“We don’t have any grand ideas,” Rose Temple co-owner Austin Polley tells CHS. “We know we’ll be whatever this neighborhood wants us to be.”
Debuting fully this week and inspired, in part, by the dearly departed Moon Temple bar in Wallingford, the new bar has sprung to life over the top of the financial wreckage left behind by the failed By the Pound speakeasy like the jungle-y plants that line its walls and the fruits that flavor its tropically boozed-up drinks.
“When you have a $20,000 budget, this is what you get.”
Rose Temple is a testament to reuse but not the kind that puts old auto row showrooms to use as fancy new Pike/Pine restaurants.
Polley and business partner Benjamin Smith have had the good fortune of taking over a bar space somebody else had already sunk a fortune into. With By the Pound shuttering only months after its long and expensive buildout, transforming the space into Rose Temple didn’t require new construction. And they’ve inherited some of the speakeasy’s hidden features though the rapid turnover over the past two years in the longtime food and drink space previously home to Bleu Bistro’s Grotto has mostly been hidden away.
“Every wall has at least five coats of paint,” Polley says.
CHS first reported on Rose Temple in March as the project took shape in the wake of the speakeasy’s exit. Polley left as manager at Westward under Renee Erickson’s restaurant group last year. Smith was also at Westward and the duo is jumping into ownership together on Capitol Hill.
In the kitchen, the team has a third member. Seth Richardson, the owner of the Odin Star sandwich truck business, is leasing the kitchen and offering up a Rose Temple specific menu with Southeast Asian-flavored versions of his smoked meat-y sandwiches and, eventually, a happy hour food menu.
Meanwhile, at the bar you’ll find cocktails designed with a more affordable price point around $11 that are “not tiki” and “not super craft” and definitely “kind of tropical.”
Like the rest of Rose Temple, the bar’s owners say they want to be taken seriously but don’t want to take themselves very seriously.
“We’re not a rap bar, rock bar, hipster bar, gay bar. We want to be everything,” Polley said. “We’re just kind of curious about what the neighborhood wants to do with us and then we’re going to go with it.”
Rose Temple is located at 1801 E Olive Way. It is open from 4 PM to 2 AM daily. You can learn more at rosetemplebar.com.
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