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The Neighbor Lady in search of new Central District home

(Image: The Neighbor Lady)

(Image: The Neighbor Lady)

We’re not the Central District News but the area around 23rd and Union has been keeping CHS busy to start 2020. Now comes word that neighborhood vegetarian-friendly dive bar The Neighbor Lady is losing its lease and has only a few more months at its location.

Owner Stephan Mollmann confirmed the end of March closure this week and said he and Tom Vivian are already on the hunt for a nearby new home for the eight-year-old bar.

“We’re just going to pack everything up and mothball it,” Mollmann said.

The Neighbor Lady’s E Union home since it debuted in early 2012 is part of the Uncle Ike’s complex at 23rd and Union. The two-story building with the bar on the street level and office space above has been held by a company registered to Ike’s owner Ian Eisenberg’s spouse since its purchase in late 2012 for just over $1 million.

Mollmann declined to comment on the decision around the Neighbor Lady’s lost lease and Eisenberg did not respond to our inquiry.

The marijuana entrepreneur has been busy in recent months with construction of his coming “Capitol Hill West” Uncle Ike’s on E Olive Way and planned acquisition of a Lake City Way pot shop. This fall, a business manager for the prolific investor’s pot business registered a new company with Eisenberg listed as the sole director. Uncle Ike’s Liquor, LLC was formed in September.

Whatever Ike’s has planned, Mollmann and Vivian say they hope the new Neighbor Lady won’t move far from its roots.

The Twilight Exit founder opened the Lady in 2012 taking over the space formerly home to Thompson’s Point of View, a neighborhood institution that served southern soul food and good times before it was hit by financial difficulties in the wake of the death of the legendary Carl Thompson, Jr. who died unexpectedly at age 51 in 2010. Mollmann said at the time the new bar spot would specialize in vegetarian comfort food and was inspired by a favorite Amsterdam bar.

The forced move isn’t the first time a Mollmann venue is facing displacement. The original Twilight Exit moved from E Madison to E Cherry in 2008. Today, a six-story apartment building stands at the original site across from the 22nd/Madison Safeway. Development will also follow the Twilight to its E Cherry home. In late 2018, CHS reported that Capitol Hill developer Liz Dunn is planning a four-story, mixed-use building for the property in a project the Capitol Hill developer said she expected wouldn’t be under construction for years. Mollmann has also since taken over a bar in Hillman City — no sign of development there so far.

With all the development around 23rd and Union, the Neighbor Lady crew might have a few options for staying close by. Mollmann said he looked at the space being made available next to the incoming PCC in the East Union building but it’s not large enough for the “community space” he wants the Neighbor Lady to be. More promising might be a new berth inside the Midtown: Public Square project across the street, also from developer Lake Union Partners. A rebirth there would mean waiting at least a year to open given the construction schedule.

Despite the challenges, Mollmann said he feels like the neighborhood will be there to help make a new home for the bar.

“We have a lot of support,” Mollmann said.

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58 thoughts on “The Neighbor Lady in search of new Central District home

      • the insanely successful capitalist dictatorship that owns uncle mike’s ( i had an acquaintance attempt to open a pot growth undertaking right as legalization was taking place — he barely came out of the whole thing unscathed –) the eisenbergs, et al were already in the business of taking over the marijuana market statewide — there was no way he could compete. my only pragmatic take on this story is: if you want to buy a restaurant, own the land. cry me a river if your lease gets taken over. there were probably plenty of shady undertakings involved in getting her kicked out of her contract, but, as someone who has pondered opening a restaurant for over two decades, i’m all about reading the bottom line and, well…owning the land. this will save you many headaches in the long run, as you never know whether your kindly landlord will be bought out, willy-nily, or who really owns the base property where you and your landlord stand ( a major concern at my place of work ). my two sense…

  1. Bummer to hear. Hopefully a move across the street pencils out for them, would love to see them stay in the neighborhood plus being located among the Midtown interior courtyard storefronts would be a cool vibe.

    Also, have to think some developers are eyeing snatching up the church that’s still up for sale plus Ian’s two parcels in order to build out a block long multi-use building.

  2. Love this spot! Hope the next location they find has the same sort of hidden entrance vibe. Great food as well, though I wish they kept the panzanella salad on the menu.

  3. Why aren’t you naming Ian Eisenberg’s spouse? Presumably she/he has a name other than “Ian Eisenberg’s spouse”, and given that they own a company that owns significant property in the Seattle area, they are a somewhat public person.

  4. Maybe Eisenberg wanted the Neighbor Lady to display a political sign during the last election, and the Neighbor Lady didn’t want to post the sign. Tempers boiled and this is the result.

    Or maybe it’s something else. Hard to tell since neither party is commenting.

    • I had actually heard that — Neighbor Lady didn’t openly support Orion and now Eisenberg won’t renew their lease — pretty on brand for Eisenberg frankly

      • “Or maybe it’s something else” — Maybe?!?

        I heard its because he asked them to serve pizza and they wouldn’t. When will 23rd and union get the pizza they deserve.

      • It’s unfair to post a criticism of Eisenberg, or anyone else for that matter, based on neighborhood rumor and gossip.

    • Bro, I heard they had a *huge* falling out over aliens – one side thought we’d make contact with them in the next two decades while the other was adamant that they’re already living among us.

      Hard to tell which side is which though since neither party is commenting.

    • Yeah, I think I am converting over to Ponder. For awhile I was preferring Ikes since they had nice menus and Ponder did not but now that Ikes got rid of the menus I might as well just support Ponder since they align with my politics more closely.

  5. For a long time I’ve been cool about and supported Ian/Ike’s businesses as a customer and spoke reason to those who’ve called him every bad name under the sun.

    I’ve since seen the light. He’s an ass-hat and I will in no way continue to patronize his businesses and will use every opportunity to encourage others to get their goods and services elsewhere.

    Seriously regret any support I’ve provided him previously.

    I’m down with the boycott. Not one more dime! Not one more customer direction!

  6. It’s too bad the prime MLK & Union corner space in the Valley building is being wasted on a dentist’s office. It would be perfect for the Neighbor Lady, and the building needs more tenants that draw foot traffic.

  7. I’d miss the Neighbor Lady (and the Twighlight Exit when that location gets redeveloped in a year). Terrific neighborhood bars. Hope new locations can be found soon.

  8. This is a huge, tragic loss for the neighborhood. Ian is a garbage person who doesn’t care about anything but money. Boycott Uncle Ike’s. If he opens a new bar in the space, which wouldn’t surprise me given his new LLC’s name, I’d hope that people would boycott that too. What a fucking shame.

  9. Seattle’s soft anti-Semitism is pretty incredible. Many of you act like you’re concerned about Ike selling weed at this corner due to the history of people being arrested for selling it at the same corner during the 80’s and 90’s back when weed was illegal. But none of you seem to be very concerned about the pot shop Ponder selling weed across the street. Hmmm….I wonder why?

    Can’t wait to read the defensive responses. Its all so transparent.

    • Now it’s anti Semitic to hate a greedy gentrifying capitalist who brazenly doesn’t care about the communities he raids? No one is mad about Ike’s shop, they’re mad he didn’t work with community members and the church to close down for a few hours on Sunday.

      Calling it anti Semitic is like saying it’s racist to hate Obama for drone bombing people. It makes zero sense.

      Dumb take!

      • Capitalism is not (always) evil. Eisenberg has helped to clean up a sketchy area, and at the same time provides some good jobs. Likewise, “gentrification” is not a dirty word…..what exactly is so horrible about improving a neighborhood?

      • “Greedy, Gentrifying, Capitalist”. I see you real issue here. I’m estimating you are someone who hasn’t really done much with your career so you resent business people like Ike who actually have some accomplishments. The most transparent part is your pretend concern over the church asking Ike to close down for a few hours. Where is the same outrage that Ponder is open on Sunday across the street? All BS. See what I’m sayin’?

      • Bob, Ike was born with privilege and wealth from birth and isn’t “cleaning up a neighborhood,” he’s exploiting it. Greed and capitalism is always bad. Unless you only care about profits over people. All people like Ike do is push the problems somewhere else. Now gang violence is moving south and making Rainier Beach very unsafe etc.

        Give me a bunch of money at birth and I’ll show you how to use it well. I don’t have a bad career either and luckily can afford to live here though my rent increased four times what it was in 1998 as white people kick out black People.

    • Now it’s anti Semitic to hate a greedy gentrifying capitalist who brazenly doesn’t care about the communities he raids? No one is mad about Ike’s shop, they’re mad he didn’t work with community members and the church to close down for a few hours on Sunday.

      Calling it anti Semitic is like saying it’s racist to hate Obama for drone bombing people. It makes zero sense.

      Dumb take!

    • What does religion or race have to do with this? Not a damn thing sir. Not a damn thing.

      Greedy pieces of exist in all colors and faiths.

      Business is business some would say but operating in an ethical manner matters. Ian is a Bezos Jr. wanna-be and lacks ethics.

      • I’m curious if you are judging all other people equal with your moral superiority about ethics? I doubt it. I’m curious about your resentment of Bezos. What’s the problem? That he’s wealthy? Stop wasting your time with negative thoughts about people who have created wealth. Its dumb.

      • Bezos doesn’t pay taxes and his company exploits cheap labor while he makes billions.

        We can resent him all we want scumbag. It’s dumb to suck off and idolize Billionaires.

      • Marcus,

        Lots of people make money ethically. Some, like Ian, have inherited money from 1-900 numbers targeting the lonely. The money was then put to use to make money in internet pornography. Now that money is making money in weed. And soon that wonderfully dirty money that was used to purchase the building will be used to displace a beloved neighborhood business because he sees $$ he can steal because the rent wasn’t enough for him. Dollars to donuts, Ian opens his own bar in the location.

        I don’t give much care about 900, pornography, weed, or liquor. They are legal businesses.

        I’ve probably dropped a couple grand in Ike’s over the years it’s been open. I now see the monster I’ve supported for what he is and just like with Amazon, I’ll make sure my dollars go elsewhere.

        Yes, I’ll judge… with my dollars and my voice.

    • Jew here: Calling out a greedy, selfish prick for his constant shitty behavior in our community is not anti-Semitic just because he has a Jewish last name. Its pathetic to counter the MANY complaints about this morally bankrupt person with such a weak argument.

      • “Just because he has a Jewish last name”? Is this your way of saying he isn’t Jewish or just not Jewish enough? Kinda Jewish? A little bit Jew?

        If you really are Jewish like you claim in your post, shame on you.

  10. Clegg, you got called out for thinking hating a guy’s destruction of a neighborhood is somehow related to his last name.

    I hated Herman Cain when he ran for office. That make me racist? No I just disliked a capitalist grifter.

    I don’t think you’ll ever get it. To scream “anti-semetism!” is beyond silly. Glad you were called out for disgusting reverse racism.

      • I was merely trying to bring awareness to the overlooked antisemitism here in the CD. To ignore it or to diminish it is simply preferential racism. I saw a Central District elder, tell Eisenberg to take his kids to the gas chamber with him. I was there when the same elder led a crowd to yell that the Nazis should come, get Eisenberg and take him back to Germany to get what is coming to him. How can you downplay that – justify that with what? Your thoughts that he owns too much of a corner? It is downright wrong. This is bigger than some pot shop owner, this is selective racism that is accepted and even promoted amongst the very people replying to this gossip column. And it shouldn’t be brushed aside. And it mustn’t be excused.

        This is a bar. A bar that lost its lease. It isn’t a community disaster. A community disaster is when we start to overlook and condone hateful behavior if it furthers our own agendas and beliefs.

  11. Umm Clegg, then take that to the people who were guilty of those things. You are mad at the wrong people. It doesn’t make the people who disliked him because of his actions anti-Semitic.

  12. Wow!!! I’m never sure if these are ‘bots’ on these blogs or real humans?? Thought this was about bidding a fond farewell to TNL and maybe sharing a quick cherished moment there. Guess it’s always ‘open season’ for (blame, vitriol, and hypocrisy). I’m willing to bet that there aren’t any ‘saints’ amongst us since we all live in glass houses…you rock slingers should be careful. The TNL will find a new home, hopefully, and all might be well. Businesses come and go, the same as residents, irrespective of how or why. It’s just, changes. Ganging up and slandering your would-be-boogeyman helps the TNL, how?? IJS…

  13. Wherever the NEIGHBOR LADY lands, my family and friends will be sure to follow. Stefan and his family of employees have been a constant in our lives since the opening of the first “TWILIGHT” on Madison.

  14. I’ve been a regular at Neighbor Lady for many years. I was sitting at a table near the door in November and had a front row seat to Eisenburg loudly berating one of the owners. He claimed that Tom was colluding with the Squirrel Chops owners, and that they were anti Semitic. “I want YOU out! It’s YOU I want out!” Something like that. I was shocked that the door guy didn’t grab him and toss him on his ass. I wish I had whipped out my phone and started recording. It’s clear that Eisenburg doesn’t have a single shred of decency. Let’s get one thing straight. From what I saw, they didn’t loose their lease. They were kicked out in a purposely damaging fashion because Eisenburg had some delusional, paranoid, and false ideas in his head. I couldn’t help but see a little mini Central District Trump before me that was pissed because Orion lost the election and he needed someone to take it out on. It’s just too bad the whole neighborhood has to suffer because of this silver spooned man-child. I’ve heard that the owners can’t say anything because of and NDA. But, someday I hope the real truth gets out and bites Eisenburg in the ass.

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