Lunch Counter, Swinery follow Culinary Communion to oblivion

Culinary Communion House, in happier days. Photo by Wendi.
Culinary Communion House, in happier days. Photo by Wendi.
The Culinary Communion/Swinery/Lunch Counter saga continues. Last month, Culinary Communion, the cooking school located at 2524 Beacon Avenue South, announced via a farewell letter from owners Gabriel Claycamp and Heidi Kenyon that they would be closing because of a combination of the bad economy, and permitting issues with the city involving required exits in the basement. However, at that point the Swinery and the Lunch Counter (both located in the same building, and also owned by Claycamp and Kenyon) were expected to stay open. (The Swinery, however, has had its own run-ins with regulators, including a recent situation involving Swinery meat being supplied to a Fremont restaurant without proper permits in place for doing so.)

The “dramatic tale of oh!”, as Nancy Leson put it in her All You Can Eat blog at the Seattle Times, was not yet over. This week Claycamp sent out an email stating that King County has now given him permission to sell the Swinery’s bacon legally. But on the other hand, they have now lost their lease and “will be for sure out of the building by the end of the month.” Lunch Counter? Closed. (That was fast.) Swinery? Sort of closed, but they say they have “24 days to make and sell some bacon,” along with t-shirts that read “BACON PIMP.”

And this is where the situation gets even more convoluted. While the Swinery now has a permit to sell bacon (and only bacon, no other cured meats) legally, the annual permit to run a restaurant/food establishment from the Culinary Communion House on Beacon Avenue expired on March 31. The bacon-selling permit assumes that the bacon will be sold from a legally-permitted establishment, which CC House is not. Unfortunately, the fees to renew CC House’s restaurant permit are not pro-ratable, so Gabriel and Heidi would have to pay either a year’s fee or a six-month seasonal fee to be able to sell bacon they plan to sell for the rest of April.

Claycamp has also withdrawn his application to sell at farmers’ markets, so the Ballard Farmers’ Market sales mentioned on the Swinery web site won’t be happening, nor will any other market sales.

There are more messy details, both in Leson’s story and from Rebekah Denn in Eat All About It.

The one result we can be sure of at the moment is that the Culinary Communion House on Beacon is going to be very vacant, very soon. Perhaps a nice pizza restaurant could open there instead?

4 thoughts on “Lunch Counter, Swinery follow Culinary Communion to oblivion”

  1. I only know what the rumor mill says the rent on that space is, but if the number I heard is true it’s not likely to be filled by anyone with a solid business plan anytime soon. I only hope the landlords didn’t go in over their heads with the renovations and can afford to rent it out for something like Beacon Hill prices. Otherwise, instead of being an anchor of the business district, it will return to its former status as a vacant property pulling the business down.

  2. The close of the CC was sad enough, and now the swinery and lunch counter news feels like raw lemon on chapped lips. Without commenting on their business plan and permit/code violations, as a neighbor, it’s sad to see such good, local retail go down because of legalities.

    This unfortunately will likely leave us with another vacancy in the core N Beacon “retail zone.” Like others, I am wishing for 1) PIZZA and tap house, 2) breakfast spot, 3)pub, 4) wine bar, 5) or a place like Central Cinema, however I am not optimistic.

    Did anyone read the Seattle Times article re the undeveloped and or lack of development along the MLK section of Link? It mostly blames the economy, but there are some larger underlying reasons.

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