Pike/Pine dives deep as Narwhal ready for debut ‘neath the Unicorn

Under construction (Image: Unicorn)

The density of Pike/Pine’s core nightlife economy will reach new depths next week as sub-surface venue Narwhal is ready to debut below its upstairs twin, the Unicorn.

CHS first told you about owners Paul Blake and Adam Heimstadt’s $290,000 plans to create a 5,000 square-foot second level to the kaleidoscope circus bar last spring including a second bar, a game room, a stage for live performances and a new staircase connecting the two levels.

Our pals at Seattle U’s Spectator break the news this week that the Narwhal is ready:

“Narwhal is the Unicorn on drugs,” said owner Adam Heimstadt. “It’s so much more intense down there.”


The 5,000 square foot venue doubles as a pinball venue equipped for boozers to partake in activities beyond just enjoying the spread of the second bar.

The back room on the east side, painted pink and black, will house 10 pinball games and 12 1980s arcade games.

To the left side of the bar, a claw arcade game called the Uni-claw sits, waiting to be filled with the crazy prizes that Heimstadt will conjure up.

The Spectator says you should save your quarters up for a June 1 debut.

Stairs to the Narwhal (Image: Unicorn)

The opening of the Narwhal comes weeks after another subterranean venue’s debut just down E Pike. Barboza, the new performance space and bar beneath Neumos, debuted earlier this month and provides the Neumos business family with a space to host smaller, more intimate — potentially more local — performances.

The emergence of these new, built-out underground spaces is another sign that this central portion of Pike/Pine is so chock full of activity and revenue potential that business owners are looking for ways to squeeze every last bit of action into the area. “Underground” music and dance activity has already been going on underground in the area. Now businesses are investing in the spaces. It’s not just bars and clubs — developer Liz Dunn has put her underground square footage to work as a co-working space at 12th and Pike. But there is also an element of opportunity presented by the old buildings remaining on the street. Blake told CHS part of the reason he and Heimstadt could afford to build Narwhal in the first place was the old basement space from the original 1916 building was rock solid and wouldn’t require a seismic upgrade. With much of the street level space filled on E Pike between Broadway and 12th, we’ll have our eye out for more activity below and above the surface.

The space as it looked last spring (Image: CHS)

Some of the finishings for the Narwhal (Image: Unicorn)

10 thoughts on “Pike/Pine dives deep as Narwhal ready for debut ‘neath the Unicorn

  1. This has got to stop! A perfectly fine working-class basement has been gentrified into a den of pleasure for the lower-middle-middle class. Capital Hill needs more non-chain funky independent basements. Go to Bellevue.

  2. How is making use of a 5,000 square feet empty basement gentrification? That’s a lot of space that was going to waste. Its not like they tore down a building to replace it with a condo. The Narwal has always been in their plans but they needed time to make that goal happen. Don’t be a hater to making use of a space they already have and paid for.

  3. I remember reading about this possibility way back when the Unicorn was about to take over the Satellite…I was soo excited for a pinball bar on the hill…then the unicorn turned into undergrad student central mixed with baby hipsters and I lost complete interest.

    looking forward to the pinball once again.

    Also, that was my favorite epic fail this week, the person who that the first comment was serious.