Baja Bistro is coming back. For almost 25 years it was North Beacon Hill’s longest-running neighborhood Mexican restaurant — and eventually became its one and only gay bar. But Baja was forced to close last summer during the pandemic. Now they’ve secured a new location: the ground floor of the new Colina Apartments. “The ball is rolling,” said owner Oscar Castro.
When Luis Rodriguez and Leona Moore-Rodriguez put out a call for help on Oct. 13, they knew their community would answer that call. But they couldn’t have imagined all the ways their neighbors would rise to the occasion. A few days later, the GoFundMe a friend and customer set up for them has raised over $25,000, and members of the community have found a host of creative ways to help keep their favorite coffee shop from closing.
It wasn’t easy for Luis and Leona to ask for the help they needed. “For me it was humbling, a little embarrassing,” Luis told the Emerald. “To have to ask to your community like, ‘Yo, we’re struggling, we’re going through some rough times, we need your help, we need your money, we need people to donate …’”
“It was a little hard to ask for help,” Leona agreed, “but at the same time, I know we have a beautiful community that’s willing to stick their necks out and help those in need. And we just happen to be one of those businesses, like so many other businesses in Seattle, struggling through COVID.”
Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include information about a GoFundMe fund benefitting The Station.
For 10 years, Beacon Hill coffee and community hub The Station has been known to many in the South End as a place to get great coffee and snacks, meet friends, work, and hold community discussions. In that way, it’s like a lot of small, neighborhood cafes, though The Station has been a particular haven for People of Color and the space itself is a vehicle for activism on behalf of marginalized people. Luis Rodriguez and Leona Moore-Rodriguez have created an entity in The Station that extends beyond its walls and into the community itself. And now they’re turning to the community they’ve helped and asking for help to stay open.
The owners of four beloved South Seattle cafes — Beach Bakery, Cafe Avole, Cafe Red, and The Station — recount the stories of their opening, discuss the impact of the pandemic, and look cautiously towards the future.
Beach Bakery’s proprietor, Amy O’Connell, has been around the block and back in food service, whether it’s waiting tables, cooking diner food, bartending, washing dishes, or cooking gourmet cuisine. She’s sought further insight, travelling on a shoestring budget to experience the food cultures of various countries in Europe and provinces of Mexico. Amy’s also been to hell and back. Fortunately for the South End, she eventually figured out exactly how she wanted to express herself in the industry: “The more down to earth, the more comfortable food is, the more comforting food is, the better I am with it, and the better I am sharing it with other people.”
by Enrique Cerna, Jini Palmer, and Marcus Harrison Green
Amid the death and turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic, people are stepping up to aid their community with humanity and compassion. We introduce you to coffee shop owner Luis Rodriguez and volunteer Maria Lamarca Anderson who show us why giving is so important in these difficult times. Plus, we begin a new segment “For Real Though” that examines society’s absurdities, ridiculousness, and injustices that are leaving us in a state of disbelief, and making us ask “but, for real though?”
Gov. Jay Inslee announced on Sunday an emergency proclamation ordering closure of many businesses across the state ranging from bars and restaurants to gyms and recreational venues through at least March 31. A similar order was issued by King County Executive Dow Constantine in accordance with the statewide mandate. Continue reading Small Businesses Fight to Survive Amid COVID-19 Chaos→
Update: Due to the snow, the original Friday, Feb. 8 opening of “3 Queens,” has been rescheduled for Thursday, Feb. 21.
Crick Lont, aka Dozer of Dozer Art and Dozer’s Warehouse, has been quietly curating upcoming shows, painting walls and drizzling on the funky linoleum floors a la Jackson Pollock to create an art space on Beacon Hill. He’s partnering with local artists to put their mark on the storefront, pro bono; Leo Shallot’s trademark calligraphy ribbon design in gold on black wraps around the storefront. “That’s what’s so great about this place, people just want to be a part if it,” Lont said.
As an influx of new capital, infrastructure, and suburban transplants continue to change the faces of several neighborhoods throughout South and Central Seattle, a new generation of artists, activists, and community leaders took center stage on Beacon Hill—giving voice to the experiences of many from Seattle’s inner-city neighborhoods. Continue reading As Beacon Hill Adapts to Change, So Does the Station Block Party→
Amplifying the Authentic Narratives of South Seattle