Stories from the Square

Stories from the Square

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Have you wondered how Pioneer Square's small business owners are changing up how their business plan in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you love to learn behind-the-scenes secrets behind your favorite businesses? Wondering where neighborhood businesses owners like to spend their money in the neighborhood?

Stories from the Square will give you a special glimpse into the interworkings behind ten Pioneer Square businesses: what they're doing, what they want you to know about their spot, and what they love about Pioneer Square.

Yasuaki Saito, The London Plane

The London Plane is a cafe, floral shop, market place, private event space, wine shop & community gathering space, located in Seattle's Pioneer Square.

Since the onset of the pandemic, what is one way have you changed how you do business and what drove that decision? 

The London Plane has pivoted to focus on our retail, takeaway & online business.

What is one thing most folks do not know about your business, but should know?

We are proudly both a woman & POC owned business!

What’s a business in Pioneer Square that you admire and why?

DryGoods Designs, because we see Keli multitasking everyday as a small business neighbor all while creating a space in her shop for her kids to maintain socially distant learning for school.

Sam Davidson, Davidson Galleries

Located in the heart of Seattle's historic Pioneer Square, Davidson Galleries has since 1973 exhibited antique, modern, and contemporary works on paper--original fine prints, drawings, paintings and mixed media, as well as works in other media by select artists

Since the onset of the pandemic, what is one way have you changed how you do business and what drove that decision? 

Davidson Galleries is now limiting the number of visitors, requires masks, gloves, and social distancing. We also recommend appointments due to restricted occupancy allowances. We continue to change our shows in the Gallery but put more emphasis on additional online exhibitions.

What is one thing most folks do not know about your business, but should know?

Davidson Galleries focuses on original works on paper, particularly woodcut, etchings from the 1500's to the present. Much of our large inventory is presented, and can be purchased directly) online. Our exciting new version of the website will 'go live' mid-September.

What’s a business in Pioneer Square that you admire and why?

Drygoods Design is a unique and wonderful resource for Pioneer Square. Seeing children taking sewing classes, bolts of wonderful fabric, everything one needs for quilting and knitting all in one spot. They have great teachers and provide unlimited related craft expertise. A second business we would like to recommend is Gallery Frames, LLC. I have been impressed by their expertise regarding works on paper and how best to protect and show their unique qualities.

Brian Carter, Integrus Architechure

Integrus Architecture is a professional services firm serving public institutions since 1953. The Integrus Architecture team is a diverse and dedicated group of architects, structural engineers, interior designers, security designers, and business professionals, each committed to an integrated approach toward meaningful and lasting design for public spaces.

Since the onset of the pandemic, what is one way have you changed how you do business and what drove that decision? 

Integrus Architecture

What is one thing most folks do not know about your business, but should know?

We own both of our offices, in Pioneer Square and in Spokane. Both buildings are listed on historic registers. You know honsetly, owning buildings is a distraction for a service business, but we chose to own the Union Trust Annex in Pioneer Square and the Carnegie Library in Spokane to reflect our commitment to participating in and preserving our communities' historic cores.

What’s a business in Pioneer Square that you admire and why?

The first is Caffe Umbria, for their quality and atmosphere. There are lots of Integrus folks who make a daily trek around the corner for their coffee fix. Second is Grand Central Bakery because they fill Pioneer Square with sweet bakery aromas every morning. And lastly,  all the art galleries, who really are the vanguard of the Pioneer Square vibe.

Greg Kucera, Greg Kucera Gallery

Established in 1983, the Greg Kucera Gallery now comprises 6,500 square feet of beautifully designed indoor and outdoor exhibition spaces. Exhibiting paintings, sculpture and prints by contemporary Northwest artists as well as works on paper by nationally known figures.

Since the onset of the pandemic, what is one way have you changed how you do business and what drove that decision? 

We closed to the public as everyone else did in March but we remained working behind the scenes, making virtual tours of our April exhibition for Gregory Blackstock so that our audience could see them and hear us speak about each individual work as if they were in the gallery. We also did a complete inventory of every single object in the gallery, something we haven't done since 9/11. We made good use of those months by working every day via the internet, filling orders, shipping sold artworks around the world.

What is one thing most folks do not know about your business, but should know?

That our artists are utterly dependent on us to make sales for them. Most of our local gallery artists are represented exclusively by us and while many of our more well known artists are also represented elsewhere, they are still counting on us to make sales and keep their own studios, home life, and artistic practices going.

What’s a business in Pioneer Square that you admire and why?

Davidson Galleries, because Sam has had his business going longer than anyone else. He's had several locations, to be honest he's remodeled more locations in Pioneer Square than any other business. He manages business with grace, ease, and always like the gentleman he is.

Juan Alsonso-Rodriguez, Juan Alonso Studio

Juan Alonso Studio is the art studio of Juan Alonso-Rodriguez, a Cuban-born, self-taught artist with a career spanning over three decades in the Pacific Northwest. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, what is one way have you changed how you do business and what drove that decision? 

Without being open to the public, particularly on 1st Thursdays, I have shifted to more of a "production" mode and been more active in having an on-line presence. Once able, I started offering limited appointments for folks that want to see work in person while observing all health mandates.

What is one thing most folks do not know about your business, but should know?

I am always surprised that no matter how often this happens, many people don't know that most art studios and galleries offer no-interest, lay-away plans to purchase artwork.

What’s a business in Pioneer Square that you admire and why?

It has to be Cafe Paloma, a warm and friendly, family-run place with great food. They also provide opportunities for emerging artists to show their work on the walls and live music performances. To me, it is a Pioneer Square jewel.

Mark Hills, Seattle Lighting

Since 1917 Seattle Lighting has been the Pacific Northwest's leading source for an exceptional choice of quality lighting fixtures and accessories. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, what is one way have you changed how you do business and what drove that decision? 

We've implemented all COVID-19 related safefy measures, i.e. cleansing of surfaces and plexiglass sheilds.

What is one thing most folks do not know about your business, but should know?

That we can assist them in planning their lighting for residential customers.

What’s a business in Pioneer Square that you admire and why?

Emerald City Guitars because they are really personable and offer great customer service!

Karl Mueller, Intrigue Chocolate Co.

Intrigue Chocolate Co. is a small, artisanal chocolate company that celebrates flavor discovery through the medium of fresh craft chocolate.

Since the onset of the pandemic, what is one way have you changed how you do business and what drove that decision? 

As is our custom at Intrigue Chocolate, we decided to act swiftly on the downward, uncharacteristic trend brought on by the pandemic. Thanks to the State, safety nets were put in place for our economically vulnerable staff. Aaron and Karl, the owners, set to work immediately applying for grants, aid relief, emergency loans, and loan reorganization. Once we’d done everything we could on the financial front, we had to solve the next problem – selling in a new socially distanced economy. To meet our customers needs in “real time”, have a conversation and share our excitement for chocolate, we turned to live video streaming. We could virtually sit down with our customers, drink tea, enjoy chocolate, and show that we are still here.

What is one thing most folks do not know about your business, but should know?

We are experts in pairing flavors with chocolate!

What’s a business in Pioneer Square that you admire and why?

Seattle Fitness. It's closed now, but Tija's gym was the best run, friendliest, cleanest, and most well organized small gym I've ever been to. She probably saw more people in Pioneer Square than any other business here.

Christopher Hoyt, The Pioneer Collective

The Pioneer Collective is where you do your most important work. Their local, independent coworking community offers inspiring workspace, meeting rooms and event spaces in Seattle’s Pioneer Square and Downtown Tacoma. 

What is one thing most folks do not know about your business, but should know?

For parents, who have a deadline coming up at work or share an office with their young children due to working from home, we have private offices you can rent with their own entrances by the hour or day at our coworking space. You can greatly boost your productivity without even seeing another human being!

What’s a business in Pioneer Square that you admire and why?

Damn The Weather. Bryn and team always have everything running on point, and the character of the space is so refreshing in a city full of top-down design. Also Arundel and Peter Miller Books. A visit to either of those stores is great cure for a stressful day.

Susumu Takahashi, 84 Yesler

84 Yesler is a Northwest neighborhood restaurant located in Seattle's most historic Pioneer Square. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, what is one way have you changed how you do business and what drove that decision? 

We have changed the concept from Bisato to 84 Yesler, Italian seafood restaurant to include fresh local seafood selection, meat, pasta, salad and vegetarian and vegan menu.

What is one thing most folks do not know about your business, but should know?

We are now a casual and neighborhood oriented restaurant

What’s a business in Pioneer Square that you admire and why?

Carmine Italian restaurant

Johnnie Stroud, Saké Nomi

Saké Nomi is a premium saké shop and tasting bar where you can learn about and explore premium Japanese saké, its brewing culture, and traditions. 

Since the onset of the pandemic, what is one way have you changed how you do business and what drove that decision? 

Due to restrictions put in place by the health department and liquor board, we've been forced to completely pause on premises by-the-glass sake sales and are now conducting retail bottle and accessory sales only.

What is one thing most folks do not know about your business, but should know?

Saké Nomi is the first combination sake shop and tasting bar in the United States, established in 2007)

What’s a business in Pioneer Square that you admire and why?

Emerald City Guitars, vintage guitars are just so cool!

Jonathan Fleming, D&E Famous Fried Chicken

D&E is a family owned and operated restaurant & bar in Seattle’s Pioneer Square Neighborhood. Started by Husband & Wife, Jonathan Fleming & Elisabeth Aker, D&E is meant to be a simple & approachable restaurant, welcoming to everyone.

Since the onset of the pandemic, what is one way have you changed how you do business and what drove that decision? 

We decided that since our menu had been created for dine-in guests, that we needed to try something new to accommodate take-out orders. While we have always offered a fried chicken sandwich, we decided to make a new menu focusing specifically on fried chicken & expand on that idea.

What is one thing most folks do not know about your business, but should know? 

D&E stands for drinks & eats but it also stands for Audrey & Evan, our children (we call Audrey 'Dee').

What’s a business in Pioneer Square that you admire and why? 

We really admire Velouria. The two owners spend a lot of time & energy including other businesses in the neighborhood in their business, whether through supporting them personally or through catered events or a map of some of their favorite pioneer square businesses to share with their guests.