West Seattle, Washington
Two weeks after Charlestown Cafe co-owner Larry Mellum told us the restaurant finally had the green light for the work needed to recover from the Feb. 4 fire that closed it — the city website reveals a permit was officially granted Friday. We’re checking for an update on the timetable for reopening. (You can see all our archived Charlestown coverage here.)
Just in from Charlestown Cafe co-owner Larry Mellum:
I finally have some good news to report. Everything is finally signed sealed and delivered!! Meaning that the Charlestown St. Cafe project is finally underway. I will do my best to keep you aware of our progress but as I have said previously, this is a four week project. Which means we should be open for business sometime around June 1st, with any luck possibly Memorial Day weekend.
It’s been almost three months since the Feb. 4th fire that closed the restaurant; we’ve been chronicling (scroll through our complete Charlestown Cafe archive here) the ups and downs of the owners’ quest for repair approvals ever since. Ironically, just days before the fire, we had reported the shelving of the controversial plan to build a Petco store on the site.
We just checked in again with Charlestown Cafe owner Larry Mellum; in our last update three weeks ago, Larry’s co-owner Ron Hanlon told us they were still awaiting the final go-ahead for work to start, and they couldn’t set a reopening date yet. Today, Larry tells WSB that the work required for the restaurant to reopen post-Feb.-4-fire still hasn’t begun:
The project has not yet started. We have been waiting for our Landlord and their insurance carrier to get the required construction proposal and deposit back to the contractor. To date that has not happened due I believe to some administrative glitches within their operation. … We are as anxious as you to get the Charlestown going again. Thank you again for all of your support.
Whenever the work starts, the cafe owners say it’ll take at least four weeks from that point to get it finished so the Charlestown can reopen. (You can always find the latest WSB coverage of the Charlestown Cafe situation atop this archive.)
Friday is the two-month anniversary of the fire that (temporarily) shut down the Charlestown Cafe, ironically just five days after we had reported the news that the most recent development project appeared to be on terminal hold. So we just checked in minutes ago with Ron Hanlon, co-owner of Charlestown Cafe, to see how repair work is going – when last we heard from co-owner Larry Mellum two weeks ago, when he announced the landlord had agreed to go ahead with fire repairs, he had hoped it would take about a month from that time to reopen. But according to what Hanlon just told us this morning, looks like it’s going to be a little longer than that. He says they’re still waiting for a couple things including a permit for the work. He’s hoping they will be able to set a firm date within a week or so. (You can find our archived Charlestown Cafe coverage, including the development controversy, the fire, and the recovery, by going here.)
Six weeks after the Charlestown Cafe fire – six weeks with plenty of uncertainty – the news is just in from restaurant owner Larry Mellum:
I wanted to pass along to you the good news that we are moving forward with our repairs from the fire we had on Feb. 4th. Our Landlord has agreed to get our Hood System fixed and upgraded to meet necessary codes so we are “officially” on the mend. I would expect it to take at least four weeks to get the doors back opened. I want to thank everyone who contacted us regarding the fire, wished us well and inquired if they could help us in any way!! This is an amazing community of which we are honored to be a part of. We will keep you updated with our progress and with any luck we will see everyone in a month.
In the meantime, if you didn’t already know this, Larry also owns Pike Place Chowder, with two downtown locations – Pike Place and Pacific Place – so you can get a chowder fix if you’re downtown, till Charlestown reopens.
Quick check-in with Charlestown Cafe owner Larry Mellum, five weeks after the fire that shut down his restaurant: Still waiting for word from the landlord whether they’ll proceed with costly repairs required by the city; hoping for word within a few days.
As of this afternoon, it’s been exactly three weeks since the Charlestown Cafe fire. We just checked back in with restaurant owner Larry Mellum, who says he regrets to report he has no update on a time estimate for reopening; according to Larry, “The stumbling block is that the City is requiring we replace our hood system” — but since that’s considered part of the building, fixing/replacing it is up to the landlord, and “all we know is, they are discussing it.” He is hoping to hear a decision this week; he knows it’s frustrating for customers, as it is for him and his business partner, and their staff of 35 “wondering what they should be doing, and we have no answers to provide them.” If/when the hood work is approved, Larry says, it would take at least three weeks to be completed — “at least two weeks to fabricate the ‘hood’ and another week to install it.” (All of our archived Charlestown Cafe coverage, including fire reports and the ongoing site-development issues, can be found here.)
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.
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:Read More
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:Read More
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:Read More
-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.