One week after our last update on fire repairs at the Charlestown Cafe, we went over to the restaurant to see if owner Larry Mellum had anything new to report – He does, and it’ll be disappointing news for CC fans: Kitchen repair work is a little more extensive than expected, and with the permits they need to get, and other aspects of the process, it will take at least two more weeks before they’ll be ready to reopen.
Two nights after the Charlestown Cafe fire, another update from owner Larry Mellum: Regarding when the CC will reopen, he says, “I can’t really give you a time frame as yet but the damage doesn’t appear to be extensive enough to cause any kind of long-term closure. Our best guess barring any setbacks would be early next week if all goes as planned.” Larry also says it’s suspected that the fryer fire started because a thermostat failed and the oil got so hot (the cook tried to turn it off but couldn’t), it “spontaneously combusted.”
(Photo courtesy Scott Kratz) We just checked with Helen Fitzpatrick of the Seattle Fire Department re: the cause of the Charlestown Cafe fire; “fire in the deep-fat fryer,” she confirms. As we reported last night, cafe owner Larry Mellum told WSB a few hours after the fire that they’d need “days” to get the restaurant back in shape – we’ll keep checking on how things are going. (Original coverage from last night is here and here, with JetCityOrange‘s fire video here. Just last week, we’d reported promising news about CC’s future.)
Went back to the scene a little while ago, and we caught up with Charlestown Cafe owner Larry Mellum. He told WSB that work will start tomorrow to get the cafe up and running again following today’s fire (above photo by Christopher Boffoli; see more coverage below; direct links here and here, video link here) — workers are already in there tonight evaluating things — he says it will be closed for “days” but it’s too soon to say how many days.
Jerry from JetCityOrange just happened to be driving by. See his video, flames and all, here. (Warning, link may be erratic, YouTube glitch, keep trying.)
Recap and update from what’s in the post below: Fire reported at Charlestown Cafe just after 5 pm. No word yet on cause or extent of damage; the restaurant is needless to say closed TFN – City Light crews had to shut off its power. From what we could see at the scene, the building’s exterior is relatively unscathed, but neighbors told WSB at the scene that at one point, “huge flames” were coming from the roof, which firefighters had to cut into. No injuries reported so far. Thanks to everyone who texted and e-mailed us about this — especially WSB contributing photojournalist Christopher Boffoli, who sent first word from the scene – he took the photo above and the ones below, more to come:
En route to Charlestown Cafe on California Ave to check out fire call – details to follow.
UPDATE 5:30 pm: Fire is out – exterior looks relatively undamaged. Firefighters had to ventilate the roof to let smoke out.
UPDATE 5:45 pm: California Avenue has reopened. Neighbors say big flames were shooting from the roof for a while.
Photos from Evan Baumgardner.
So says Charlestown Cafe owner Larry Mellum, in an e-mail response to our inquiry about a note that a reader saw posted at CC, saying it looks like the project that posed the most immediate threat to the restaurant’s future is indeed stalled, or maybe even dead. (Background: First word of CC losing its lease was a year and a half ago; the community started rallying to save it last March; most recent Design Review meeting on the Petco store proposed for the cafe site was last August our last report on the project’s nonprogress was in December.) Tonight — here’s what Larry just e-mailed to WSB:
By all indications it appears that Madison Development has pulled out of the project. The Landlord’s agent, Rick Megenity, and I spoke last Friday and that is what he said.
Further, he indicated that Madison has not responded to the Landlord’s requests both in writing or verbally to tell them what is going on. Nor have they been able to meet the formal time lines for development that were laid out in the agreement between them. All that being said, Madison has NOT and I repeat HAS NOT formally backed-out. I don’t however believe that they have to. Because by virtue of their non-performance the contract likely has been breached. What this means without putting words in anyone’s mouth is that the Landlord is likely to proceed in finding some other means of re-development at the Charlestown location. They have indicated that this is how they would hope to proceed. In my conversations with them, we discussed putting some type of multi-use facility here that would include space for a restaurant suitable in size for a “Charlestown-like” location to be included. Although they cannot or will not lock themselves into anything at this juncture, I believe they would like it developed in that way.
So, there you have it. It looks like the community and ‘Charlestown has won the “first round” and by all indications we could be here for a long time to come. If not in our current form it will be in a form suitable for the landlord to receive what he wants — which is more rent out of the property, BUT STILL HERE situated with a couple of other retail and/or office tenants.
Thank you for your inquiry … and to all of West Seattle, thank you for your overwhelming support. It is truly humbling.
Charlestown Street Cafe
We had checked both with Petco and with city planners in the past few weeks; Petco said only that they hoped to stay in West Seattle one way or another, city planners said they hadn’t heard anything in quite some time. (Previous WSB coverage of the Charlestown Cafe situation is all archived here.)
Checked in with Charlestown Cafe owner Larry Mellum today, after a few recent e-mails from WSB readers who had heard reports of a lease extension. He says they’re still officially month-to-month, but not expecting to be leaving any time soon, since the proposal to tear down the building and build a new Petco store seems to be moving slowly, with no official action since the August public meeting at which the Design Review Board turned thumbs-down on the design for a second time (detailed WSB coverage here). Meanwhile, we received an e-mail comment on the subject of Charlestown’s fate and West Seattle’s direction in general, and wanted to include it in our next followup, so here it is: Click to read the rest of Charlestown Cafe: Not expecting to close any time soon…
As mentioned below, tonight the Southwest Design Review Board took up – and spit out – the newest proposed design for a Petco store on the Charlestown Cafe site.
The meeting, in fact, started 15 minutes late, because of the architects’ tardiness. The project team “took a wrong turn,” we were told.
Eerily predictive, that turned out to be. Click ahead for a complete recap: Click to read the rest of Details: Petco Charlestown proposal is still in the doghouse…
Just back from three hours at the Southwest Design Review Board meeting on two WS projects — the headliner was the reworked design for the Petco store proposed to take over the Charlestown Cafe site — board members still have major concerns and are basically sending the new architects back to the drawing board for a third “Early Design Guidance” meeting (some projects only need one). Detailed report to come.
We’ve received a pre-meeting update from Mark Wainwright with Our Town West Seattle, the community group keeping a close watch on this project and the restaurant’s fate; the group met last Thursday to look ahead to this week’s Design Review meeting.
Mark says there’s a new architect for the Petco plan, Sienna Architecture, based in Portland but with a Seattle office. He adds, “The project design is, in a word, better … this design may have the potential to be Petco’s nicest store.”
Click ahead to read what else Mark says: Click to read the rest of Petco @ Charlestown Cafe site? Here’s what’s next…
-If you live in/around The Junction, don’t miss the first meeting of JuNO — Junction Neighborhood Association. 6:30 pm Thursday @ the Senior Center.
-If you’re concerned about the future of the Charlestown Cafe and the site it’s on, Our Town West Seattle invites you there, 7 pm Thursday, for a briefing before the next city Design Review Board meeting on the project.
CHARLESTOWN CAFE CORNER: Our Town West Seattle is inviting those concerned about the cafe site’s future to gather at 7 pm next Thursday (August 2) to get the newest information one week before the next city Design Review meeting on the proposed project.
BURNED-OUT EX-SCHUCK’S CORNER (below): Finally, finally, finally the demolition permit application is in, two months after the land-use permit was OKd for the 2-story commercial building planned there (this page about that project has a small sketch of what it might look like).
Everyone watching the Charlestown Cafe site/potential Petco project has been waiting forÃ‚ another city Design Review Board meeting to be scheduled, as a key next step in the process. According to the city website, that meeting is now set for August 9th.
As discussed at the community meeting regarding efforts to save the Charlestown Cafe and stop the site from being turned into Petco’s new location or any other “big box” development, plans are now in place for a picketing demonstration. According to the announcement just posted on the Our Town West Seattle Yahoo! group, it’ll happen 11 am-2 pm June 30, along California, in front of the restaurant.
That’s one way we would sum up organizer Mark Wainwright’s main theme for the spirited crowd that sardined itself into the northernmost room of Charlestown Cafe tonight. Not to say there won’t be some rabblerousing … Click to read the rest of Charlestown meeting: ‘Tis better to propose as well as oppose ……
Just in case you forgot: It’s not a political meeting, not an official meeting, really just a grass-roots get-together for folks concerned about the closing of the Charlestown Cafe and/or what might replace it (currently, it’s proposed as Petco’s new home once that store leaves The Junction), and what they can do about it. 7 pm tonight @ the cafe.
Another reminder: For everyone concerned about the future of Charlestown Cafe and what might be built on its site, you’ll want to be there 7 pm this Wednesday night for the long-awaited community meeting.
Mark Wainwright reports on the Our Town West Seattle group that he and the folks who run the endangered Charlestown Cafe have agreed on a time and date for a community meeting: 7 pm March 28, at CC. They’re hoping for a big show of support; mark your calendar now!
A great, informative discussion in the comments here, after the Charlestown Cafe site/Petco project Design Review Board meeting, has led to action. Admiral Neighborhood leader Mark Wainwright has set up a Yahoo! group (with a cool logo) as a rallying point for those concerned about the development (and the way things are going around here in general). Go sign up!
We couldn’t go to last night’s Design Review Board meeting but WSB reader Sage Wilson did and offers this detailed report (thanks, Sage!), after the jump: Click to read the rest of Charlestown Cafe/Petco site meeting report…
… is in the Letters to the Editor section: The Charlestown Cafe folks say they may be staying months longer than they thought. (Their letter includes a reminder of tomorrow night’s Design Review Board meeting on the site’s future project, reportedly the relocated Petco.)
Reader “The House” tells us the Design Review Board meeting for the project (described as a “one-story retail building”) proposed at the Charlestown Cafe site is coming up next week. The applications with the city say this architecture firm is involved. If you’ll recall, the P-I hinted this maybe possibly might be the mystery Trader Joe’s site, but we haven’t seen anything public about what’s planned for the project — should find out at this “early design guidance” meeting, if not sooner. (As for the Charlestown operators, one site visitor mentioned an unverified report they might have been seen checking out the Alki space next to Cactus; anybody got more on that?)
One is good news, the other sad (at least for many of us old-timers).
Sad first: Just found out via the West Seattle Herald (in a letter to the editor from last week; we’ll admit we’re behind in our reading), the Charlestown Street Cafe has lost its lease. We went there a lot in our early years here; not too many WS restaurants back then, plus we enjoyed their breakfasts. Then along came Easy Street, and Endolyne Joe’s, and our tastes shifted. But CSC has given ample warning, so we’ll go back for another round of Montana Potatoes (if they’re still on the menu!) at least once before they go …
Now, happy: The long-awaited Alki Statue of Liberty super-spruce-up is finally under way. As promised, the statue was trucked away this afternoon; read more here about what happens next. And check out a slideshow of what the future might look like when the all-new Liberty 2 arrives.
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