The Metropolitan Market atop Queen Anne has closed after 50 years.
Terry Halverson, whose company, Food Markets Northwest, owned the business, started his career there as a 16-year-old bagging groceries. Before long, he bought the place from its owner, Dick Rhodes. Halverson eventually acquired several other neighborhood groceries around town: Admiral, Proctor, and others, ending up with six stores. In 2004, he turned the Admiral Thriftway into the flagship of the newly named Metropolitan Market mini-chain. After competitor Larry's Markets imploded, Halverson bought the Larry's on Lower Queen Anne and completely transformed it.
Halverson was an innovator. He moved flowers and fresh produce to the front of the store; hired food guru Jon Rowley to promote a better selection of fresh fish, including Copper River salmon, which impressed Julia Child; bought the French bakery Boulangerie to provide fresh bread; installed a B&O Espresso bar; and added mini-kitchens for in-store demonstrations and author signings. All of that is rather ho-hum today, but it was cutting edge when introduced.
The half-block site on Queen Anne Avenue hosting Metropolitan Market is being redeveloped for residential use. That means there isn't enough room for a traditional supermarket, Halverson said. The nearby Safeway is on a full block, and has what Met Market lacks: room for 60-foot semis to back into the loading dock without using side streets. Metropolitan Market's almost 20,000-square-foot building is barely big enough to qualify as a modern supermarket. But it now lacks easy deliveries and easy parking for customers to make it viable. Veteran developer Joe Geivett, of Emerald Bay Equity, has developed several other properties nearby, but can't make the numbers work for Metropolitan.
Instead, Halvorsen has made another move, buying the Thriftway in Magnolia, three miles away, from its longtime owners Jim and Lynne Penhollow. Halverson said, "We look forward to taking part in Magnolia's rich history, such as the Little League, SummerFest, and its neighborhood schools and churches." Met Market will remodel and modernize the Magnolia Thriftway, on 34th West at Thurman, starting in September.
There's a smallish Albertson's in Magnolia Village, and a new, upscale Whole Foods in Interbay, as well as two traditional Safeway stores at the top and bottom of Queen Anne, but the 98109-98119-98199 zip codes still seem underserved by supermarket standards.
What could go into the space on Queen Anne? Funny you should mention it; there's a well-established specialty grocer just two blocks away, in a cramped and crowded building, who would move in a heartbeat: Trader Joe's.