West Seattle businesses: John’s Corner Deli closing, cow staying

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Story and photos by Linda Ball
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

The green sign on the door at John’s Corner Deli (7500 35th SW) is a fond farewell to customers of Christina Yun and her brother Peter Choo. The pair bought the deli four years ago, their first venture into entrepreneurialism. With no other employees, keeping the store open from 7 am to 9 pm seven days a week, they’ve worked long, hard hours.

“I enjoyed it,” Yun said. “I learned a lot. I love my customers and my neighbors.”

But it ends February 1, since the owners of the property, Clearview Eye and Laser, have other plans.

The clinic is moving from its current location in Westwood Village to its new facility under construction just south of the deli. When partners purchased the property, which extends to the corner of 35th and Webster, two years ago, the deli site was included.

Yun said that in order for the store to stay, the rent would have been more than twice what she and her brother pay now. They received about four months notice, she said, so they knew it was coming. She had hoped to remodel and stay put, but now she intends to take a well-deserved break, and begin the next chapter of her life. The store is filled with inventory, but Yun has a friend with a convenience store in another Washington town who plans to absorb the goods.

Louise Coombes, controller for Clearview, told WSB they are negotiating with a brewer to occupy the space. Coombes said she didn’t know who the brewer is or what sort of food service might be offered, but we found an application in city files for a “change of use,” and the site plan in the file lists the future tenant as Best of Hands Barrelhouse LLC. (We have a message out to its proprietor seeking comment. [UPDATE – We received a reply but they are not ready to discuss their plans until they finalize their lease.])

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Coombes said the bones of the deli building will remain, but it will need to be extensively remodeled for its new purpose. She said once the building is vacated, the partners will assess how much work is needed. She said the iconic cow on the roof would remain, as the future tenants have “embraced” it. Meantime, Clearview hopes to move into its new eye clinic – which includes an optical shop, ambulatory surgery center and medical clinic – in mid-March.

A brick house south of the deli that currently serves as the job shack for the new eye clinic will receive a new façade and cleanup. Their plan is to rent it out to a business. Another small building on the property will be demolished.

Thanks to everyone who tipped us about the impending deli closure.

41 Replies to "West Seattle businesses: John's Corner Deli closing, cow staying"

  • Erithan January 25, 2017 (4:38 pm)

    Aww🙁, store will be missed, I remember going there when I was little always “the store with the cow on it”.

  • Alan January 25, 2017 (4:39 pm)

    It appears their website is under construction, but they have a Facebook page (with not a lot of info):  https://www.facebook.com/bestofhandsbarrelhouse/

  • liveinthearea January 25, 2017 (5:06 pm)

    cant say I will miss them, bad customer service everytime i have gone in. I used to love the “cow store” when I was growing up. 

  • Rb January 25, 2017 (6:20 pm)

    are there plans for Clearview’s current location in Westwood? 

    • WSB January 25, 2017 (6:47 pm)

      It’s listed as for lease.

  • Dawsonst January 25, 2017 (6:28 pm)

    Nick and Gregory brew some good beer

  • captainDave January 25, 2017 (6:30 pm)

    Sorry to see another small business go away.  Four years is barely enough time to get a return on investment.  I hope they aren’t loosing too much.  Seattle has become almost impossible for many types of businesses as onerous regulations continue to pile up.   Every time some angry special interest groups says “lets make it a law”, small businesses take the biggest hit.  Pretty soon, job choices in Seattle will mainly be either Amazon or government and not much else.

    • Jethro Marx January 25, 2017 (7:37 pm)

      I can see that you feel strongly about some hypothetical matter unrelated to this particular story. Perhaps I misunderstood? Did a special interest group successfully lobby the government to pass some onerous legislation that put the cow store belly-up? Anger is a funny thing; the angry see angry people everywhere.

       

      • Hilary January 25, 2017 (8:36 pm)

        Ditto. Thank you :)

    • Tony S January 26, 2017 (4:19 pm)

      WHERE in this article did it say “onerous regulations” put them out of business? Read the story, sir. You may be enlightened. If I’m not mistaken, it was your beloved “invisible hand of free trade” that put them out of business.

      Oh, I’m sorry! Did I not use an “alternative fact”? 

    • dawsonct January 27, 2017 (1:00 pm)

      Looks like another small business is moving in to the space.
      So much for your premise.

  • Rhine January 25, 2017 (7:05 pm)

    Used to live a couple blocks down and was there almost 5 days a week sometimes. Good luck, and thank you!

  • Nozm January 25, 2017 (7:26 pm)

    Is the new building the reason why they’ve been working on the power poles outside?  Anyway I still remember this as Bee’s market and used to go there for snacks as a kid after school.  

  • Welcome brewery! January 25, 2017 (8:33 pm)

    Glad to see a craft brewer in the neighborhood, embraced by a  clinic that is also a WS small business.  Look at the pics in this story.  This deli USED to be a local neighborhood hangout for morning coffee.  It’s now a place to buy 22 oz cans of high octane beer and smokes.  No homemade sandwiches like the deli we had there years ago.  Every time I’m in there the owner won’t even get off his phone to acknowledge me.  I support my neighborhood businesses, and I think a new fresh local hangout will be great.  I will be glad to see the ugly cig and beer posters go away.

    • B January 25, 2017 (10:42 pm)

      They have been making sandwiches… The options are on the huge “sandwich board” right where you pay. I’ve always had great customer service there.

  • Shannon January 25, 2017 (8:53 pm)

    Is there any information as to a parking lot or a garage associated with the other new business(es)? The adjoining street is often packed with cars. I am concerned about the impact to the already cramped neighborhood parking (I am a resident) with the inception of a drink/food business that may not have dedicated parking. As a customer of the deli I park for maybe 10-15 minutes max and  then move on. Would like to see more parking available to allow this business to be successful and more welcome by the neighborhood

    • West Sea Neighbor January 26, 2017 (7:47 am)

      You are making a lot of assumptions without knowing anything about the business.

    • dawsonct January 27, 2017 (1:03 pm)

      Maybe the folks who live in the neighborhood will park at home and walk to support the businesses in their neighborhood.
      Seems like a radical concept, but maybe someday it will catch on.

  • dsa January 25, 2017 (11:07 pm)

    It’s been there as a grocery a long time.  I don’t know when it started, but I remember as a child it was called B’s or Bee’s in the early 1950’s.

  • Strike em out Kinney January 25, 2017 (11:28 pm)

    Anyone remember when it was called Bee’s Market in the 70s?

  • BJ January 26, 2017 (7:09 am)

    I too grew up right down the street from it, in the 80’s/90’s, and though it is sad to see it go I can’t say I’m not surprised. I hope we all, however, wish Christina and Peter the best of luck in their endeavors in the future, and thank them for their time put in. And best of luck to the new proprietors as well.

  • Wild One January 26, 2017 (8:29 am)

    Noooooo West Seattle 2.0 please don’t take the cow store from us. I am also someone who grew up down the street from there in the 90s and there are so many memories attached to this place. Buying junk food after school, hanging outside of the store Jay and Silent Bob style, etc… Wait, the cow itself stays and it also becomes a brewery? I think I’m ok with this one.

    Will they be serving beer on tap?

    • WSB January 26, 2017 (8:43 am)

      I added this to the story overnight – the likely tenant replied to our inquiry saying they’re not ready to talk yet because the lease isn’t finalized. Fairly common response that we get when researching on-the-way businesses … they file with the city early because that process takes so long.

  • John January 26, 2017 (8:40 am)

    I believe it was a meat locker way back in the day, hence the cow on the roof.  It had a freezer to store your beef and game before homeowners commonly owned their own freezers.  

    I too live in the area and disagree with Shannon,  there is no parking issue for anyone not demanding to park at the door front of their destination.

  • Someone who recalls 'Vicki' and 'Annette' from the 80's and the 90's at John's January 26, 2017 (9:03 am)

    Yes, lots of us remember “Bee’s Market” (and Bee, herself, a crabby old lady).

    I wish today’s young society could SEE just how much LITTER was strewn EVERYWHERE back in the 1970’s…  The streets north, south, and east of Bee’s would be covered with litter the likes of which today’s society seldom has to know.  Somebody did something right, in the 1970’s, beginning those “(Deposit litter)” campaigns and eventually recycling.

    A walk from what is now John’s Deli across the street to the north, and further along 35th, would often leave passers-by wondering just HOW the residents there could STAND all of the litter that was constantly around…  which did mercifully taper-off as you moved further north and down the block.

    And it wasn’t really the placement of a mere garbage can, near the bus stop, which stopped the massive tide of litter… it was eventually the society around us adjusting and ‘getting better’.

    Now to be fair, there were also “Miller’s Deli” and “Mary & John’s Cafe (Eventually, but before that it at least doubled as yet another store, earlier called  “The Creamery” )”.  Way back, there was even a drug store on the NE corner of 35th & Webster.

    So there were lots of stores feeding the littery mess, but I wish there were photos to show today’s society what their usually-slight efforts have saved/changed/curbed.

    John’s Deli out-lived all the other spots nearby there, but eventually the retail price differences between small, neighborhood stores and the many larger stores not terribly far away, did-in the chances for success of the small places.

    Back in the dark ages, a candy bar was either a nickel, and then a dime EVerywhere, so whether you bought it at Bee’s Locker Market, or at Pay N Save, didn’t matter very much.

    But now, a place like John’s Deli has to charge $1.29 or whatever, and you can eventually find them on sale at the larger stores for $.50 or $.69.

    Furthermore, with the onset of the ORCA card, nobody even needs to go to the store for bus change anymore.  

    I loved those stores back in the day, and they represent grand childhood memories, but I think I’ve only been to John’s Deli once in the past year, and that was only to pay some sort of homage to the place, and not because I needed anything.

    Finally, list my vote with those who say that the cow on top of John’s Deli really means something to the neighborhood!

  • Gatewood January 26, 2017 (11:01 am)

    How wonderful that the cow will stay! He’s a part of the neighborhood and a lot of our kids have fun memories of the cow store. It’ll also be great to have a place to eat and drink within walking distance. And it sounds as if the store owners are reconciled with their change  of circumstances. Change is always difficult but it’s an inevitable part of life.

  • JuliaT January 26, 2017 (11:01 am)

    This is sad news! I live nearby and know Peter and Christina by name.

    There are now a number of places in our neighborhood where, happily, we can walk to buy a good beer, glass of wine or dinner–but this was our go-to-place for the half-n-half we forgot to buy at the store and little things like that. We’ve walked our dogs over to the Cow Store more times than I can count and will miss it–and Peter and Christina (and her sweet smile)– terribly.

    The closing of a little local neighborhood store like this–the only one of it’s kind along 35th for a mile or more–detracts from the diversity of business and walkability of our neighborhood. More great beer? Lovely. One store less to serve families in the neighborhood? Serious bummer.

  • Judy January 26, 2017 (11:41 am)

    It is definitely not a cow!  It’s a steer.

  • Gatewood January 26, 2017 (3:21 pm)

    Unreal! To our little kids it was and always will be a cow.  Castration details didn’t seem important when they were running off to buy candy.  Unreal.

    • WSB January 26, 2017 (3:26 pm)

      Note that “domestic bovine animal regardless of sex or age” is a dictionary-acceptable definition of cow. That’s how we use it in this case.

      https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cow

      • Tony S January 26, 2017 (4:23 pm)

        Nicely played!

  • Tbone January 26, 2017 (6:03 pm)

    A sketch I did of that a few years ago!

    • Wild One January 26, 2017 (6:50 pm)

      Oh cool! Willing to do a copy of that?

      • Tbone January 26, 2017 (7:32 pm)

        Certainly! – not sure the best way to exchange contact info, but I have a redbubble account I can direct you to ;) if WSB doesn’t mind.  

        • Wild One January 26, 2017 (8:57 pm)

          Awesome! Redbubble works. Please post the link… Only with WSB’s blessings of course…

        • tracey February 3, 2017 (6:37 pm)

          I’m looking for that redbubble link to the sketch?

      • Logan January 26, 2017 (9:18 pm)

        I love this. Do you have any other west seattle landmark paintings?

        logan tober atttttt gmail dot com.

        • Logan January 26, 2017 (9:18 pm)

          logantober88****

  • Barry Ann Bark January 27, 2017 (5:04 am)

    Fond memories of working there for years, even when robbed….Great customers, some of which I am still in contact with.  As long as the Cow is staying, I can still go by and smile.

  • John Q Lincoln January 27, 2017 (11:58 am)

    Udderly disappointing!

  • Mary Ellen O'Connor January 29, 2017 (9:03 pm)

    Will miss the convenience of being able to walk to a little store for one or two items for my larder instead of getting in my car and driving.  The prices are higher but that’s a given.  I will miss it.  Happy the cow is staying.  Thank you Christina and Peter. Enjoy a well deserved break.

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