It’s very difficult to report bad news, especially when it happens to valued and long term members of the Capitol Hill and LGBTQ communities, as well as personal friends. After a protracted battle to save it, the 22 year old iconic restaurant and bar, The Grill on Broadway will be closing its doors for business, this Sunday, April 28, 2013 at 10:00 p.m.
In 2010, when The Walsh Creative Group purchased the flailing restaurant, problems left by the previous ownership and management became apparent almost immediately. “We knew that quality of food and service associated with the old Broadway Grill had fallen short over the years, but what we didn’t know was just how deeply those problems were rooted.” says Matthew Walsh, current owner of The Grill.
Within a few months of purchasing The Grill in the summer of 2010, many of the problems began to emerge. It became a target of a credit card number harvesting scheme that claimed a number of businesses on Broadway as victims. Several years of missed software updates played a significant role in the incident and Walsh and his team discovered this fact only a few months after purchasing the business. The effects were devastating to The Grill, generating massive amounts of negative publicity and drastically reduced revenue at the restaurant. In the months following, numerous structural and mechanical issues were also discovered that added to a stack of expenses that over the course of three years totaled into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“In spite of what it may seem, we’re a very small business,” commented Walsh. “We don’t have endless financial resources to keep us afloat like a chain restaurant or large corporation could. We spent our life savings to bring the restaurant back from what it had become and it’s heartbreaking that we cannot continue. We appreciate the love and support shown to The Grill on Broadway over the years from the Capitol Hill community, and the many friends we have made who have truly become part of the huge extended “Grill Family” – that includes our incredible staff of hardworking, talented and amazing servers, bartenders and kitchen staff, in addition to every loyal regular who steps through our door. It’s with a huge and profound sadness that we must end this amazing journey.”
Since 2010, Walsh and his team have spent countless hours and dollars supporting local charities and organizations, raising more than a quarter million dollars for groups such as Rise n’ Shine, Lifelong AIDS Alliance and Gay City Health Project. Walsh continues, “When we were presented with it, we sought the opportunity to save a Capitol Hill institution. There isn’t a minute that goes by that I don’t recognize the profound impact that The Grill has had on the Capitol Hill neighborhood and Seattle’s LGBTQ community for the last two decades. I wanted The Grill to not just be a restaurant, and not just a bar but also an active member of the community. We’ve been honored to serve an extraordinary and diverse community.”
Since constructing the Atrium Stage in 2012, The Grill on Broadway has been a home for a variety of performers, including the very popular Mimosas with Mama, produced and hosted by Mama Tits; the Tuesday Night Open Mic Night, and Sylvia O’Stayformore’s beloved drag variety show, Bacon Strip, the most recent addition to the Grill’s line-up of live entertainment. Plans for a full year of entertainment already in the works are being modified, with The Grill working with the event producers to find new homes for their events.
From Matthew Walsh, owner:
“We’ve come a long way from 2010 and I’ve felt the love and goodwill of the community who remember what the old Broadway Grill had been, and we have appreciated hearing how much people are enjoying it again. Ultimately, though, we’re faced with the unbearable question of whether to spend more money that we don’t have to try to bring The Grill on Broadway to where we want it to be. I have nothing but gratitude in my heart for the community that I am proud to be a part of, and the people who enjoyed The Grill for the last years. It has been a deeply personal part of my life since I was 16 years old when I visited Capitol Hill as a wide-eyed gay kid from Eastern Washington. I met my husband CJ there five years ago. The Grill will be part of my life, at least in spirit, forever. ”
It’s the end of an era…a Toast to The Grill on Broadway.