Chaco Canyon Café makes it official: Coming to West Seattle

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

It started with a simple question published here at WSB last April: Anybody interested in an organic, vegetarian restaurant in the under-construction Link in the West Seattle Triangle?

More than 200 mostly-wildly-enthusiastic responses ensued.

That response was “the tipping point” in Chaco Canyon Organic Café‘s decision to choose West Seattle as its second location, owner Chris Maykut told WSB, as he announced, “We’ve signed the papers,” as we chatted inside his U-District restaurant.

While there, we talked with Chris and his current U-District (and future West Seattle) general manager Sarah Coyle (in our photo, from left, are Chris, Sarah, and chef Lois Blanford) about what’ll be different in West Seattle and why they are so excited about joining this community – read on:

“It’s funny how this has all come about,” he recalled. “When Harbor (Properties, developer of Link and nearby Mural [WSB sponsor]) approached us, (I thought) West Seattle? I’m a native Seattleite, grew up in Phinney Ridge, spent a lot of time in West Seattle, my best friend lived there in school days … (but) I’d seen a lot of cafés come and go outside The Junction, didn’t see much staying power, didn’t think that was the right spot for us. Then (came the WSB discussion). We spent a few weeks doing research – I had no idea what a tight-knit community West Seattle is, it’s amazing … I don’t think there’s a community like it anywhere in Seattle … I had in my head that a natural place would be to go to Capitol Hill (for example), because that’s where all the funky vegans are … but that’s also where 20 places serve what we do.”

Further research revealed that while you can find “nibbles” of organic, vegan, sustainable, raw, and/or gluten-free food around West Seattle, there’s “just not much of this there.” So, Chris concluded, “I think it’s the perfect fit for us, and we’re delighted for the opportunity. … All the stars have been aligned with this.” And in some cases, it will be like working with old friends; they are excited about Link partnering with West Seattle’s Twilight Artist Collective, since one of the Twilight partners is a longtime friend. “They (Harbor) are not just doing a cookie-cutter building … we think we can have a really great community in the building,” in addition to customers who live elsewhere.

If you’ve been to the University District Chaco Canyon Café – here’s what will be different in West Seattle: More “soft seating,” off to the side of the café; more “nooks and crannies,” more family-friendly, more soundproofing – they are the first to agree their current location is noisy (it was a challenging place for a conversation) – more power plugs.

Yes, power plugs. Chaco Canyon isn’t a table-service-type restaurant – it’s “a hangout,” as Chris puts it. You order food at the counter, and you can hang out all day if you choose, which, he says, many people do, with their laptops (etc.).

They’re also planning to offer some dinner entrees, starting at their current café – Chris, who has quite the sense of humor, jokes that you can go to Chaco Canyon at dinnertime, but if a pesto melt isn’t your idea of a nice dinner, you’re out of luck.

Also new at the West Seattle café will be these “pilot programs”:

*RETAIL AREA: Selling vegan products, raw products, gluten-free products. And “organic, sustainable,” Sarah adds. Not just food – “cookbooks, anything having to do with food, and the kind of food we offer.” Maybe even food-related equipment like juicers, though Chris says they’re waiting to see how much space they’ll use for the “retail area.”

*DEDICATED KIDS’ MENU: “Something that’s equal amounts regular kid food, and sneaky stuff that kids will eat and drink that’s secretly good for them,” Chris explains. “I can get collard greens into their smoothies if I put enough fruit in!”

If you’re not already into raw, organic, vegan/vegetarian food, don’t let the talk of collard-green smoothies scare you. Chris notes that he and their head chef are omnivores. “We make stuff that we love … 60 to 70 percent of the people who come in aren’t vegetarians. We make it accessible and very delicious.” Even vegan cookies that not only taste good, but, he smiles, “are not good for you at all!”

A program that’s proven popular at the U-District location will come with Chaco Canyon to West Seattle, Sarah explains, the Community Partners Program, “partnering up with other like-minded local businesses, to let our customers know about those business.” It involves a space on the restaurant wall where those businesses can post their cards, coupons, etc., and Chaco Canyon will make their coupons available at those businesses’ own locations. Chris adds that this usually involves reciprocal discounts for the employees at participating businesses: “We have a wonderful trade with the YMCA [in the U-District] and one with Scarecrow Video – they get free coffee, we get free movies.” That’s been a big employment draw, Sarah notes.

Which might lead you to ask – when will they be hiring (and opening) in West Seattle? Target date is April 1st, according to Chris. Seeing our raised eyebrows, he declares, “We’re not superstitious here!” They’ll probably start hiring in early February, maybe “8 to 10 staff members” besides those (like Sarah) who move from the U-District location.

Hours will be the same as U-District, 7 am-9 pm Mondays-Fridays, 9 am-9 pm weekends, with Saturday and Sunday brunch.

We asked one last question: Where did the name “Chaco Canyon” come from?

It’s an Anasazi site in New Mexico that Chris visited years ago and felt a kinship with while driving around the Southwest years ago. “I fell in love with that place … and wanted to bring that sort of warmth and centeredness back to Seattle.”

The West Seattle “perfect fit,” by the way, puts them a year and a half ahead of their onetime business plan – “September 2012 for our second location” (though Sarah adds that she expected it to be more like September 2011). “Harbor (Properties) is really dedicated to us being there,” summarizes Chris. “They asked the community – they said, ‘the community wants you, how can we make it happen?'”

(If you want to preview Chaco Canyon by visiting its U-District cafe, it’s at 50th and 12th, in a Harbor-built development called Helixhere’s a map.)

52 Replies to "Chaco Canyon Café makes it official: Coming to West Seattle"

  • Westside November 10, 2010 (10:16 am)


  • OP November 10, 2010 (10:26 am)

    God help ’em if they take over the Ama Ama/Table 35 always-fails building. Otherwise, good luck and welcome food niche for the Westside!

  • Lesley November 10, 2010 (10:29 am)

    I will be happy to support them!!!

  • WSB November 10, 2010 (10:30 am)

    OP, as noted, it’s in Link. Brand-new space. I will add Link’s location. – TR

  • Sue November 10, 2010 (10:39 am)

    Best news of the day! I just spent 4 days at a seminar in the U-District and spent a considerable amount of time (and money) in Chaco Canyon, wishing that they would finalize whether they were coming to West Seattle or not. This one will be 3 blocks from my house, so I’m very excited. And very fearful for my wallet. :)

  • Truth Out - Get Some Truth November 10, 2010 (10:51 am)


  • Emily November 10, 2010 (10:52 am)


  • daisy November 10, 2010 (11:04 am)

    Woooo Hooo! This Gluten-Free-Veggie girl is sooo happy they are coming to WS!

  • LyndaB November 10, 2010 (11:04 am)

    zucchini ginger muffins!!!! yay!!!!! if i could do cartwheels, that would be what i’m doing right now. :D

  • Franci November 10, 2010 (11:12 am)

    Mmmm Pesto Melt on their pizza crust is my favorite sandwich!! I can hardly wait..
    For those of you not familiar their pizza crust is gluten free.. yummm

  • Sue November 10, 2010 (11:22 am)

    Franci, I just had the Pesto Melt on Saturday – it’s amazing! And their white wine mushroom miso soup is one of the best soups I’ve ever had. Right now I’m seriously addicted to their garam masala walnuts.

  • LS November 10, 2010 (11:26 am)

    I am newly gluten-free as well as want my kids to be able to eat healthier when we go out to dinner.

    So excited that Chaco Canyon will be our new healthy place to eat and hang out!


  • JumboJim November 10, 2010 (11:29 am)

    Nice reading skills OP…

    Good luck Chaco crew!

  • onceachef November 10, 2010 (11:33 am)

    It doesn’t matter (from a taste stand point) whether it’s vegetarian (or vegan) or not…yes, it’s a “lifestyle/moral” issue but good food is good food, and that’s what keeps restaurants in business. Like any non-vegetarian dish a vegetarian meal has to taste good, have texture and presentation. Chaco Canyon sounds like it will live up to that…Carmelita’s (Phinney Ridge) and Cafe Flora (Madison Park) have been in business for a long time…their success is due serving GOOD food. I hope there’s more than 200 people in WS to serve as a customer base…that’s not many people to sustain business over the long haul. Maybe CC will help me achieve my goal of going “part-time” vegetarian….we’ll see.

  • Donna November 10, 2010 (11:36 am)

    I’m so happy to hear this. I already go to to their U district location. Now it will be much more convenient and will become a regular. In my opinion, this is just the type of business that West Seattle needs.

  • Flexitarian November 10, 2010 (11:38 am)

    Woohoo! It’s about time we get a neighborhood restaurant that focuses on organic and vegetarian.

  • Eric November 10, 2010 (12:12 pm)

    Super excited! West Seattle has a demographic that esteems healthy eating to go with a regimen of healthy living — across all age groups you will find walkers, runners, marathoners, cyclists, soccer players, skateboarders, snowboarders, and skiers who will enjoy a menu of vegan options whether their preference is vegan or not. The idea of having Chaco Canyon site a location is West Seattle is a good one. Looking forward to it!

  • OP November 10, 2010 (12:15 pm)

    Glossed right over that, WSB. My bad!

    Zip it, JumboJim.

  • Yardvark November 10, 2010 (12:50 pm)

    Excellent! Welcome to town guys!

    Huge market here for organic, vegetarian food!

  • Kayleigh November 10, 2010 (1:26 pm)

    Happy dance! :)

  • saney November 10, 2010 (1:28 pm)

    i clicked on the Link “link”, but still have no idea where this place will be located

  • AlkiCabCompany November 10, 2010 (1:46 pm)

    yay..what a nice change from the greasy food served in West Seattle. I do raw food consulting and classes out on Alki and there are lots of people in the area that are healthy vegans but they just don’t speak up about it or post about it on the blog because it’s out-numbered by the meat eating crazies..hehe.

  • juniebug November 10, 2010 (1:48 pm)

    Great news! I know our family will welcome this kind of restaurant in WS. Healthy food, nice space, lots of choices, decent prices (I looked at the menu for the U-District location)…I really think this sounds like a winner in WS. And no, we’re not vegetarian, but we like good food that’s healthy. The kid-friendly options will be interesting to see too. I’d love to get some collard greens in my kid…so good luck with that!

  • Sue November 10, 2010 (1:55 pm)

    saney, it’s that new building going up on Alaska, east of Fauntleroy (on the other side of the 76 station).

  • Teacher Greg November 10, 2010 (2:08 pm)

    I’m vegan, I live in West Seattle, and I’m starving. Oh yeah.

  • celeste17 November 10, 2010 (2:37 pm)

    Saney, the Link Apts building is located right across the street from the Fire Department on Alaska St. I think it is 38th (right next to Lein Animal Clinc).

  • queencaffeine November 10, 2010 (2:48 pm)

    The address is 4550 38th Avenue SW.

    • WSB November 10, 2010 (2:53 pm)

      You can’t miss it if you drive down Fauntleroy to or from The Bridge. It’s what went up on the previous location of West Seattle Montessori. However, I know some north West Seattleites may not ever make it down this way – we lived on Beach Drive for our first two years of West Seattle-hood in the early ’90s and never went south or east of The Junction (I can’t believe how much we missed … I always remember the first time we wound up driving Pigeon Point, Puget Ridge, the easternmost areas that are a bit off the beaten path … but that’s a whole ‘nother story) … I’m going out and will be adding a current Link pic to the story so people will know the well-into-construction building if they see it! – TR

  • queencaffeine November 10, 2010 (2:58 pm)

    Link Apartments construction photos are posted at the Link blog also.

  • AJL November 10, 2010 (3:36 pm)

    Ha! I’m a meat eater, but not crazy, and really want a veggie meal every so often. This is great and on my route home. Hint: Bike Racks!

  • Dr. C November 10, 2010 (4:00 pm)

    cannot wait…thanks for coming to west Seattle!!!

  • Jasperblu November 10, 2010 (4:32 pm)

    Can’t wait to try it!! Cheers and Hoorah!!

  • Ryan November 10, 2010 (6:18 pm)

    Yipee! The wifey and I will be regularly grazing at the new digs. Exciting stuff!

  • JayDee November 10, 2010 (6:25 pm)

    I think I will wait for them to open only to gripe that they don’t serve meatarian fare. :-)

    I eat vegetarian meals every now and then, so I will eat there as well — good well prepared food is worth it.

  • redblack November 10, 2010 (6:56 pm)

    onceachef, it’s not just lifestyle and morality that makes people eat vegan/vegetarian. aside from rounding out a good diet, the v-food is mostly free of bad things like cholesterol and animal fat.
    there are also people who can’t eat wheat, gluten, or other common ingredients – sometimes at the risk of fatality.
    and welcome to the triangle, chaco canyon. we’ll be seeing you soon.

  • nogluten November 10, 2010 (7:26 pm)

    How exciting! I’m looking forward to more gluten free prepared food options in West Seattle as my daughter and I have Celiac Disease (no gluten in any form from wheat, rye, spelt, oats and barley) and we struggle to find places to eat out. This sounds wonderful!

  • Saney November 10, 2010 (7:41 pm)

    Thanks. I am on the northside, so I take the admiral exit. I think the last time I drove that stretch of road, it was still being re-paved/lined.

    As a pescatarian, I am also looking forward to this. As far as the retail section— 2 words: SOY CURLS

  • smash the state November 10, 2010 (7:43 pm)

    morality? really? diet is nothing to base your morality on so let’s give this oddly formed argument a pass for the rest of this thread, please. we just want good food, prepared well, presented to us with respect and value. in that regard, here’s hoping chaco is awesome!

  • YAE! November 10, 2010 (7:56 pm)

    SO EXCITED!!!!!
    (Yes, I’m yelling with enthusiasm!)

  • redblack November 10, 2010 (8:27 pm)

    smash the state, i think onceachef was saying that some people choose vegetarian because they believe eating meat is animal cruelty; so morality might be something that people base their diets on.
    but, yes. bring on some squash enchiladas or something. quickly.
    which reminds me: the beloved mexico truck has some great vegetarian tacos. (sorry, vegans. they contain cheese.) pricey, but recommended.

  • smash the state November 10, 2010 (9:02 pm)

    well, ok, it’s their morality….

  • Maurie Kirschner November 10, 2010 (9:57 pm)

    Super happy about this! Chaco Canyon is one of a very few places I can eat out safely since I can know EVERY ingredient in the food and I’ve been eagerly hoping for this wonderful news! It will be nice to have someplace I can eat out at closer to home!

    Doing the happy dance!

  • Diane November 10, 2010 (10:48 pm)

    More very exciting news of another fantastic business coming to the new Link development
    It’s official; Bright Horizons is coming to West Seattle!!!
    Bright Horizons, “world’s leading provider of employer-sponsored child care, back-up care, education and work/life solutions”
    I met with directors tonight at grand opening of the gorgeous new Bright Horizons in South Lake Union, and all the wonderful Harbor Properties folks; they all verified that the build out for the new WS Bright Horizons will begin next week, and plan to be completed by Spring; I heard about this “unofficially” from reliable source 6 months ago, but couldn’t get anyone at Bright Horizons to confirm, so kept it under wraps rather than share any info that might not happen; but it is confirmed now; this will be incredible addition to our neighborhood; thanks to Harbor for being so thoughtful and considerate in partnering with community to bring in the best possible businesses to their properties, for mutual benefit
    Links to more info:

  • christine cannon November 10, 2010 (10:55 pm)

    I am stoked … dream come true… i get tired of driving when i dont feel like cooking and want raw/vegan very …very hapy to welcome Chaco Canyon to West Seattle!!

  • austin November 11, 2010 (7:05 am)

    I’ll probably eat at this place at least once because it’s within walking distance of my house and sounds like a good idea (never been to the u-district location), but the smug attitudes from some of the commenters here are pretty gross, from calling non-vegans “crazy” to ridiculing the morality of eating healthy. Get a shrink already.

  • Mark K November 11, 2010 (10:06 am)

    Thanks for the update, TR. I have been wondering the status of this for a couple of weeks, but kept forgetting to ask you for an update.
    Like so many others, I’m really excited for this. Chaco is truly unique in what they offer. They are also one of the very few restaurants in Seattle that not only are vegetarian/vegan but also have a strong commitment to organics.
    I’m the fact that they have chosen West Seattle is wonderful. While we have many places that offer some vegetarian fare, having someplace committed to it and to the organics is a huge win.
    Like my wife said above, it will be nice to have a place to eat closer to home…
    Now, if you’ll excuse me, time to do my own Snoopy happy dance…

  • Jill November 11, 2010 (12:56 pm)

    Seconding AJL on pretty much everything. :) Also very excited about the gluten free and raw options. Hooray!

  • Margaret E. November 11, 2010 (3:23 pm)

    I’m vegan and excited that you are coming here!
    Like a previous poster, bicycle racks, please.

  • AlkiCabCompany November 11, 2010 (5:29 pm)

    austin, West Seattle is full of smug people vegans and non. try not to get your panties in a bunch. I don’t think we should see a shrink just cause we have an opinion. Settle down and go have a beer.

  • austin November 11, 2010 (9:29 pm)

    It’s funny that you would attack me for pointing you out for attacking others. Your self described smugness (insecurity? arrogance?) is not justified despite your claim that west seattle is full of it (it is not, for the most part we’re good people). Please sit down and put it away. It is gross.

  • OP November 11, 2010 (10:27 pm)

    I’m NOT a veghead, but I’m looking forward to trying some good food, does that count?

  • Anita M November 14, 2010 (12:34 pm)

    I may eat meat but I also feel best when I eat high raw so this is great news! And it’s also on the bus that runs in front of my building. Yes to bike rack also if it’s going to be a hang out place and not just dress up special occasion.

Sorry, comment time is over.