Post navigation

Prev: (01/09/24) | Next: (01/10/24)

Nightlife notes: Unicorn expansion, Vito’s RIP, and Julia’s still in the drag business on Broadway

Vito Santoro (right) created a neighborhood meeting place where lawyers, off-duty cops, and a high-profile politician or two could mingle, and who-knows-what would happen in the back room. (Image: Vito’s)

Heimstadt inside the coming soon new West Seattle Unicorn (Image: Unicorn)

 

  • UNICORN EXPANSION: It has been nearly four years since CHS reported on the 10-year anniversary of one-of-a-kind Pike/Pine circus bar the Unicorn. Included in that February, 2020 story were details of Adam Heimstadt and Kaileigh Wilson’s big top plans for a massive Unicorn expansion near West Seattle and White Center. And then COVID blew everything away. But Pike/Pine nightlife is back, baby, and word comes now that the Unicorn expansion is back in motion with hopes for a 2024 debut. Heimstadt and Wilson bought the 25,000 square foot property on 17 Ave SW in 2017 that is also home to a collection of local businesses that will remain in place. The new Unicorn sibling will be huge with a 64-foot long bar and plans for a teacup ride relocated from San Luis Obispo.
  • (Image: Vito’s)

    VITO’S RIP: 70 years after Vito Santoro opened the joint, you can stick a fork in Vito’s. It’s dead. Ownership of the classic First Hill lounge have decided to walk away from any plans for revival after a three-alarm New Year’s Day fire struck a death blow to the Madison Street building Vito’s has called home:
    It’s time to say goodbye and thank you all very much for the opportunity to resurrect an iconic seattle institution and share the magic that Vito Santoro brought to life in 1953. We took the task of restoring and managing the club very seriously and brought together an incredible family of staff, musicians, patrons and politicians. It was a steep climb, but we reached a cruising altitude that was incredibly special and we thought, would carry us into our golden years.
    With paperwork finally moving into place to demolish the building that has been vacant since a June 2022 fire seriously damaged the structure, owners Greg Lundgren and Jeff Scott moved ahead with the Vito’s obituary. “The amazing people and boundless good times greatly eclipse the heartbreak of announcing our permanent closure, and there are simply too many thank you’s and names to give proper credit to, they write. In 2020, CHS reported on the ten year anniversary of the restored club as the new owners resurrected what Vito and Jimmie Santoro started in 1953: a neighborhood lounge where people enjoyed Italian food, cocktails, and live entertainment. Lundgren remembers his father would stop at the lounge when he was working downtown. In the grunge years Scott would hang out with friends at Vito’s after shows, ordering their stiff drinks. Spurred by the success of The Hideout, a speakeasy-style bar a few blocks away they established five years prior, Lundgren and Scott felt inspired to tackle the project of restoring Vito’s in 2010. Thirteen years later, that work has come to a close.

    A 2023 Throwback Brunch at Julia’s Broadway (Image: Julia’s)

  • JULIA’S STILL KICKING: Wallingford ended 2023 mourning the closure of its Julia’s after 42 years of business after the popular restaurant lost its lease. The Broadway Julia’s — now a distant cousin to the shuttered Wallingford joint — remains in business as usual. Owners Karsten Betd and daughter Lauren Betd never evolved the Wallingford Julia’s from the small chain’s original diner roots. As the business scene on Broadway shifted in the 2010s, Karsten Betd passed the torch at the Capitol Hill Julia’s to longtime manager Eladio Preciado. Preciado decided against a plan to move downtown and instead fully shifted the Broadway Julia’s to the drag show-centered entertainment and food venue it has grown into today. The drag business hasn’t always been smooth for the club and its own lease was reportedly ready to come up recently. But, for now, the Julia’s Broadway shows will go on.
 

BECOME A CHS SUBSCRIBER
Subscribe to CHS to help us pay writers and photographers to cover the neighborhood. Become a subscriber at $1/$5/$10 a month.

 

 

 
Subscribe and support CHS Contributors -- $1/$5/$10 per month

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

7 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Nandor
Nandor
1 month ago

Drunken people, a spinning carnival ride…what could go wrong? I hope they plan to keep a lot of sawdust handy.

Jason
Jason
1 month ago

Vito’s was legendary. This is extremely sad.

Guesty
Guesty
1 month ago

Apparently Julias is also in the business of seriously disturbing the neighborhood – a reddit post the other day complained about speakers set up outside of Julias BLASTING music all day, not inside, but piped outside.

Having someone else’s music forced on you is one of the Rings of Hell in Dante’s Inferno I think.

Jason
Jason
1 month ago
Reply to  Guesty

The Seattle sub Reddit is full of Karens. Julia’s is fine lol

Guesty
Guesty
1 month ago
Reply to  Jason

There were plenty of people chiming in on behalf of the poster. It’s loud, bass-y, campy drag show music – definitely sounds annoying.

Jason
Jason
1 month ago
Reply to  Guesty

Meh… go to any big city. Portland is loud all night. NYC, Denver, etc. Move to the ‘burbs maybe?

Frank
Frank
1 month ago
Reply to  Guesty

How remarkably waaaaaaaah, and so totally Seattle.