HoneyHole has changed hands following a spate of bad press and allegations of misconduct earlier this year.
It’s been a chaotic couple of years for the longtime Capitol Hill sandwich shop. Kristen Rye and their husband Patrick Rye purchased it from its founders in 2021 and quickly expanded into a second location. Behind the scenes, however, things weren’t going so well. According to former employees, turnover was high because of Kristen’s alleged chaotic management style and an atmosphere of purported transphobia that was especially troubling to the restaurant’s many LGBTQ employees. They also accused the restaurant of paycheck irregularities, with several telling Eater Seattle that they were frequently paid late.
Worker complaints became public in May after someone sent an email blast to everyone on HoneyHole’s mailing list accusing Kristen of wide-ranging misconduct and telling customers, “Don’t support the HoneyHole, take a stand for workers and minorities.” Coverage of HoneyHole in the Stranger, Eater Seattle, and Capitol Hill Seattle (CHS) blog drew more attention to these allegations. And though Kristen told Eater Seattle at the time that she was “living the dream,” the Ryes are now out of the sandwich game.
According to the Stranger and CHS, Evan Bramer, a former HoneyHole employee, bought the restaurant earlier this summer and is making some changes. The second location on Jefferson Street is undergoing some repairs and will reopen as Beck’s Bar and Grill sometime in the near future, and Bramer told CHS that he’s hoping to find new suppliers and rehire some of the old staff who may have left because of the previous ownership. While Bramer has taken control of the business, he told CHS that the Ryes are maintaining a stake for liquor license continuity purposes, but aren’t otherwise involved in operations.
Bramer told CHS that HoneyHole has a “fan base,” and part of his job will be getting those fans to come back to the shop’s sandwiches. All the negative attention brought on by the email blast and the accusations has had a severe effect on the bottom line — he told the Stranger that average daily revenue dropped by $2,000 after that wave of stories in May.