Work beginning on new cafe in Fuller Store building

Vashon’s most historic commercial building is in the process of being turned into a café.

The Old Fuller Store building at the intersection of Vashon Highway and Cemetery Road has been abuzz with activity in recent weeks and on Thursday morning was without its north-facing porch. The work is the beginning of a process to turn the 131-year-old building into a “casual style café” that will serve drinks, appetizers and hors d’oeuvres at lunch and during evenings there are performances at Vashon Center for the Arts,” according to documents from the architecture firm spearheading the project.

The building is protected as a historic landmark by King County’s Landmarks Commission, and the construction work has been approved by county officials, Historic Preservation Officer Jennifer Meisner said.

According to plans from Strata Architects, the building’s interior will only be “updated slightly,” and the north-facing doorway that leads out onto the porch will be made larger. The porch seems to have been temporarily removed, as the plans indicate it will remain unchanged. A 350-square-foot addition will also be constructed at the building’s northwest corner.

There are no proposed changes to the upper floor of the building.

Seattle businessman Michael McConnell — who owns a chain of Caffe Vita coffee shops and Via Tribunali pizza restaurants in Seattle and New York City — bought the building in September 2015 and said at the time that he had “no set plans,” but was not planning on opening a Caffe Vita or Via Tribunali.

“We feel fortunate to merely look after it for the next generation,” McConnell said in December 2015, the last time he could be reached for comment by The Beachcomber.

The ground floor of the building was most recently occupied by Marci Christopher’s shop, Treasure Island. She moved to a new space in town in November after she said McConnell “appeared to want” her old space.

Barber Francisco Marinez will continue his business in the building.

There is no information available about what the eatery will be called or when it will open, and McConnell has yet to go through the county’s permitting process.

The café is McConnell’s second Vashon venture. The Beachcomber reported earlier this month that he is also planning on opening a pizza and coffee business — Vashon Vita — in town between Sporty’s and The Hardware Store Restaurant. Construction is also underway on that project, but an opening date is not known.

McConnell has not responded to requests for comment.

— Anneli Fogt

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