Despite its vertical density, Belltown is a neighborhood some restaurateurs have fled in recent years, citing street populations and drug action and late-night hijinx that either create danger or the perception thereof. Some restaurateurs, like Donna Moodie of Marjorie and Tamara Murphy of Brasa and Terra Plata, have relocated to the Pike/Pine sector of Capitol Hill.
In February Scott Staples joined them, moving his long successful Restaurant Zoe from its 11-year perch at 2nd and Blanchard to an airy, Napa Valley-like space on the corner of 14th and Union.
His first revelation: “Wow! In this neighborhood you don’t have to walk your hostess to her car at night!” Staples says his new neighbor Moodie had the same revelation. Staples likened it to people who only realize they’ve been in an abusive relationship once they get out of it.
Score one for Capitol Hill.
Zoe 2.0 presents as more casual than its forebear—in place of the old charcuterie, there’s a big drippy burger—but that doesn’t necessarily explain the business differences between the two restaurants. Staples told me the Capitol Hill Zoe is selling more wine by the bottle, and higher priced bottles at that.
Do the chronic street drinkers of Belltown put diners off their recreational wine? Whatever the reason: Score two for Capitol Hill.
It seems business is just all-around better on 14th and Union than it is at 2nd and Blanchard. “In Belltown everyone wanted to eat from 6:45 to 8pm,” Staples said. “On Capitol Hill we do more shoulder business, and more covers altogether.”