Capitol Hill gay bar Union has found a new home in the neighborhood and it won’t even have to change its name.
“I hope that the community that we service and that has adopted us as a second home joins in the excitement of our ability to relocate and reopen,” Union partner Greg Scheaffer tells CHS about the planned move. Continue reading →
Capitol Hill gay bar veterans Steve Nyman, Nathan Benedict, and Mark Engelmann have joined to open a brand new cocktail bar on 14th and Union in the space formerly occupied by Zoe. Wednesday, the new owners were on the new patio of the updated venue ready for a new era.
Union Bar will begin its regular 2pm to 2am service on Thursday the 26th as part of a soft opening, before a “fabulous” opening party on Sunday with an all-day happy hour which includes $4.75 wells. UPDATE: Delayed! No Thursday opening but stay tuned!
“It checks all our boxes. It’s a perfect gayborhood location — it has a patio, fireplace lounge for the wintertime, and an area where you can circulate,” Benedict said.
Proud Joey Burgess in front of his newly opened Queer/Bar (Images: Alex Garland)
Plastered in a white, clear, modern font on Pike/Pine glows the generationally controversial word “Queer,” accompanied by “Bar.” It’s intentional. This sleek new space is reserved for the Capitol Hill creators, the spectrum of anything out of the gender dichotomy, the queer. No straights allowed if they’re not allies — despite the clear sign, one only hopes they drunkenly take the hint.
Disclaimer: I am a straight, cisgendered, white female. But I also know how to respect spaces that aren’t meant for me without frustration. The Hill has far more bars I could choose from than the few I shouldn’t.
Roaming in the middle of Queer/Bar with a smile on his face is Joey Burgess. He runs the place.
“There’s great energy in this place,” Burgess said. “It’s paramount to keep this street queer. For me, for my family, for my friends it’s necessary.”
Dave Meinert, who also is partners with Burgess in a separate company behind Lost Lake, the Comet, and Big Mario’s, said he’s “really just investing in Joey,” who he called awesome, and a great partner with a big vision. Continue reading →
Guild Seattle’s Burgess speaks about how the ownership group bucked bad trends during a 2015 release event for a report on wage theft and paid sick law violations (Image: CHS)
How do you replace a Montlake-bound Capitol Hill gay bar? With a Queer/Bar.
Here is the announcement on the new 11th Ave venture from one of the partners behind the Lost Lake family of businesses about the upcoming Pike/Pine hangout:
In the wake of rumors of LGBTQIA businesses leaving the traditionally gay neighborhood of Seattle, a new-to-the-scene QUEER/BAR announces its plans to open in the coming weeks. QUEER/BAR intends to foster an inclusive gathering space for the LGBTQIA community and strives to have a team, ownership, and clientele reflect the diversity of the city, while retaining Capitol Hill’s foothold of being the premiere arts and queer neighborhood.
Joey Burgess, a partner at nearby Grim’s and part of Guild Seattle, the group behind Lost Lake Cafe, The Comet, and three Big Mario’s locations across Seattle, says he is excited to “finally be executing a project that marries his love for social activism and his passion for running bars and restaurants.”
“He is proud to own and offer a space that will serve his fellow LGBTQIA community,” the announcement of the new bar reads.
Citing a surge in Pike/Pine rent, Purr closed in July after more than 10 years on 11th Ave and has announced it will soon reopen in Montlake.
Queer/Bar is expected to open by “fall” and is lining up to be a busy place:
QUEER/BAR will make its mark by bringing together local artists, performers, and non-profits to create a community space for all things queer. The calendar of events will cover the spectrum from day and night. The space plans to launch a Queer/Chef series that focuses on the culinary talents of LGBTQIA chefs and Queer/Hall which will serve as venue for queer-focused issues in politics, activism, and community driven forums. Additionally, Queer/Bingo, Queer/Dance nights, and local Queer/Art performances, including drag shows, are on the docket. Of course, Queer/Bar will fit right into its neighborhood nightlife by offering a full bar, plenty of music, dinner, and brunch. The space will be designed by Burgess’ husband and partner, Murf Hall, a local designer at a large retailer that is home-based in Seattle, WA. Burgess says, “It’s been 12 years of planning, scrapping, and conceptualizing amongst friends and colleagues. I’m over the moon to launch in a neighborhood that has felt like home for years.”
Burgess, described as an “LGBTQIA advocate” in the Queer/Bar news release, serves on the boards of Three Dollar Bill Cinema and Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce.
After nearly a 12 year run on Capitol Hill’s 11th Avenue between Pike and Pine Streets, Purr Cocktail Lounge will be packing up the video screens and vodka bottles for a new location in…Seattle’s Montlake neighborhood. That was the surprise announcement at Wednesday night’s “Purr Going Away Party” where owner Barbie Roberts thanked her regulars and staff for a great run at the 11th Avenue location but then made the announcement that everyone had been waiting to hear…where was Purr moving to? While most expected that the new location would be either on Capitol Hill, Seattle’s primary LGBTQ neighborhood or at least adjacent to the ‘hood, no one expected to hear “Montlake” as the new location.
Owner Barbie Roberts has said the move is an economic one with the more-than-a-decade-old lounge escaping soaring Pike/Pine rents. A former employee of Manray and The Wildrose, Roberts opened Purr in 2006 in the former home of the Bad JuJu lounge. In 2011, CHS talked with her about the features of a successful gay bar and surviving the changes of growth in Pike/Pine.
While Purr’s adventure off the Hill will bring more affordable rent and more than a few interesting rides on the 43, we’re sure, its new home will also come with some economic challenges. The Montlake Pub closed in the space after a rocky year of business — it closed so abruptly, CHS never had the opportunity to run a post on the new restaurant last spring. Before the pub, the Traveler family of neighborhood grills gave 24th Ave E a run after taking over for longtime favorite the Montlake Pubin 2014. 24th Ave and Montlake, meanwhile, are set for major changes with a new 520 lid and bridge work slated to completely overhaul the road network at the key interchange. Meanwhile, the approach from the north to the area is also planned for major changes in future stages of the 23rd Ave corridor “road diet.”
No opening date for Montlake Purr has been announced.
The rumors have become fact — or, at least, a going away party.
Purr has announced a July 19th celebration to say goodbye to its longtime 11th Ave home… and ownership says details on a new location for the Pike/Pine gay bar could be coming soon.
And the Party is just beginning…… Please join us for our “Going Away Party” on Wednesday July 19th. as we say goodbye to our “current” location. We’ve been proud to serve you here on 11th Ave for 12 strong years, and will continue to do so in our “new location”. Stay tuned for additional news as we work on solidifying details of our new home. Hope to see you all there!
Barbie also stressed to us that she’s not leaving the current location out of any bad feelings or due to the building being torn down. It’s simply the end of her current lease and she decided not to continue at that location due to the rent hike she would face under a new lease. It’s Economics 101, folks…gentrification leads to property values going up, followed by a big jump in rents which is something that effects both individuals in apartments as well as small business owners in commercial locations.
The Purr exit will leave a new space along 11th Ave without a tenant just as another moves in. In May, CHS reported that the Rain City Fit gym would soon neighbor Purr in the location left empty when kink retailer The Crypt shuttered in 2015.
A former employee of Manray and The Wildrose, Roberts opened Purr in 2006 in the former home of the Bad JuJu lounge. In 2011, CHS talked with her about the features of a successful gay bar and surviving the changes of growth in Pike/Pine.
As for where Purr, one of the Hill’s last remaining dedicated gay bars, lands next, stay tuned.