One well-regarded deli is folding up shop in Pioneer Square soon. Delicatus — known for its extensive menu of soups, salads, and upscale sandwich offerings, such as braised leg of lamb — announced that it will close October 18 after nine years in business. Its other location, on Second Avenue downtown, near Benaroya Hall, will remain open.
When reached for comment, Delicatus’s co-owner Mike Klotz had some pointed things to say about the state of Pioneer Square and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), especially when it comes to the numerous construction projects. “When we opened this location, we had been fully aware of the future construction around the removal and replacement of the viaduct,” says Klotz. “What we did not anticipate was the complete lack of oversight, coordination and general planning by SDOT, along with zero support from the city to assist ground floor retail businesses during this transition.”
Klotz continues, “With the pending east/west connector project, repair of areaways, return of the streetcar, and completion of the waterfront all coming over the next 1-3 years, we could not justify continuing in this location.”
Constant construction, torn-up sidewalks, and pedestrian detours can all be hindrances to restaurants, especially those that rely on walk-in traffic, such as Delicatus. Eater spoke with three other neighboring businesses, who have all had different experiences. Juice chain Jujubeet Cafe is a relative newcomer to the scene (opening this past spring), and a manager there says business has been decent over the past few months. Around the corner, Merchant’s Cafe — which has been around since the 1800s — has had its own challenges due to a car crashing into its window earlier this summer, but the construction on First Avenue in 2018 actually diverted some foot traffic to its doors. Caffe D’arte next door to Delicatus (which has been around for two years) relies on a lot of retail sales for coffee beans, but a manager at the shop confirms that the recent construction has been disruptive. When asked about Delicatus’ closing, she says, “I don’t blame them.” Eater reached out to SDOT for comment, but did not hear back by the time this article was published.
Despite the setback, Klotz says Delicatus is still forging ahead with the other aspects of the business. The Second Avenue location will offer delivery service soon, and the owners are also looking at possibly expanding into another part of the city. Of course, there’s also a full month before the Pioneer Square outpost closes — plenty of time to grab one more reuben.