Disturbing news involving the much troubled nightclub The Social. Early Friday morning, Seattle Police Department responded to a shooting incident outside the club on East Olive Way. From the SPD Blotter via Capitol Hill Seattle blog:
Police responded to an early morning report of a disturbance and shots fired outside a club in the 1700 Block of East Olive Way. Just before 1:00 am, East Precinct officers responded to the call of a disturbance involving several people that had begun inside the club on the dance floor and then continued out on the street after security attempted to escort them outside. Club security had just escorted two people outside and then went back in to deal with another disturbance. Several witnesses reported seeing one of the first men kicked out walk away from the club, only to return immediately with a gun in his hand. The suspect raised the gun in the air and, according to witnesses, fired at least one shot in the air. Witnesses told police that the suspect then pointed the gun at another patron standing in front of the club and fire several shots. There were no injuries as a result, althought the front door of the club was shattered. Witnesses stated that the suspect then walked away and got into a gold SUV and drive away.
As officers were responding to the call, they saw a gold 2001 GMC Yukon leaving the area and conducted a high risk traffic stop on the vehicle. Witnesses positively identified the man driving as the same suspect who had fired the gun. The suspect was taken into custody without incident. The 27-year-old suspect was taken to the East Precinct where he later taken to Harborview Medical Center after complaining about a medical issue. Once the suspect is discharged from the hospital, it is expected he will be booked into the King County Jail on a number of charges. The Yukon was also impounded pending a search warrant. Gang Unit detectives are handling the follow up investigation.
The incident is just one of several set-backs for The Social which opened in May after a long series of delays. While the presence of a new, big night club on the Hill was originally met with much acclaim and hope for its success, expectations for the club were not met and attendance at The Social and its restaurant partner EVO were not as high as anticipated. EVO partner Todd Nordahl left the project several weeks ago, and the principal partners from Pterodactyl Group, Laura Olson and Chris Pardo took over management of the restaurant, renaming it Theory Vodka Lounge. Originally conceived as a gay/straight venue, The Social quietly began changing the format of the venue earlier this month, and stopped programming events of LGBTQ interest and ceased marketing themselves as a gay friendly venue.
The decline of The Social is oddly familiar to long time Capitol Hill residents as it recalls the similar fate of “Sugar” that occupied the space on Pike Street currently, and partially, the home of Lobby Bar. Sugar opened to great fanfare in 2007 marketed as a gay club but low attendance resulted in a format change that eventually resulted in a clientele that primarily consisted of young, straight and unfortunately, street gang connected individuals. Multiple violent incidents, including gunplay, ended with the club closing after only a few months of operation.
Sadly, the same fate seems to be happening at The Social and the next step belongs to the owners of the club. If they want to continue as a healthy business and good community partners, they need to make some changes to the venue that has frankly been mismanaged since its announcement. At the very least, the club needs a much larger and better trained security staff. Ideally, they need to figure out a community safe format that benefits Capitol Hill. Targeting a potentially dangerous and non-residential client base without proper security, will only endanger the lives of people in the neighborhood. Ms Olson, Mr. Pardo and their partner Alex Garcia need to make these changes or immediately sell/close the club before its too late and someone is seriously injured or dies. That is the responsible thing to do.
More as it develops.