Post navigation

Prev: (08/16/11) | Next: (08/16/11)

What’s really going on at Rosebud?

Last week, an order to vacate was posted on the front of E Pike’s Rosebud Restaurant and Bar as customers looked on and wondered what was happening to one of the oldest surviving restaurants on Capitol Hill. Todd Nordahl who has owned the Rosebud since the beginning of the year wants those customers to know this.

“The Rosebud is not going anywhere,” he tells CHS.

Nordahl says the order to vacate over more than $11,000 in unpaid rent is the result of a dispute between the new restaurant owner and the people who have owned 719 E Pike since 2005.

“The owner has been less than supportive of having a type of an establishment that is trying new things and entertainment,” Nordahl said. He also declined to go into some matters as he says the situation seems to be headed for a legal battle.

“There are three sets of lawyers here,” Nordahl said. In the mix, Nordahl, former owner Robert Sondheim and Best Block, LLC’s Mark Chambers and Oda Egeland and was purchased for $3.2 million in January 2005, according to King County records.

Though Nordahl declined to go into specifics, CHS has learned that Chambers and Egeland have thrown the lease Nordahl says he has for the space into question and, according to Nordahl, are insisting any deal for the restaurant was only forged with previous owner Sondheim, not Nordahl.

There is no lawsuit — yet.

We’ve sent notes to Chambers and Egeland asking for details from them about their side of the situation but have not yet heard back. We will update if we learn more.

Nordahl says the problems stem from his efforts to reinvigorate Rosebud and add special events and nightly entertainment to the mix. The problem, Nordahl says, is it’s working. “It has been a shock — because there were actually people in the bar,” Nordahl said.

The resulting increase in night activity and noise — and business — has caused concern for some of the people living in apartments above the Rosebud, Nordahl says. Chambers also operates a business for short term vacation rentals in some of the units above the restaurant.

“The owner of the building wants a much quieter environment,” Nordahl said.

The result could end up in a legal battle over the lease — or with some king of agreement worked out.

Nordahl says this isn’t a situation like the circumstances CHS reported on around Varro where Rosebud can’t make its rent because of poor business. “If the landowner is persistent and doesn’t want to recognize the lease, we might have to make other plans,” Nordahl said.

“This is a place that has been here for a long time.”

Seattlest was first to report that a notice was seen posted on Rosebud’s door documenting unpaid rent for their 719 E Pike location.

You can learn more at

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

19 thoughts on “What’s really going on at Rosebud?

  1. But it’s very important to remember: Commercial leases are NOT residential leases, and you do not have the same rights. All of your rights are spelled out in the lease. I don’t know the circumstances of the disagreement, but if withholding rent is not a valid recourse in commercial situations unless you’re trying to get thrown out. If this indeed is what’s happening, tread lightly, you may find a new lock on the door and shutdown with your only recourse in superior court.

  2. it would be a real shame if a long-standing business washed out because of lease issues.

    I wonder if Nordahl approached the building owners about adding entertainment before he did it.

  3. “The owner of the building wants a much quieter environment,” Nordahl said.


    Seriously? Did the new owner ever visit Capitol Hill before buying the building??

    I used to live near there on Boyleston at Union. I knew when it was 2 a.m. every night with hordes of intoxicated people shouting, often in glee, as they stumbled to their cars from the many bars in the area. I knew what I was getting into, and sometimes I was one of the revelears. If you want quiet then move to the suburbs, sheesh.

  4. the owners have owned the building for 6 years. I’m pretty sure they knew what they were getting into having a restaurant with a back patio and open front windows. It’s fair for them to want to negotiate about adding in live music, which is a different level of noise.

    And “if you don’t like it, move to the suburbs!” is fast becoming the Seattle version of Godwin’s Law

  5. My friend and I actually were at Varro in its waning days and talked with the then head bartender about what was going on with Varro. Knowing this, and knowing Rosebud (being a long time patron and friend), I agree with Todd that it’s not the same situation. Varro couldn’t decide what they wanted to be, gay or straight, Italian food, Ameri-talian food, etc. Although not confirmed, I was informed the owners didn’t live here and wanted a quick turn on their investment.

    I am positive Rosebud has the potential to pull out of this with what it has: great space, great staff, wonderful kitchen, and an excellent location.

  6. Noise complaints from people living in the apartments above?

    So you want your cake and to eat it too. You want the luxury of living near popular bars and restaurants as long as it doesn’t get too loud — unless you’re the one in said bar or restaurant? Welcome to Capitol Hill.
    Check your priorities, people. Sheesh.

  7. Does anyone know what happened to the long-time bartender, Robert, with the thick New York accent? He usually worked the afternoon and early evening shift. He was at the Rosebud forever. I know a lot of people went to the Rosebud because of his sense of humor, sarcasm, and wit.

  8. Well, the apartments above are hardly “luxury” units (okay, I know what you meant by that!). But honestly, I would think that the bar across the street with a roof deck makes a LOT more noise than Rosebud (even with entertainment). I used to live a block away from those apartments and there was plenty of noise day and night. I would never have lived in that building because I knew it would be incredibly noisy on that corner.

    It’s one thing to be living in a quiet neighborhood then have a noisy bar move in, and another to live in a building that has had bars around it for years. It sounds to me like the owners just want Rosebud out, and the noise issue is just an excuse. Much like the owners of the building that houses Neighbors claiming that they never knew it was a dance bar. Seriously???!!

  9. If this is really what’s going on (the noise issue), the building owners ought to be careful. This could be one of those “careful what you ask for, you just might get it” deals. We all know how many dozens of new restaurants and bars have just opened. And there’s a LOT of new commercial space available on CapHill now, lots of it going begging. If this results in Rosebud moving (or worse), good luck renting that space out. There’s plenty of other space to compete with, and a lot of it in probably much newer condition.

  10. “And “if you don’t like it, move to the suburbs!” is fast becoming the Seattle version of Godwin’s Law”

    Great comment! I think the either-or argument of Partytown vs. ‘The suburbs’ as the only two living options in Seattle is one that gets more and more passé each year. Capitol Hill is not just a neighborhood for partying kids anymore (really, it never was just that). The more population density increases and a more diverse a group of people live on the Hill, the more there will have to come up with workable solutions. It’s not 1991.

    However, it is a good idea to get a real picture of your immediate neighborhood’s nighttime noise situation before you move in. And bars that move into primarily residential streets (like Redwood did) need to make serious efforts to control noise.

    I am generally pro-Rosebud, so I hope this gets sorted out.

  11. Robert left because of the less-than-desirable goings-on under Todd’s watch. His plan was to take some time off and find another gig around the Hill. If I had the money, I’d open my own place just so I could hire him. I know many regulars at Rosebud (me being one of them) who left when he did.

  12. I wonder if the vacation rentals in the apartments are allowed under city code? The elektra condominium behind the cconvention center had several owners who tried to rent out units as vacation rentals, and the city shut them down to to an unallowed usage of the building.

  13. When I read the first write-ups on Varro, I remember reading that the owners envisioned opening this “concept” bar/restaurant/etc. which they planned to replicate, franchise, whatever you want to call it- basically build, open, and sell off as s turnkey business to investors. Something like that, anyway. I remember being skeptical it would work. It isn’t working so well for people trying to flip houses anymore, either.

  14. I live in one of the apartments in question above the Rosebud, and I’ll just say that Rosebud is the least problematic late-night “noise concern” in the area. And the apartments are really nice!

  15. Honestly, the problem is with the Rosebud. They aren’t paying their rent on time as they should be, and they’re trying to avoid the issue and blame it on the noise problem. I live on this block, and the Rosebud’s noise isn’t nearly as bad as the HG Lodge across the street. I had a friend who was a bartender at the Rosebud, and she quit after the new ownership because her paychecks bounced when she tried to cash them. Since that time, a lot of longtime workers at the Rosebud (like Robert, for example) have quit as well. Bottom line is Rosebud needs to get their shit together.

  16. Robert was the best. My wife and I stopped going to Rosebud once we figured out he had left. I hate to say this because Rosebud was the place where we met and where we used to hang out most of the time, but that place has seriously gone downhill since the new ownership.

  17. I’ve lived in noisy cities for almost my whole life…but I get the apartment tenants plight. Living ACROSS from a nightclub is very different from living ABOVE a nightclub. Especially when that nightclub isn’t really a nightclub but a restaurant trying to be a nightclub. I’ve been in the Rosebud recently and have noticed how loud their music is. It was barely 5pm and I could barely hear my friends across the table. I doubt the Rosebud is outfitted with the same noise proof materials as a traditional club since it is technically just a restaurant. Without the proper soundproofing it probably sounds more like the tenants are living IN a nightclub.