Coffee Plus

Two Queen Anne shops make a drab street shine.

I HATE TO SAY anything nice about condos, but if it wasn't for a condo, one of the nicest things to happen to Queen Anne Hill in a long time wouldn't have happened at all. As all Queen Annians know to their sorrow, quality commerce on the Hill (we're not talking Lower Queen Anne here, which is properly Uptown, anyhow) is concentrated to a fault on Queen Anne Avenue, which has too much traffic and too little parking. Off the avenue, good shops and food outlets are sparse, indeed. Recall the "convenience store," haunted by the stench of failure and stale coffee, that used to loom grimly at passersby at 10th Avenue West and Howe Street. Apart from bus drivers on the No. 1 Kinnear route in need of a rest room, the place served no discernible purpose. So no one sorrowed (though no one cheered, either) when it, and the building housing it, was demolished to make room for a modest condo block with dandy views of Elliott Bay. Then, just in time for Christmas last year, neighborhood residents got a lovely presenttwo, in fact. Opening within a week of each other, we got Hollys and the Icebox.

Hollys, operated by Holly Hill and Holly Bauersfeld, is a coffeehouse/pastry shop. Serving superpremium Batdorf & Bronson coffees and a select spectrum of some of the best boulangerie and p√Ętisserie around (Essential Baking, Little Rae's, and Parisian Star Desserts all contribute), as well as house-made "award-winning" apple pie, macaroons, cookies, and brownies, Hollys immediately became a magnet for local coffee hounds.

The Icebox is harder to categorize. Jenn Stock's shop is part deli, part sandwich shop, part convenience storebut with the convenience of knowledgeable yuppie shoppers in mind, 7-Eleven it's notand even, in a small but essential way, a farmer's market, with fresh seasonal produce tastefully displayed like flower arrangements as you enter. I'm just old enough to remember old-fashioned small-town general stores: The Icebox is sort of like themlots of surprising and useful stuff crammed into a small space, enhanced and glued together by a friendly, personable attitude that makes you want to come back soon.

Two such establishments sitting side by side turn a nowhere stretch of street into a civic mini-magnet. So here's a seasonal toast to developers: Sometimes they live up to the words in their sales brochures.

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