High aspirations at By the Pound, Capitol Hill’s first deli counter with a secret bar

What if CHS told you a group of people expert at putting together Seattle’s DJ dance nights and building a party scene also wanted to create a space for contemplation, inspiration, spiritual enlightenment, and conversation over a good old fashioned? What if we told you that space would be secreted away behind a Capitol Hill deli counter and you would walk through a meat locker door to get there?

“If you want a great social space, there’s no greater aspiration — feeling warm, feeling comfortable, and having it kind of push you into conversation,” Sean Majors tells CHS about the lofty ideas and ideals behind By the Pound, a new “New York meets Seattle” deli counter business that is now open on E Olive Way at Harvard that has more going on behind the scenes.

Part of the crew behind F2T Hospitality, Majors took CHS on a tour of the newly opened venue this week even as construction continues to add even more space for hiding away and getting lost in big thoughts. “We don’t think of the hidden bar at BTP as a speakeasy,” F2T Hospitality’s Matt Mead said in the announcement of the deli and bar’s opening. “We’ve designed it as a space dedicated to free thought and the people advocating for humanity and social discourse. Each section of the space has been designed to reflect the aspects of our evolving society; revolutionaries, rebels, poets and humanitarians alike. We want the entire space to be a conversation piece while guests enjoy our menu and company.”

On its front, By the Pound is a deli and sandwich shop with pay by the pound offerings of “carefully crafted sandwiches, soups and salads made using locally-sourced ingredients.” The party in the back is headed by “Bar Director of Alchemy” Tony Larson who has created the venue’s “beverage program as the lead mixologist with signature cocktails such as Pound of Flesh (Bacon fat-washed whiskey, Pedro Jimenez, Demerara, Barrel Aged Bitters); The Surrealist (Single Malt Scotch, Tawny Port, Cherry Liqueur, Bitters, Smoked Gouda and a cherry) and much more.” In addition to the deli goods, “a full selection of plates, large and small” is available.

The space is an intellectual pursuit with the bar covered in words including a 21-foot bookcase and newspaper clippings covering the walls.

“We have hundreds of years of newspaper history to draw from,” Majors said. “This room has everything from Nietzsche, to Tupac, to Prince, to Toni Morrison, to RuPaul, to Jack Kerouac, to Kurt Vonnegut, to Liechtenstein on the wall. All those luminaries from all those fields are hovering above you while you’re having a sandwich, or a charcuterie, or an old fashioned.”

CHS first wrote about the project in March with the arrival of club-focused 1923 Management and its F2T Hospitality sibling in offices on E Olive Way just up the block from the deli and bar. In addition to what eventually became By the Pound, the group was also working on bringing a new menswear shop to the neighborhood.


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You might remember the deli and bar space as  the former home of Bleu Bistro’s Grotto which shuttered quietly in 2016.

With the corner kicked back into motion, the energy might not be about club lights and turntables but it is still high. By the Pound, with its “shout outs to movements and people” and “bacon washed bourbon” is an energetic undertaking. It’s the kind of thing that inspires Majors to describe a 60 gallon aquarium coming to one of the bar’s new rooms as giving the space a “kind of an underwater, exploration vibe.” It’s a little over the top. But you — and others — also might find the whole thing inspiring.

“I want it to be self policing,” Majors said, “so like minded people can be here and gather,”

By The Pound is located at 1801 E Olive Way. The deli is Sundays through Thursdays from 10 AM to midnight and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 AM to 4 AM. The bar opens Sundays through Thursdays from 3 PM to 2 AM and Fridays and Saturdays 3 PM to 4 AM. For more information, visit bythepounddeli.com.

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14 thoughts on “High aspirations at By the Pound, Capitol Hill’s first deli counter with a secret bar

  1. Whew! Not at those prices! Sandwich would either need to be huge or super delicious. I am not willing to find out. Good luck and hopefully there are lots of patrons not as frugal as I.

  2. Why does Seattle *do* Deli’s so bad? It’s cold cuts on bread. They could find much better success if they just offered a classic deli selection that was better than the typical Seattle bodega’s Boar’s Head cuts. What ever happened to Turkey? Pastrami? Corned beef on rye?

    • I get the impression this is meant to be more of a hipster nightlife spot than a real deli. Note the faux “fancy” Besides, not having a good deli or NY style pizza gives the east coast refugees something to reminisce about.

      Per the article, this place is for “If you want a great social space, there’s no greater aspiration — feeling warm, feeling comfortable, and having it kind of push you into conversation,”

      I have no idea what that means, but it’s a pretty lofty goal for a deli.

  3. It sounds unbearably pretentious.

    “The space is an intellectual pursuit with the bar covered in words including a 21-foot bookcase and newspaper clippings covering the walls.”

    “We’ve designed it as a space dedicated to free thought and the people advocating for humanity and social discourse. Each section of the space has been designed to reflect the aspects of our evolving society; revolutionaries, rebels, poets and humanitarians alike. We want the entire space to be a conversation piece while guests enjoy our menu and company.”

    “a 60 gallon aquarium coming to one of the bar’s new rooms as giving the space a “kind of an underwater, exploration vibe.”

    • You are so right. Except for businesses that hold actual events/meetups (story telling, gaming), the whole “community” 3rd place thing is crap since devices separate people more than bring them together. That said, even before electronics, people still would often just keep to themselves, but there were definitely more conversations among strangers.

    • I agree. Mobile devices and smartphones might be useful at times, but they are a major negative as far as people actually relating to each other in a real way. I think the negatives outweigh the positives.

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