After a century in business, Crown Hill Hardware is closing

One of Seattle’s oldest small businesses, Crown Hill Hardware on 15th Ave. NW is closing at the end of the month.

“I’ve been here a long time. It just has sentimental value,” says the store’s owner Dennis Palmer.

Palmer says his mom passed away a week ago, which triggered a requirement to sell the property, which is in a trust along with several other families. He said he expects there will be lots of bids, and he can’t afford to buy it himself.

Crown Hill Hardware first opened for business on 85th St. more than century ago, moving to its current location in the mid 1950s, Palmer said. His dad bought the store in 1976, and Palmer bought the business from his father in 2000.

“I’ve seen it change so much through the years. Small businesses just aren’t supported very much anymore,” he said.

Similar to central Ballard a few years ago, the 15th Ave. corridor is now peppered with brand new apartments and fenced-off lots awaiting new developments. “It’ll sell pretty quick,” Palmer said.

The store has been a Crown Hill institution for decades, but Palmer said business dropped during the last recession and never really recovered. “I’m doing more business now that I’m closing than when I’ve been open,” he joked to a regular customer.

“Sad to see you go,” the customer said.

Crown Hill Hardware will be open until the end of the month, and prices are marked down 30%.

“It was a good ride,” Palmer said.

(Thank you Amber for the tip.)

The Ridgeback Cafe opens on 65th

There’s another new addition to the cluster of businesses at the foot of Phinney Ridge on 65th St. — the Ridgeback Cafe. The family-friendly restaurant opened for business on Friday evening in the old Renick Printing space at 500 N.W. 65th St, next door to Slave to the Needle.

Owner Justin Taft puts out the open sign for the first time

The Ridgeback is a neighborhood cafe featuring a full lineup of crepes, sandwiches, Belgium waffles and some tapas, as well. It serves beer, wine and espresso drinks. Owner Justin Taft says he created The Ridgeback in the same vein as his other restaurant, the well-regarded Hangar Cafe in Georgetown.

Taft said they received final permit approval for The Ridgeback from the City of Seattle at 2 p.m. Friday, and he opened the doors an hour later — months after they originally intended to open.

“It feels fantastic. It’s been such a journey, but it’s been a great experience,” a very satisfied and relieved-sounding Taft told PhinneyWood. “We’re so ultra prepared. We are so stoked.”

The Ridgeback will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The hours are 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Fridays, 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sundays. Taft eventually hopes to hold communal dinners on Sunday evenings.

Earlier this month, The Blue Glass restaurant opened a few doors down.

(Thanks to Dale at PhinneyWood for help on this story!)

Carter Volkswagen celebrates 50 years in Ballard


The folks at 5202 Leary Avenue are celebrating a milestone and sharing some classic photos. Carter Volkswagen is marking 50 years of continuous family ownership and operation in Ballard. Mary Carter and her late husband Wade started the company in 1960. The flagship dealership is still located in the original building on Leary Way, a building we’re told Wade slept in some nights while getting the business up and running in the early days. Wade was also president of the Ballard Rotary and spent 20 years on the board of Ballard Hospital which later became a branch of Swedish.

Vera’s Restaurant and Missing Link Cafe apply for liquor licenses

It looks like you could soon have a Bloody Mary at one of Ballard’s best known spots for breakfast.  Vera’s Restaurant at 5417 22nd Ave NW has just applied for a liquor license to sell spirits, beer and wine.

Vera’s Restaurant

The Missing Link Cafe, inside the newly opened Dutch Bike Co. on 4741 Ballard Ave., has also applied for a license to sell beer and wine.  The cafe and bike company are part of the renovated Kolstrand Building.

The Missing Link Cafe inside Dutch Bike Co.

New restaurant opens near Ballard High

A new restaurant is about to open in the space formerly occupied by Himitsu Sushi (and Quiznos before that) at the intersection of 15th Ave NW and NW 65th street. Stackers Pizza and Subs plans to open its doors on May 31.

We stopped by this morning to take a look inside where crews are still busy renovating the dining room. Owner Larry Holm tells us the restaurant will seat 32 people and will offer lunch and dinner between 10am and 8pm. They’ll start out with a larger sandwich selection than pizzas, but plan to expand the menu as they go. They’ll also offer such fare as chicken strips and buffalo wings.  Stackers also hopes to start delivering in the near future. (Thanks to Joel for the tip!)

Cascade Bicycle joins battle over ‘missing link’

The “missing link” of the Burke-Gilman Trail — the stretch between 11 Ave. NW and the Locks — has been a contentious issue for years. It winds through Ballard’s industrial district, underneath the Ballard Bridge and over railroad tracks before it connects up with the Burke Gilman on the other side of the Locks. Some cyclists say it’s dangerous, and they have horror stories to tell. Industrial businesses along the stretch have resisted efforts to build a permanent bike trail there, even warning it would put them out of business. But last September, Mayor Greg Nickels allocated funding to complete the Burke-Gilman in a compromise plan, connecting the missing link in two years.

Then in November, a group of businesses including Ballard Oil, Salmon Bay Sand & Gravel as well as the Ballard Chamber of Commerce filed an appeal with the city (.pdf file) in an attempt to put a stop to plans to complete the link. “The project, as it’s currently proposed, will have substantial adverse impacts to this maritime and industrial community and is very likely a trail user will get hurt or killed,” the appeal reads, explaining it would “harm businesses and people employed by those businesses” as well as potentially damage the environment. Then earlier this month, the Cascade Bicycle Club filed a motion to intervene in the appeal to have their voices heard, and the Department of Planning and Development approved their request. “The long-overdue project would solve numerous safety problems,” Cascade said. “Oddly enough, the project was designed as a compromise for the very businesses that are complaining now.”

The appeal is scheduled for the Hearing Examiner on March 23rd at 9 a.m., shaping up to be a real showdown over the future of a 1.5 mile stretch of Ballard. We’ll let you know what happens.

Monster Clothing, Source Salon now open

Here’s an update on our earlier posts about two new businesses moving into the Old Ballard area just a block apart from each other.

First, Monster Art and Clothing has now opened at Ballard Ave. and 20th Ave. The boutique featuring handmade products by “young upcoming artists.”

And Source Salon and Spa has opened in the prominent curved retail space at Leary and 20th Ave. It describes itself as a “modern boutique and gallery with a relaxing down to earth environment.” Their number is 789-4500.