A ‘citadel of beauty’ on E Olive Way? Rose Temple set to rise from ashes of doomed speakeasy

By the Pound created a financial mess — but good bones for a new bar


Life — especially Capitol Hill nightlife — finds a way. The fully built-out bar space where financially doomed speakeasy By the Pound sputtered to an early death last year will spring back to life this April under new owners.

Rose Temple from two first time bar owners is set to rise from the court document-littered ashes on E Olive Way.

We don’t know much about the concept but Rose Temple is being opened by business partners Austin Polley and Benjamin Smith. Polley left as manager at Westward under Renee Erickson’s restaurant group last year. The bar’s new website touts a planned April opening.

Polley and Smith have not responded to CHS’s inquiries about the new project. One clue for where the concept might be headed: Cambodia’s Banteay Srei is known as the Rose Temple for the color of its stone. Hey ladies, fyi, it is also known as the “female temple” or the citadel of the women. And beauty.

UPDATE: “We will be very much operators and are excited to pump out drinks in our boujee lil dive bar, rather than run a high scale, high volume restaurant,” Polley tells us. “We both have a ton of experience running restaurants and bars from a busser to a MG.”

So, what will it be?

The bar is a nod to the “Moon Temple”, the old Chinese dive on 45th in Wallingford, the bar I basically grew up in. (Yes there will be a specialty Trash Can on the menu). We are not going for Chinese, but a very loose idea of the “jungles of the Far East”. Maybe its India, maybe its SE Asian. Lots of plants, golds, and deep jungle wall paper. This is a bar that will adjust to the neighborhood and become what it becomes .. either bro or gay bar we really don’t care as long as people find a home there. Gangster rap and boiler makers. Farkle and green glow lighting. Pinch buns and bright Instagramable drinks. Artist or food pop ups and a once a month drag party.. its kind of everything.

There won’t be a lot of work to do to get the place open unless the partners are planning on a major cosmetic overhaul. The oddball deli fronted speakeasy By the Pound created a well-crafted drinking spot before imploding in a mess of unpaid rent and lawsuits that extended beyond Capitol Hill.

We’re going to guess that any Rose Temple overhaul started with ripping out any last remnants of the By the Pound deli counter.

UPDATE: Polley tells us more about the opportunity:

The situation is a huge deal for us. We have worked our butts off in this industry and are excited to do our own thing our own way. We are not rich nor do we have investors, so turn key was the way to go. Now the sweat equity part comes in and the organic vibe building once we get those keys. Lots of family and friends to help get it painted, scrubbed, and set up. Using local artist I grew up with, we will use from the logos (such as Samburgini) to sign painting .. etc. We want to add our own little touch to the Hill and do it our way, while not taking ourselves too seriously.

Rose Temple is slated to open at 1801 E Olive Way in April. You can keep an eye on rosetemplebar.com for updates.


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4 thoughts on “A ‘citadel of beauty’ on E Olive Way? Rose Temple set to rise from ashes of doomed speakeasy

  1. Sounds like they’ll be getting anonymous no-no notes from the self-appointed cultural appropriation police. The kind that went after Chop Suey and Plantation. $10 says they do.

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