A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods


Caffe Vita opening later this month

January 7th, 2011 · Comments

The new Caffe Vita at 7402 Greenwood Ave. N. hopes to open by the end of this month.

The original plan to have a pizza oven has changed; the cafe will now sell individual pizzas made at the Via Tribunali commissary in Georgetown. Caffe Vita also recently applied for a liquor license to sell beer and wine.

Update: A Caffe Vita representative sent us this note on Jan. 10:

“First and foremost we are very excited to become a part of the Phinney Ridge neighborhood. We look forward to serving excellent coffee to, and supporting, this vibrant community. As you might imagine, opening a new business can be a logistical adventure. We’re striving to be open by the end of the month.”

Thanks to Eric for the photo!

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  1. anon says:

    This seems like a bit of a bummer. I was a lot more excited about the idea of a new restaurant in the neighborhood, but this sounds like a coffee/shop bar that sells a little bit of food.

    It is still nice to see more investment in the neighborhood though (it wasn’t that long ago that almost the whole strip there was vacant)

  2. Iron City Mike says:

    Wonder if Herkimer Coffee next door is getting nervous? Still great to see about new businesses opening ! I’m sure I will stop in.

  3. Penny says:

    What? Reheated pizzas? Ugh!

  4. Hinto says:

    Urgh. Was hoping for another food option too. Another coffee place… well, I’m all for Vita, but, this is still a bit of a bummer.

  5. Sharon says:

    Does anyone know what is going into the building on SW corner of Greenwood & 125th (former laundromat)? It looks like something is happening! There is a distinct scarcity of coffee shops in this location, and lots of foot traffic in the area (with retirement home, apartments, residential, library, etc.) We’d welcome a coffee shop!

  6. Janice says:

    RE: 125th Greenwood. I agree that Broadview needs a coffee shop – as long as they don’t mess with my favorite Chinese restaurant. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a library book and have someplace to read it?

  7. Iron City Mike says:

    It does seem an odd place for Cafe Vita to open, with so many other coffee options close by (including right next door!). But then again, this is Seattle…

  8. Jon says:

    Bakery. Somebody make it happen.

  9. WeNeedABakery says:

    Yes! We need a bakery in Greenwood. And less empty storefronts.

  10. PhinneyRidgian says:

    Oh, yes, please, a bakery!

  11. iheartgreenwood says:

    The old Slum City hot dog place on 85th and Greenwood would be perfect for a bakery. It even looks like a bakery. Well, a bakery with garish colors, fresh tags and a creepy hot dog man inside.

  12. Stupid Hippie says:

    Caffe Vita = Big Coffee!

    Say no to big coffee!

  13. Joe says:

    Yes…not having the pizza ovens is a big disappointment. We don’t need another coffee shop in the neighborhood. We could have used an interesting new restaurant though.

    I’ll add my voice to the throng calling for a bakery. Unless the Slum City spot has a lot of room that isn’t apparent from the street, it’s too small. The old PAWS might be better.

    (Then again..here I go throwing my two cents in when I’m definitely not going to be the guy opening a new bakery…)

  14. Northa85th says:

    Butcher shop, please, a butcher shop! Anybody think this is something the ‘hood could use?

  15. ameliao says:

    YES, to bakery I would love to have Great Harvest Breads…no?

    As for Caffe Vita, I was informed that the owner of Herkemer used to be part of Caffe Vita and that some non-compete has ended. So to an even bigger disappoint, this appears to smell like of a pissing match. Excuse my french…

  16. Guy Phinney says:

    More in-depth reporting please! It would please the court to know WHY there won’t be a pizza oven in place at the new Cafe Vita. No oven hood, can’t get permit to retrofit . . . cost prohibitive, zoning restrictions, building owner won’t allow, etc. etc.

  17. Outside the box says:

    I agree with Ameliao..and if it does turn out to be a pissing match, I will vote for Vita IF it’s not filled with people staring at their laptops AND it’s kid friendly. If the baristas are friendly that would be a trifecta!

  18. RR says:

    We *have* a butcher shop! Better Meats, 305 NW 82nd St. They’re very nice and know their meat.

  19. Greenwood says:

    Bet Herkimer starts accepting debit real quick. Love their shop. Too bad their coffee, atmosphere, baristas, and general vibe are so awful.

    Love everything about Caffe Vita. Cannot wait for the coffee and pizza!

  20. Greenwood_D says:

    I’ll have to agree with Greenwood on this one.
    I bet they accept debit REAL QUICK.

    That’s the one thing we as consumers will get out of it: competition. The best one will prevail.

    And let me tell ya, all Vita will have to do is provide some friendly and smiling baristas and a warm and comfy environment!

  21. phinney girl says:

    when places don’t accept cards, to me it just means that they DON’T want to support the banks and card companies by paying all the fees. in turn this means lower prices to us. what in the world is the matter with that?

    how about Red mill and Paseo and other small businesses in phinney/seattle, they don’t take cards either.

    come to think of it, the places that kick ass aren’t taking cards, good for them!

  22. coffee lover says:

    first off…full disclosure, HUGE herkimer fan and huge coffee fan in general. i’m part of a small coffee group that has visited most coffee places in the city (and we make espresso at home during the week). herkimer is without question one of the best roasters/shops in the city. their espresso blend rocks 🙂

    now, if you want to know what caffe vita is all about, start by doing a google search about their owner – he is currently up for assault/DUI/hit and run. this guy is bad news….vita moved in on the same block as lighthouse last year, next to victrola later this year, stumptown in portland last year and now next door to herkimer. are they trying to be tully’s or what?

    i’m a server on capitol hill, so i know first hand what the owner and vita are all about….and i’ve heard too many stories from their current and former staff about the character of the owner and the company….i now do everything possible to not spend a nickel at any of the vita establishments.

  23. SPG says:

    To everyone asking for a bakery, you know that Fresh Flours has some deeeeeelicious pastries and cookies, right? They’re around Phinney and 60-something.

    Herkimer = great espresso. (but yeah they probably should take cards, hell even I take cards and I don’t run a retail biz.)
    Cafe Vita = meh. All logo, no flavor.

  24. Greenwood_D says:

    @phinney girl and coffee lover

    I actually agree with both of you and am quite aware of Vita’s notorious owner.

    I am looking at this from a pure free market point of view in response to the mostly negative comments here regarding another coffee shop moving in. I think it’s healthy to have that kind of unbridled competition with the best coming out on top. 🙂

    I mention the possibility of future use of debit cards to illustrate the changes that tight competition brings. This usually creates more choices and convenience for consumers, and that really can never be a bad thing. It’s all what the consumer demands.

    I certainly am not a proponent of feeding the “banksters”. I, myself, pay in cash as often as I can. That doesn’t mean it’s not the better business move to offer pay-by-debit as an option when competing against a business that takes cash only.

    As for Vita’s owner, he often comes into my place of work. I certainly am not a fan.

    I’m simply a fan of the competitive nature of business and I will enjoy watching the neighborhood decide who will stay on top!


  25. Brooke says:

    @coffeelover – that’s an interesting point you make about Vita’s apparent business model. I live right by Lighthouse and while Vita has been there much longer than just this year (they’ve been in that location for the full 4 years I have lived in Fremont), I agree that they are much less appealing than their neighbor. Any time I go into Vita I can’t help but notice their higher prices, indifferent service, and inferior coffee.

  26. david says:

    hey greenwood d

    what you are saying would be true if phinney had an unlimited number of people and if we had unlimited number of retail spaces.

    don’t you think the ‘hood would be better off with something that we actually NEED? look at it this way….having too many of one thing is bad because it makes it so the ones here cannot thrive like they need to in order to keep the best staff (heath benifits) etc., etc….

    so, if a hardware store moved in next to true value would that be good for the ‘hood? of course not. same goes here, we have plenty of good coffee in phinney already.

    not to mention, anyone that knows vita and the owner cannot stand the sight of it! he’s only opening this place to try and get back at others (he does this crap all the time)…and he’s wasting a retail space that could’ve been used for something we NEED.

    and p.s. – i cast my vote too for not supporting big banks and CC companies!

  27. Q says:

    Variety of shops, restaurants and bars are what make a neighborhood great and unique from the rest. I really think we have enough coffee shops. Also we have two awesome bakeries T.M. Dessert Works and Fresh Flours. I really think everyone should explore the neighborhood and see what is really missing.

  28. Greenwood_D says:


    The consumers will determine what we actually “need”. If we don’t need 2 coffee shops on one block, one will go out of business. Usually, the one that doesn’t provide what the consumer wants is the one to go.

    Now if you want to know if I personally would open a coffee house right next to one that has been fairly successful in the neighborhood, my answer would be a definite “no”.

    Personally, I love seeing new and exciting things open up in the ‘hood just like anyone else.
    But unless we have the capital to open our “dream” shop, we can watch how the chips fall and support the business we find to be the best!

    I’ve never been a fan of the “cold” atmosphere of Herkimer and I rather like the possibility of them having to put smiles on their faces in order to compete for business.

    I’m not promoting Cafe Vita, either (although, I will visit them to see if I dare tread in that area for coffee again.)
    I’m simply promoting a good competitive small business battle when I see one. 😉

  29. SPG says:

    “If we don’t need 2 coffee shops on one block, one will go out of business. Usually, the one that doesn’t provide what the consumer wants is the one to go.”

    If only it were that simple. Once you get out of the first chapter of your Econ101 book you’ll realize that a crappier coffee shop can cause the other better one to go under if they have more money in the bank and are willing to wait out the better coffee shop while they chip away just enough of their business. What you’re then left with is just one crappy coffee shop. It may not even be the case here, but what else is Cafe Vita thinking?

  30. Stupid Hippie says:

    Clearly the solution is to get the government to regulate how many coffee shops each neigborhood should have and set prices!

  31. Car says:

    I agree with “Q”. We should focus on what is missing from this neighborhood. Phinney/Greenwood have so much more potential than coffee wars.

  32. Greenwood_D says:


    >>”If only it were that simple.”

    It IS that simple. If customers don’t patronize one shop and support the other, it is only a matter of time before the inferior shop goes under or stays on an insane course of funneling money into a bad business venture. The notion that you would even imply that Vita might purposely be going down the latter road is ludicrous and honestly, a little presumptuous on your part. Just because the owner isn’t all that liked here, doesn’t mean he’s a bad businessman. There are a lot of people on here with a “mad on” for Vita and it’s owner. No offense, but you kind of sound like you’re part of that group.

    >>”Once you get out of the first chapter of your Econ101 book…

    I’m offended by that. There are a lot of schools of economic thought and a lot of opinions on free market principles. I don’t expect you to agree with me, but throwin’ a jab like that is cheap.

    >>> “what else is Cafe Vita thinking?”

    It just MIGHT be thinking, “man, I think I can provide this area with a style of coffee shop and a product that would really be a hit with the consumers and profitable at the same time.”
    The insinuations of “sinister” plans in the works by Cafe Vita and it’s owner are without evidence and borderline juvenile, IMHO.

    Is this venture REEAAALLLY that upsetting?
    It’s not like the man is setting up a dog-fighting ring. The more worked up you get over it, the more you empower his business venture and make many of us wonder if the “blood is already in the water” for Herkimer. 😉 Counter-productive, if you ask me. Certainly not a sign of confidence for Herkimer.

    Why spend time fretting! Get out there with your little Federal Reserve IOU-notes and continue to patronize Herkimer! Tell your friends, tell your family and tell your neighbor how great Herkimer is and just how wonderful their coffee is! Get active with causes to promote Herkimer and post great reviews online!

    So many people (especially in this city) equate having money with “bad”. That energy could be used to flex your consumer and activist muscles. Have some faith in your purchase power and consumer strength and stop wasting your time whining about a competing company before it even moves in.


    I love you. I reeeeaaallly do.

  33. david says:

    greenwood d –

    it’s become pretty obvious that you know nothing about coffee if you somehow are bagging on herkimer….ask around to anyone that knows coffee – it’s one of the best coffee bars / roasters in the whole city. case closed. they will be fine either way…

    most of us are wondering about your strange support of vita…we all just want a business that is actually needed in our neighborhood. what’s going in isn’t doing any good for anyone… and the owner is a scumbag, can’t support that.

  34. Greenwood_D says:


    I never ONCE said I didn’t like Herkimer’s coffee.
    Go back and read, David, and stop assuming.

    >>”it’s become pretty obvious that you know nothing about coffee”

    whooooaaaaa there, snobby-pants! 😉

    >>”it’s one of the best coffee bars / roasters in the whole city. case closed.”

    Your opinion…..and quite a pretentious and arrogant one if it’s packaged with insults towards someone that may not agree with you.

    Herkimer: Like the coffee. Don’t like the cold, sterile atmosphere and the too-cool-for-school hipster attitude. Interesting how that same attitude emits from it’s fandom…………..

    >>>”most of us are wondering about your strange support of Vita.”

    I’ve already stated numerous times that my “strange support” is for good ol’ fashioned competition between small business. I just don’t understand the uproar- just don’t support the guy and his business!

    Like I stated above, I’m not a fan of the guy personally either, but he has every right to build his business next to a competitor and have at it- fail or succeed!

    Now people are just throwing out insults.

    Give me a solid, factual reason why what’s-his-butt shouldn’t be able to open his “notorious” Caffe Vita next to Herkimer and I’ll genuinely engage.
    Otherwise, it’s simple opinion and I respect anyone that empowers themselves by choosing to not support him OR support him.

  35. leslie says:

    you of course are free to your opinions….and yes it’s a free country for anyone to open any business they would like.

    but look to the example of the hardware store….would phinney be a better place if a new hardware store went in next to true value? NO. we would be much better off satisfying a need of the neighborhood.

    this whole competition thing you’re hung up on as a whole is true – but it’s more true for something like computer software. when you have a limited number of retail spaces, the neighborhood benefits from diversity, not unnecessary competition.

    everyone that i have spoken to about this is not at all happy that one of our retail spaces is being wasted on more coffee (and it’s a company and owner that we are not at all fond of). rumor has it that ‘Other Coast Cafe’ was trying to get that space too, how great would that have been??

    and for herkimer, i will say that my group of friends and i love it….the coffee, the staff, the music. yes, they have a couple witty baristas (maybe one rubbed you the wrong way, everyone has bad days), but much of their staff has been there for many years (always a good sign of a place that takes care of their staff).

    so anyway, i would encourage you to think about what is best for us a neighborhood…and it’s pretty clear that some diversity is what we all want….but of course you are entitled to your opinions, we’re just trying to sway you a bit 🙂

    have a good day!

  36. Greenwood_D says:

    @ leslie

    Hey Leslie- first off… MAN OH MAN, would I love to see OCC in the neighborhood. I will agree with you on that.

    I will also point out my post 28, where I mentioned that I too love seeing new and exciting things open in the neighborhood!

    I just disagree with you on your “unnecessary competition” comment. I think competition is ALWAYS healthy for the consumer. It gives consumers variety, usual ups the level of service consumer dedication, strengthens purchasing power and usually lowers prices.

    Hardware stores are just far-fetched for an analogy, but I would still challenge your said analogy with the notion that, yes, it COULD be beneficial in a lot of ways. It could drive down prices, it could up the par for customer service and it could even create a need for two businessmen/women to combine their efforts and seek separate niches so they could help each other thrive in such tight space. There is a bunch of ways for small businesses to evolve in such a climate.

    We know Ed’s Kort Haus, Chupacabra and Stumbling Goat practically do business on top of each other. Each has found a way to survive , with a business that brings in the majority of it’s profits from alcohol (or close to). Each has chiseled out something they do best, a theme or style and each has to hold their standards to a certain level or risk going the way of Gaspare (gasp! did I say that? yeep-sorry Gaspare fans–just know it has been on the for- sale-block a long time.)

    I think this bar analogy illustrates my point nicely. Hardware stores are a little out there, considering most people wouldn’t consider stacking such a niche business right next to another of the same. Eateries and drinking establishments have a world of creative freedom for what they can offer consumers.

    Again, no one is forcing anyone to support Vita.
    If you’re right about “Phinneywood” not needing another coffee shop– one will topple in record time and the neighborhood will move on.

    Appreciate the dialogue. 😉

  37. daniel says:

    omg..Other Coast Cafe could’ve been in this space instead?

    I am officially depressed.

    Doesn’t take a genius to figure out that this would’ve been better for all

  38. neighbor says:

    OTHER COAST?!?!?!?!?!?
    Maybe they can go into the soon to be available Phinney Market location!! It would definately be a hit in the summer for the zoo goers and year round for the locals!!!