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The Pike/Pine and East Olive Way “Bar War” heats...

April 11, 2011 Comments (9) Views: 1690 Community News

Is East Olive Way challenging Pike/Pine to be the new queer destination street?

Proposed design for new Capitol Hill venue, "The Social" from design firm, Pb Elemental.

So many changes happening to East Olive Way on Capitol Hill that odd curvy stretch of a commercial district that links up Denny Way to Broadway. The neighborhood has always had a strong LGBTQ presence but very few LGBTQ specific businesses but that’s all starting to change. Certainly the Summit/Olive Starbucks is one of the gayest in town, and queer folks have been going to Pretty Parlor and Bus Stop and other local businesses for years but the neighborhood has gotten even “pinker” in the last couple of months with The Bottleneck owner Erin Nestor taking over the old Shinka Tea location with her new bar/food space Tommy Gun which opened last week and the announcement at the end of last year that beloved Seattle “bear” bar C.C. Attle’s was displacing local gay watering hole, The Metropolitain. C.C. Attle’s just got its remodeling permits in the last month and hopes to open before Gay Pride in June.

But, the latest, and biggest news, is that three local entrepreneurs: Shanon Thorson and Laura Olson from Po Dog and Grim’s and Alex Garcia from Emerson Salon and Banyan Branch marketing have joined forces and announced plans to open “The Social” a huge, “three level 12,000 sq ft ultra lounge/restaurant and nightclub” in the space currently occupied by a number of small businesses, Sideshow Salon, Seattle Wargaming and the Artful Dodger tattoo shop. Plans are for those existing businesses to be incorporated into the design of the new lounge. Design work has been started for the new venue but no permits have been filed with the city. A build out this extensive would probably mean it would be summer/fall before the space would open. From the press release:

The Social is located on East Olive and will feature three distinct rooms, including four bars and a 3000 sq ft restaurant. The entertainment venue is being designed by award winning Capitol Hill firm Pb Elemental (recently named one of the Decades Best by Seattle Magazine). Our focus is to provide a well designed, fun, and high quality venue for the LGBT community.

Those are some ambitious plans…and some brave ones, in our shaky economy, so kudos to The Social team. That’s going to be a HUGE space and will employ a lot of people which will not only benefit night life options on the Hill but help our neighborhood economy. But, hopefully the potential “awesomeness” of the new venue won’t suck too much business away from existing clubs on Pike/Pine…peaceful co-exhistence between the OLD entertainment district and the emerging district on East Olive Way would be in the best interests of both neighborhoods.

And, opening a new business is tough especially such an ambitious business, but if anyone can pull it off, it should be Mr. Thorson, Ms Olson and Mr. Garcia. The huge success of their current enterprises and marketing savvy will certainly give them a strong advantage with The Social. We can’t wait to see the results.

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9 Responses to Is East Olive Way challenging Pike/Pine to be the new queer destination street?

  1. Alex says:

    No competition here, more like just an amazing kick ass bar crawl every weekend!

    Start on Pine and work your way over to Olive or vice versa. Its more like one big circle of fun.

  2. Michael Strangeways says:

    That’s a great attitude to have Alex, but I’m guessing this announcement is making the owners of The Cuff, Neighbours, R Place, etc. a wee bit nervous. Ideally, folks will visit MANY venues in a night, and heaven knows the LGBTQ community does love to bar hop, but the reality is, venue revenue is strongly tied to booze sales. If Johnny Gay Wad and pals visit one or two bars a night, they might buy two drinks in each bar…if they visit more, then it could just be one drink per bar. And, being the newest jewel in the gay venue firmament, if The Social is a success, then people will want to linger THERE longer. That will be great for The Social, but not so great for other bars.

    Ideally, the new venues and the new entertainment district will draw NEW customers to the Hill and not just cannibalize the existing 2000 people who party on the Hill every weekend.

    We’re not trying to start a “controversy” or turf war, but the economic fact is, your large new venue could be a game changer for LGBTQ nightlife and for Capitol Hill. And, that will be very positive for many folks, but potentially not so positive for some as well. At the very least, the older clubs might have to step up their game which would benefit everybody.

    Good luck…and may the best nightclub….WIN!

  3. RuIluvU2 says:

    And *don’t* fuck it up.

  4. Michael Strangeways says:

    I’m so happy that someone got that reference…

  5. Jason says:

    A little competition is just what Seattle needs. Maybe it’ll force The Cuff, Neighbors, and other bars to up their game. I love our bars but they never make any improvements; it’s all flat black paint, broken toilets, and weak DJs spinning tired Top 40 hits. It’d be nice to have friends in from out of town and not be embarrassed to take them out.

  6. Danny says:

    this is great news for the hill. It could cannabilize the other clubs but more likely it will bring more people out. Its the same old bar scene every weekend at the clubs. Its a welcome change to break up the ever so clique homos on the hill. I look forward to seeing a new mix of people in a common place having fun.

  7. Michael Strangeways says:

    Also interesting is the fact that the definition of a “gay” bar is blurring all the time. It wasn’t that many years ago that LGBTQ people only felt comfortable and safe in clearly identified gay spaces. As society becomes more accepting of the queer community and younger queer people feel they can be open in non-traditionally queer establishments, more and more venues become “rainbow friendly”. Nearly every bar/club/venue on Capitol Hill and many in the central city are now queer friendly. Gays and straights enjoy going to clubs TOGETHER. That doesn’t mean “Old School” gay bars are doomed; let’s face it, there are certainly times most of us enjoy being in a space that’s very definitely for “us”, but it also means that they will be the exception instead of the rule. The mainstreaming of queer culture means most new venues in “homo ‘hoods” will be very mixed venues like The Baltic Room or The Capitol Club or Re-bar which aren’t labeled gay only, or gay venues like Lobby or Pony which happily welcome our straight allies. The world is changing.

  8. […] reported on the new addition to the emerging East Olive Way gay entertainment scene yesterday, with the announcement that The Social, a huge 12,000 sq ft club targeting the LGBTQ market, was targeting a summer opening. This […]

  9. oh god! I cant wait till the nightlife in seattle gets better! and The Social should be a good venture.