Chai House planning to close, employees say

With a “For Rent” sign in the window, employees at Mr. Spot’s Chai House are telling curious customers that the popular Ballard hangout is planning to close at the end of the month. An employee told My Ballard that the decision was made after they learned of a rent increase, and the Chai House may reopen soon in a new space, yet to be determined.

The Chai House is in a prime location right next to Bergen Place on Leary, and a sign in the window says that rent will cost $4,800 a month on a 3-5 year lease. The cafe is often busy with Ballard residents drinking coffee, tea and beer and enjoying the free WiFi. The Chai House also hosts live music, performance art and a small art gallery. We’ll update this story as we learn more later today.

(Thanks OldHippyGirl for the tip in the forum!)

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

72 thoughts to “Chai House planning to close, employees say”

  1. I always thought that park (Bergen) would be much more palatable if the adjacent cafe (now this empty space) actually opened onto the park, instead of just toward the street.
    I'm not sure if this would disrupt the mural on that North wall, but if I rented this space I'd pop a big hole in the wall and put outdoor seating along that whole back part of the park. I believe this area is currently used for illegitamate purposes by the local street population.

  2. No worries hippies, there's always vagrant-friendly Tullys across the street. Always a couple of bums out front there who can share their wisdom and tell you all about the secrets for their success.

  3. From Capital Hill to Belltown to Ballard. Now where will the new hotpsot be to go? Much like SF, there's only so much land, and too many people. Gee, the cost of rent wouldn't be in that cup of $4.00 coffee would it? And many wonder why things cost so much around these parts.

  4. I'm glad that someone brought up that there are always vagrants hanging outside of Tully's too. I liked Mr Spots (and I'm a tax-paying, showered, home-ownin', middle-class employed person). I'm sad to see it go and see that space turned into an empty storefront like what happened with Epilogue. Broadway on Capitol Hill showed that when there was a block of empty storefronts just past Denny, crime on that street went up. I would rather have a good business like Mr Spots than empty storefronts. Even if god-forbid some of the employees have funny colored hair or dreds.

  5. That's right, because yuppies = hippies who grew up. All bored middle class white kids trying to rebel from their bourgeois upbringing. The smart ones realize this by age 30. The dumb ones don't and wind up as either bums themselves, or middle aged divorcees with dead end government jobs like Ms. rose.

  6. Empty store fronts in Ballard don't generate much income for the stupid property owners. We are in a recession, so who's going to move in and pay the high rent/leases? This isn't Bellevue.

  7. Yuppie stands for “Young Urban Professional”. Young being mid twenty's to mid, maybe late 30s. Real hippies are all like 60 now. Your statement doesn't make sense.

  8. Except most of these young posters are baristas, waitresses or out of work altogether. I don’t call those professions and they are far from upwardly mobile. I suppose the bitterness comes from the bad timing of their lives meaning they won’t have the chance to max out 40 credit cards and overpay for a house as did those before them.

    Dems the breaks kids.

  9. curious if nicole from blackbird already has some insanely overpriced gift store idea for the space since she rents the rest of that block

  10. As a late 20s deodorant-wearing non-hippie, Mr. Spot's closing is the saddest thing I've heard around here in a long time. The space and people were very genuine, and they had a great open mic every week (Flying-V electric ukulele duo, awesome). Great place to get some work done before the music started or have a beer or chai (depending on the mood) later.

  11. Hello Landlords? Rent Increases? Right before the pending collapse of commercial realestate prices? With lots of other empty store fronts? $4,800 is a huge amount of rent for a mid traffic retail location like that.

    Here come the boring chain stores..

  12. ” Young being mid twenty's to mid, maybe late 30s”

    But yuppie is a tired ,old 25 yr old word….tired just like the people who use it.

  13. Holy cow, what's with all this whining about “kids these days”? Good grief, these comments once again demonstrate that myballard is a prime proof of Gabe's Internet Theory.

  14. disagree — Time doesn't determine the pertinence of language, utility does.

    Yuppie does a good job of describing what it refers to, like hipster or executive or average Joe (terms coined much longer ago than yuppie).

    It does smack a little of being tied to a time in the past, I'll give you that.

  15. Oh no! Where will I be able to:

    -Acquire crack cocaine
    -Acquire heroin
    -Observe individuals stashing baggies in the cracks of the couch
    -Watch drug deals occur from the window
    -Watch flies fly around in the baked goods counter
    -Watch bum fights occur

  16. I was wondering if the landlord (the olsens) were able to get so much for the space next door, that they figure that the chai house space will rent out quickly at a higher price. The glass studio moved out and the new tenant was there in short time. From what I understand, $4800 is about a %50 increase of what they were paying.

  17. I love all these comments. I very much dislike this place. Always hacky sack playing, heroine injecting, weed smoking yuppies and hobos hanging out just outside here and inside. You can rely on that as much as you can rely on walmart having low prices, Always.

  18. Having lived in Ballard for over 10 years, I get so tired of people bi***ng about bums and vagrants at the park. Where would you go if you are homeless. This is a city and if you don't like what's at the park, you have a home, so go there or go to the new overpriced stores and buy a $100 flannel.

    I'm not a yuppie, just a beer-drinking, educated, employed Ballardite who is soooo tired of people complaining about dealers and bums. If you don't like it, go live in a cave!

  19. “Where would you go if you are homeless”

    To my family and friends…oh that's right, I haven't burned those bridges.

    “This is a city”

    Obviously you haven't lived in a real city then, because Ballard is basically a suburb of a mid-sized town. So yes, we can complain about vagrants and dopers in our quiet little corner of this town.

  20. I agree. Are we supposed to sit back and let our neighborhood be infested with drug dealers and homless and watch the crime rate go up? Id rather not, Id rather stop it before it goes out of control and we turn into a crime infested neighborhood.

  21. Yeah, I'm with bark. Anyone going through a bad time through no fault of their own or even an honest mistake will easily have many places to turn to. Even if by some chance all of your family was dead, most people have friends they could turn to that would not let them live on the streets.

  22. nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!! Say it ain't so! That's the only decent coffee shop left in town!

  23. preach it. The comments here are horrifying. And it seems from people who spend too much time online and not enough around Ballard.

  24. If we're luck we'll soon have a Gap or a Banana Republic, hell even a Mountain Hardware store to drive out another local independent shop.

    This is a travesty to the community and another nail in the coffin of what makes Ballard so unique.

  25. I would say a GAP or Banana Republic would fit well with the generic furniture store in the building. When the old one closed I hoped we might see something other than grandma furniture but alas they now sell generic knockoffs. We traded moldy for dull as rocks.

  26. What an asinine comment. I've lived in Ballard for almost a decade, and seen many changes. But look around the 'hood, do you see a bunch of chain stores? No. And there never will be, because if a Gap moved in, no one would shop there, forcing it to close, just like the Chai House. The Chai House closed because they weren't making enough money because the people who hung out there all day never bought anything more than a bagel and one cup of drip coffee. I frequented the place because the coffee was good, and closer to my apartment than Fiore. I never, ever had to stand in line because no one ever went there. Blame who you want: landlords, vagrants, smelly hippies, but the truth is, the place just couldn't cut it.

  27. A decade huh? Over MANY decades I have seen many over hyped places that end up full of generic chains once the hype died down. It's a predictable pattern actually. More hype causes rents to increase and eventually only chains have a chance of surviving.

    You can now find a GAP in Sun Valley, Larimer Square, Santa Fe, Peachtree, Sausalito, Boulder Mall, etc. Each of those places was once a hip trendy place. Now they are generic and burbites love them and families form Ohio go there on vacation. It’s not much different than items that were once hip like coffee or Uggs or those foam shoes. As soon as a soccer mom in Lynwood bought a latte the trend was sooooo over.

  28. Oh, well, so sorry I haven't lived more than MANY decades to see every neighborhood I lived in turn into a strip mall. But after reading your comment, I agree. One day the young urbanites (like myself) will move out, and Ballard can turn into whatever the hell the people who will be living there want, whether it's an Olive Garden or a Gap. But while I'm currently living in Ballard, I shop local. If that space turns into a Gap, so be it. Plus the furniture store next door sells furniture. For furnishing. It's locally owned (I believe, anyway), and it's not like a Banana Republic. If you want unique, check out Space Odyssey.

  29. I'm here to tell you that even with this beloved Epicenter of Ballard gone, the homeless will not leave. The Chai House doesn't supply them with drugs, in fact if one or two of you would point out those drug dealers, I would probably call the cops, and have them removed, immediately. The Chai House didn't have the want to house these people, it was just a place to hang out. Unlike most cold, sterile, un-personal coffeeshops today, this place kept a warm, cozy, and inviting atmosphere. It wasn't just a place to get your coffee, it's a place to hang out, read a book, and enjoy. It's Ballard's Living Room.

    As a Barista here, not only am I employeed (not homeless), regularly showered (and distain the scent of Patoulli), don't do drugs (even marijuana guys!), but more so, I'm a staunch advocate against hard drug use! The accusations you guys are throwing around may have been merited, but it wasn't with our knowledge, much less our consent. You saw these things and you didn't say anything to the Barista, the police, or anyone except that people on this forum, which doesn't do anyone any good, and you are, in fact, at fault for failing to report these activites.

    When the Chai House leaves, the homeless won't, I can promise you that. They are here to stay, whether we like it or not. It's Ballard, not the Chai House that attracts them.

    Good bye, Ballard.

  30. Well…..sorta. The reality is that eventually those who think they are 'young unbanites' will just no longer be hip or a new trend that is different than 'young urbanknighthood' (hehe) will come along and replace it.

    I buy what I like regardless of who owns a store. I do seldom like much offered at chains.

  31. I'd also like to add, that no, we ARE NOT closing down. We are moving. Not because we weren't making enough money, but because our landlords wanted a 50% rent increase that wasn't concievable even for a very successful business. If you all want to blame homeless and hippies for all the problems, go for it. The truth of the matter is that I love the Chai House because of it's diversity. We have Hippies, we have homeless (that come and BUY THINGS!!) and yuppies, families and musicians, artists and accountants all drinking coffee in harmony. Those of you who didn't come here are not losing anything, so why post comments that have no merit, no intelligence, and no place.

    Oh, and to let you guys know, 6 people are now out of a job. I hope you people can sleep well at night knowing that 6 hard-working (a lot of us are college educated) people are going to worry about how to pay the bills. This was a place of employment, a place of COMMUNITY, and a place of art. It was beautiful, whether you wanted to see it or not.

  32. So much bitterness…..

    It appears the Chai House was either an open air drug market OR it was Ballard's last stand against the evil empire of consumerism and corporate greed.

  33. Nope, Ballard has very few chain stores despite all the teeth gnashing of the whiners. Plenty of great independent businesses opening, great restaurants, but chain stores? Many (Radio Shack) are from the “old”, pre-condo days.

    I guarantee that's what this space will get, but hopefully a business though that will be too expensive for bums and neo-hippies to hang out in.

  34. Dear Ballard,

    Thank you for the support over all the years. Unfortunately, we are not staying in this space and will have a new home soon.

    This was a business decision made by myself and I take full responsibilty for our relocation. I want to thank the Olsen's for helping us with the transition.

    Please visit for more information.


    Chris Tudor

  35. THIS WASEN'T A HAVEN 4 HIPPIES.DARE TO be proved wrong?Then check out THE LAST CHICKENHED CHURCH (Which was a twice a month ritual for some people in this city in the experimental/noise/drone/eclectic taste and even bands that toured would be seen there,or play there while there in Seattle).And went on for 2 years 4 months. It was great while it has lasted so far but check it out even if yer curious the last one is on 1/24 w/ Sparkle Girl HED Band, Vilehood ,Overdose the Katatonic, DJ Sock of the Universe,and maybe the promoter and hosts music Prisonfood.


  37. They're barely out of a job, if a job means working for money. Your service was the main thing that kept me out of there. I would stand watching your “waitstaff” fudge with their Ipods or talk to their friends for long minutes waiting for service. I also know for a fact that most of them gave free food and drink to all of their friends and acquaintances. There goes your bottom line.

    Homeless people who smell horrible are a problem in a food and drink business, whether they buy or not. Likewise street rat kids who sleep on your sofa and stink the place up during business hours. Most music act drove people away. Your location, and excellent coffee and tea, and your veggie friendly menu could have done well enough that the rent raise wouldn't have mattered. I'd like to see the Chai House remade nearby, but the hands off management style the old place enjoyed has got to go by the wayside, in favor of real service and real customer appreciation.


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