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New start for Cafe Racer to bring live music and community to Capitol Hill’s 11th Ave

(Image: Cafe Racer)

An important name in Seattle cafes and community will start a new life in a new neighborhood and bring a new venue to Pike/Pine’s live music scene later this year when Cafe Racer opens in its new incarnation on Capitol Hill.

Jeff Ramsey and Cindy Anne announced over the weekend they are bringing the spirit of the much-loved original Roosevelt Way cafe to the creation of a new music venue in the former Barca location on 11th Ave.

Ramsey tells CHS the new Racer will fill the cool old bar space with the feel of the old cafe and a new sound system to support a nightly schedule of live shows.

 

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CHS reported here on the closure of Barca after 20 years of Capitol Hill nightlife as ownership and management weighed the costs and risks of trying to reopen after COVID-19 restrictions.

The original cafe racer, meanwhile, was the site of both tragedy and community. In 2012, a gunman shot and killed four people inside the cafe and then owner Kurt Geissel was planning to shut down until a community effort to keep the cafe and music spot open. Five years later as Racer was struggling financially, Ramsey tells CHS he decided to take Cafe Racer forward to help preserve its place in the Seattle music scene.

Ramsey and Anne, meanwhile, have kept Racer’s place in Seattle music scene as active as possible over the past year by launching Cafe Racer Radio at caferacermusic.com. Now it is time to bring live shows back in front of real-live people.

They will also bring the simple but satisfying, local-focused food and drink from the original to 11th Ave with classic Seattle cafe fare ready to help soak up the booze.

Ramsey said they searched for a new home near the original Cafe Racer but never found an opportunity around the U District and the large Barca space was too good to pass up. Cafe Racer has also already found community. Neighboring Diana Adams and Vermillion — which marked a decade on the Hill in 2018 — is like having another business partner, Ramsey says. Together, the art bar and the new music cafe hope they can help hold back the tides of redevelopment and gentrification that threaten musical and visual artists working in the neighborhood.

The arrival will be a needed boost to Capitol Hill’s live music scene which will go through another summer without the three-day Capitol Hill Block Party music festival. Federal help is also arriving with the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program hoped to bring financial support as clubs like Neumos and Chop Suey have been shuttered and unable to book shows for months.

Cafe Racer, meanwhile, will overhaul its new Capitol Hill home over the summer with some touches to reconnect the space to the original and the installation of new sound gear. Ramsey said the hope is for a September 2021 reopening — and a few “secret” shows along the way.

Cafe Racer will open later this year at 1510 11th Ave. You can tune in and watch for updates at caferacerradio.com.

 

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genevieve
genevieve
3 months ago

Wow, this is some seriously good news. Can’t wait!

Michael Calkins
Michael Calkins
3 months ago

I am genuinely excited to visit this when it opens up.

Top 'O the Hill
Top 'O the Hill
3 months ago

I am so excited about this! Fantastic news

Blob
Blob
3 months ago

queue up the “it will only be visited by entitled tech bros” crowd

amy
amy
3 months ago

I love everything about this. Awesome.

Ethan K
Ethan K
3 months ago

Oh wow such cool news!