Almost, but not quite

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Madrona Ale House bye bye.jpg"You spend $250,000 and 20 years of your life, and you get back maybe $10,000." That was Burke Shethar's reaction Tuesday after an auction of furnishings and fixtures at the Madrona Ale House. The decorative tap handles, a kitchen mixer, the hood, the walk-in. "Pennies on the dollar," he lamented, shaking his head.

In the turbulent days preceding the auction, it appeared that a Madrona couple, Peter and Adrianna Johnson, would be taking over the business. The Johnsons own three other taverns, in the U District, Capitol Hill and Madison Park, but they did not purchase the Madrona Ale House itself, or its name, or the website. Certainly not the liquor license.

Instead, they simply signed a new lease with the landlord. But they cannot operate the business without a new name, new permits, and, most critically, a new liquor license. Worst case, 90 days; best case 45 days. Meantime, the Ale House is closed for good.

Bier hier! (Beer here!)

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The beers are coming, the beers are coming! Only a couple of weeks to go!

Jana & Lubo 2.jpgNew to the restaurant biz are local co-owners Jana and Lubo Katrusin, natives of Slovakia and eight-year residents of Seattle. They've partnered with Lubo's brother (and his associates), longtime operators of European-style beer halls on the east coast (Brooklyn, Hoboken) and local developer Scott Shapiro (Melrose Market) to renovate the old Cotton Caboodle clothing factory and outlet store on Lower Queen Anne.

The 7,000-square-foot space will seat over 300 inside, not to mention the outdoor Biergarten. Chef was supposed to be Robert Mullins, a CIA grad who cooked at 13 Coins and taught at the Cordon Bleu; his menu emphasized Austrian and eastern European fare "with a Northwest twist." But he quit without notice on Monday.

This is when you're glad you've got an experienced GM, in this case, the veteran Sean Klos, late of Holland America Lines and the Schwartz Brothers organization.

As you might expect from the beer halls (especially Rhein Haus) on Capitol Hill, seating will be at long communal tables (custom-built by Lubo, a carpenter by trade).

But of course it's all about the beer, right? Two dozen taps will feature not your ho-hum
local brew but authentic brewski from Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Sour beers, Hefeweizens, Dunkels, Doppeldunkel. If there's a glass custom-made for that beer, they'll try to get it. Their most treasured souvenirs come from the Pilsner Urquell brewery in Czech Republic, which, yes, is now owned by SABMiller, but, says Jana, "It's what we grew up on."

Staff training starts next week, with an opening expected no later than mid-August. Hours will be 4 PM to 2 AM seven days a week.

Queen Anne Beer Hall, 203 W. Thomas St., Seattle 206-659-4043  Click to add a blog post for Queen Anne Beer Hall & Biergarten on Zomato

Coming, coming, coming, g-gone

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Upper left is an Opening Soon sign for Kashiba in the courtyard of the Inn at the Market. That's where Campagne used to be. Kashiba is, in case you've forgotten, no less a sushi master than Shiro Kashiba. Any day now.

Lower left is the sign for Orfeo, where Brasa once burned bright on Third Avenue. There's going to be a wood-burning oven, and a fabulous mural as well, based on the painting of Orfeo by the Italian Renaissance master Giogione. This is a project by Kevin and Terresa Davis of Steelhead Diner and Blueacre fame, eagerly anticipated.

The beer hall signage on Lower Queen Anne heralds an upcoming venture co-owned by Scott Shapiro, who developed Melrose Market. A group of operators from Brooklyn and Jersey is involved, with local oversight by newcomers Jana and Lubo Katrusin. Look for lots of German, Austrian, Czech, and Slovakian beers on tap. Opening by mid-August.

And say goodbye to Vespolina, at the foot of Union Street. The space worked when it was Thoa but scrambled when Jason Stratton took it over as Aragona, and finally expired (despite generally good notices) as an attempt to recreate the magic of Spinasse and Artusi. Stratton is doing fine, thank you, at Mamnoon, where he started last week; Vespolina's last day is Friday.


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