Michael Lee, co-owner of Saint John’s Bar and Eatery near the corner of E Pike and Harvard, was having a drink with a coworker named Lila when the two had an absurd idea: what if we painted a giant, dinosaur mural onto the bar’s interior wall? It would have vicious raptors with razor sharp claws, dinosaurs eating other, erupting volcanoes…the whole bit. After all, a collection of dinosaur figures and toys Lee collected over the last six years had been growing in a garden next to the back patio.
“I think we should fully commit to being this queer, dinosaur eatery,” Lee told Lila. “It’s absurd. That’s the point.”
Low and behold, the mural was completed just a few months later. On Sunday, the new installation was unveiled, revealing a hellish landscape crawling with prehistoric beasts fighting their way past each other to escape a convulsing volcano.
“If there’s one thing everyone in the world loves, its dinosaurs,” Lee said. “Old Seattle vibes are vanishing. We’re trying to carry the torch.”
Saint John’s Bar and Eatery opened in February 2012 — speaking of dinosaurs, it replaced the dearly departed Rosebud. What began as a typical Capitol Hill bar quickly turned into a haven for queer artists and, well, prehistoric figurines.
It seems that Lee always wanted it that way. After the late night inspirational chat about the mural, he enlisted local artist Craig Cundiff to paint it. Cundiff, who has created ornate, enchantingly colorful murals across Seattle, painted the dinosaur hellscape in Saint John’s in less than two months, finishing a few weeks ago, according to Lee.
Now, with dinosaurs in the backyard and inside, Lee hopes that his bar will serve as a temporary respite from what’s going on in the world.
“The world is a dark place right now,” he said. “If we can provide one moment in time for people to escape the news… That’s the goal.”
Saint John’s is located at 719 E Pike. You can learn more at saintjohnsseattle.com.
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