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Capitol Hill food+drink | Sports bar Kessler’s will ‘touchdown’ on E Olive Way

Coming later this year to E Olive Way, Kessler's hopes to give Seattle sports fans more to cheer about (Image: CHS)

Coming later this year to E Olive Way, Kessler’s hopes to give Seattle sports fans more to cheer about (Image: CHS)

What’s the busiest area for Capitol Hill food and drink? E Olive Way is in full Beast Mode with a rumble of changes to start 2015. More on the roster of new moves, below.

One new player on the street has hopes the city’s Super Bowl enthusiasm carries on.

Tracy Ward tells CHS she will find inspiration in her “Dad’s Dad’s bar” in opening a new Capitol Hill sports bar — Kessler’s — later this year just in time for March Madness on E Olive Way.

“Owning a bar is something I have always wanted to do,” Ward said. “I am a total sports nut so it will be a sports bar, although late night will also be huge!”

Kessler’s will take over the former Tommy Gun after owner Erin Nestor sold the watering hole after four years so she can focus on a new project on E Madison.

Ward tells CHS her new project is named for the bar her grandfather owned in Duluth, Minnesota. While the bar is the first venue Ward has opened on her own, she says she has a background in corporate restaurant management working for Houlihan’s and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. She tells CHS she spent the last 15 years on Maui raising step kids and working for her husband’s construction company but will now become a fulltime Seattle barkeep.

UPDATE: As noted below by CHS commenters, Kessler’s will be snuggling in just uphill from bear bar CC’s which moved to the street in 2011. Though Tommy Gun had LGBTQ ownership, it didn’t seem to market itself as a lesbian or gay bar. We’ve asked Nestor and Ward if they’d like to comment on the CHS discussion and will update if they have more to say.

UPDATE x2: Here are Nestor’s thoughts on the change:

I don’t know Tracy nor can I speak to the viability of her concept but I think it’s important to note that Kessler’s is a woman-owned establishment – a rarity on Capitol Hill and in the industry overall. Though Tommy Gun ceases to be I’m pleased to relinquish the space to another woman and I genuinely wish her well.

Though Tommy Gun was lesbian-owned we defined ourselves as a neighborhood bar which enjoyed (and cultivated) broad support from the LGBTQ community. The BottleNeck is much the same. My establishments have always been about community and inclusivity and Two Doors Down will follow in the same vein – everyone is welcome. Our target audience is cool folks who appreciate one another, no matter how they self-identify.

The new joint joins a couple dedicated sports bars already established on the Hill as well as an era where nearly every bar includes a flatscreen or three in its offerings. 95 Slide has taken the high road with reserved booths and pay per view events that draw crowds of fight fans, etc. to the transformed E Pike club long ago known for dance and DJs. On E Union, Auto Battery’s garage approach promises screens every direction you look. Plus, the new Bill’s Off Broadway is slated to be back in time for next football season.

Expect a Kessler’s opening just in time for March Madness.

Meanwhile, there’s a bit of E Olive Way Madness underway with changes up and down the sloping, curving street:

  • Glo’s neighbor Chopsticks is now Bluestone: “Bluestone opened on Olive yesterday (former Chopsticks location) with a menu of five or so things. Bibimbap was good!” — thanks Mike! Meanwhile, In the Bowl is getting beer and wine — make a note of it!
  • Amante’s has a new owner. In: George Kozhuharov. Out: Vladimir Dimitrov.
  • By “spring,” Ballard-based “cakery” Hot Cakes will bring boozy milkshakes, decadent desserts, and a s’mores fire pit to the new apartment building constructed over the former home of B&O Espresso.
  • At Denny, Arabica Lounge has announced it is closing in February after nearly five years in the space formerly home to SuperCuts.
  • Just off EOW, eclectic La Bete is now BBQ and noodles Spaghetti Western.
  • Zhu Dang debuted its E Olive Way home in a transformed former nightclub at the end of 2014.
  • At E Olive Way’s base, John John’s Gameroom will get new ownership and a new brand — but will remain VERY pinball friendly, we’re told. The pinball bar opened on Capitol Hill in 2012.
  • And, finally… and finally!.. Good Citizen is almost ready to open in the former home of Online Coffee. We wrote about the Liberty sibling here… way back in January 2014.

Meanwhile, the Crescent Lounge soldiers on.

Capitol Hill food+drink notes

  • More bullet points!
  • Yay!
  • Campfire Sessions returns to Vermillion this weekend with a pop-up from Campfire BBQ.
  • An artist rendering of how the old Madison Park Greetings building Erickson’s project will call home is being integrated with new construction (Rendering by Ankrom Moisan)

    An artist rendering of how the old Madison Park Greetings building Erickson’s project will call home is being integrated with new construction (Rendering by Ankrom Moisan)

    Renee Erickson’s camp finally confirmed CHS’s report that the celebrated chef is opening her first project on Capitol Hill:
    On the corner of 11th and Union, will be a lively and approachable restaurant with a focus on the flavors of the French Atlantic. Expect the best from Pacific Northwest beaches, waters, and fields, prepared lovingly alongside wines by the glass and bottle, beer, and smart cocktails. And, yes, there will be oysters!
    Next-door, mid-block, accommodating 40 guests, will be a Parisian-style café. Slightly more refined than its neighbor, this restaurant’s centerpiece will be its dry aging room.

  • We left a few off our initial list of new Capitol Hill restaurants and bars to look forward to in 2015. It’s now up to 29 though Optimism Brewing might be in for a squeeze to make it in before the end of the year.
  • By CHS’s count, with Nue’s debut on 14th Ave, 100 bars and restaurants have opened around the Hill since 2012.

  • Expect incredible opening lines at the Kingfish Cafe through its final day of service on Sunday, January 25th. Next: Kingfish… Cafes.
  • Expect announcements from the new owners of the Chop Suey on what comes next for the music venue… soon.
  • Tea Republikwe wrote about it here — now open on Broadway.
  • A reason to visit Eastlake: Mammoth.
  • “Growing up in Utah, he was raised on baked potatoes, doughnuts and the chance shrimp cocktail when his family dined out…
  • Canon’s Andrew Fawcett: start-up CEO
  • Speaking of reservations… at a Capitol Hill coffee shop?
  • Seattle Times on Villa Escondida: “This is the Mexican diner that Seattle’s been dreaming of.” CHS wrote about the SCC alum-run restaurant tucked into the Broadway Alley here last year.
  • The Little Uncle folks are traveling again.
  • Homegrown Melrose Market getting a makeover.
  • 10923841_10152770359003323_6635339931899679901_nMod Pizza: Had to bail on Broadway but planning nationwide expansion.
  • Central District’s much-loved Ms. Helen, sadly, not back at work at a new venue.
  • Happy eight years to the Volunteer Park Cafe.
  • Happy five years to Oola Distillery.
  • Condolences to the Vita family.
  • George Elias Velaoras, owner of the Grecian Corner that became First Hill Bar and Grill, remembered.
  • CHS visited Chuck’s to celebrate the much-loved beer venue’s one-year anniversary in Seattle’s Inner City.
  • America’s 100 best beer bars, 2015 includes Pine Box, Stumbling Monk.
  • Cafe Barjot now has a happy hour.
  • “As a restaurant owner across from Broadway Market, I agree. It makes me sad that the vibrancy of Broadway has waned over the years. I miss Septieme, Minnie’s, Ernie Steele’s. But I guarantee you I am not going anywhere and will fight for my neighborhood to regain it’s luster.” — Gregg Holcomb.
  • A pot left on the stove at Sitka and Spruce caused a bit of a scare at Melrose Market.
  • Which Capitol Hill business owner is featured on the Department of Labor blog? Molly Moon Neitzel: “When I first decided to open an ice cream shop, I knew that one of my goals would be to pay all of my employees a living wage.”
  • Communion Brunch creator Monica Dimas has a new mission: taking over the kitchen at Broadway’s Nacho Borracho: “Nacho owners Kate Opatz and Rachel Marshall say the arrangement will be similar to the one Kedai Makan has with their original bar, Montana. Dimas will make food for Nacho Borracho patrons, but basically run her own takeout window from the bar’s kitchen.”
  • CHS hears Cafe Presse brought up frequently by up and coming restauranteurs as an example of the kind of venue — and menu — they’d like to put together. Looks like it’s time for an update:

This week’s CHS food+drink advertiser directory


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19 thoughts on “Capitol Hill food+drink | Sports bar Kessler’s will ‘touchdown’ on E Olive Way

  1. Ironic you so far commenting about more “screaming, puking bros” when the people pictured in the photo for the article are ALL WOMEN.

  2. Well, I for one am glad to have this option. As long as the prices are reasonable, I will probably go there often to watch Sounders, Mariners, and major national games (I’m not into Seahawks mania). I love 95 Slide but it’s busy enough that another option won’t hurt.

  3. Living extremely close to 95 Slide is horrible – the weekends are all crappy DJs til 1:59 am, non-stop engine revving for some reason, firecrackers from July 4-15th, wooing like you’ve never known. I actually miss HG Lodge and War Room. I do not envy the neighbors of this new sports bar. I thought it would be a welcome relief but the weekend patrons are the most obnoxious, inconsiderate people I’ve ever glared at from afar.

  4. An owner brand new to Seattle, with corporate restaurant experience, opening a sports bar in what is a pretty small space. I doubt it will even last as long as World of Beer.

  5. A Bro’s-and-Ho’s bar opening next to a freak friendly kink leather bear bar?
    Yeah, I don’t see this ending badly at all.

    They already have Pike/Pine and it’s surrounding blocks. Please let us keep the Olive and Denny area.

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