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Iconic U District Cafe Is Closing Due to Money Woes

Cafe Racer has struggled financially, according to the owner

The exterior of Cafe Racer, with lime green accents
Cafe Racer, a University District landmark, will close after service on Wednesday, October 18.
Cafe Racer/Official

Iconic Cafe Racer — a University District landmark for 14 years for its coffee, beer, art, and music, as well as the infamous site of a mass shooting in 2012 that left four dead — is closing after service tomorrow, October 18, with owner Kurt Geissel citing financial difficulties as the reason behind his decision. Geissel listed the business for sale in March but hasn’t found a buyer, and said via Facebook that he can no longer support it. “Contact me if you are interested because the last thing I want is for the café to go away,” he implored readers.

It is with great sadness that I have to say this... Café Racer is closing. The last night will be this Wednesday....

Posted by Cafe Racer on Monday, October 16, 2017

Last November, Geissel also tried unsuccessfully to raise $50,000 via GoFundMe to help offset costs incurred from retrofitting and re-permitting the building. The effort netted a little over $33,000, which evidently hasn’t been enough to keep the cafe afloat. Discussing the potential sale of the business in March, Geissel told The Seattle Times that nearby construction had also hurt business by limiting foot traffic.

Beyond its role as a neighborhood staple, though, most readers will likely associate Cafe Racer with the horrific incident on May 30, 2012, in which Ian Stawicki, described as a “sometimes-troubled cafe regular,” shot and killed four people inside the cafe. Stawicki’s shooting spree continued downtown, where he killed another person before turning the gun on himself. Geissel nearly closed Cafe Racer for good after that, but an outpouring of community support encouraged him to reopen a month and a half later. No news yet, obviously, of what’s next for the space.

Cafe Racer

1510 11th Avenue, , WA 98122 (206) 905-4383 Visit Website