Post navigation

Prev: (08/08/12) | Next: (08/09/12)

Rumba ready to shine as part of Capitol Hill’s Melrose archipelago

Lower Pike is not an island but come Labor Day, you’ll find a neighborhood rum bar there putting on its finishing touches. Rumba, a new project by Travis Rosenthal neighboring his restaurant Tango, is set to open in early September. Its opening will come as the area around lower Pike/Pine undergoes a sea change.

“The Melrose development has brought new energy to our little neighborhood and I count over 400 apartment units being built within 2-3 blocks of Tango/Rumba in the next two years,” Rosenthal tells CHS. “But, if this is an island, I’m happy to be stranded here. In fact, Tango just had its busiest month ever last March, so at least it’s not a deserted island! Which is a good thing because building a bar is not cheap. ;)”

Don’t feel too sorry for Rosenthal. The restauranteur and manager Kate Perry spent what CHS is sure was a grueling two weeks in July touring the Caribbean on the hunt for sunshine — and, of course, rum.  UPDATE: OK. Feel awful for Rosenthal. We’re informed he didn’t get to travel along with Perry and her friend on the island junket. CHS regrets the misunderstanding.

CHS first reported on the project taking over the space vacated by the exit of street fashion dealer Goods back in May.

“We are excited to see what happens and to be the first rum-oriented bar in such a fantastic cocktail town,” Perry told us at the time.

Old salts in the neighborhood might remember the location was once home to the Nikko Gardens tavern — or so CHS has been told. Some of the comings and goings of the ’70s and ’80s might as well be ancient history when it comes to information available online.

Perry emerges from a cane field. Research! (Image: Rumba)

Rumba seems to have the ingredients to create a few new traditions.

“Rumba is definitely inspired by a Cuban bar from the 50’s, a few elements include dark amber shelves, fans with leather belts, and hand painted bathroom tiles,” Rosenthal writes. “The retro Caribbean sea colored booths and bar stools are very fun, the little details are very important to me. We will also have dominoes and dice, so it will be a great space to just sit, relax (with a delicious rum cocktail), and play a game with friends.”

Meanwhile the neighborhood — the Melrose neighborhood — seems to be settling into a new rhythm around the bustling market. Rumba and Tango should help it keep the beat.

Here’s more on the coming soon venture from Rumba:

Rumba, Seattle’s First Rum Bar, Opening in September!
“To be labeled bourbon, it has to be made with a certain percentage of corn and aged in acertain kind of barrel. But excessive regulation is not the spirit of America. Unrestricted experimentation is. Rum embodies America’s laissez-faire attitude: it is whatever it wants to be.”-Wayne Curtis (And A Bottle of Rum)

By the time Rumba opens early next month, Seattle’s all-too-brief summer will be long gone. The kids go back to school, ValueVillage sells out of the best sweaters, and Scarecrow’s werewolf section quickly becomes your best bet for Friday night. But as our city settles into another ten months of gray, Travis Rosenthal’s new rum bar gives Seattleities a chance for sun year-round. This is Rumba: a bright spot in an overcast city. How can you care about clouds when you’re eating baked empanadas and sipping a rum cocktail?

Rumba is Travis’s second bar/restaurant on Capitol Hill; he also owns Tango next door. With the help of manager Kate Perry, Travis hopes Rumba will become Capitol Hill’s oasis for the seasonally depressed and rum deprived. Rumba will feature both classic and modern rum cocktails as well as delicious Caribbean inspired food prepared by Chef Daniel Perez and Pastry Chef Joanna Chau, the talent behind Tango.

In order to prepare themselves for this venture, Travis sent Kate on a two week long journey through the Caribbean. She discovered not only some of the best rum in the world, but a deep culture surrounding the production and consumption of this tremendously varied and fascinating spirit. To learn more about Kate’s adventures and get all the latest on Rumba’s opening, check us out on facebook (, follow us at @RumbaSeattle, or take a peek at our website

1112 Pike Street Seattle, WA


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

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Anthony Rizz
11 years ago

If this bar is anything like Tango, it’s going to be ABSOLUTELY fantastic place to throw back some Caribbean rum inspired drinks and drown my sorrows away. I look forward to seeing the extensive rum drink offerings partly inspired by Kate’s journey this past summer; it sounds like a fun yet relaxing place to hang out in Capitol Hill. I look forward to a slice of the Caribbean right in my backyard. Best of luck!

Anthony Rizz