Capitol Hill’s By the Pound with its hidden warren of bars behind a deli counter was created with secrets in mind. The biggest one right now after only eight months of business at the E Olive Way food + drink venture is why it suddenly shut down this summer for what ownership says is a temporary closure.
“They aren’t closed permanently, just making some updates to the venue based on feedback from the community of local customers to better serve,” a rep tells CHS about the shutdown. “They are excited to reopen as quickly as possible with some new aspects to the venue.”
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CHS has asked for more information on the construction work and planned reopening but hasn’t heard back. Any planned construction will be light — or heavier work hasn’t yet been applied for with the city. A check of permitting activity at the address shows no new paperwork since the BTP signs were installed early this year.
And there are other reasons to wonder. The windows of the front deli component of the project are papered over and inside the counter space has been cleared out with only a clutter of leftover packaging and trash left behind. A real estate agent’s key lock box is attached to the patio gate outside. And the management of the venue owe around $11,000 in unpaid taxes — and now penalties — to the State of Washington. UPDATE 9/12/18: In our original report, CHS reported that state tax records indicate the company’s tax issues go back to its opening. The state cites the period ending February 28, 2018 as the start of the period of unpaid taxes. A representative for the company says it is not accurate that it has not paid its taxes but didn’t deny that BTP owes the state.
CHS is told the ownership of the venue will remain the same but other questions about the “construction upgrades” and the tax issues did not receive an answer. According to state corporation records, the company is registered to owners Rodney Wang, Shervin Roohparvar, and Katherine Benjamin.
CHS visited By the Pound in its first weeks in late 2017 as the high aspirations for a deli-fronted, modern-day speakeasy took shape in a long-empty space formerly home to Bleu Bistro’s Grotto. The club and bar-focused F2T Hospitality management company owned by Benjamin, Matthew Mead, and Ali Olyaie behind the project has also been maintaining an office on E Olive Way just up the block from the deli and bar. That company also operates the Alchemy cocktail bar and its restaurant sibling Vine and Spoon in West Seattle.
For now, what is going on at By the Pound, like its secret bar and hidden drink menus, will remain a mystery. But you might not have to wait long for the next clue. The marketing platform Yelp reports that BTP is slated to reopen next Tuesday, September 18th. Stay tuned.
UPDATE 9/12/18: BTP says we have it all wrong about the lock box — they use it to give employees and vendors access to the bar. The closure is no mystery, BTP tells CHS. “Because of demand, the team has chosen to physically expand our bar concept and utilize more of the space to facilitate more guests being able to experience our product and couldn’t remain open while doing it,” a statement from a representative for the bar reads.