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Capitol Hill gay bar expat Purr calls it quits in Montlake

RIP, Purr. Congrats, Union.

A year after high rents pushed it off Capitol Hill down to Montlake, Purr Cocktail Lounge abruptly closed its doors over the weekend. Meanwhile, new Capitol Hill gay bar Union made its debut.

Seattle Gay Scene had the news from Purr owner Barbie Roberts of Sunday’s last chance to say goodbye. Roberts did not cite a specific reason for the closure. Last summer, she said her move to Montlake was an economic decision with the more-than-a-decade-old lounge escaping soaring Pike/Pine rents. Queer/Bar opened in Purr’s former 11th Ave home three months later.

A former employee of Manray and The Wildrose, Roberts opened Purr in 2006 in the former home of the Bad JuJu lounge. In 2011, CHS talked with her about the features of a successful gay bar and surviving the changes of growth in Pike/Pine. Purr’s move to Montlake put it in a space where a series of pubs had churned through in recent years. That space will now be empty again.

Meanwhile, up the Hill at 14th and Union, the Hill’s newest gay bar was filled to the brim as it made its debut over the weekend. The much anticipated opening was delayed by last-minute permit approvals which only encouraged the anxious enthusiasm of those ready for a new player in the Capitol Hill gay nightlife scene. Union’s debut, however, was actually a daytime affair and coincided with the hottest stretch of Seattle weather this year. The bar maintained a full patio and three lines at the bar through weekend with patrons wanting to check out the newly opened space — and stay cool.

With reporting and photography by Dylan Austin

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5 thoughts on “Capitol Hill gay bar expat Purr calls it quits in Montlake

  1. Always sad to see a gay bar closing, but what can you expect opening a gay bar in… Montlake? No exactly a gay mecca. All my best to Barbie in her next venture.

  2. One of the nicest gay bar proprietors ever. After a well-deserved relaxation, if she’s hot one more in her, I hope she’ll try again. Maybe somewhere more viable for a gay bar than Montlake, like the Central District’s first?

    • Yes, a more centrally located Central District gay bar would be great! We have a slice of them now with the south of Madison grouping, but they tend to get lumped in to the encroaching Capitol Hill boundary :-D
      It feels like either the Union & 23rd or even Jackson & 23rd areas would be ready in the not too distant future with the growth in those areas of the CD.

  3. stopped by Union yesterday to check it out. What a great job the owners have done with the space. Congratulations. Wow, three gay bars on one block. And yes I agree that a gay bar in the CD area around 23rd would be a good addition.