In the thirty-five years that I’ve lived in Seattle, much of it working and living in or near Pioneer Square, I cannot recall so much buzz about the place. A couple of years ago, I wrote about what was beginning to happen in Seattle’s “first neighborhood”. Little did I know that things would take off as much as they have.
Today, cocktail bar Intermezzo Carmine (411 1st Ave S.), with a look straight out of the Left Bank, has finally given Carmine’s Terrazzo a street-facing presence. Down the street, swanky Damn the Weather (116 1st Ave S.) is packed by early evening. Radici (the re-named Tinello) on 2nd Ave S. is bustling day and night, despite not being in the busy First Avenue corridor, and the BRGR Bar on Occidental Park (111 Occidental Ave S.) has reinvented itself with great, inexpensive food and an upgraded interior ambience.
Last week, these were joined by the legendary Taylor Shellfish (410 Occidental Ave S.), which sold out of its stock within hours of opening.
Soon to open is Pizzeria Gabbiano on Main St., a sister restaurant to the Square's beacon of handmade pasta, Il Corvo. That will be followed by GoodBar next door and then, later in the year, Il Boccone — just a couple of blocks to the west. Over at Stadium Place on King Street, Josh Henderson of Skillet and Westward fame is readying sports bar Quality Athletics for a fall opening. Soon after, it will be joined by a Korean restaurant.
The relatively new London Plane is just one of the Matt Dillon joints driving even more neighborhood investment. Image: Sean Conner
This phenomenon is not unlike the older quarters in many other cities across North America. Both Millennials and Boomers — who together make up more than 50 percent of the American population — are discovering that the oldest parts of cities are the most charming, the most diverse, and the most dynamic.
After decades of being basically an employment center, vacant in the evening hours, lower Manhattan is now a thriving neighborhood replete with bustling plazas, promenades, and curb-protected bike lanes. Chicago’s Loop is livelier than it has been in decades. Even downtown Los Angeles is being rapidly transformed with renovations and new construction where there were once vacant buildings and vast seas of parking.
And the Square is coming back with more than just places to eat. Startups and gaming companies pack the neighborhood's upper floors. Spaces formerly plastered with “For Lease” signs are being quickly snapped up.
At right: Pioneer Square's summer farmers market. Photo: Sean Conner.
Henderson is also behind Cone & Steiner foods on King Street, which is soon to stock its newly installed shelves. The TangoZulu import shop, a Port Gamble transplant, on First (110 First Avenue S.) offers an array of handmade baskets and clothing. Clementine’s — a West Seattle women's clothing shop — is relocating into a former gallery space on Occidental. The Hidden Alchemist, a diminutive tea and herb shop, recently opened underneath venerable Grand Central Bakery. Fleurt, a flower shop, will soon open on S. Washington, and Velouria, a Ballard-based women’s boutique known for stocking local designers, has taken space on King Street.
My walks in the evening indicate a continued appreciation for nightlife: Event space Axis (308 1st Ave S) is frequently filled with well-dressed crowds attending an event. Café Nordo is rapidly remodeling the space formerly occupied by Elliott Bay Books into a live performance and dining venue. Some of the older raucous bars such as the J&M Café and McCoy’s Firehouse have been cleaned up and made into family-friendly places for brunch.
Image: Open Street Map
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