You can stop emailing us now — Details on The Hillside Bar


New_Elite, originally uploaded by Lookin4TallGuys.

The guys from Hooverville are about to bring new life to a shuttered Capitol Hill watering hole.

The first question people are asking about The Hillside Bar as it replaces gay Capitol Hill institution The Elite — queer or straight?

“Just a bar,” longtime Hooverville barkeep and new Hillside partner Sean McAteer tells CHS.

McAteer is teaming up with Hooverville founders Todd Gean and Billy Kincaid on the new E Olive Way project. It’s his first time in an ownership role but not his first rodeo. He’s been tending bar for a decade.


CHS reported on the end of The Elite earlier this summer when the bar suddenly closed amid a swirl of tax issues.

Our attempts to reach The Elite’s long-time owner Robert Bault were not successful. After acquiring the old-time Broadway gay bar, Bault moved The Elite to E Olive Way in 2008. It may not be gone forever. But The Elite won’t be coming back at 1520 E Olive Way.

This week found McAteer hard at work on the Hillside’s buildout and overhaul of the former Elite space. The dividing wall is being ripped out to achieve a more open space that will have a ’50s kitsch look and a small tiki room put together with some of the material from the Elite’s old fixtures and bar. Unlike its days as the Elite when sports played an important role in the bar’s culture, Hillside will only have one television. The goal is 18 pull handles for beer behind the larger bar. The old pool table, however, is staying exactly where it is and there will be room for pinball. The food plan involves enough to keep you thirsty but you might expect some similar relationships to the Montana-Dinette sandwich mash-up amongst the E Olive Way neighbors.

Though the signs have gone up on awnings out front — generating a barrage of tips and inquiries to CHS — The Hillside Bar likely won’t be ready for business until December, McAteer said.

He said he’s learned a lot being a part of bars over the years — especially one lesson key to any business success.

“Save your money,” McAteer said before heading back to work constructing his new bar.

Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

23 thoughts on “You can stop emailing us now — Details on The Hillside Bar

  1. Advice to the new owners: Change the font on the awning.

    The awning looks very generic, almost like a dry cleaner or a crappy bodega on the ground floor of an apartment building.

  2. As Hotness noted, the Elite was a reptile house at the best of times. However, I’m disappointed that we’re losing another gay bar to a default straight bar. Sure, sure, it’s “just a bar,” but within the heteronormative hegemony, that means it’s a straight bar.

  3. I am pretty sure it will be a mixed bar and open to everyone. Even most “gay bars” on Cap Hill are mixed, which makes the dance floor way more fun. The last remaining exclusively gay bars on Cap Hill generally have underwear parties and/or gay porn on the walls. For some reason those bars aren’t quite as mixed.

  4. Agreed! It’s 2012. Why some people still see the need to have ‘gay exclusive’ bars when my straight friends are just as comfortable at a gay bar or vice versa for we gays is beyond me. I don’t live a segregated life and wouldn’t go anywhere my straight friends wouldn’t be comfortable going anyway. Just glad this space is reopening.

  5. are you f—ing kidding me, Caos?! spoken like a het who’s grown up with typical straight privilege. Want a straight bar? GO ANYWHERE IN TOWN.

    You’re welcome in our gay bars, but treat it like you would a biker bar or a leather bar or a snooty bar. If you can’t hack the fact that it might be identified as a bar catering to a group that you’re not part of, stay the hell out.

  6. Almost anywhere else I’d agree with you, but this is Capitol Hill. It’s good that there are bars specifically targeted toward gays, but there’s certainly not any kind of discrimination or sense of unwelcomeness toward homosexuals in any of them. (If there were they wouldn’t still be in business. We don’t like gay-haters here.) Heteronormative hegemony is about the last phrase I would use to describe almost anywhere on the hill, “straight” bars included.

  7. That said, based on my understanding of the history of gay bars, and particularly our locale, I think having plenty of gay bar options is a great thing. But we shouldn’t be too concerned about losing one. There are still plenty available, and several that seem to have opened in the past 5 years or so, so pigeon-holing a location as always having to be gay or straight seems like it would be a mistake. Let it be what the owner wants it to be–if it’s a good bar it should find success.

  8. While I agree there are few (if any) bars on CapHill where gays would not be welcome, it’s silly to pretend an accepting straight bar is the same thing . As many tolerant, accepting, sweet and cutie straight guys as there are, sometimes they might just want to be in a bar where they can focus on hitting on the tasty girls instead of dealing with gay boys hitting on them or trying to figure out whether they’re straight or gay. That doesn’t mean they’re homophobic or anything. And lots of gay guys would rather not have to waste time barking up the wrong tree.

    Seeing straight people in bars covered with gay porn doesn’t prove anything other than that (as guests) they’re respectful of the vibe the bar caters to. Same way you’d expect gay people in straight bars to be respectful to the predominant vibe of that bar too.

    Having said that— if the demand or the need was so great, wouldn’t the Elite still be there?

    I know one of the new owners personally, and I’m quite sure it’ll be a place that anyone can hang out and no shit is tolerated. But if this bar is anything like Hooverville, make no mistake– it’ll be straight. Unless the crowd determines differently. Which I’m sure will be fine with the owners too, cuz business is business.

  9. Actually, most likely it would not be there, xx. Kay getting involved with laying out and running the place was the kiss of death long before they unlocked the door for the first time on Olive. The best thing for survival of any establishment in that location is for them to do what Hillside’s owners are doing, and that’s to open the place up so folks can move around.

    And no, property management doesn’t care if it’s a gay bar or not, as previously mentioned. They just want the rent paid and a decent place without gang activity

  10. It IS 2012 (almost 2013). And for the record, I like my gay bars GAY GAY GAY. I don’t like hanging with 23 and 24 year old hipster chicks that are solely worried if we like them and their shoes and bridal showers. The gays have manners for the most part, the straights and their shovey me me me attitudes. There is a place called Pioneer Square and Belltown for them, or now, Belltown – east as I call Pike/Pine.

  11. Lets keep the fight for equality for Ref 74 and not worry about if a place to buy booze is Gay or Straight. Is it really worth the fight and who cares. I for one want equal access to get drunk at any place Gay or Straight and I want the same opportunity and when I pass out at last call I want to know that everyone has the same opportunity to get drunk at any establishment Gay or Straight.

  12. I do. I love that everyone wants to paint this section of The Hill as evolved, but the hate crimes, bigotry and crimes toward the gay community still run rampant. A year ago yesterday I was jumped 3 blocks from that location by 3 guys who were done with a night at Kiki and a shot or two at their buddy’s apartment. Now there are three new building filling up with younger hipsters and gamers. Not gonna be an easy magnet for the “community” to mix. The Elite had a great and consistent clientele. They didn’t go out of business because it was gay oriented, they just had a mismanagement of funds. The “mixed” bars that have done the best and suffered the least bloodshed have promoted themselves as “gay friendly” NOT “mixed.” Considering owner orientation, the vibe of the neighborhood and the possible return of former customers – the homo happy promo is the better ideal to project than pool hall, pinball, beer bar for the mixture of the block. Not my cup of brewskie!

  13. Yeah it’s all young hipsters and gamers. There certainly aren’t any gay or lesbians moving into those new buildings. Oh no. Not at all.

    Sorry you got jumped, though. Kiki didn’t attract the nicest clientele nor did its previous incarnation. There’s always been a bridge and tunnel presence on the hill at least during my 16 years up here. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

    Also, I’m a homo who likes beer and pinball and I’m stoked to have the Hooverville folks opening up a spot here.

    Good riddance to the elite.