Friday, June 13, 2008

Open a business on this block, if you dare

Interest in Wallingford tends to focus on the more upscaly part of the 45th Street corridor, to the west (and out of sight) of the Erotic Bakery and the payday loans place. But there's also plenty of interesting stuff in the NE quadrant part of Wallingford, between 1st Ave NE and I-5. Pictured below is the north side of the 250 block of NE 45th Street, not far from where I live. (Click through for a clearer view.) The city of Seattle's Department of Neighborhoods has designated this building as a historical site.

This block has been sort of a black hole for businesses. True, the well-regarded Comics Dungeon (250 NE 45th) on the corner has been there for a long time and is in no danger of going out of business. (I'm a patron.) And the Hawaii General Store (258 NE 45th), which opened in 1998, seems to have staying power. But the three storefronts between these two "anchors" have been bad luck for retail, at least since Gypsy Trader moved from here to Stone Way.

252 NE 45th is currently Fast Girl Skates, a store catering to roller-derby-playing women. Pretty cool store, in a very small niche market. Before Fast Girl opened, the site was occupied by a blur of short-lived business, including Mehndi Madness (a body design spa) and Electric Heavyland (a specialized record and toy store that probably hoped to capitalize on its location next to the comics store).

The restaurant at 254 NE 45th, Istanbul Café, closed a few months ago, and the space is now for rent. If you are hoping to open a money-losing small restaurant or café, this could be the location for you. I barely remember the Safariland Café, specializing in Kenyan coffee, which came and went in the proverbial blink of an eye. Before that was the Ethereal Café, which I don't remember at all.

Of course, if you've got the right business plan, perhaps you can overcome the inexorable laws of particle physics and escape the black hole. It worked for Djan's, the fine Thai restaurant at 264 NE 45th, just beyond the Hawaii General Store.

Before Djan's arrived, this lovely craftsman bungalow was a revolving door. There was a short-lived restaurant called Hunsa House and another called Café Indonesia (I ate there once in 2000). Not sure what was there before that.

Two questions:
1) For those of you with longer or better memories, what other businesses have thrived and/or failed on this block?
2) What kind of business do you think would do well in this location?

Send in your comments!


Anonymous said...

My Wallingford wish list (not necessarily in this particular space):

1) Vietnamese sandwich shop (with tofu sandwiches for me), or a branch of Baguette Box

2) Bagel and soup shop (like the old SPOT bagel)

3) Gym (even a Curves would be welcome)

4) A boring clothing store like The Gap or Urban Outfitters ... PLENTY of room in Wallingford Center, eh?

5) Fabric store.

Anonymous said...

I remember when Djan's located used to be Eckankar, some kind of church/spiritual place?

Anonymous said...

Wasn't there Mt. Royal Bagel Co or something like that in the spot where Pudge is now located? There was an African coffee shop/cafe (can't remember the name, unfortunately) that did a brief stint in the spot where the Istanbul Cafe was.

Lance Sleuthe said...

The African coffee shop you remember was, I believe, The Safariland Cafe, specializing in Kenyan coffee and tea. Their web site still exists:

sloan said...

I'd like to see an art gallery in wallingford. and I'd second the Gym Idea but please not curves--- with the cupcakes, ice cream shops, and pizza places we could use it.

If anyone needs a logo or website check me out at