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The Meinert letters a bid to deny former Pike/Pine bar owner’s efforts to re-grow nightlife empire off Capitol Hill

Dow Constantine at 2011’s Capitol Hill Block Party with then-producer Dave Meinert (Image: CHS)

Some believe it was the letters documenting allegations of sexual misconduct and rape posted outside his Pike/Pine venues that ultimately drove David Meinert off Capitol Hill last summer. The nightlife entrepreneur has continued to do business in Seattle at his 5 Point bar and is now preparing to begin rebuilding his empire of cheap beer and barstools with his purchase of Lower Queen Anne classic, the Mecca Cafe.

But letters could again be an issue.

Wednesday night, a group is planning to meet for a writing party at Capitol Hill bar Corvus and Co. Others have promised to hand out form letters on the streets for neighbors to sign and send in. Templates have been passed around and traded on social media. Here is one simple, straightforward example:

To Whom It May Concern,
I would like to strongly urge the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to DENY a new liquor license to Queen Anne Diner LLC/David John Meinert for the Mecca Cafe (license number 350217). Mr. Meinert has had 11 credible sexual assault accusations levied against him recently. In many of these assaults, Mr. Meinert had been drinking alcohol and/or assaulted women in bars he has owned. Please deny this new liquor license application.

Thank you,
(your name here)

Thursday, June 20th, public notice was given that Meinert had applied for a new liquor license for 526 Queen Anne Ave N, the home of the Mecca, as part of the process of acquiring the legendary hangout. For 14 days, the notice must be posted at the place of business. The Meinert letter writers hope they can convince the liquor board to deny the the new owner the vital license.

But the odds are stacked against them.

“The WSLCB will take all protest and support letters into consideration when making a decision to approve or deny a license,” the board posts in its liquor license documentation for applicants (PDF). That’s the good news. The bad? The body is looking for a small, narrowly defined set of issues. Those include

  • Objection from a church, school, or other public institution within 500 feet of the premises
  • Questionable source of funds
  • Indicators of hidden ownership
  • Criminal history, i.e. conviction of a felony, conviction of a gross or simple misdemeanor
    involving liquor or drugs, any series of violations that show a disregard for the law.WAC

The issues the board is looking for typically do not include 11 allegations of sexual misconduct.

WSLCB representatives have not responded to our inquiry about the Mecca application.

In September, CHS documented the unwinding of Meinert’s ownership and investment in four Capitol Hill venues — Queer/Bar, Grimm’s, Lost Lake, and the Comet. Prior to the accusations coming to light, Meinert also announced he had sold his share of Big Mario’s as he prepared to open a food+drink project in the ground-floor commercial component of the Gridiron condo development across from CenturyLink.

After September, he continued to hold  Wide Open, Inc, the company that operates Belltown’s 5 Point Cafe, and the attention drifted away. Until now.

Beyond letters from citizens, another possible barrier to Meinert’s plans could be “local authority” — Mayor Jenny Durkan or King County Executive Dow Constantine who was forced to distance himself from Meinert’s longtime support and financial backing in the wake of last summer’s accusations.

“State law requires the WSLCB to notify the local authority (i.e. mayor or county commission) of the city or county your business is located in that you have applied for a liquor license,” the board says of the process.

King County has not responded to our questions about the new application at the Mecca but the City of Seattle provided an overview of its application review team process. Following the typical procedure at Seattle City Hall, it seems unlikely Durkan will intervene.

The city provided five areas that it can use as a basis for objecting to a liquor license — none appear likely to affect Meinert’s bid:

  • “Chronic illegal activity” associated with the applicant’s operations of the premises proposed to be licensed; RCW 66.24.010(12)
  • “Chronic illegal activity” of the applicant’s operation of any other licensed premises; RCW 6.24.010(12)
  • Conduct of the applicant’s patrons inside or outside the licensed premises; RCW 66.24.010(12)
  • Certain amounts of prior criminal conduct by the applicant; WAC 314-07-040
  • Any administrative violation history record with the WSLCB; WAC 314-07-045

Authorities at the city or King County have 20 days to respond with any objections.

If you would like to comment on the Mecca license application, you can mail in comments to:

Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board Licensing and Regulation
P.O. Box 43098
Olympia, WA 98504-3098

Or email your letter to Comments should include the trade name Queen Anne Diner LLC, license number 350217 and address of the business 526 Queen Anne Ave N.

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26 thoughts on “The Meinert letters a bid to deny former Pike/Pine bar owner’s efforts to re-grow nightlife empire off Capitol Hill

  1. I saw a post on Facebook that there are other high profile restauranteurs willing to find jobs for any employees who want to leave any of Meinert’s remaining businesses. The job market is also super hot for anyone who wants to transition on their own. It’s high time this creep was held accountable.

  2. If DM would issue an apology it would go a long way to showing the community that a person’s attitude is not frozen in time, a person can change.

  3. From all of the stories I have heard about DM why has he not been held accountable by the law for the allegations? Am I missing something ?

    • Seattle Times 6/18/19

      He has never been charged in connection with these allegations: Just two of the accusers reported their allegations to police, one of which a King County prosecutor declined to pursue. The other allegation was reported to police after the statute of limitations on it had expired.

      • All you have to do is look at how Christine Blasey Ford was treated to understand why women are reticent to report. They are often re-victimized by those in power. I mean hell, you can be a serial offender and President of United States.

    • Sorry you didn’t enjoy the verbal wrestling. For you, add an “are”

      The Meinert letters are a bid to deny former Pike/Pine bar owner’s efforts to re-grow nightlife empire off Capitol Hill

  4. Why would anyone think they’d deny him a license based on only allegations? That’s not to say he isn’t probably guilty, but without any charges and convictions, all they have to go on is allegations. So they have no choice but to consider it hearsay. Can you imagine how that would look– if someone didn’t want a competitor to get a license, and just had a bunch of people complain to the LCB making unproven allegations, and then wanting them deny it because of those claims that hadn’t been proven? It seems obvious. Everyone knows or at least thinks he’s guilty, but that’s not good enough.

    • Agreed.

      This all has a bit of a witch hunt feel to it — and I am saying nothing as to Meinert’s guilt or innocence.

      Multiple allegations, but only two reports and both of those the prosecutor declined to charge?

      Yeah, that’s no reason to deny a liquor license on the part of the LCB.

      This guy may be a total skeezebag, or not, but witch hunts like this are really bad form…if he’s committed a crime, charge him, if he hasn’t then let the man live in peace.

      • The burden of proof is so high when it comes to rape or sexual assault. Historically we have barely even prosecuted it when the evidence was overwhelming. This might be ok if our justice system worked for everyone, but it doesn’t. The only way he could have been charged is if it was on video, their were witnesses, or the women went straight to the police right away and that STILL wouldn’t guarantee he’d be prosecuted. 11 women came against him. There are dozens of others. Some are very good friends of mine and could even be people you know because they aren’t going to come out because at this point it doesn’t change anything. These women that came out went through a big upheaval in their lives. These are brave women as they knew he wouldn’t go to jail because the way our laws are. This is not a witch hunt. This is our justice system that doesn’t work so we have to find other ways to keep people out of our communities like this.

      • Yes, Steve, because due process and innocent until proven guilty is so 20th century.

        You realize how insane running someone out of town based only on accusations is?

      • You keep missing an extremely important piece. These are people that I know that have told me he either raped them or sexually assaulted them. This is not some hearsay bullshit. At what point do you believe the women who essentially nobody has believed throughout history over one man when there’s been an overwhelming amount of evidence. Do you know him? I do. There’s a reason that people want to run him out of town. If you don’t see that now, then it’s a moot point talking to you.

      • PD – If you care about sexual assault survivors you will listen to what Steven is saying.Open your heart and your mind. The witch hunt is against women who are sexually abused, not the predators. The system makes it very difficult, if not impossible for these women to receive justice under the law. Since that is the world we live in, why shouldn’t they take to the streets to be heard? I hear them and I believe them.

  5. I believe that if people visually boycott the 5 Point it could go a long way to stopping the purchase of the Mecca. Meinert does not want to lose $. If people organize and collaborate then we might be able to make a difference. Imagine 50 or more people outside of the 5 Point & The Mecca with signs every day and night? In these times people need to see the visual. The video could go viral and then you stand a good chance of getting TV as well. This is a big way to make an impact. Meinert starts losing a lot of $, he’ll sell before it closes. He understands and loves $. Want to get him to stop, take away his stream of $. Someone needs to be the leader and help organize the 1000’s of people that are pissed off. Power in numbers.

      • I’m throwing out one way that might change things. If it’s not for you, cool. I know lots of people that would go spend 2 hours to make sure that people know what’s going on. I posted on my personal FB and there’s lots of people that are organizing to do just that. Just gotta get the word out whatever way.

    • What’s the end goal here? Make sure he loses all his businesses? Make him leave town? Without any due process?

      • Yes, I want him to get rid of both the 5 Point and not be able to buy the Mecca. I want him to leave the state so the women that have to be reminded again and again about their tragedies every single time his name pops up. I want far more than that, but I can’t say it publicly. It’s the LEAST he should get. I don’t understand how you don’t get this. The due process part, DOESN’T WORK FOR RAPE VICTIMS. What part of that do you not get? Our justice system is not fair. Maybe it is for you, but it’s not for rape victims. You can’t understand that so I’m done responding to you.

    • Steven very well put about the way sexual assault is laden with shame for the victims and poor prosecution/accountability. I agree it’s not a witch hunt, though Trump would say it is.
      I still think people can change over time and if he issued an apology and showed awareness that he’d stunned and taken advantage of younger girls then the whole Mecca thing would be cast in a different light. Do you agree?

      • You don’t get to rape or sexually assault almost two dozen people and get absolved by saying sorry. He’s ruined multiple lives so why are so many people willing to give him a pass? I know you’re not, but this kind of comments takes away from the pain the victims have had put on them.

      • S. Lee, you seem to be overlooking the fact that sexual assault is a crime. If someone robbed you, would you be satisfied if they merely apologized to you? It’s a ridiculous suggestion that minimizes the seriousness of his crimes.

      • Mimi if they apologized for robbing me and meant the remorse, over time I would probably forgive them. Some wouldn’t. What’s obviously missing is that Meinert wasn’t legally prosecuted. Painful. Blocking the sale isn’t the same and ppl see it as the next-best thing.

      • There should be a trial, and the courts decide the punishment. The justice system should decide the consequences, not a bunch of well-meaning citizens.

  6. ISO: letter from St Paul’s Episcopal Church objecting to chronic sexual harasser relocating creeper biz interests to neighborhood

  7. There’s no legal way to prevent him from getting a liquor license without a conviction. The only legal recourse is to convince people not to frequent his establishments.