Clients and business associates are distancing themselves from Pike/Pine nightlife entrepreneur David Meinert in the wake of accusations of sexual misconduct and rape reported by KUOW.
“This situation is heartbreaking,” Joey Burgess tells CHS. “David has real issues and will be dealing with them.”
Burgess is co-owner of 11th Ave club Grim’s with Meinert and Jason Lajeunesse. Meinert, meanwhile, is also an investor in Burgess’s neighboring Queer/Bar.
In a message to CHS this weekend, Burgess said that Meinert is “stepping away” from “our company.”
Effective immediately, David Meinert is stepping away from operations and management of our Company. Personally, I’m trying to get my thoughts together and process everything. However, right now my only focus is on my employees, how they are coping and how to support them.
Lajeunesse tells CHS that Burgess’s message includes his business relationship with Meinert. According to Lajeunesse, he and Meinert own the company which holds Lost Lake and the Comet tavern, as well as the shares in Grim’s, and Guild Seattle, the company that manages the venues. “He has no interest in any of my other businesses,” Lajeunesse said. Lajeunesse is part of the ownership of Neumos and produces the annual Capitol Hill Block Party.
UPDATE: Burgess tells CHS Meinert is out at Gay Bar:
After learning of allegations we immediately began exploring options to exit out David from his initial investment in Queer/Bar. Even though David was in no way involved in the decision making or day to day operation of the bar we felt that this was our only course of action. As of yesterday we have reached an agreement and David is no longer an investor or in any way affiliated with the amazing business and community resource our employees and team has made Queer/Bar become. This agreement cements my husband Murf Hall and myself as the sole owner and operators of Queer/Bar with no other parties involved.
We asked Lajeunesse if Meinert’s status with the bars and Lost Lake would change following the accusations.
“Well, his status has changed already,” Lajeunesse writes. “He is no longer working in an active manger/owner capacity, not in the office or on site. As far as ownership changes, I can’t comment on that at this time.”
The companies involved are longtime CHS advertisers.
KUOW’s report detailing the encounters between Meinert and five women “alleging a range of disturbing behavior by Meinert” over a fourteen year period between 2001 and 2015 has shaken the Pike/Pine nightlife scene.
It also has put the politically-inclined Meinert’s associates in elected offices on the defensive — King County Executive Down Constantine, for one, has vowed to return $5,000 in Meinert campaign contributions.
Meinert denied the specific allegations of rape and sexual assault in a lengthy response on Facebook. “I am sorry to the people I have hurt, and that my behavior has also impacted many people around me – my daughter, her mother, my girlfriend, family, friends, and the many amazing people who work for and with me, who I care deeply about,” he wrote.
Many feel the denial and apologies have not been enough.
Friday, Meinert’s music management company lost its first client in the fallout from the accusations as the band Hey Mareilles announced it is dropping its relationship with Meinert’s Onto Entertainment:
(2/2) Onto Entertainment most recently has been our management company. We’re working on a path forward, but know that path will not include David Meinert.
— Hey Marseilles (@heymarseilles) July 21, 2018
In addition to the music management company, and his co-ownership and investment in Pike/Pine venues, Meinert is also owner of the 5-Point Cafe in Belltown, and recently announced he had sold his share of Big Mario’s as he gets ready to open his food+drink investment in the ground-floor commercial component of the Gridiron condo project across from CenturyLink. Meinert also is a partner in Seattle Event Solutions, a company that provides food and drink management for AEG Presents, the live event division of the global sporting and music entertainment presenter. Meinert described the deal as taking over the Showbox bars when we talked to him about the business in 2016. Meinert’s company won the deal after Anheuser-Busch was fined $150,000 for exerting “undue influence” to gain a beer monopoly at Showbox, Showbox SoDo, and Marymoor Park. In 2014, meanwhile, CHS reported on Meinert’s I-502 marijuana venture, Torch Northwest.
The situation involves lives and livelihoods beyond Meinert, who does not face criminal charges or any yet filed lawsuits over the allegations.
“These three businesses are so many more people than him,” Lajeunesse said of the Pike/Pine venues he has partnered in with Meinert. “In this equation, he has business partners and we have around 100 or so employees also affected by this. We are trying to prioritize them and the health of the company at the moment, and taking steps to do that.”
For those who came forward as victims, the KUOW story on the accusations recounts psychological damage, panic attacks, depression, and anger suffered by the women. One of the accusers described a decade of shame of burying away what had happened to her.
To repair what can be repaired, much more, is needed for the women who came forward. There is no clear route to justice — or even something as simple as taking a dollar out of Dave Meinert’s pocket by not drinking at his bars.
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