Walter’s leaving Sunset Hill spot later this year

A longtime community hangout in Sunset Hill, Walter’s Cafe has been given until the end of November before it needs to find a new location, the business said.

A few days ago, the deadline was much sooner: the My Ballard Group discovered that Walter’s had been given a notice to vacate their spot at 6408 32nd Ave. NW by the end of the month.

“Nooooooo. We’ve been going there for over a decade. We love Walters!” read one of the many comments. Another commenter encouraged neighbors to email the landlord to ask for more time.

And it worked.

“We are now guaranteed thru the end of November,” said Kim at Walter’s on Facebook last night. “We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from our friends, family, and community. Thank you for your fast and furious response to the recent notice to vacate.”

With the extension in place, some neighbors are now wondering what can be done to keep Walter’s around beyond November.

“Please spread the word that we will be serving up your favorite coffee, ice cream, and beer as usual for another few months. We could not have done this without you,” said Kim on Facebook.

Just down from Walter’s at the corner, a new restaurant is planning to open in early November. There’s no word what’s planned for Walter’s current space.

We’ll keep you posted.

Update: Walter’s responded to our earlier request for comment: “At this time we don’t have any plans to move to a new location after November. We will continue to provide updates for the neighborhood on our Facebook and Instagram accounts. Stay tuned and thanks again!”

Old Ballard Liquor Co. to shut down and reopen as Nordic bar and restaurant

For the last six years, Old Ballard Liquor Company has been operating a nano distillery on Shilshole Ave. near the Ballard Bridge, specializing on a Scandinavian favorite: aquavit.

Owner Lexi, who goes by her first name, announced this last week that the distillery is shutting down at the end of the month. Old Ballard Liquor’s inventory is now 50% off, and the distillery is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day until it closes for good on July 31st. (It’s at 4421 Shilshole Ave NW.)

But not to fear, Lexi said she’ll reopen in “mid-to-late August” as a Nordic bar and restaurant. After all, Scandinavian food is another of Lexi’s loves. You may have eaten at “Tumble Swede,” a pop-up restaurant, most recently as a booth at SeafoodFest. Last year, she opened a small Scandinavian cafe inside Old Ballard Liquor Company with such dishes as Tunnbrödsrulle (Swedish street food), potato leek soup and elderflower ice cream. Then earlier this year, she announced a collaboration with the upcoming Skål Beer Hall to create the food concept for the Viking bar.

So a restaurant and bar sounds like a nice upgrade.

Lexi wouldn’t tell us why the distillery is closing — she said she’ll post a “detailed essay” on her website in coming weeks — but she did allude on Facebook to challenging regulations for smaller distilleries. She’s also not sharing details yet about her upcoming restaurant.

We’ll keep you updated, and in the meantime, head on down to Old Ballard Liquor Company for the discounted liquor. Everything must go by July 31st.

City council repeals head tax in 7-2 vote

That didn’t take long. Just less than a month after the city council voted 9-0 in favor of a head tax on big Seattle businesses, the same council voted 7-2 to repeal it amid chants from the audience.

Councilmembers Kshama Sawant and Teresa Mosqueda voted no.

In a statement after the vote, Amazon said it was “the right decision for the region’s economic prosperity.” The company said it was “deeply committed to being part of the solution to end homelessness in Seattle.”

Yesterday Mayor Jenny Durkan and and 7 councilmembers published a statement. “We heard you,” it said. “It is clear that the ordinance will lead to a prolonged, expensive political fight over the next five months that will do nothing to tackle our urgent housing and homelessness crisis.”

“Hopefully it’s not the end of anything,” said Seattle City Council President Bruce Harrell after the vote. “Hopefully it’s the beginning of something.”

“The people who have won are the conservative groups and big businesses, funding organizations who support Trump, who oppose civil rights, and who are refusing to participate in shared responsibility,” tweeted Councilmember Mosqueda.

The council voted after organizers of a referendum to repeal the head tax said they had secured more than enough signatures to put it on the November ballot.

You can watch a video of the proceedings here on KOMO’s Facebook page.

Crown Hill Safeway site is sold, store will be remodeled this year

The property that’s home to the Crown Hill Safeway store at 8332 15th Ave. NW has sold to new owners, according to the Daily Journal of Commerce.

The lot sold for $3 million to Rosenthal Crown Hill LLC, which lists Albert Rosenthal of Bellevue as its registered agent.

We contacted Safeway, and spokesperson Sara Osborne said the store is staying put.

“In fact, the store will undergo a remodel this year, including adding self-checkout,” she said.

Update: My Ballard reader Tony reminded us that the Safeway at Greenwood at 87th is closing soon. The decision was announced back in May, and Washington Holdings purchased the land.

Target confirms small-format store coming to Ballard next year

Thanks to your tips, My Ballard broke the story last month that Target is planning to open a Ballard store in the new Martin Selig development at 15th and Market.

Today Target officially announced that the 26,900 square-foot store will open in Ballard in 2019, and Martin Selig released a rendering of the new office building with all the signage (above).

For context, full-size Target stores are in the 130,000 square-foot range.

Target also announced new small-format stores are coming to the U District and Bellevue. Each location will customize its inventory for the neighborhood. Target says the Ballard store “will focus its assortment on baby and kids, apartment and home essentials, and beauty products.”

The Ballard store will also feature online pickup — usually ready in less than an hour — as well as same-day delivery services powered by Shipt.

The store will employ about 50 people, Target said.

As for the office development at 15th and Market, Martin Selig says it’s 80% leased. As we’ve been reporting, other tenants include Polyclinic, WeWork and Equal Exchange Coffee.

Lots of new businesses opening this month

The Nordic Museum and New Seasons Market aren’t the only new businesses opening in Ballard this month. From a distillery and a cannabis shop to a travel boutique and a Golden Gardens snack shack, May has been big month for new businesses. Here’s our roundup:

HERITAGE DISTILLING: As we previewed back in February, Heritage Distilling has opened at 1836 NW Market St. (above), right next to Ballard Blossom. This is the company’s fifth location in the Northwest — you may recognize Heritage’s popular BSB on store shelves — and the Ballard tasting room offers “an extensive selection of barware, cocktail supplies, memberships, merchandise, customizable gift packs and of course, spirits.” You can even fill up a growler. Hours are 12-8 p.m. on Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Sunday.

DOCKSIDE CANNABIS: With two of the three owners from Frelard, Dockside Cannabis’ third Seattle location is closest to home. The new recreational marijuana dispensary just opened a couple days ago at 4601 NW Leary Way (above), near the Bev Mo and New Seasons. Dockside Cannabis Ballard features “a full range of carefully curated cannabis products,” and co-owner Maria Moses told the My Ballard Group that “awesome specials happening right now.” Hours are Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-11 p.m. and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

ATLAS TRAVEL WEAR: Slated to open on May 26 at 5337 Ballard Ave NW (above), Atlas Travel Wear “aims to dress women for adventure, whatever adventure means to them,” says owner Jeannine Kempees. Named after her dog Atlas — who has been helping get things ready over the last few weeks — the Old Ballard store will feature quality travel apparel, travel bags, accessories and will also showcase local jewelry.

MIRI’S SNACK SHACK: Miri Plowman and her partner Gabe Skoda had their first date at Golden Gardens a few years ago, and now they’ve opened Miri’s Snack Shack in the concession stand area near the bathhouse. The rotating menu includes such things as poffertjes (little yummy Dutch pancakes), kebab sandwiches, chocolate dipped Full Tilt ice cream bars and a fresh fruit piña colada slushie (above). The shack has been open a couple weeks now, as Seattle Magazine reports, they sold out quickly last sunny weekend. They’re currently open Thursday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. with plans to expand to 7 days a week in June.

As always, if you see a new business opening, email us at tips@myballard.com.

(Photos from each respective company’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.)

Ballard New Seasons celebrates grand opening

Ballard’s newest grocery store, New Seasons Market opened its doors today on Ballard Way with speeches, protests and plenty of eager shoppers.

We arrived at lunchtime, and the store was packed with neighbors navigating the aisles and admiring the amenities.

Among all the staples, New Seasons features an expansive meat and seafood counter, wok and ramen bar, burrito bar, in-house made sushi, grab-and-go meal kits and an indoor and outdoor seating area, to name a few. Some local vendors handed out free samples.

“We are excited to open our doors to the Ballard community,” said Kerri Hunsley, Ballard store manager. “We are honored to have partnered with local nonprofits and hired amazing staff from local neighborhoods. We have sourced a variety of products from more than 175 vendors across all departments, and many of them are hyperlocal vendors from the Ballard area. We look forward to being your neighbor and serving the Ballard community for many years to come.”

One of those vendors is extremely local: Fremont Brewing’s production facility is right across the street from New Seasons. Named after a shingle mill constructed in Ballard in 1888, Fremont created “Shingle Town Hazy India Pale Ale” exclusively for New Seasons.

“From the windows of our Ballard production facility, we watched the demolition of the old building and the construction of New Season’s first Seattle store on that site with great anticipation,” said Matt Lincecum, Fremont Brewing Founder and CEO. “We’re excited to welcome New Seasons to the neighborhood with Shingle Town Hazy IPA.”

As shoppers drove into the parking lot, they were greeted by protesters demanding better worker conditions at New Seasons, which is not a union workplace. We talked with Chris Heim, a longtime employee from the Hawthorne store in Portland who drove up to take part in the protest.

“I’ve seen a lot of things deteriorate and degrade, as far the quality of the job,” he said. “I’m trying to get as many people together to show solidarity with Seattle. There’s a worker network that’s coming together to fight back against corporate greed for better wages, better benefits, better staffing. Under-staffing is one of our biggest issues.”

Some protesters also claim that the store has “retaliated against Portland workers who spoke up about working conditions,” a claim that New Seasons refutes. “The National Labor Relations Board investigated two claims of retaliation and dismissed both claims as having no merit,” New Seasons spokesperson Nicole Brooks told Seattle Weekly. In February, New Seasons announced CEO Wendy Collie is stepping down in a “strategic shift” in the organization.

New Seasons opponents, who are supported by UFCW 21, are also protesting against the company’s planned expansion into the Central District.

New Seasons is entering an increasingly competitive grocery store market in Ballard. Ballard Market, Safeway, Fred Meyer, Trader Joe’s and Amazon Fresh are just a few blocks away, and a new PCC will open early next year in the Ballard Blocks II development.

In the days to come, New Seasons has several events planned, including wine and chocolate tastings and store tours with nutritionists.

(Both New Seasons Market and its opponents, New Seasons Stories, are advertisers of My Ballard.)

Target is coming to Ballard next year

Updated: For years there have been rumors of Target coming to Ballard, but now it’s official.

My Ballard has learned Target has signed a lease to take the first floor of the new office building at the corner of 15th Ave NW and NW Market St., according to real estate developer Martin Selig.

Target will join Polyclinic, WeWork and Equal Exchange coffee in the new 200,000 square-foot office building that’s under construction where the Shell gas station was located. It’s slated to open in the first quarter of next year, Selig said.

Given the available square footage, it’s unclear if the new store is a CityTarget — a smaller, urban version of the discount store, like the one in downtown — or an even smaller TargetExpress store. When we reached Target this afternoon, it provided this statement:

At Target, we continuously explore possible locations for new stores, including in the Seattle area. We are currently focused on new store growth with our small-format stores, which are smaller than our general merchandise Target stores and are located in dense urban and suburban neighborhoods as well as college campuses. I can tell you we are pursuing the opportunity to reach guests in the Ballard neighborhood, but at this time, we’re not at a point where we can share any new store plans.

The building is located on Ballard’s busiest corner, right next to the proposed location of the Ballard elevated light rail station. One of the few office buildings in the neighborhood, it has has underground parking for 253 vehicles.

“There really is no office space market in Ballard,” Selig told us, explaining they’ve had to work hard to lease the 5-story building, which is now 80% leased. “All that’s left is floor 3,” he said.

(Our thanks to K and Scott for their tips that led to this story.)

New burger restaurant coming to ‘The Terminal’ across from New Seasons

If you’ve wondered what’s planned for the new retail-restaurant space under construction across from New Seasons, you’re not alone. After we asked for tips earlier this week, My Ballard reader Stephen pointed us to The Terminal At Ballard at 907 NW Ballard Way.

“The Terminal” is the name of the CenterCal Properties development that includes New Seasons — which is opening on May 9th — and “14,000-square feet of restaurant and small shop retail space” on the other side of the parking lot:

So far, AT&T is the only confirmed tenant, but The Terminal’s Facebook page shared a post by The Habit Burger Grill. “We can’t wait to welcome The Habit Burger Grill to the neighborhood,” it said.

Since its humble beginnings in Santa Barbara in 1969, Habit Burger has grown into a national chain of over 200 restaurants. Its closest locations are in Shoreline and Tukwila. Here’s the menu.

We reached out to both CenterCal Properties and Habit Burger, but neither has responded so far.

The Terminal’s open date is scheduled for sometime next month.

(Thanks Stephen for the tip!)

‘Corner Spot’ opens in Central Ballard

Back in February, we reported that neighborhood hangout Crooked Nail had closed at the corner of NW 56th St. and 17th Ave. NW. According to a liquor license, it looked like a new establishment called “Corner Shot” was in the works.

We were close. It’s called Corner Spot, a new bar and restaurant that has quietly opened over the last week or so.

Corner Spot is owned by Loyal Heights resident Kacy Fitch, who used to be the co-owner of the cocktail place Zig Zag Cafe near Pike Place Market. “I was tired of the commute,” he told us. “And I wanted something small that I can manage myself.”

Fitch says Corner Spot aims to be a friendly neighborhood bar “away from the craziness of Ballard Ave.” with quality food, drinks and service.

From chef Mario Pujals, the menu ranges from small plates (i.e. charcuterie) and soups and salads (i.e. balsamic caesar) to sandwiches (i.e. smoked turkey) and a couple heartier options (i.e. creole mac & cheese.) Pujals said more tapas-style food is coming.

Fitch is known for his craft cocktails, but he says he has “something for everyone” at the bar — including a good selection of wine (and even champagne) by the glass. The beer taps include local favorites Maritime, Reuben’s and Fremont.

Corner Spot is currently open from 3 to 10 p.m. (to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday), but it plans to add a lunch menu on Friday and Saturday soon. The bar is 21-and-over for now, but Fitch said he’s working on a city permit for a bar railing to make it kid friendly.

(Our thanks to Henry and Alex for the tip!)