Capitol Hill’s gayborhood will grow back onto a new block as Union, a cocktail lounge serving the gay community, will open in the old Zoe restaurant space at Union and 14th.
The new Union will represent a great coming together of rival legends of the gay bar scene.
Union is backed by gay nightlife veterans Steve Nyman, Nathan Benedict, and Mark Engelmann. According to Nyman, “Union will include elements from the previous bars we have owned and other bars we have all worked. That’s one of the reasons we settled on Union as the name; it’s a union of our ideas and experiences, and we hope it’s also a union of community, bringing people together.”
Nyman and Benedict are the former owners of Inside Passage and Thumper’s. Inside Passage provided Capitol Hill with one of the first sidewalk dining and drinking spaces in Seattle, and Thumper’s opened in 1985 as one of the Hill’s first gay bars, sporting large windows and a log fireplace. Across the street at 15th and Madison, Engelmann managed C.C. Attle’s which was a competitor until Thumper’s closed in October 2006. C.C. Attle’s relocated to 1701 E Olive Way in 2011 and the rivalry was mostly lost to history.
Now, Union’s setup will engender an outgoing atmosphere featuring a bar, a fireplace lounge, and putting Zoe’s patio back into motion. Union will also be within walking distance from a collection of Capitol Hill gay bars, “sustaining the gayborhood.”
After closing down Thumper’s, Nyman says he and Benedict enjoyed retirement. In 2014, Benedict went back to work in commercial real estate. Now they are ready to get back into the nightlife industry. “Our love for the business made us get back into it, along with our enjoyment of gay bars and Capitol Hill, and desire to help the gayborhood grow,” Nyman said.
In 2016, CHS reported on the transition of Belltown transplant Zoe into an events space as owners Heather and Scott Staples said the restaurant business was hampered by ongoing construction in the area. Preceding their exit from 14th and Union, the couple also sold Pike/Pine’s Quinn’s and Sole Repair to new ownership earlier this year.
The corner Union will call home is also home to Oola Distillery.
Union’s opening, meanwhile, will follow more gayborhood investment with 2017’s opening of Queer/Bar on 11th Ave.
Union does not have a set opening date yet, but since the space has stayed active as a restaurant and event space, Nyman believes a remodel could come together quickly and the lounge could be opening on the Hill soon.
Union will be located at 1318 E Union.
Correction: CHS mistakenly identified the wrong partner as being involved in commercial real estate. Benedict is the man in real estate, not Nyman. Sorry for the error!
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.