Chef Travis Kukull Departs Mollusk in South Lake Union

Mollusk’s part-owner and chef Travis Kukull is stepping away from the kitchen at this South Lake Union restaurant after seven and a half months. His departure is a sad one for the chef, as his style of cuisine didn’t really take with local residents. Although Mollusk itself will stay open, Travis is moving on to practice his skills elsewhere.

“The neighborhood has proved difficult for my style of cuisine,” he told the Seattle Times. Although he had a few loyal regulars who loved his unique take on bar food, the people moving to the area were not drawn to the menu. So, Kukull is listening to the neighborhood and applying his style of cuisine to other projects to allow Mollusk’s menu to become more conventionally brew-pub style.

Travis’ last day as chef at Mollusk was Tuesday, June 21st. For the summer, he is cooking at Hotel Hälsingland in Haines, Alaska, but he hopes to return to the Seattle area again in October. “Thanks to all who supported my weird food,” Kukull says, in parting. “I love you all.”

Kukull’s move comes just a few months after Mollusk dropped lunch service. According to Seattle Eater, that change was due to a lake of traffic (the same reason provided when the restaurant reinstated tipping in April of this year).

Featured photo source: SeattleTimes.com, credit to Dean Rutz.

Chinese Developer Plans 26-Story Apartment Building in SLU

Chinese real estate developer Create World America recently purchased the property at 427 9th Ave. N in South Lake Union for $16.25 million. They bought the property from Wilshire Capital Partners, who originally paid $5.85 million in late 2013, and spent the last few years acquiring permits for a 26-story apartment building.

Now Create World America will be taking over the project, and hopes to begin construction in October of this year. CEO Lili Lu told the Puget Sound Business Journal that the project should cost approximately $120 million, and is a joint effort with another Chinese company, Modern Land Co., and VIA Architecture.  

This 26-story apartment building is conveniently situated across the street from the complex of buildings currently leased by Amazon, and will feature mid- and high-end units. In addition to the residential apartments, there will be an underground parking garage with 70 spaces.

This recent purchase is just one of Create World America’s moves into the Seattle area, with a two-phase project for apartments and condos in downtown Bellevue and a 40-story Pike Place Market condo project.

Featured photo source: BizJournals.com, rendering from VIA Architecture

Bike Couriers Unseated by Amazon’s Changes with Prime Now Bike Deliveries

The local community of bike couriers has been surprised and disheartened after Amazon suddenly ended its deliveries of Prime Now orders via bicycle courier last Saturday. Amazon only gave its bicycle courier contractors a couple of days’ notice of the discontinuance, issuing a notice of the company’s decision to cancel bike courier delivery service on June 1st.

This abrupt change had been planned, but its unceremonious nature has left 40 bike couriers unseated and out of a job. “It was absolutely a surprise” getting laid off, courier Cade Beyer told GeekWire. “It seemed like we were doing better than ever. They just hired even more people, seemed like they were happy with what we were doing; we were doing a lot of work.”

Beyer and dozens of other bike couriers were employed by Fleetfoot Messenger Service, one of Amazon’s Prime Now delivery contractors. But when Amazon suddenly shut down its relationship with bike delivery contractors, significantly reducing the demand for couriers, Beyer and many others were laid off.

Prime Now debuted in Seattle last summer, after a successful launch in New York City a year and a half ago. Prime Now customers can use the app on their smartphones/tablets, or shop directly online and receive their order in just one hour for $7.99, or within 2 hours for free with their $99/year Prime membership. In addition to a wide range of products from Amazon, common vendors on Prime Now include PCC, Uwajimaya, and dozens of local restaurants participating in the program.

Amazon has not confirmed how deliveries will be made in the immediate future, but there has been speculation as to whether the company is developing its own bike courier service as well as a plan to shift to full-vehicle deliveries.

In a statement, Amazon spokesperson Kelly Cheeseman said, “We continue to evaluate and test our operations for Prime Now in order to best serve customers with superfast delivery.”

Another bike courier who was laid off in the recent decision from Amazon, Josh Buford, seems to agree with the rumor that Amazon is developing its own bike delivery service. “I already knew they had a knack for trying to take over as many markets as they possibly could get their hands on,” he said. “It’s pretty obvious that that really is their game plan. It’s kind of troubling and little bit scary just how far they’re willing to go. … I’d say ruthless would be the best term for it.”

Featured photo source: Kurt Schlosser for GeekWire

Visiting Vessel: Dockside Tours of MV Lotus

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On Thursday, June 9th the MV Lotus, a historic 1909 yacht listed on the National Historic Register, will be moored at The Center for Wooden Boats and open for public tours.

Maurice McMicken, a prominent Seattle Lawyer, and entrepreneur, commissioned the Seattle maritime architecture firm, Lee and Briton to build the Lotus in 1908.  The vessel was designed to be powerful enough to cruise the Inland Passage through British Columbia and southeast Alaska, large enough to hold fuel and provisions for long journeys, and luxurious enough to convey McMicken’s social position. When launched in May 1909, the boat was the largest cruising yacht on the West Coast. Measuring 93 feet in overall length, the Lotus provided quarters for a party of 11 and a crew of four and held enough fuel to cruise for a range of 1,500 miles.

The Lotus has a fir frame reinforced with transverse bulkheads, strongbacks, and steel straps, an oak keel, stem, and decks. The interior of the vessel is luxuriously appointed.  The “Edwardian” saloon has a fireplace with a Rookwood tile surround, fir paneling, built-in cabinetry with leaded glass, a box beam ceiling, a mahogany inlaid floor, and light fixtures designed by Tiffany. The staterooms are all equipped with built-in vanities with hot and cold water.  The wheelhouse / smoking room is finished with the same materials and craftsmanship.

From the date of its launching, the Lotus has been described in boating periodicals and the press as unique in size and unusually lavish in its appointments.  The vessel’s current owners, the MV Lotus Heritage Foundation, have worked over the past 12 years to restore and preserve the Lotus for public enjoyment.

Free Boat Rides All Day with the Get Out & Boat Fest

The first ever Seas the Day, Get Out & Boat Fest is coming up next Saturday, June 11th, with free boat rides all day. This event is hosted by The Northwest Yacht Brokers Association in an attempt to “demonstrate the joy and feasibility of boating by getting people out on the water.”

Get Out & Boat Fest is completely free, and all are welcome to attend. The fest will offer 45-minute boat rides around Lake Union on sailboats, powerboats, trawlers and cruisers, so that attendees can try different types of boats. In addition, learn how to dock, anchor, and work with the technology and rigging of various vessels with guidance from professionals in the industry. You can also gain tips on buying a boat, how to trailer, and navigating in the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

“The first annual Get Out & Boat Fest aims to increase public awareness of boating by offering opportunities for people to get out on the water, experience boating firsthand, and educate and inform non-boaters so they can learn how to adopt a boating lifestyle.”

Beyond just boat rides and education, the Get Out & Boat Fest will have boating seminars, informational and promotional booths, kayak and SUP demos, a kids’ zone, live music by local musician Dave Calhoun, and food vendors.

The Get Out & Boat Fest is on Saturday, June 11th from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the docks near Chandler’s Crabhouse: 901 Fairview Ave N Seattle, WA 98109.