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Union ready to debut in ‘a perfect gayborhood location’ on Capitol Hill — UPDATE

Nathan, Mark, and Steve (left to right)

Capitol Hill gay bar veterans Steve Nyman, Nathan Benedict, and Mark Engelmann have joined to open a brand new cocktail bar on 14th and Union in the space formerly occupied by Zoe. Wednesday, the new owners were on the new patio of the updated venue ready for a new era.

Union Bar will begin its regular 2pm to 2am service on Thursday the 26th as part of a soft opening, before a “fabulous” opening party on Sunday with an all-day happy hour which includes $4.75 wells. UPDATE: Delayed! No Thursday opening but stay tuned!

“It checks all our boxes. It’s a perfect gayborhood location — it has a patio, fireplace lounge for the wintertime, and an area where you can circulate,” Benedict said.

The three agreed on location as their favorite aspect of the bar. Just blocks away from where Thumpers once stood at 15th and Madison, Union Bar joins other gay bars in the area, immediately near Diesel and close to Madison Pub. The owners commented on contributing to the “gayborhood” and embracing the activity going on down Union.

The layout was designed with a focus on flow through the space, from the garden/patio to a raised mezzanine, and extensive seating around the bar itself in a full loop. Additionally, the team installed sound panels to deaden the echo of audio, and a system that is designed to maintain the sound’s direction to facilitate conversation between patrons, even when the music gets loud or the game — there are screens everywhere inside — isn’t your thing.

CHS first reported on the new food+drink project “sustaining the gayborhood” in May. It is the first dedicated gay bar to open on the Hill since 2017’s opening of Queer/Bar on 11th Ave.

With a long list of spirits including local favorites like Sun Liquor, the bar will also serve a variety of Washington wines and ten beers on tap. Oola, the small batch distillery next door and Heritage (based in Gig Harbor with a tasting room just down the Hill) also make the list.

Union’s food menu features appetizers like baked brie, crostini, and nachos, flatbread pizzas and paninis, sandwiches and salads. Union will also serve the Impossible Burger, which can be substituted on any burger item for vegetarian eats. The kitchen will be open from 5 PM to 11 PM Sunday through Thursday, and 5 PM to 12 AM on Friday and Saturday, which they hope to expand as business picks up.

Union is located at 1318 E Union. You can find them at and their website,

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19 thoughts on “Union ready to debut in ‘a perfect gayborhood location’ on Capitol Hill — UPDATE

  1. Congrats on this I greatly appreciate a venue where one can met and enjoy each other no matter their age. I will be attending when my health permits until then always yours J.J.Jackson w/ Grits & Groceries🎼🎥🎼

  2. Confusing. There’s already a Union Bar down in Hillman City. And a Union Salon in Wallingford. No one will be able to say “meet me at the Union” …

  3. Just looked at their Facebook Page:

    UPDATE: Soft opening not happening today.

    We love the Capitol Hill Blog and thank them for the great article but they jumped the gun, unfortunately we are still waiting for one elusive permit!

    Please check back here for opening status, we promise it will be soon!

    Thanks for hanging in there with us!

  4. Looks great. Would be best if the screens didn’t show music videos, it’s a bit overdone for gay bars when everything else about Union looks very very refreshing. Even better if the music was instrumental like cocktail bars and not the usual gay bar jukebox. Great work and much needed. More mature than the crass Pony indoor area that is about twenty years behind times.

    • Totally second that idea about no music videos. I can distinctly remember when music videos first hit bars, and conversationalism (is that a word?) took a dive and hasn’t been seen since. And smartphones make it even worse.

    • I don’t go to bars really at all anymore but I had been to Pony and the indoor area is intentionally pasted in retro imagery. So to say it’s 20 years behind the times isn’t quite accurate as it’s intentionally retro appearing (specifically ’60s to ’80s).

  5. Now I wish we just could have a dancing gay bar aside from the circuit queens at Cuff and the straight people at Neighbours and R Place.

    • You want a dancing/non-circuit queens bar as compared to a dancing/circuit queens bar? I’m not even sure I could describe the difference between the two, let alone hope for a distinctly separate bar. Pity the poor straight people, trying to explain the difference to them. I don’t even get it myself.