BIZNOTE: Amid Avalon construction, Shack Coffeehouse goes up for sale

(WSB photo, this morning)

Back in June, we reported on the Luna Park coffeehouse The Shack trying to cope with the road work out front. 3+ months later, it’s still open, but up for sale. After a reader tip (thanks, Taylor) we found the listing and contacted proprietor Angela Cough via email for comment. She confirms, “Yes, we have put the Shack up for sale … it’s so sad too – we love this little place. But we’re paying for payroll out of our pockets right now, and can’t continue to do it with the unknown outcome, post project completion.”

She continues: “When we purchased the Shack, it was a failing business. Folks didn’t know – but it was about to close back in March, 2017 when we took over to see what we could do. After working a year on getting a remodel done (it may not look like it, but that funky interior is all second-use/recycled, custom-built out of materials old & new to match the eclectic nature of that building) we re-launched the Shack with what folks were used to getting there for some 18 years with the previous Java Bean: Eggels.”

After that, the business’s recovery continued, with 50 percent year-to-year growth, Cough said – “UNTIL – construction. We had been talking to Seattle Department of Transportation since May, 2017 – about their plans for Avalon Way – which was disguised as a ‘re-paving’ project.” (It’s also rechannelization as well as, at 35th/Avalon, and some infrastructure updates such as the water-main work at 35th/Avalon.)

They talked with the city multiple times over two year, Cough says, “to discuss our thoughts on what should or should not be implemented and how it would devastate our businesses to a) lose precious parking, b) displace residential parking for bike lanes and zoned parking c) shut down Avalon during the summer months – the list goes on. But they effectively presented a plan for ‘input’ in May of 2017, and that plan, regardless of community and business input, has largely stayed exactly the same. As everyone knows too – they shut down Avalon during the summer, so there goes any chance to continuing building and trying to stockpile any cash if at all, like many businesses like ours do.”

Right after construction started last spring, Cough says, our transaction volume dropped 50%. It ‘recovered’ to an average of 30% loss, and is still behind. In early June I emailed Lisa Herbold and representatives of SDOT regarding our concern for our business as well as businesses in general, as city-wide improvements continue. I suggested strongly, that if the City wants to change the narrative surrounding small business (the narrative IMHO is not good right now), that it should consider setting aside 1% for Small Business Revenue Stability to make sure that shops like ours, suffering from physical barriers to access due to City Construction, could weather the storm. If we can set aside 1% for Art, we should be able to set aside 1% for Small Business, right? It’s not a handout – it’s the right thing to do and a reasonable part of the budget that should be available for use when planning for city improvements.” There are some grants, but nothing Cough and her business would qualify for.

But construction will eventually end, and Cough says The Shack is “a great business for someone who wants to owner/operate something and have an opportunity to build a small business that is manageable both in operation and physical size.” Her other businesses – Flying Apron and Hotwire Coffee, both in The Junction, will continue.(And Shack Coffeehouse, while up for sale, is still open.)

32 Replies to "BIZNOTE: Amid Avalon construction, Shack Coffeehouse goes up for sale"

  • WadeMyron September 18, 2019 (11:46 am)

    This is a direct result of the city not doing anything to help mitigate the issues with construction…..very very poor effort by the city to protect the interests of local business owners.It is just plain sad.

    • CAM September 18, 2019 (12:50 pm)

      How do we know this is a direct result? The business was described as “failing” just two short years ago and it sounds like significant expense went into a remodel. The city also gave the businesses over 2 years notice that this was coming so that they could prepare for it. The project is also less than 2 months from completion and the owner admits that she is in part unhappy with the loss of parking and thinks that will depress her sales even after the project is completed. That seems to be contributing to the decision to sell as well. 

      • Chuck September 18, 2019 (1:38 pm)

        If it walks like a duck but can’t find parking in order to buy a coffee drink, it’s still a duck. Or something like that. But if your argument is that the city is not at ALL culpable for this business’ failure, that seems to me an over-simplification as well. This city only cares about tax income. They could care less about the individual business actually staying in business to produce said tax income. Damned ironic, I think. 

        • Peter September 18, 2019 (2:06 pm)

          “can’t find parking in order to buy a coffee drink”  It’s immediately adjacent to a parking lot. That duck don’t quack.

        • CAM September 18, 2019 (2:14 pm)

          Chuck, I agree that pointing the finger in any single direction is likely an oversimplification of the actual events leading to this outcome. Maybe the city could have done more, I didn’t say they couldn’t have or shouldn’t have. All I said was that it is not the solely the city’s fault that the owner is choosing to sell the business.

      • Nolan September 18, 2019 (2:32 pm)

        To put this as gently as possible, I haven’t heard about Luna Park having similar issues; I’ve traveled there by bus several times and it’s about as busy as it was beforehand, at least on the weekends. I don’t really buy the argument that the business would be successful if it weren’t for the city doing construction.

        • WSB September 18, 2019 (3:10 pm)

          Actually, there’s a “support Luna Park” event coming up soon. Haven’t put it in the calendar yet.

          • Tsurly September 18, 2019 (6:01 pm)

            The event is being led by a group of cyclist btw. Perhaps car drivers will their support as well by parking under the bridge and walking there?

          • Mariem September 18, 2019 (11:20 pm)

            We like Luna park and have been going for years but if the business is not viable I prefer they raise prices to change that and NOT fundraise. Leave that for the many deserving nonprofits please!

  • Lola September 18, 2019 (1:08 pm)

    My husband had an experience with one of the Flagger Construction workers a while back.  He and a friend went to Luna Park for lunch, he pulled into the parking lot and could see a parking spot on the far end.  As he pulled in the flagger started to MF him and asked why he was coming in there?  He pointed to the spot and said we are going to have lunch at Luna Park and there is a spot at the end.  She looks does not apologize, and throws her hands up in the air and walks away.  He said it was so bizzare, you would think they would be helpful. 

  • Steve September 18, 2019 (1:21 pm)

    If you are going to start a business in an automobile-dependent area like that, you shouldn’t rely on the city to provide you with free parking. You should make sure you have a lot on private property your patrons can use. This sounds a lot like when people complain about apartment dwellers parking on the street instead of renting a spot in their building. 

  • Chris K September 18, 2019 (1:25 pm)

    That’s not the greatest location, even before construction.  Kudos to Cough for making it a profitable business in the first place.

  • KD September 18, 2019 (1:33 pm)

    HELLO?!! West Seattle-ites!!!!! How about doing what others did for C & P Coffee on California Ave. when they were going to loose their spot (different circumstances) but the the caffeine consuming community helped SAVE it with crowd funding and donations. Yep.. the city should be extending help (millions for addicts, why not a wee bit for hard working little business?) Don’t give up yet! You probably won’t need as much as C & P did to get through the tail end of the construction and catching up. Can someone good at this organize? Can the folks who helped save C & P give tips to help The Shack? 💗☕️💗☕️💗☕️💗

    • Nolan September 18, 2019 (2:36 pm)

      The city obviously has a basic humanitarian interest in trying to help people stay alive and get on their feet. People who want to make extra money by running a business will obviously be secondary. Methinks you need a refresher on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

    • newnative September 18, 2019 (3:03 pm)

      Handouts for a proprietor that bought a failing business and owns several others?  Save the charity for someone who needs it. 

    • Dj September 18, 2019 (3:42 pm)

      Is the shack good? Or good enough to compete with all of the other coffee nearby to justify the pain in getting there? If hopping off the bus for a cup of coffee was possible they might to better but the transit over there is too unpredictable. At 10 minute coffee jump quickly turns into rolling into work late after being packed on the C.

      • Tracey September 18, 2019 (8:10 pm)

        These guys have awesome coffee and a super cute interior/exterior for staying and drinking it.  You would have to be hiding your head in the sand to think the construction is not to blame for declining sales.  It isn’t safe to drive thru there right now let alone park your car under the bridge and walk.  Anyone still cycling there is just crazy.  

        • Tsurly September 18, 2019 (9:27 pm)

          The only thing making it unsafe for cyclists is the same thing that makes any other road unsafe; inattentive/reckless/selfish car drivers. Construction has nothing to do with it.

          • Rumbles September 19, 2019 (5:01 am)

            Don’t kid yourself, there are plenty of cyclists like that too!  It goes both ways!

          • Tracey September 19, 2019 (6:19 am)

            You know that isn’t true.  The narrowing of the lanes, misplaced cones, confusion over which lane to be in makes this area currently much more dangerous than usual.  As a frequent reader of the blog, I know you love your bikes and take every opportunity to hate on cars.  Deep down, we all know you’ve got some common sense too.

          • TSurly September 19, 2019 (10:44 am)

            I do have common sense, and using it results in me choosing to ride slow on a bike with wide tires to handle the variable surfaces. The only times I’ve had problems on Avalon are when cars try to pass me because I’m going too slow for them.I also have a brand new car and drive a few times per week, but actively choose not to drive like an impatient, reckless jerk. 

        • KBear September 19, 2019 (12:28 pm)

          Tracey, people are still cycling on Avalon not because they’re crazy, but because they have to get in and out of West Seattle and there isn’t a suitable detour for many folks. Any way around it is much steeper and/or farther. In some ways, the construction makes it safer for cyclists, because cars are being forced to slow down and stay in their own lane.

  • 2cents September 18, 2019 (3:10 pm)

    terrible location, luna park too. 

  • KBear September 18, 2019 (3:55 pm)

    The city has taken great pains to keep Avalon open during construction. The “1% for Small Businesses” Cough talks about sure sounds like a handout to me. Would it even be legal? How would they decide which businesses would get it, and how much? The road needed to be repaved. I’m not sure what else they could have done.

  • Seabruce September 18, 2019 (4:46 pm)

    Too bad they’re not on the other side of the street near the rapid ride stop. Maybe they should sell prepared meals for people on their way home from work or try to get Metro to reinstate the bus stop on the bridge onramp next to the steel plant so that people park in the lot under the bridge to commute downtown.

  • Steve September 18, 2019 (8:59 pm)

    Great place but the hours are horrible. 7:30 am open to 1pm close. They weren’t open long enough during the day. If you are the owner you have to work more to keep your business open longer. The construction didn’t do it but it was the nail in the coffin. 

    • LyndaB September 18, 2019 (9:32 pm)

      Those hours are a modification due to construction.  The owners are doing their best to keep it alive and I appreciate it by going there.  I love the food offerings and the drinks and the decor!  I totally understand where they’re coming from though.  I hope for a turnaround for them and they decide to keep it.

    • Mmarie September 18, 2019 (11:16 pm)

      Hi I hoped to patronize the place during construction to help support but I found they were closed Everytime I went by. Difficult situation all around. I used to go there alot when it was javabean 

  • CMT September 19, 2019 (9:01 am)

    Disappointing to see the usual anti-car militants dissing a local business and owner just to maintain their position.  This is a business in our community that is suffering because of the Avalon construction.  Jeesh.

    • TSurly September 19, 2019 (11:06 am)

       I assume your comment is directed at me. Where did I once disparage The Shack in my comments? I still frequent Luna Park, despite the construction, because I still find it very accessibly by bike (even with my kid on the back). I was simply pointing out that if other users (car drivers) really cared about supporting these businesses, they would do it (see GANATIVE’S comment below).

  • GAnative September 19, 2019 (10:29 am)

    I have to admit that I’ve lived in WS for 14 years and had never been to The Shack until this summer.  I’m not a coffee person so I can’t tell you how good their coffee is but their Eggles and breakfast burritos are fantastic!  I’ve been few times this summer but not as often as I could have because of not knowing where the road will be day to day and if there will be access to the parking lot, or not, and if there will be street parking, or not.

  • Suzy September 19, 2019 (3:29 pm)

    I’m not sure of the point of this is but in my opinion, 1% for small businesses makes sense.I worked for King County and I saw how 1% for art worked, I remember when that proposal was on the ballot and I voted against it but I digress, the idea is/was great for artists but for public benefit/enjoyment? Complete waste of hundreds of thousands of dollars per project, 1% is too much for ‘public art’, seriously, one million for ‘art’ on a access gate at pump station?Road construction does hurt small businesses and that is something that should be looked into regardless of people’s coffee taste.

Sorry, comment time is over.