B&O Espresso, “the first espresso coffeehouse and dessert café to exist in Capitol Hill” is closing after 36 years. This makes two historic Seattle cafes slated for redevelopment in 2012, as B&O joins the sad company of Bauhaus, who we profiled (and eulogized) here.
B&O Espresso is housed in a 1920s era building that, after losing its landmark status plea, was sold to developer John Stoner for 2.3 million dollars in 2008. We’ve spent quality time in B&O for dessert dates, casual meet-ups, and late-night group outings before we were 21. This cafe is very much part of the Capitol Hill historic cafe scene, located in a heavily foot-trafficked area on E. Olive Way and Belmont. According to Capitol Hill News, B&O Espresso will be torn down to make way for:
A six-story, 78-unit building with 3,600 square feet of retail and two live-work units at ground floor and underground parking for 52 vehicles on the parcel.
We look at this as a tragedy for the city of Seattle and its rich history of independent cafe culture. It is the opinion of this publication that historic cafes like B&O Espresso and Bauhaus have intrinsic cultural and historical value to the city of Seattle, and should be designated as landmarks or protected sites in order to preserve this history for future generations. Just as Boston protects and designates its historic bars, and Los Angeles preserves so many private residences and apartment buildings, so too should Seattle recognize its coffee bars as an important part of the city’s identity and cultural narrative.
These places are living history, and it sucks that the city of Seattle is allowing for them to be torn down. Just because that history happened in the 1990’s doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter, We believe Seattle’s historic cafes should be protected, and it’s something we’ll continue reporting on and advocating for as more sad stories like this one develop. What do you think? Sound off in our comments section below.