The Elite shuttered on E Olive Way — ‘Re-opening soon’

Capitol Hill is down a gay bar this week. Longtime player in the gay Seattle watering hole scene and occasional host to Sounders, etc., The Elite is closed this sunny Thursday with black covering the windows and a hand-written cardboard sign announcing the space will re-open soon. Accompanying that sign? A notice from the state department of revenue that the bar’s owner owes more than $30,000 in taxes, etc. to Washington.

Our attempts to reach The Elite’s long-time owner Robert Bault have so far come up empty. After acquiring the old-time Broadway gay bar, Bault moved The Elite to E Olive Way in 2008. He told Seattle Gay News he had to chase off a cadre of drug dealers to make the move work:

In years past under previous ownership, the old bar had become a site for drug trade, but the current owner, Robert Bault, has eliminated that activity, even surviving threats to his life from them as they retaliated, he tells. “I came close to death,” he says, from attacks from the druggies he was cleaning out from the old bar after he took over. He and Kay, the new bar’s manager, say they’re putting their efforts toward creating a space where patrons can feel safe and relaxed, play games, watch TV, use the Wi-Fi, follow the bar’s baseball team, the “Tsunami’s”, and meet other friendly patrons. The message they want to bring to the community follows their slogan: “Enter as strangers – leave as friends”.

The specifics of the Elite’s financial issues aren’t known but a series of tax warrants documents a lengthy period of recently unpaid taxes. CHS found no record of a transfer of the location’s liquor license or any work planned for tenant improvements at the E Olive Way location sandwiched between a money lending chain and the popular Dinette.

E Olive Way has seen an uptick in nightlife activity in the years since the Elite’s move. The Social nightclub and EVO Tapas recently opened at the top of the way, Tommy Gun debuted in 2011, with Montana injecting new energy into the street late last year. Meanwhile, Starbucks made a major investment in upgrading the famed “Gaybucks” while Crumble & Flake has given Capitol Hill it’s best — and perhaps only – reason to get up before 8a… ever.

Not everything on E Olive Way has been boom. Last month, CHS reported on the final days at Faire Gallery. Faire’s closure has been part of a small wave of turnover on the Hill to start the summer. Chao Bistro can be included along with video store Third Man’s closure (and liquidation sale), and the final weeks of Travelers on E Pine.

We’re checking on what comes next for The Elite. Late last year, we heard a series of rumors about a new bar in that stretch of E Olive Way. Whether coincidence or somebody letting the cat from the bag early, the long-time gay hangout will be dark for now.

19 thoughts on “The Elite shuttered on E Olive Way — ‘Re-opening soon’

  1. I’ve can’t think of a joint that’s ever posted a “re-opening soon” sign actually do so. There are lots of nails in the coffin at this stage.

  2. The Elite was suffering from a decline in traffic, and Kay could be downright unfriendly. I’m not sure that all is well with the newer competitors. Nordahl’s Evo is getting skewered on Yelp and employees are fleeing when paychecks don’t show up.

  3. about this time of year back in 1996 the same thing happened to the Elite. Under that owner, the place was shut down for almost a week due to unpaid taxes. At that time, there was also the Elite 2 on Olive where the smokeshop is across from CC’s and there was the Encore on 11th where Purr and Crypt are.

    They were fortunate enough to survive that one. As poorly as the space is laid out in this location, I’m not sure they have enough business base to survive it this time.

  4. I do not understand why this and many other businesses get into trouble for not paying taxes. Don’t they know that this is monitored by state employees and they eventually will be found out? If they were in deficit financially, I’m sure the state would work with them on their tax liability to help them get current without undue burden. Instead, the businesses just stop paying taxes…not a sustainable business practice.

  5. With regulations changing all the time with what is taxed, it’s easy for a small business with a just bookkeeper to miss some part of a tax that they didn’t think applied to them. Take that dance area tax several places got hit with in the last year. It could just be something like that rather then the owner didn’t want to pay the State.

  6. Being a small business owner myself, I have to say that being six months behind on paying your State Taxes is totally irresponsible. The business has collected those taxes from it’s customers (sales tax). The State has made it very easy to pay your taxes online. Robert is a longtime business owner and knows how to do this. He has a history of failing to pay his taxes. Failure to pay their business taxes is theft in my opinion.

  7. Perhaps I’m guilty of skimming the article, but it wasn’t clear to me what taxes were overdue. I was trying not to assume the worst since I’ve never been a patron of the establishment and don’t know anything about the owner personally. I agree with you completely that a willful failure to pay taxes is wrong.

  8. WA State Dept of Revenue = Sales & Use Taxes + B&O Taxes. Labor & Industries and Unemployment taxes are owed to different depts.

    Getting ready to file my own monthly state taxes which are due by the 25th…

  9. What’s profoundly stupid is that you’ve never heard it before, since people have been calling it that– or The Big Gay Starbucks– for years.

  10. Being $30,000 behind on state taxes owed is not a good sign. I would say the Elite will not be returning soon unless the owner is lucky. Sad….

  11. I don’t agree with any of that. The bar had steady people who came in, it was a very friendly place and maybe you were just a rude customer. I’ve gone there for over 2 years and they have been nothing but nice to my husband and I. I have never had a problem with them.

  12. They were playing catchup from the get go after months of problems getting permits.

    We stopped going there because not only kay but her girlfriend as well were not to friendly. We would walk by and look to see if they were there and no matter what day or time it was they were there usally sitting at the bar watching the bartenders. Anyway, maybe robert will make a comeback and open a small tavern again like the old elite without kay. That would be cool!

  13. If I remember correctly, Robert, the current owner went into that new location on Olive Way and began to make some major interior structural changes to that existing space; his tax problems would seem to be part of pattern because The Elite was shuttered for some time, before the space was finally reopened, fines were paid and the proper permits were filed and approved by the city…then after several months the newer Elite finally opened to favorable reviews.
    Too bad about the closure; the place could be very friendly and welcoming and then again, not friendly at all.

  14. Alex Veltri the original Broadway Elite owner mus be turning over in his grave. I was a habitué of the Broadway Elite for years. with manager Gil Taylor, also no longer with us,as are many of the old customers of that day. I remember the days after Alex bought the Elite for $5,000 or so. There were bullet holes in the bar and one of the
    coolers.so it was not a safe bar prior to the Elite. Innate never been to the new Elite or other bars that moved from Capitol Hill.
    Lenny Larson