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Capitol Hill food+drink | After eight-year ride, Bus Stop seeks new driver

Opening night 2008 at the Bus Stop

Opening night 2008 at the Bus Stop

Over the weekend, the Capitol Hill social network reported that a neighborhood favorite was about to close. The Bus Stop — as we know and love it — will shut down at the end of the month. But it’s probably not going away.

“Within 12 hours, we talked to an interested buyer. If I had my druthers, I’d prefer to sell to a friend or somebody in the industry who I respect what they do,” co-owner Gary Zinter tells CHS.

He says he’s already heard from five or six seriously interested parties about taking the Bus Stop over. Selling out, however, was not why Capitol Hill resident Zinter and his husband — and Bus Stop manager Rodney Shrader have decided to step aside after an eight year run.

“It was the perfect time as our licenses came up [for renewal],” Zinter said. “My partner runs the place every day and it was just time.”

E Pine in the "old days" (Image: Joe Mabel via Wikimedia)

E Pine in the “old days” (Image: Joe Mabel via Wikimedia)

Zinter said a similar need for a change of gear lead to the opening of the bar in the first place in its E Pine incarnation.

“We opened in the beginning of 2005. I decided I wanted a break from day job. Kind of like a breakout,” Zinter said.

“I’m not gong to open a shop because I don’t shop. But I do go to bars.”

The result was the simple, straightforward and totally sincere Bus Stop. Zinter said after watching so many other places with first-time owners struggle, he set out to hire experienced people to shape the bar and make it work. The recipe set the Bus Stop on the road to success.

“The fact we were able to stay open for eight years is kind of a big deal,” Zinter said

After its first years in business, Zinter knew the Bus Stop was popular but he didn’t get a sense of the place it had hacked into Capitol Hill culture until the bar’s final days in its E Pine home before the forced relocation to E Olive Way. “People were coming in a lot because they wanted to come in before it closed,” Zinter says. “One person at the bar said, ‘I know you don’t know me but I met my husband here.'”

Leaving E Pine, though involuntary, was also Zinter and the Bus Stop’s style. “Even on Pine we were never in the heart of things,” he said. Olive Way, he found, was a blessing with a growing list of fun places to hang out but without the growing crowd of strangers roaming the streets of Pike/Pine.

The Bus Stop prior to its 2008 debut on E Olive Way where it replaced a nail salon (Image: CHS)

The Bus Stop prior to its 2008 debut on E Olive Way where it replaced a nail salon (Image: CHS)

Today, Zinter hopes a friend — or at least somebody he can respect — wants to step forward and be part of what’s next on E Olive Way. There is another wave of fun times headed to the street as 15th Ave E craft cocktail bar Liberty is preparing an offshoot for the neighborhood.

Zinter is looking forward to whatever the new place is being something where he’d want to hang out. In the meantime, Bus Stop will be partying hard right up to the final hours of April 30th when its various licenses expire.

“I tend to prefer to go to places that are kind of mom and pop shops,” he said. Apparently, so did a lot of people on Capitol Hill.

CHS Food+Drink Notes:

I just got off the phone with Mr. Stowell and he clarified that the tips would not be anonymous, rather just more difficult for the servers to find out the amount of. It would require them to do some digging. But they could find out if they really wanted to.

A man dressed as Jesus is pole dancing on the bar. Beneath his crown of thorns, beads of sweat have begun to form across his forehead, which is understandable because he’s working the pole like he’s attempting to invent fire. Encouraging onlookers tuck dollar bills into his makeshift loincloth.

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