“This place is definitely a labor of love.”
That’s how Michael McGloin, the owner of Judkins Street Cafe, describes his small, nine table restaurant in Seattle’s Colman neighborhood. Cozy, full of neighbors, and serving lots of homemade baked goods, the place has hit its stride after nearly four years in business.
But that will likely change very soon.
“About a month ago I got word from my landlord that he was selling the building to a developer,” McGloin told me. “I had tried to buy the building myself, but the developer offered almost double. I just can’t compete with that.”
He says from the plans he has seen, the 86-year-old building will be torn down to make way for more townhomes and row houses.
“This is the one commercial building in the neighborhood and it’s been that way for about 40 years,” McGloin said. “It’s a nice thing for the neighborhood and the school kids to have a place to go and sit. They can eat, do work, chat with their neighbors. There’s really nowhere else to go in the neighborhood.”
While Judkins Street Cafe hasn’t been around for that long, the spot has been a different type of restaurant for four decades. And before that, it was a family grocery store.
“I have some photos up on the wall from the place in 1941, over there,” he said pointing to the framed black and white pictures. “That’s when it was a grocery and convenience store owned by a Japanese family before the internment camps. There’s a lot of neighborhood history here.”
McGloin announced on the Judkins Street Cafe Facebook page that he might be forced to leave, and neighbors aren’t happy.
“It’s been very nice to see the outcry of support from the neighborhood,” he said. “I understand wanting a more modern building, but it would be great if we could preserve some sort of commercial space.”
While I was talking with McGloin, several people stopped in the restaurant, mentioning places they had seen that were for rent in other neighborhoods.
“Everyone is trying to help me,” he told me, smiling. “But I just need to make sure it’s the right spot. I want to keep doing this, but it’s hard. This place was the right size. Everything else so far looks like a major investment.”
So is there anything anyone can do to stop the sale?
“Probably not,” he said. “But I guess they can try to make their voices heard at planning and development meetings. People can try to help how this neighborhood is going to continue to be shaped.”
Meanwhile, McGloin says he’s going to focus on what comes next.
“Judkins has been a wonderful experience,” he said. “I need to decide if I’m going to move on or find a new way to make it happen. I think I want to find a new way, no matter what the obstacles are. It’s got to be possible.”