Belltown will see four bar openings, two reopenings and one closing early this year. It's the neighborhood to watch in 2017.
Belltown is the barhopping neighborhood to watch in 2017 with four major bar openings and two reopenings, all within a four-block radius.
Taken together, they hint at an identity change. Goodness knows, Belltown has seen its share of changes. It went from a collection of edgy-and-grungy dives filled with artists and lifers to a fancy nightlife scene with candy cocktails. Then it was supposed to be a place for fine dining, until it wasn’t (see the closure of Lampreia, Cascadia, Zoe, The Coterie Room, Taberna del Alabardero, etc.)
Now, maybe this neighborhood is shifting back to Belltown circa 1995. In interviews with several new bar owners mentioned below, the words most mentioned were “neighborhood bar” and “dive,” more cheap beers and fewer fancy cocktails, with sandwiches and snacks that don’t require a chef or much kitchen space.
Below are openings in Belltown in the coming months (and this doesn’t even include a handful of rumors of other ownership changes):
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Screwdriver: 2320 First Ave.; opened in December. It’s a modest basement bar that has the DNA of those neighborhood spots on Capitol Hill. There’s Buck Hunter and pinball machines to kill time, and $2 Rainier during happy hour. No kitchen, but you can get food upstairs at the Belltown Pub.
Neon Boots: 2224 Second Ave., suite A; scheduled to open in spring, maybe as early as March. This will be a neighborhood bar that harkens to old Belltown, a more dive-y feel with beers and sandwiches. Its owners are Jeremy Alexander, who works at the dive The Octopus Bar in Wallingford, and Tracey Campbell.
Jupiter: 2126 Second Ave., suite A; scheduled to open by April. Across the street from another newcomer The Cursed Oak. It’s an artsy bar with an arcade room in the back, from respected mural artist Joe Nix and Jeff Rogers, who owns the pinball place John John’s Game Room on Capitol Hill. The 5,500-square-foot bar will have a rotating art exhibit, pinball machines from the 1970s, and new video games; five beer taps in the front bar and a couple of taps in the back room will complement its can-and-bottle beer list and sandwich menu.
Navy Strength: 2505 Second Ave., suite 102; could open by late February. The most-anticipated cocktail bar opening this year, this ambitious tiki joint is from the couple behind the new craft-beer hangout No Anchor next door.
Queen City Grill: 2201 First Ave.; scheduled to reopen in February. Thanks to a last-minute deal, this bar restaurant was saved from closure and is under new management, the same folks behind Chavez on Capitol Hill and all those Cantinetta restaurants.
Bell+Whete: 200 Bell St.; will reopen under new name and concept in the spring, according to management. Bell+Whete never found its identity. It housed a large dining room with European-inspired food that didn’t mesh with a bar that boasts 64 beers on tap. Now, management will put in a brewing system in that dining space. The focus will be more “neighborhood-centric.” In a prepared statement, the ownership group said, “The customers have told us what they want in that space, they want a nice bar with good food, priced between $12 and $18 a plate, along with a wide variety of interesting beers. That is what we are going to provide them.”
One Belltown closure:
Icon Grill: The 19-year-old bar restaurant unfortunately won’t get a second life, and is closing on Jan. 28 to make way for an 48-story high rise, the restaurant’s management said. It was a popular happy-hour hangout during the Belltown happy-hour boom 15 years ago, especially for its deep-fried mac-and-cheese.