Skillet in Ballard closes down

A little off the beaten path — and still recovering from a flood last year — Skillet has closed its Ballard restaurant for good.

“After 5 years, we sadly announce the closing of our Skillet Ballard location,” the restaurant posted on Facebook yesterday. “Thank you to all our family, friends, customers and employees for all your support over the years. And a big hug for Ballard – thanks for the opportunity to be part of the fabric of the neighborhood.”

In August of last year, Skillet and next door neighbor Parfait were forced to close after a flood in the Greenfire building on 56th St. Skillet was shut down for over a month before it reopened.

“Despite our best efforts, our business did not recover from the flood and we have decided it is in our best interest to close this location,” said Ann Downs, president of the Skillet Group, in a statement. Meanwhile, Skillet still has restaurants in Capitol Hill, Denny Regrade and the Seattle Center — as well as its food trucks.

Skillet said its doing its best to relocate its Ballard employees to its other locations.

Starbucks closes store in Interbay

The Starbucks next to the Red Mill on West Dravus in Interbay closed for good on Sunday.

“As we continue to take steps to make sure we’re meeting customer’s needs, we’ve made the difficult decision to close our location at 1609 West Dravus Street in Seattle,” the Starbucks press team told My Ballard when we asked what happened. “We’re happy to confirm that all Starbucks partners (employees) working at that store have transferred to nearby locations.”

According to county records, the property sold to Six to One LLC in late December. This property listing said the small lot sold for $875,000.

As you can see from the map above — that green dot in the middle of Interbay is the store that closed — Magnolia is down to one location. Central Ballard has 5 Starbucks (3 are inside other stores), and the newest location on 15th gets a heavy amount of drive-through traffic.

“From time to time we make adjustments to make sure we’re providing the right blend of both convenient and premium options to choose from,” Starbucks explained. “Nowhere does this show up more clearly than in Seattle where our stores can feature the convenience of the core Starbucks menu, our immersive coffee bars and the premium Starbucks Roastery on Capitol Hill.”

Of course, there are many other coffee shops in Ballard and Magnolia — many of them independent — so there are always plenty of places to get your coffee fix.

(Thanks Kay for the tip!)

New beauty shop opens in Sunset Hill

The historic building on 32nd Ave. NW that was home to the Sunset Hill Barber Shop for decades has a new tenant: Essential Apothecary Alchemist.

“I was looking for a storefront in a nice neighborhood, and I chose Sunset Hill,” explains owner Kate Poole. “The building fit my aesthetic and l really appreciated the history of this spot.”

According to the City of Seattle, the Sunset Hill Barber Shop moved into 6406 32nd Ave. NW in the 1940s, right next door to the Sunset Hill Beauty Parlor — which had opened in 1928. The barber shop shut down earlier this year.

Essential Apothecary Alchemist is both a retail shop and Kate’s own studio where she makes her products. She specializes in beauty products derived from pure essential oils and the highest quality organic ingredients, Kate says on her website, which offers merchandise for sale online.

The retail shop is open from noon-5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Volterra is closing on New Years Eve, searching for new home in Ballard area

One of Ballard’s most beloved restaurants is closing. But only temporarily.

“Our building is being sold,” Volterra co-owner Michelle Quisenberry told My Ballard. “We are actively looking for a new Ballard-area home.”

Volterra’s last night will be New Years Eve, and every night until then, co-owner and chef Don Curtiss will be cooking.

“Please pop in to say hello and sign our legacy photo of Ballard Avenue that we’ll hang in the new location,” Michelle and Don explain in a note to customers. “We’ve enjoyed watching Ballard Avenue and the surrounding community grow and thrive which is why we are excited to continue the Volterra legacy in a new Seattle home.”

On New Years Eve, Volterra will be serving three seatings: 5 p.m., 7 p.m. or 9:30 p.m.

Volterra opened in Ballard 13 years ago in a prime location on Ballard Ave., and it’s received a variety of acclaim for its food, drinks and service. Rachael Ray even stopped by in 2008 to film an episode there. Michelle and Don opened another Volterra restaurant in Kirkland in 2012.

In an interview in Eater in 2015, Michelle looked back at 10 years in the neighborhood.

“We were really one of the anchor restaurants on Ballard Avenue, there was us and some of the old favorites like Bad Albert,” she said. “We were really the first kind of finer dining restaurant to make its way to Ballard. Over the past 10 years it’s been amazing to see the growth and now there’s, I can’t even remember, I think there’s a hundred restaurants in that area. So, it’s becoming extremely popular and to watch the neighborhood transform has been really exciting.”

While Volterra moves to a new location, Michelle and Don invite their Ballard customers to join them at Volterra Kirkland. “You’ll find the same menu and warm service that you’ve enjoyed in Ballard,” they write.

(This story originated from a post in the My Ballard Facebook Group, which any current or former Ballard residents can join.)

Kolstrand Building sells for $9.9 million

Home to neighborhood hotspots Walrus & Carpenter, Barnacle and Staple & Fancy, the historic Kolstrand Building on Ballard Ave. has sold for $9.9 million. King County records show the buyer is the Keyser Living Trust.

The early 1900s brick building was once a marine supply business. After it was bought in 2008 for $1.9 million, the owners extensively renovated the building in 2010, preserving much of its history.

Over the years that followed, the Kolstrand attracted Walrus & Carpenter and Barnacle from Renee Erickson and Staple & Fancy from Ethan Stowell, quickly becoming one of Old Ballard’s most popular destinations. In fact, the bar Barnacle was recently named one of the best American bars by Esquire magazine.

There’s no word if the new buyers, a family trust, will make any changes.

New Ballard taproom Locust Cider opening soon

Update on 12/20: Locust Cider is now open.

Earlier: As soon as the liquor license is approved, Woodinville’s Locust Cider is opening a taproom in Old Ballard on 22nd and Shilshole, in the old Kickin’ Boots building.

It features 12 cider taps with favorites like dark cherry, vanilla and honey pear, as well as seasonals and specials, like cilantro jalapeno. The taproom will offer outdoor seating on nice days.

Founded in 2015 by brothers Jason and Patrick Spears, Locust Cider is “cider without the sour bite,” made from Washington apples and other local ingredients. Sales have been strong enough to expand distribution beyond the Northwest, and Locust Cider is even planning to open a second production facility and taproom in Fort Worth, TX in April.

But it’s not all about the cider for Jason Spears, whose 2-year-old daughter has Hydrocephalus, a rare condition that’s treated with brain surgeries — 4 surgeries so far, with more on the way. A portion of the proceeds for all Locust cans and bottles as well as the cider club are donated to the Hydrocephalus Association.

Locust Cider expects to open any day now.

Ballard business briefs: The Mailbox, Fit Massage, Fit36

  • The longtime owner of The Mailbox in Loyal Heights, Ferrol Williams, is retiring after 21 years and has sold the business to Ballard residents Andrew and Melissa Wagenbrenner. A neighborhood welcome party is scheduled for Dec. 16th, 4-5 p.m., at The Mailbox at 24th Ave. and 80th St.
  • Over in the new My Ballard Forum, Tailwind asks “Is Fit Massage out of business?” Windows are papered over at the corner of Leary and Vernon, and the website has disappeared. However, it appears the separate business, Fit Wellness Center, remains open in the same building.
  • Speaking of fit, the high-intensity workout club Fit36 is coming to 5603 24th Ave. Here are some photos of the construction work inside.
  • 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.