Clubs Neumos and Chop Suey warn COVID-19 crisis could wipe out live music on Capitol Hill

Venue owners say Capitol Hill’s live music scene will be a casualty of the COVID-19 crisis if more isn’t done to buttress the clubs that keep it going.

They’re seeking help from somewhere — from the King County Council or beyond — to help prop up what they say is a one of a kind type of business that needs special financial assistance to survive.

“If people want there to be a music scene in Seattle, we need help from our government. If we don’t get help, there are no more small venues,” Steven Severin, part of the ownership of Neumos and a veteran of the Pike/Pine nightlife scene tells CHS.

Severin is part of an effort for the few clubs like Neumos across the region to come together to call for financial assistance specific to the live music industry. The Washington Nightlife & Music Association is hoped to be a voice for the rare remaining venues. This week, the hope is pinned to the King County Council: Continue reading

‘Shots fired at the Baltic Room’ — Two hit in Capitol Hill shootout

Two people were shot including one who was taken into custody and Seattle Police had to hold back a hostile crowd in closing time gunfire at Pike/Pine club The Baltic Room early Saturday.

SPD confirmed the shootings and said one person was in custody following the 2 AM melee outside the lower Pine club.

According to East Precinct radio reports, two victims suffered gunshot injuries to their legs and one of the victims at the hospital was to be arrested. It was not clear if there were other victims not found at the scene or if police were looking for additional shooters. Continue reading

From cannabis to clubs, Capitol Hill’s The Baltic Room has a new owner

Proud owners Rachel Keith and Rahsaan Henry (Image: The Baltic Room)

From The Ganja Mom to Capitol Hill’s new queen of clubs? Rachel Keith is a long way from creating anything like Linda Derschang’s empire just yet but with her summer takeover of The Baltic Room, she’s proud to at least be following in a few of Derschang’s earliest dance steps.

Keith purchased the Baltic, the Pine dance club Derschang first opened as a piano bar in 1997, this summer and celebrated a grand reopening last month.

“What’s the Baltic Room?,” Keith asked earlier this year as she was searching through listings for an available club. “My husband and I have always been in the nightlife scene. I decided to go check it out.” Continue reading

Capitol Lounge ready for first weekend in Pike/Pine’s club scene

(Image: Capitol Lounge)

(Image: Capitol Lounge)

Pd0GUph0A new club is set to join Pike/Pine’s nightlife. The Capitol Lounge opened softly this week and is preparing for its first weekend of action in the DJ-focused dance and club culture that has formed around E Pike’s Friday and Saturday nights.

“We want Capitol Hill to define it,” a representative for the new club tells CHS of the plan for the lounge.

Born in a space left vacant when gay-friendly the Lobby Bar exited the street, the Capitol Lounge isn’t a gay dance club or even a dance club, exactly, the people putting together the new nightspot say. “We’ll definitely have dance nights on Friday and Saturday and we’ll be DJ-focused,” the Capitol Lounge representative said. Continue reading

Lawsuit alleges SPD made racist arrest in Rhino Room brawl

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-3-10-59-pmAn April 2015 CHS blotter item has escalated into a lawsuit over allegations of biased policing and racist treatment of a black patron at Pike/Pine nightclub The Rhino Room.

Here is how CHS recorded the police report on the April 8, 2015 arrest of Sean Perryman:

A man trying to break-up an altercation inside an 11th and E Pine bar early Saturday morning ended up in an altercation of his own when he allegedly assaulted a man who also tried to intervene. According to SPD, the suspect was trying to calm an argument between a bouncer and a bar patron. When a third man approached, witnesses said the suspect punched and kicked that man, possibly dislocating his knee. The suspect was booked into King County Jail for assault.

But the SPD’s account of the early morning arrest left out a few key details revealed later in a review of security video that would eventually result in King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole both apologizing for the incident and the dropping of a charge of the third degree assault brought against Perryman. Continue reading

Capitol Hill bars take precautions amid reports of drugged drinks

Bar Sue is now offering date rape drug detector strips. (Image: Bar Sue via Facebook)

Bar Sue is now offering date rape drug detector strips. (Image: Bar Sue via Facebook)

Bar Sue owner Ian Carey first became concerned about an uptick in drugged drinks on Capitol Hill when he himself was drugged a few months ago at a neighborhood bar. When a Bar Sue patron reported being drugged last month, Carey decided to start offering free “date rape drug detector” tests.

“For now I am just providing free tests and posting signs that they are available to my patrons, in hopes it will potentially deter predators in my bar,” he said.

Now other bars are following suit. Chop Suey owner Brianna Rettig told CHS she has already put the order in for the strips that test for GHB, a common date rape drug. “They’re very easy and pretty brilliant. You just do a straw test on the tab and it’ll tell you whether or not there’s GHB inside the drink,” Rettig said.

Rettig said she has held multiple meetings with Chop Suey’s security and bar staff about looking out for suspicious behavior and signs of over intoxication. Nightlife owner Steven Severin said he has not heard reports of drugged drinks at Neumos, Moe Bar, or Barboza, but hopes increased attention on the issue will scare off any would-be predators.  Continue reading

New ownership for Tavern Law after founder filed for bankruptcy

In the latest chapter from the fallout of a crumbled family of food and drink businesses, two Eastside real estate professionals have taken over Tavern Law, one of the pillars of Pike/Pine’s craft cocktail scene.

Mark O’Shea, a Bellevue property manager, recently bought the business along with Derek Straight, a former executive with a large West Coast housing developer. O’Shea confirmed the ownership change with CHS but we are still waiting to hear details on the duo’s plans for the 12th and E Madison bar.

The buyout comes in the wake of financial troubles faced by Tavern Law co-founder Brian McCracken, one of Capitol Hill’s craft cocktail pioneers. In June, CHS reported on the $2.4 million bankruptcy behind the sudden closure of 12th Ave’s The Old Sage. According to documents filed in Western District of Washington United States Bankruptcy Court, McCracken and his wife filed May 20th for chapter 7 protection over some $2.4 million in debts. The big number is owed to Key Bank — $1,248,498.16. Continue reading

Seattle Police offer Capitol Hill LGBTQ venues ‘active shooter’ training ahead of Pride

As Seattle Pride participants put the finishing touches on their floats and costumes, a more somber preparation for this year’s celebration will also be underway. City officials are encouraging LGBTQ venue owners, bouncers, and event planners to attend a training next week in the wake of Sunday’s mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub that left 50 people dead.

Seattle Police will hold two trainings at the The Cloud Room coworking space at 11th and Pike after Seattle’s Office of Film and Music rushed to organize the events before Pride next weekend.

“We want everyone to be as prepared and as safe as they can be, and hopefully nobody has to use it,” said OFM director Kate Becker. Continue reading

Capitol Hill Block Party expands footprint inside Pike/Pine venues

IMG_9940113412096_10153445323016106_7333791700513337204_oFaced with limited street space and growing popularity, producers of the Capitol Hill Block Party are slightly expanding their footprint in 2016 with a new slate of programming inside neighborhood venues.

As part of Tuesday’s full band lineup announcement for the July 22-24 event, CHBP also revealed how it may continue to grow one of the few ticketed music festivals that takes place on a city’s public streets. This year’s event will include free nightly shows at Unicorn, daytime performances and Sunday morning yoga at Chophouse Row and a poster show in conjunction with the Capitol Hill Art Walk.

“Capitol Hill is the artistic and cultural epicenter of Seattle,” said owner Jason Lajeunesse in a statement. “This year, we want to activate the entire neighborhood and community to celebrate arts and culture with us.”

As usual, the 20th anniversary of the three-day event will bring a mix of big indie acts that won’t completely overwhelm the handful of dense Pike/Pine blocks. Tuesday’s full lineup announcement included the addition of rapper Mick Jenkins and the band Washed Out, who recorded the summery theme song to the TV show Portlandia.

Three-day passes are currently on sale for $174.72 (including taxes and fees) and single-day passes are $63.21. You can buy yours and learn more at See the full lineup below. Continue reading

City report: Pike/Pine street closures can continue following community meetings

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Last summer’s pedestrian zone had mixed reactions in the neighborhood (Image: SDOT)

The City of Seattle has released its comprehensive report on last summer’s experiment with a Pike/Pine pedestrian zone. In a decision that’s unlikely to please supporters or opponents of the project, the city is reccomending more community discussions before any more street closures take place.

The report released Wednesday touts the promising impacts of the project and the predominantly positive neighborhood feedback it received, but also notes the vocal opposition lodged by some local businesses and property owners. Ultimately, the Seattle Department of Transportation recommended that a “diverse group of neighborhood stakeholders” be convened by the city this spring to discuss the report’s findings and determine the “best way to move forward” in the aftermath of the pilot.

“That’s exactly what we had been calling for,” said Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director Sierra Hansen, who previously asked the city hold off on doing another street closure in 2016. “One of the things that we recommended is that we get all the diverse perspectives at the same table. We want to foster a conversation between critics and supporters.”

While the report indicates that the city—SDOT and the Office of Economic Development in this case—is not shelving the project for good, the agencies are definitely pumping the brakes. “Further conversation is needed with leadership in Capitol Hill about what a pedestrian street concept can become in Pike/ Pine,” the report says.

Updated-map-image-1024x6301-400x246-400x246The three-block pedestrian zone on E Pike between Broadway and 12th Ave originated as an attempt by the city and the Capitol Hill EcoDistrict to address issues of pedestrian congestion, aggressive crowd behavior, and LGBTQ visibility and inclusivity in the nightlife core of Capitol Hill. Funded by $30,000 of a $160,000 Only in Seattle grant awarded to the CHCC, the street closure was held over four separate saturday nights in August of last year. The first two nights were dedicated to a car-free street and the last two featured festive programming like a drag show, late night musical performances and queer-friendly partner dancing.

It appears the city landed on its talk-it-out recommendation primarily through analyzing its mixed feedback. Overall, 66% of 272 post-pilot survey respondents said they would like to see more weekend street closures, but favorability varied greatly when broken down among different groups.

Only 48% of business and property owners said they would like to see more weekend street closures (44% were opposed), compared to 70% of residents, underlining the mixed feelings in the Pike/Pine business community. When asked if they would prefer to see a street closure at other times of day, 44% of businesses and property owners said they would (37% were opposed), as did 60% of residents.Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 11.54.28 PM

The most common response to the question “what did you dislike most about the project” was that it catered too heavily to “bars and partiers” and “encouraged bad behavior.” Conversely, the most common response to the question “what did you like most” was that the street closure “made the project safer for pedestrians,” followed by “less street congestion.” Continue reading