There is never-ending change on Capitol Hill but the past makes a stand every now and then. How you deal with the legacy can sometimes be the difference between win and fail. As Gamma Ray Games enters its fifth year of business on Capitol Hill, the retail business and its counterpart E Pine Raygun Lounge are combining forces to make the best of the cold, hard, historical reality — 501 E Pine, as far as City of Seattle rules sees it, is a building made for retail not restaurants or bars.
Gamma Ray owner Eric Logan announced the planned changes in a blog post last week:
By the end of the month the Raygun Lounge will be an all-ages space(!) with significantly expanded operating hours. Yes, we will still be serving a range of beer,cider and wine. Yes, we will be crafting an expanded menu of lite bites and snacks to serve our new daytime crowd. And yes, we will continue to host a growing range of weekly, monthly and special events.
Logan and staff will also move the Gamma Ray Shop up the Hill from its original E Pine and Crawford location. “Starting Tuesday, July 15th we’re bringing back the synchronicity of the original shop so you will no longer have to walk up and down the street and split your tab in order to get your favorite gaming supplies while you’re playing, drinking and eating with your friends,” the announcement reads.
The moves come as the businesses that took over the 501 E Pine space a few years back have learned that despite how its earlier, legendary tenant had put the building to work, any new efforts to run a bar or kitchen from the address runs afoul of zoning rules. Much loved Travelers ran what could be best described as a store and cafe from the building until its exit from Capitol Hill in 2012. But by 2013, Logan’s Raygun Lounge and gaming hall and neighboring Black Coffee Co-op drew the attention of the Department of Planning and Development as inspectors began detailing expensive changes like new exits or limitations on capacity.
CHS checked in with Black Coffee last year as the collective wrestled with the challenges of combining its social ideals with day to day operations. According to DPD documents, inspectors have been working with the co-op this year to resolve issues over capacity and elements like “cooking appliances” in the cafe’s kitchen. A shared and apparently under-resourced bathroom facility in the building will also be getting an upgrade, Logan says. While the DPD details on things like capacity, exits and appliances might seem ticky-tack, they are often the elements by which the city regulates the use of space — and changes can cost thousands of dollars to complete at a level that satisfies use requirements.
CHS has asked Black Coffee founder Scott Davis about the situation but we haven’t yet heard back about what changes the co-op will be able to tackle to either meet DPD’s requests or change how it runs things on E Pine.
In the meantime, the Gamma Ray gang is ready to celebrate five years of business.
“Capitol Hill’s tabletop gaming community will come through this transition stronger, more robust, and better served than ever before,” Logan said.