Earlier this week, diners that arrived at the doors of Claire’s Pantry, a longtime business at NE 125th Street and Lake City Way, were surprised with a sign on the door. In all capital letters the sheet of paper read: BUSINESS CLOSED.
The simple sign was the apparent end of a business that many longtime Lake City residents have visited or passed by for decades. Inside, the business looked as if the closure was unexpected. Tables were still set, napkin holders and condiments still on table tops.
A story in the Seattle P-I on Wednesday said the business had been open since 1974. The story by reporter Casey McNerthney also gave the history of the site of the longtime diner. You can read the story with more details here.
Rumors were flying among people as to why the business closed so suddenly. We tried to sleuth out the reason for the closure on Tuesday but were unable. Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson sent the message below on Twitter. Others in the neighborhood discussed a more unfortunate rumor for the restaurant’s sudden closing. But honestly, no one was quite sure why the business shuttered.
Hearing from folks who miss Claire’s Pantry in Lake City, closed Friday. Sold, I hear. Hope they hire this longtimer. twitter.com/nancyleson/sta…
— Nancy Leson (@nancyleson) February 27, 2013
But in recent years regular diners noticed significant change at the restaurant. The food changed, portion sizes were said to be smaller and the building seemed to be falling into disrepair. Online reviews became harsh for the business. On Tuesday broken light fixtures were seen on the exterior of the building, the awning over the entrance seemed to be missing or torn and brick work on the brick building seemed to be crumbling on the west side.
The closing of the restaurant comes with the equally sad news that another longtime Lake City Business will leave the neighborhood— although this one will continue in a new location.
Schmetzer’s Sporthaus, which has been a fixture in the business core on LCW, selling soccer gear and attracting youth from Lake City’s vibrant youth soccer scene, will reopen on Aurora Avenue on May 1st. The P-I reported that Schmetzer’s will relocate to a larger space near the old Chubby and Tubby building. A staff member of the business also said on Tuesday that the daily gathering of chronic inebriates and drug users in front of the business was also a significant influence in their decision to leave Lake City. Many of those gathered there seem to be attracted by the nearby Dollar Plus store known for its cheap, fortified beer and wine.
The departures of the Lake City businesses come almost one year after the hugely successful opening of Elliott Bay Public House & Brewery, a business that is packed almost every night. Elliott Bay’s huge success has proven that there is a hunger among neighborhood residents for quality businesses. Nearby Kaffeeklatch coffee and bakery, the Lake City Bakery are examples of other businesses that have become favorites of locals, and recently more of north Seattle as they are both “discovered.” The Beer Authority, a full service beer bottle shop with 400 labels of beer, also recently moved to a larger space to accommodate its increasingly popular business.