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.