Capitol Hill nightclub The Baltic Room is changing hands but before its owner said goodbye after a decade fostering a longtime piece of the neighborhood’s nightlife culture, he wanted to get things right at the club.
“How do I properly get this set up for somebody to take over in a responsible way?” Jason Brotman said he asked himself about the work in the past year to prepare the Pine club bridging the gap between downtown and Capitol Hill ready for a new era. Brotman spoke with CHS a few weeks back as he waited to finalize the deal to take over the club.
The new owner is Bill Baker, a Gig Harbor investor who formed The Gig holding company last summer. Baker declined to comment on the deal at this time. An application for a new liquor license for the Baltic Room indicates that he intends to continue to run it as a nightclub.
First opened in 1997 by Linda Derschang as — the legend goes — a piano bar, the space was originally home to disco hall Kid Mohair, designed, owned, and operated by the Klebeck brothers who went on to Top Pot doughnut and Sun Liquor booze fame. Derschang has described the Klebeck-designed space as one of the most beautiful in Seattle when she took it over at the start of the city’s long, tech-driven economic boom. The Baltic Room remains as one of the Hill’s longest running club venues doing DJ nights, ropes and lines, and “balcony level VIP” longer than your club’s bouncer has been alive.
The Baltic Room, like much of Capitol Hill’s nightlife economy, has enjoyed the boom times but also struggled with the growth. In the summer of 2015, 23-year-old Ramon Mitchell was gunned down in the parking lot across from the club in a crime that has remained unsolved. Brotman said he came away from the tragedy determined to improve the Baltic Room and get it ready for its next decade of Capitol Hill nightlife. “It’s not a secret, we parted way with some of our promoters,” Brotman said.
For a time, the Baltic Room went dark on the weekends as the club worked on creating a calmer environment and improving security. It was a big financial hit but by slowly turning to more local and neighborhood focused nights and bringing in more professional security, Brotman said he was satisfied the Baltic Room was on more solid ground and ready for him to step out of the grueling lifestyle of running a Capitol Hill nightspot.
Meanwhile, the neighborhood around the club is also changing. The parking lot across Pine where the 2015 murder happened will be buried away within a few years under this coming seven-story mixed-use building.
We don’t know what if any changes are planned with new ownership at the Baltic Room but it appears the space will live on as a joint dedicated to music, dance, and good time.
BECOME A 'PAY WHAT YOU CAN' CHS SUBSCRIBER TODAY: Support local journalism dedicated to your neighborhood. SUBSCRIBE HERE. Join to become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month to help CHS provide community news with NO PAYWALL. You can also sign up for a one-time annual payment.