Volunteer Park Cafe Neighbor Fights Outdoor Dining Area

Zoning issue plague the restaurant’s patio plans.

By Jessica Voelker June 24, 2010

Volunteer Park Cafe

As we reported back in April, Ericka Burke and Heather Earnhardt, chef/owners of Volunteer Park Cafe, have been building a patio and backyard garden. Their hope was to offer outdoor dining on the new brick patio, around which they’ve started growing veggies for the restaurant.

Not if their neighbor can help it. On June 24 (today), Burke wrote a group email detailing an unhappy situation with a Capitol Hill resident who wants to prevent the cafe from serving outdoors.

The neighbor researched the property’s permit history, discovering that it was zoned as a grocery store (the building housed a grocery for many years) and not a cafe. Burke says her lease indicates the property to be a cafe. A lawsuit could be forthcoming, she writes, but she hopes to keep her 90-year-old landlady out of the situation by buying the building outright.

Burke asked recipients to help VPC staff see their backyard dreams become reality by sending letters of support, expressing affection for the cafe (and the patio and garden in particular), which she will in turn deliver to the Department of Planning and Development. (If you wish to send such a letter, the cafe address is 1501 17th Street E, Seattle, Wa 98122.)

According to the DPD website, a complaint was filed on May 18 with the following note: “The grocery has expanded its use with a cafe.” The complaint is unresolved.

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