For 15 years, Sureshot Espresso has welcomed all.
For 15 years, Sureshot Espresso has welcomed all. Lester Black

Sureshot Espresso, a bastion of punk espresso and bohemian community on The Ave, is going out of business next week. The coffee shop’s owner told me their last day open will be March 23.

“They are selling the building so they wouldn’t give us a new lease,” the shop’s owner Shelley Pires told me.

For the last 15 years, Sureshot Espresso has been a community center for anyone looking for an affordable and strong cup of coffee on the main thoroughfare of the University District, and welcomed any and all types. Now the coffee shop is a week away from being like those other much-missed Seattle dives.

In a guide to our favorite Seattle area coffee shops, Megan Van Huygen wrote:

The capital of the Ave, the Evergreen State College of coffee shops, Sureshot is a grunge-era institution, a relic of yester- Seattle that somehow sojourns on, baffling us all. This place could only exist on the Ave—it's basically a living room for crust punks and hobos, everyone with their pit bulls and backpacks in tow. The coffee is solid, the pastries are vegan, and the soups are always dope. Bike cops routinely show up looking for spare-changing suspects. A philosophical debate group meets here weekly, and it's popular with chess players. When I lived in the U-District, I came here with my laptop every single morning for six years or so, and loitered all day long. I was never met with anything but soft-spoken, hippieshit kindness—especially from Will, who's worked there for a thousand years and is the gentlest soul I know. Support and protect Sureshot Espresso, god, please.

And former Stranger News Editor Dominic Holden loved it, too: "The coffee here is pretty much the best, and their punk rock thing reminds me of the Black Cat, Puss-Puss, the Globe, and other much-missed Seattle dives. Sureshot rocks."

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Lester Black

Sureshot’s closure comes as many of the neighborhood’s legacy business owners warn of the end of The Ave as we know it. On top of the region-wide-pressure of a tech-industry-induced population boom, the University District will soon be the home to one of the newest stops on SoundTransit’s Link Light Rail. The city is (thankfully) increasing building density around the neighborhood in advance of the light rail station’s opening in 2021, but the local business owners are worried that increased development will drive up their rents and force them out of the once-grungy area. In a nod to the string of small businesses that inhabit University Way, which everyone knows as The Ave, the City Council removed that section out of the upzone.

I worked from Sureshot for a few hours on Thursday, and saw the same flow of traffic that has kept the coffee shop busy for 15 years. People in leather jackets and Doc Martens chatted over coffee and pastries. Crust punks wearing what appeared to be foraged clothing came and went. The bar staff was friendly to anyone who came in, regardless of what outside food they brought with them or lack of purchases they made. At one point, a group of people wearing heavily-layered clothing walked in with a battalion of bags and two cats on leashes. None of them appeared to buy anything, yet instead of kicking them out, the barista walked over, greeted them, pet their cat, saw that one person was feeling ill, and gave money to a different member of the group to buy medicine for their ill friend. The only thing different about the shop on this Thursday than any other day was the sign on the front door that announced the shop was closing, and the looks on dozens of people’s faces as they saw the sign and mouthed an “Oh no,” or “Damn,” or “Fuck.”

Sureshot closes at 7 pm midnight on March 23. Until then, you can drop in, enjoy a strong cup of coffee, and buy something to remember it by—a table, or a piece of art from the walls, or perhaps just a package of Sureshot's special blend of espresso beans.