Pioneer Coffee on Alki losing lease, looking for new home

Thanks to the WSB’ers who tipped us to the impending closure of Pioneer Coffee on Alki. To get details, we talked with the shop’s manager, Lisa Del Rosario. She tells WSB that after five years, Pioneer Coffee is doing well – but recently found out that its lease will not be renewed. They have to be out by the end of March. No word yet what will take over the space (no permit filings so far), but the folks at Pioneer are asking you for help: They are asking for ideas of where they might move – sooner rather than later, so they can transfer permits rather than apply for them all over again. They’ve built up a steady clientele for both coffee and afternoon/evening beer and wine, and say they love their loyal customers and hate the thought of leaving Alki and leaving them behind. Right now, they are planning a going-away party for late March, as a way of thanking those beloved customers; if they find a new location sooner, she says, it will be a grand-opening party. If you have a location suggestion – particularly in the Alki area – please e-mail Lisa at or call the café – 206-937-0920.

64 Replies to "Pioneer Coffee on Alki losing lease, looking for new home"

  • Amy February 21, 2013 (11:24 am)

    What about taking over the Charleston on California Ave S.W?

  • Westside J. February 21, 2013 (11:26 am)

    That sucks. I like that place and they always have dog treats for the pup.

  • MTHS February 21, 2013 (11:27 am)

    How about one of those other empty storefronts on Alki? Sad.

  • fering February 21, 2013 (11:27 am)

    Oh darn! We’ve had some of our best business meetings and relaxing happy hours at Pioneer. We hope you find another home soon!

  • Karin February 21, 2013 (11:28 am)

    Empty space where Alki Bakery used to be-:)
    by Safeway in North Admiral next to menchies two free spaces are available and no coffee shops in walking distance….

  • BeachBum February 21, 2013 (11:32 am)

    Alki Tavern!

  • Faith4 February 21, 2013 (11:37 am)

    Expand & grow into Charlestown Cafe old location?

  • William February 21, 2013 (11:42 am)

    Oh no!!! I love Pioneer!! Best coffee on Alki!! How about next to McBucks on Alki?

  • chas redmond February 21, 2013 (11:43 am)

    Oh noooooooooooo!

  • Ugh February 21, 2013 (11:45 am)

    Oh no! Hopefully they’ll find something. Pity to lose the great patio though. Is this where the French restaurant is going to be???

  • M February 21, 2013 (11:46 am)

    That’s horrible they have to leave! I love Pioneer Coffee, especially because of it’s location. It’s the best coffeeshop on Alki, such a great spot. Hopefully they can stay on Alki!

  • L February 21, 2013 (11:50 am)

    This is not cool. Many people enjoy this comfortable coffee house. Not just the great coffee but the atmosphere and management. Alki will be losing a foundational daytime business. Who needs more bars and snack shacks there.

  • M February 21, 2013 (11:58 am)

    Also, I think Pioneer does so well and is so popular BECAUSE it’s on Alki. The seats out front, the chill atmosphere, it works best on Alki. I wonder why they can’t renew their lease? What would go there instead??

  • JG February 21, 2013 (12:09 pm)

    I never understand why property owners force out successful businesses like this. Maybe they have someone in place or maybe they’re just going to have that site empty for months until they can find some deep pocket chain.

    It’s too bad that the Tully’s down the street isn’t one on Tully’s list of closing stores. That would make a perfect location.

    I wonder if they’ve considered the location of Yogurt stand down the stret which has closed.

    Gonna miss it.

  • LG February 21, 2013 (12:10 pm)

    Pioneer Coffee is the best spot on Alki. Terrible that they are being forced to move and their lease is not being renewed. Alki is losing a strong business with loyal customers.

  • Rose February 21, 2013 (12:18 pm)

    Love this place- the only coffee shop that allows dogs inside. Truly terrible that its being forced to close. :-(

  • B_B February 21, 2013 (12:38 pm)

    Great Coffee, Great View. Pioneer will be missed and can’t think of a location in the area that would have the same feel.

  • Max Gangon February 21, 2013 (12:41 pm)

    I say go in that empty spot right next to Starbucks!! Dont let them intimidate you and offer a much better product..

  • JC February 21, 2013 (1:00 pm)

    Charlestown is not a viable option. Not only would they pay more rent, all of their expenses would increase. There aren’t many options in Alki, especially when you have that giant coffee corporation in the corner. It’s sad that the best coffee spot in Alki has to close down. Hope to see you soon in a new place.

  • Gene February 21, 2013 (1:03 pm)

    Karin- Freshys is very close to No. Admiral Safeway-kitty corner across California Ave & while it’s not the same – there not only is a Starbucks inside the store- there’s one just down the block & over – on Admiral. Also great coffes & goodies at Metropolitan Mkt. not that I would mind Pioneer moving to that area- but there are coffee places well within walking distance.
    So sad that Pioneer has to go- love the whole vibe there!

  • coffee February 21, 2013 (1:39 pm)

    I would bet that the spaces by Admiral Safeway are too expensive. I see them posted on Craigslist and the rates per square foot are really high. Charleston location would be nice, but its pretty big for a coffee shop.

  • alkigirl February 21, 2013 (2:13 pm)

    Sad that the independent choice on Alki wont be there…….good luck

  • k February 21, 2013 (3:08 pm)

    another sad loss on Alki. not sure what building owners are thinking down there. that is PRIME real estate and yet they do not encourage business down there. i have never been able to figure out why it’s not the HOTTEST place around for restaurants etc. bummer.

  • westside bus rider February 21, 2013 (3:42 pm)

    I would look on Delridge or 35th near High Point. These two areas have a dearth of places to meet/eat/drink.

  • Coffee and beer drinker February 21, 2013 (4:04 pm)

    My family will miss the coffee/beer combo availability. Family friendly and great view taboot! That’s going to be tough to beat. Good luck!

  • Keith February 21, 2013 (4:30 pm)

    Now where am I gonna sip coffee, watch the waves, chat with the locals and get work done while my cars get their oils did at Alki Auto? I am quite bummed. It was a 4x year tradition.

    On a sidebar, this thread has got me suddenly craving a grilled sandwich at Freshys.

  • villagegreen February 21, 2013 (4:42 pm)

    Next to go will probably be Slices. I’m usually a big proponent of progress, but it’s sad when the only decent indie places on Alki get brushed aside for sh–ty condos. In other areas of the city there are usually spots nearby for displaced businesses to move into. Unfortunately, not so much on Alki. Lame.

  • Jon February 21, 2013 (4:52 pm)

    Ouch! I’ve been a fan of the original in Cle Elum for years, and was elated when I found this location in my neighborhood. Now what…?

  • D. February 21, 2013 (5:09 pm)

    White Center! Needs a good coffee place/ hangout and I bet the rent is cheaper!

  • CEA February 21, 2013 (6:18 pm)

    Always late to the party, I only discovered Pioneer a few months ago – but man, their coffee rocks, the baristas are pros the view is incredible and it’s a very welcoming place. But there’s more to the story. Pioneer is the kind of business I love seeing on Alki. Independently run, it’s part of the fabric that makes Alki unique. They seem made for each other. And by extension – made for the community.

    My gut tells me they were priced out of the market. I will remain a loyal customer of Pioneer no matter where they go, but the loss of their current location pains me. I wish the dollar bill wasn’t so almighty. The things we lose in pursuit of paper…

  • Jason February 21, 2013 (6:26 pm)

    Let’s not forget that Tom Lin, owner of the burned-out Alki Homestead Restaurant, also owns this property and Slices Pizza next door. I’d guess because things haven’t been going well with his Homestead redevelopment dream, that maybe he’s got plans for these two lots instead…

  • West Seattle Hipster February 21, 2013 (6:40 pm)

    Not sad at all about losing a coffee shop, but I feel bad for the folks who work there.

    Would love to see a nice restaurant in that location, perhaps a Tat’s Deli or Gorditos.

  • W February 21, 2013 (8:10 pm)

    -that empty storefront north of PCC
    though Gene, you have a point already lots of coffee in the area – and you forgot to mention cafe fiore, which is annoying because it closes too early. seriously, maybe they could take over the night shift at cafe fiore.
    -alki bathhouse – could have coffee counter in part with most seating outside and still hold classes etc. there is already a food vender that is permitted to set up at the beach – why not coffee too? would be difficult to arrange, of course.
    – then there’s always the junction…I don’t think they’ve met saturation of coffee hangouts yet…especially with the new apartments being built.

  • Terry Smith February 21, 2013 (8:11 pm)

    Alki Tavern, now this??
    Yuppies win. It’s official.

  • karen February 21, 2013 (10:36 pm)

    D–white center already has THREE great coffee shops: DubSea, Delias, and Rozellas!!!

  • Westseattledood February 21, 2013 (11:02 pm)

    Dogs are allowed there? I had no idea!

    Too much of ‘da funk is disappearing..,

    Is it true Lin owns all these properties???

    • WSB February 21, 2013 (11:26 pm)

      Yes, according to the King County Parcel Viewer, he is listed as owner of the Slices/Pioneer parcel and the one to the east that holds Coastal, Wheel Fun, a salon, a dispensary, etc. I attempted to contact him before publishing this story, to ask what the future plan is for the site, since, as noted, research didn’t turn up any permit applications; no reply so far. However, I want to be clear that this story is not about him, nor is it even about the Pioneer folks complaining that they lost their lease. In both phone and in-person conversations (which we initiated, after getting reader reports about the impending closure), they stressed that they only wanted to get the word out to the community that (a) they are closing and (b) they want suggestions of potential new locations. They also stressed that they wanted to express appreciation for their customers. – TR

  • D. February 21, 2013 (11:04 pm)

    Thanks Karen, I’ll have to check them out. I’m relatively new to the area and it’s been nice to see some cool new places popping up in the area. I used to live near the Junction and with all the new development and less “charm” it’s just not the same.

  • Westseattledood February 22, 2013 (12:29 am)

    Well, I certainly hope Pioneer is able to crowdsource a new spot with as much charm as Mr. Lin’s corner beachfront lot…I’ll be stopping by with the dog soon to enjoy it whilst it lasts.

  • alki_2008 February 22, 2013 (12:58 am)

    Why do people always jump to conclusions about why businesses leave a location? The first instinct seems to be…blame the property owner, because it’s always their fault. There is always more to the story than what customers see, and managment of a business doesn’t equal ownership of a business…some things are out of management’s control. That space is not going to be vacant, and it will be another great ‘independent’ business on Alki.

  • Ajax February 22, 2013 (4:33 am)

    Although it certainly wouldn’t have the view/charm, etc. of being on Alki, it would be great if this place moved between the Admiral and Alaska junctions. There aren’t any coffee shops between Freshy’s and Hotwire, which in Seattle coffee shop distance is like 5 miles. I wonder what they’re asking for the Charlestown space? They can’t be making any money with it sitting empty for 2 years unless they’re charging by the tags or pounds of litter.

  • wetone February 22, 2013 (9:25 am)

    I think most people don’t realize how expensive rent is for commercial property in this part of town. Then the city and state take another good chunk. This makes it a very though place to have a profitable small business. That is why people are leaving this part of town and moving to White Center and other areas. Last I heard I thought the Charlestown was 6-8 k mo. and it would need 100k+ remodel to open.

  • Junction mom February 22, 2013 (9:32 am)

    What’s up at Homefront Smoothies, their windows are all papered up? Can Pioneer go there?

  • Jesse Littleton February 22, 2013 (9:50 am)

    One never knows why owners do as such. We will miss Pioneer as we miss Alki Mail and the swimsuit lady Heidi Fish who used to be here as well.
    Gd luck to you and hope you find a better place for your business.
    Jess Littletom

  • ks February 22, 2013 (9:56 am)

    Now this is just ridiculous.

    The alki tavern… my home and now this!

    The beach is not what it use to be.

  • JG February 22, 2013 (12:05 pm)

    This makes me so so so sad! It’s the best coffee on Alki, the nicest employees and has the best view. Walking to pioneer really helped me through my first few years of motherhood! Walk to grab great coffee and then walk over to whale tail! It’s a routine that will be missed!

  • Red February 22, 2013 (5:12 pm)

    Hotwire allows dogs inside, have doggie treats and have amazing coffee!

  • Guy February 22, 2013 (5:12 pm)

    Is Bamboo still open?

  • Schmoopie February 22, 2013 (8:06 pm)

    This is really sad. Pioneer is a great place. My family and I have enjoyed many a nice afternoon sitting on the adirondack chairs out front sipping drinks and enjoying the day.

  • Carolyn February 22, 2013 (8:07 pm)

    This is just very sad news. I have so many great memories of me and my young toddler grabbing our drinks (my mocha, his hot chocolate) and walking over to the Whale Tail park. He’s outgrown the park a little but we still love heading down there (even on misty winter mornings) and enjoying the cool vibe there. I’ll follow Pioneer wherever they go but part of what makes this place the best coffee house in Seattle is the location. I hope they find an equally great place! Good luck, we love you guys. :)

  • alkipete February 22, 2013 (10:31 pm)

    “Why do people always jump to conclusions about why businesses leave a location? The first instinct seems to be…blame the property owner,”

    From what I’ve heard he refused to negotiate a new lease period. Not sure who else to blame. And who says it will be an independent business. The place could go to anyone who wants to pay…including another chain of some sort.

  • Ajax February 22, 2013 (10:53 pm)

    You’re right, Wetone. I had no idea that they were asking that much for the gross rundown Charlestown space. I have a selfish interest in that property since I live very close to it. I have no real hope that it’ll be anything other than a dump site and rat habitat until it becomes a huge condo construction site in however many years. I hope Pioneer finds a suitable spot to move to.

  • lyndab February 23, 2013 (1:03 am)

    Just throwing this out there…admiral theater combo?

  • alki_2008 February 23, 2013 (1:12 am)

    alkipete – You “heard” those details about the lease negotitations, so I guess that must be true…right? It’s worth considering that sometimes there are reasons a lease is not renewed, and it’s not just about money, so maybe it’s not just the property owner to blame, eh?

    Someone that knows the true details of the lease situation would also know that the location is not going to a “chain” business.

  • alkikmac February 23, 2013 (11:24 am)

    If a landlord refuses to renew a lease, that says more about the tenant than the landlord.

  • lyndab February 23, 2013 (2:50 pm)

    ^That’s a bold statement. Well, I wouldn’t assume that.

    I have two more suggestions. Just seeing there is a “For lease” sign at the Bond dental clinic building. Limited parking, of course.

    The new building at 35th and Avalon….ground floor. Nearby apts, bus rider traffic….

  • Barb February 24, 2013 (10:06 am)

    To all the Locals out there that go to Pioneer Coffee,

    Please send a message to Tom (who is the landlord) and tell him to please renew the lease. We the locals love Pioneer and all the girls that work there.

    Tom, rumor has it that you have had some issues with previous people at Pioneer (and that person is no longer with Pioneer) please allow yourself to get over it. We the locals support all the shops on Alki that you are landlord to…..not only will you be punishing Pioneer but you also the locals. Is that what you want to do?

    Please renew the lease for Pioneer.

    All you locals…..please state your case and tell Tom your opinion.

    Thank you locals……Let’s keep Pioneer Coffee on ALKI.

  • alki_2008 February 24, 2013 (6:54 pm)

    Just an FYI – there’s no way the lease will be renewed. It’s going to someone else already. Unless you want those folks to get screwed over and get kicked out of a location that they have already made arrangements to move into?

    And Barb, it wasn’t just the one person (that’s now gone) that was problematic. ;)

  • Barb February 25, 2013 (8:29 am)

    Well, what can I say Tom you have made up your mind and that is our right, afterall you are the landlord.

    But, I have to say I will look at you in a different light from this day forward. You should relate with all that you are going through with the Homestead and have some sympathy for the girls who will be out of a job and the fine service that Pioneer has provided mostly to the locally every morning.

    I only hope that you will reconsider….

  • Eric R. February 25, 2013 (10:44 am)

    Let’s just help these guys find another location already! They need a space for less than $3k a month and would prefer to be in the Alki/Admiral/Junctions areas of West Seattle…

  • WSB February 25, 2013 (3:20 pm)

    Gotta say something here right now before anyone else wastes their time trying to post rule-breaking comments we are not approving for publication. WSB is NOT a place for axe-grinding, accusations, allegations, rumor, innuendo, poop-flinging, etc., and now there seem to be multiple people on multiple sides interested in doing that. If you have a personal beef with somebody, take it up with them. If you have a criminal allegation or something else that breaks the law, take it to the authorities or a lawyer, then let us know when you’ve taken action and maybe it’s a news story. This is not a substitute for “Judge Judy.”
    (Also, for anyone who wants to promote their own business, current or future, disclose it’s your business and contact us directly.)
    We published this item for two purposes only: To let folks know Pioneer is closing, and to share their request for suggestions of a new location. If and when they find one, I hope they will let us know so we can get the word out. I should just close this comment thread but for now I will leave it in case somebody wants to suggest a location.

  • D February 25, 2013 (3:39 pm)

    Thank you for removing my comment again. Please continue with your noble goal of helping Pioneer find a new location. I see that you’ve allowed Barb’s comments to remain; regardless of they fact that they are not congruous with your goal and they happen to be “rumor, innuendo, [and] poop-flinging”. You don’t need to close this thread, but if you’re going to credibly moderate this forum please do it uniformly for everyone.

  • Lisa February 27, 2013 (6:39 pm)

    I am so sad that Pioneer will be gone! I wish the landlord would reconsider. I have no idea why the decision was made, but its a terrible loss to the community.

  • Heather March 2, 2013 (12:18 pm)

    grrr. Is there any way to convince the landlord that this is the wrong decision? The service, quality coffee, and atmosphere of Pioneer can’t just be swapped out. Pioneer is an important part of our Alki community!

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