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.)