Food & Drink

What Will Happen to the Hurricane Cafe After It Closes in January?

By Seattle Mag July 28, 2014


The Hurricane Café is closing after a 20 year run in Seattle. The former Dog House has been sold to Amazon. Actually, the entire block it sits on has been sold.

“With our lease, there was a demolition clause where they could give us a one-year notice,” says current owner Neil Scott (pictured below), who bought the greasy spoon nearly 13 years ago, making him the third owner.

Scott found out back in January that he’d be losing his restaurant.

“I wasn’t surprised. The property owners had put it on the market, probably around 2008, but at that point, they were trying to sell all 13 blocks they owned to one person and then they took it off the market (when the economy tanked). Now that the economy’s rebounded quite a bit, I’m not surprised.”

Larry Rains, who also owned Beth’s Café, opened the Hurricane in 1994. He passed it off briefly to another buyer in 2000 when he was diagnosed with cancer. In 2002, Scott swooped in.

“I almost bought Beth’s! I was three days too late,” says Scott of Beth’s sale back in 2002. Scott, a former dishwasher and cook at Beth’s in the early 90s, got a historied consolation prize instead.

“Oddly enough, the Dog House closed in January 20 years ago. The Hurricane opened in April [1994]. I bought it in April [2002]. And now it’s closing in January. It’s just this weird January/April thing with this property!”

What does he do now? “Now, I find a job.”

He says he’s not sure if he wants to open another diner, but it’s not out of the question.

“I go back and forth on that. By the end of the weekend, I feel like I’m ready to do that. By the end of the work week, I’m like, ‘Nooo!’ I go back and forth on that a lot.” 

“I get asked about [relocating] a lot and my initial response is, ‘It’s not something that can be moved.’ It’s decades of stories and…it’s not something…it has a soul.”

The Hurricane is the latest restaurant to announce its goodbye as of late. In the last few months, the R.I.P. headstones have been piling up: Louie’s, Brad’s Swingside Café, Dot’s, 611 Supreme, La Bete, Frontier Room.

“In my opinion, small business ownership in the city of Seattle is really hard right now,” Scott says. “They’re not making it easy for the small guys. Especially down in this (Denny Triangle) area, they’ve made rent to such a degree that it’s really hard to be able to give a good product at a decent price and cover your costs.” 

What Scott will miss the most is his staff and customers, most of whom are regulars. And the staff—some of them have been at the Hurricane since the very beginning. “There’s a lot of good friendships here,” he says.

The Hurricane’s last day of service will be January 1, 2015, generally the café’s busiest day of the year.

“I figured we’d go out big!”


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