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.)