When Amazon chose downtown Seattle for its massive urban campus, John Schoettler, Amazon’s vice president of global real estate, wanted to create a thriving “18-hour” neighborhood.
To some extent, Amazon has succeeded. In a decade, nonstop development has transformed Seattle’s South Lake Union and Denny Triangle from a sea of parking lots, car rental agencies, motels, and warehouses to gleaming office towers and luxury real estate.
Restaurants, gyms, cafès, and even medical clinics have moved in, drawn by Amazon’s ever-expanding workforce and the promise of high-salaried residents due to move into the thousands of newly-built luxury apartments.
But for many of the neighborhood’s new businesses, things haven’t turned out exactly like they hoped. For one, they can’t get customers in during non-work hours, at dinnertime and on weekends.
“The worst thing is having an empty restaurant and then trying to keep your staff motivated and energized,” local restaurateur and chef Josh Henderson told Marketplace.
On a recent visit to Seattle, we checked out the so-called “18-hour” neighborhood.
Dinner and weekend business remains weak. Cactus began offering a “late night” happy hour last year to drum up business. Owner Marc Chatalas told The Seattle Times the move has not been effective. “Simply, the neighborhood has not developed,” he said.
Some restaurant managers told The Seattle Times, they’ve even had trouble hiring talented chefs and experienced waitstaff, because tips are low and they’d rather focus on dinner establishments than those catering to the lunch crowd.