the Junction store.

  • stb May 23, 2012 (1:10 pm)

    I appreciate his wanting to keep the current employees but I would hope he would also hire some people who actually KNOW SOMETHING about fine liquors.

  • CMP May 23, 2012 (1:21 pm)

    Exclusive uses vary by location/lease so the QFC in the Junction may not be able to prohibit Premier Liquor Store from operating. It has nothing to do with whether Leon Capelouto owns the building or not…but I’m sure that would work to his advantage to amend any agreements, should one exist. As many people stated in the Times comments section, the brokers should have been more thorough in their due diligence related to exclusive uses at those other locations on the Eastside.

  • cj May 23, 2012 (2:15 pm)

    Pretty much every place that could sell is likely going to. I’m seeing the coming soon signs everywhere we go on our weekend shopping. I keep thinking the local liquor market is going to be flooded with supply vs demand. I have to wonder if the effect on the local economy vs the distributors pocket books were considered. Good for local party at home people , maybe not so good for the sellers and pubs.

  • West Seattleite May 23, 2012 (6:01 pm)

    All an employee needs to know at a liquor store, fine liquor, or otherwise, is that the stuff has alcohol in it. Just being nice to the customers will be a big plus. The customers generally know what they want. ALCOHOL.

  • Genesee Hill May 23, 2012 (7:26 pm)

    Yes, we have a fine selection of vodka, all 80 proof. Don’t you think the Prince Alexis has a nice bouquet compared to the Smirnoff?

    And our Royal Gentleman Whiskey is on sale today. Some people claim it is as good as the Canadian Club they sell in Mexico!


  • Keith May 23, 2012 (7:53 pm)

    He says it’s “still going to be a premium liquor store, going to carry a lot of items that people can’t find elsewhere

    Bravo! This is great news and a smart move.
    There is definitely some non-premium dreck to be cleared from the shelves in that store (mostly in the wine area) to make room for more unique and interesting products & brands. But it’s already one of the best state liquor stores, and hopefully will only get better.
    It’s a nice and noble thing to retain the original employees for now. I think the ones who don’t know or care much about the booze biz will find their own way to the door in pursuit of another government job that asks for little but pays more, which has been pretty much what most existing state liquor store employees have expressed to me when I’ve asked them about it.

  • C May 23, 2012 (10:10 pm)

    What will the hours be?

    • WSB May 23, 2012 (10:17 pm)

      C- whatever hours it’s operating right now, which are probably on the state website somewhere (I will look a little bit later and add here if I can find them) – TR

  • junction rez May 23, 2012 (10:31 pm)

    So does this mean that they’ll be able to keep the ‘Grand Opening’ banner on the building for another 2 years? The east side of the building (41st Ave) looks awful, signage and banners everywhere.

  • Neighbor May 24, 2012 (9:08 am)

    Yup, it’s time for both Capco Plaza and Link to take down all of their banners announcing Grand Opening and Now Leasing. When can we expect that to happen management companies?

  • Steven F May 28, 2012 (7:10 pm)

    I just saw a tentative employee schedule, only 2 current employee’s are on it, Dolly is bringing 3 from a different store over to the Junction store which is not right considering the current employee’s have been there alot longer and are great workers. Plan & Simple just so wrong!!!

  • teresa May 29, 2012 (2:35 pm)

    The story posted about Leon is not based on facts. I work at the liqour store and can tell all of you personally that most of the previous staff will be changed out for staff from the westwood village location, leaving the west seattle employees wondering what they will do. Most of them have more years with the liquor board and just found out yesterday that they would not be coming back!!!! Thank the manager that was just brought in a month prior to closing!!!! So today is the day to say goodbye to your old west seattle staff!!!!!

  • WSB May 29, 2012 (3:11 pm)

    Hi – thanks for your comment. Just one thing: Yes, it is based on facts – in terms of, it is a fact that Leon Capelouto told us that, when we interviewed him last week. Our story says only that he *said* he is “hiring all the people who worked there” – a direct quote. I can’t vouch for anything having changed since I interviewed him six days ago … TR

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