Shirley Henderson was tired of her desk job of 11 years. Sharon Blyth-Moss, a hairstylist with over 15 years of experience, was similarly ready for a change. So, the couple hatched a hybrid of cafe and salon, a third place hangout that serves third wave coffee, and right on the mark with Seattle's current trend of pairing cafes and retail (or, in this case, hairstyling).
Squirrel Chops is mostly cafe, serving Slate Coffee pulled from a Slayer espresso machine, a lever-operated, Seattle-made workhorse that coffee nerds swoon about. As a born-again barista Henderson runs the coffee end of things (and is the one doing a lot of the swooning). Plenty of single-origin coffee to be had here as well as pastries from Standard Bakery and options for the gluten-free, too. Blyth-Moss, who hails from across the pond, also promises a lineup of pressed toasties, which is like a British hot pocket, but better and filled with English cheddar.
A metal door slides between the cafe and the salon, where Blyth-Moss will style, cut, and color. She hopes to bring on a barber as well. In addition to caffeine and cuts, two taps behind the black-tiled espresso bar dispense Manny’s IPA and a beer from Seapine Brewing.
Sit at the live-edge wood bar along the windows, in a book-filled reading nook/booth in the back, or under a photo of a downtown demolition taken by Seattle architecture photographer, John Stamets, in the ‘80s. Henderson says it’s a reminder of the tension in the Central District, a neighborhood in heavy development mode. But the co-owners want to be a positive part of this inevitable change. “Development is good,” says Henderson, “It's good for everybody, but not when you're kicking people out.” The co-owners are all about asking themselves, “How can we be a positive part of the community and be a place where everyone can come?”
Squirrel Chops officially opens October 9 at 2201 East Union Street, next door to Electric Lady Bike Shop owned by Alex Kostelnik (he talks recording studios and bikes in our October issue).