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Helping the Hands That Feed Us: Volunteer Park Cafe

Fellow blogger Seattle Tall Poppy has shared news about one of my favorite places, Seattle’s Volunteer Park Cafe, which is tucked away on Capitol Hill.   This sustainable, enviro-friendly restaurant has been a neighborhood staple for over 3 years.

According to Seattle Tall Poppy, a dispute has arisen with the next door neighbor who has been fighting the instillation of the Cafe’s outdoor garden and patio. During the battle, he discovered the original use of the property was never converted from a market to a cafe, so he’s attempting to shut them down.

When the owners of Volunteer Park Cafe signed the lease, they signed with full intention of operating a restaurant and never looked into the land use designation.  As small business owners in a tough economy, this battle has resulted in mounting legal fees and at this point, the city has not scheduled a critical land use hearing.

Here’s where you can help in getting the city to schedule a hearing.  You just need to take two quick action steps:

1.        Comment ONLINE – click on link below

Then click on “comment on Application”

REQUEST a formal public hearing

Let them know you’re a friend or neighbor and how much you love the café

Let them know you are in support of the zoning change to a Restaurant

If you have issues with the website link, email  Refer to Zoning

Project  #3011437

2.      CALL  CITY PLANNER SCOTT KEMP  206/233-3866

Refer to Zoning Project #3011437-Volunteer Park Cafe

REQUEST a formal public hearing

LET SCOTT  KNOW you’re a friend or neighbor and how much you love the café

LET SCOTT KNOW you support the zoning change to a Restaurant

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2 Responses to “Helping the Hands That Feed Us: Volunteer Park Cafe”

  1. October 1st, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Cliff says:

    As one of several residents who are concerned about the Volunteer Park Cafe’s approach to neighborhood concerns, I’d like to offer some info to people considering commenting, and a way you can support the cafe AND the neighbors:

    1. I became a good customer of VPC starting the week it opened in 2007, and loved what Ericka and Heather were doing with the food (and especially the Luscious Lemon Loaf). The owners seemed neighborhood-oriented, having a pumpkin-carving party before they opened, and later treating regular customers nicely. So, my family embraced VPC as a neighbor, not just a business. We lent Heather and Ericka baby clothes; I brought over a WiFi router when theirs failed. And, we didn’t make a big fuss every time their trash bins overflowed, or deliveries dangerously blocked part of the street, or late-night customer/staff noise disturbed us, etc.

    2. Then, without any meaningful outreach to neighbors, the owners in spring of this year started building a patio that seemed capable of doubling, to roughly 70, the seats inside and outside the restaurant. Ericka told a food writer that an outdoor barrel barbecue would be part of the patio plan. The neighbors were left to guess whether we’d be hit with 7-day a week outdoor dining and drinking, until who-knows-what-time at night. Some of us also began to wonder why we were tolerating existing impacts — like the rodents VPC attracted with those overflowing trash bins.

    3. With Ericka and Heather declining to have meaningful conversation about their plans, the neighbors turned to the City of Seattle for help. We felt that the building, built as a small grocery in 1905, should not be allowed to become a 70-seat destination restaurant, with seemingly no limits on hours or capacity, and an impact exacerbated by the owners’ unresponsiveness. Even after the City became involved, it took months for VPC to start discussing the problems it was causing. Neighbors have observed little improvement in cafe operations, so far.

    4. So, what can you do if you like the food and ambiance at VPC, and also want to respect the neighbors’ right to live in the quiet, residential area that they moved into long before the VPC opened? You can tell the city you support a small restaurant with seating inside the building, since that space is more than adequate for a thriving business. You can say you agree that some limits should be set to keep the traffic, noise, etc., at a level in scale with the location. Above all, think about what you’d want if you chose to live in a purely residential neighborhood, with little kids who go to bed by 8 p.m

    5. Don’t tell this only to the city. Tell it to Ericka and Heather, who have the power to restore neighborly relations.

    6. Drop a note to if you have any questions.


  2. October 1st, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    admin says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this! Norma

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