So Long, Red Apple: A Beloved Central District Staple Set to Close

An icon of the CD officially gives way to new development. It closes on September 30.

The Promenade Red Apple on South Jackson Street, as everyone who’s lived in the Central District for any length of time knows, is a whole lot more than a grocery store. It’s a community hub. It’s a place to run into friends and neighbors, to say hello to the same cashiers you’ve known for years and years. It hosts barbecues and backpack giveaways, coat drives and Easter Egg hunts. It also sells things people can’t find anywhere else—like unique cuts of meat (beef feet and pig tails and chicken skin, say) and hearty sandwiches that people say taste better than at other delis. It has long been a beloved neighborhood gem, nestled deep in the heart of the historically black neighborhood.

Seattle has been lamenting the upcoming closure of the hallowed spot for the past year and a half, since Vulcan Real Estate announced the $30.9 million purchase of two parcels at the corner of South Jackson and 23rd Avenue South, slated for redevelopment as a mid-rise apartment complex. The store has since become an oft-invoked symbol of gentrification and displacement in Seattle, as well as a model for how all this new development could go (some say Vulcan has done a good job of involving the community in discussions of what comes next).

Lots of patrons seem to have stories like Lewis Wilson’s: A Central District resident for the past 33 years, he’s been a Red Apple customer for almost as long, as have his now-grown children. “All the people that work here are like friends, like family,” he says, “because I’ve known them for 30-some years! I hate to see them go.” Store employees love the place, too; as Wilson suggests, many of them have worked at Red Apple on South Jackson for decades. One cashier tells me that the fact that one of his colleagues has only been working there for seven years makes her “the youngest one of us!”

The store’s official closure date is September 30, although it’s possible, employees say, that it will close sooner, if it sells out of all of its stock before then. The shelves now stand nearly empty. The barren produce section is stacked with boxes and ringed by caution tape. On a recent weekday afternoon, at least one patron murmured “heartbreaking” as she combed the vacant aisles.

And so, here, a homage in photos: A cherished icon on the eve of change.

Many patrons valued Red Apple because of its wide assortment of products. Photo by Sara Bernard

Many patrons valued Red Apple because of its wide assortment of products. Photo by Sara Bernard

Many patrons valued Red Apple because of its wide assortment of products. Photo by Sara Bernard

Many patrons valued Red Apple because of its wide assortment of products. Photo by Sara Bernard

Many patrons valued Red Apple because of its wide assortment of products. Photo by Sara Bernard

More in News & Comment

Redmond’s Neelam Chahlia crowned as Mrs. Washington America and competing for the national Mrs. America title on Aug. 26. Photo courtesy of Neelam Chahlia
Redmond’s Chahlia to compete for Mrs. America 2020 title

Mrs. Washington America winner says her journey embodies the ‘American Dream.’

Tanya Van Cuylenborg and Jay Cook. (Family photos)
Life in prison for 1987 killer of young Canadian couple

A judge sentenced William Talbott to life without parole for killing Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg.

Renton Police Officer Tanuj Soni has been charged with fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation and abuse of office. Photo courtesy of City of Renton
Court documents reveal details of alleged assault by a Renton police officer

Deputy Chief says RPD is performing an internal investigation

Seattle anchors future Renton water taxi

SECO leaders tell state they are ready to implement new ferries

Alaska Airlines to begin Everett-Spokane service on Nov. 4

It will be the carrier’s first in-state route and its 10th destination from Paine Field.

As his wife Heather looks on, John Norman gets a hug from his daughter Amber Nelson, and granddaughter Ashlee Nelson, right, after his replica of the Spirit of St. Louis flew for the first time from Arlington Municipal Airport on Sunday, July 28, 2019 in Arlington, Wash. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
This might be the best Spirit of St. Louis replica ever made

A plane like the one Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic logged its first flight in Arlington.

Sound Transit to rent warehouse space in Kent for light rail projects

Mainly a storage facility for parts, supplies for Northgate, Bellevue extensions

Soviet-era fighter jet from Paul Allen’s estate up for sale

The restored and flyable MiG-29 was formerly on display at a Paine Field aircraft museum.

Stevens Pass cleanup nets beer, jeans and a 20-year-old pass

Garbage is left behind when the snow melts. Nearly 150 people joined the annual event on Wednesday.

Most Read