Wallingford’s only gay bar Changes celebrated its 27th year. Opened in 1989 on North 45th Street and still under the same ownership, Changes embodies all that you love about old Wallingford while at the same time being very new. I spoke with owner Floyd Isaac recently and I found his opinion on just about everything to be quite laid back. While many of us are worried about all the changes to the neighborhood, Floyd takes everything in stride. Here are the results of my interview with him. It has been lightly edited.
Q. You opened in 1989 in Wallingford. Why Wallingford and not Capitol Hill?
A. I live in Wallingford. I liked the location.
Q. The Seattle Times reported that Shelley Brothers owner of the Wildrose on Capitol Hill says that with the gentrification of the neighborhood “People have walked out onto the sidewalk and say to each other, ‘Why are there so many frickin’ gay bars up here?’” How do you feel about what is happening to Capitol Hill in regards to it being less and less of a gay district?
A. It’s good to see more people around the city now. It brings more diversity. I had a bar in Capitol Hill. It was less concentrated there then than it is now. Very different. Many bars there are not gay bars anymore. I don’t know if you’d even call them gay.
Q. I would think Changes would be a destination bar in that many people come to it from outside of the neighborhood. What would you say is the ratio of locals to Seattleites from outside the neighborhood?
A. It is [a destination bar] though many of our customers live in the neighborhood. It changes on any given night the ratio of locals. Many people walk here because they live close by.
Q. One of the things I like about gay bars is the sense of community you get in one. It’s like the Cheers theme, “where everyone knows your name”. Would you like to speak to that?
A. The sense of community is important and it is a “Cheers” atmosphere. It makes the place more fun overall.
Q. In past posts on Wallyhood about Changes, someone in the comments always asks if you are Straight Friendly. What say you?
A. A lot of our regulars are straight people. We are friendly to whoever walks through the door. Gay or straight.
Q. How do you feel about all the redevelopment that is going on in Wallingford right now? Although different than Capitol Hill, do you worry that Wallingford may lose its character as a diverse neighborhood?
A. As much as I hate to see all the development in Wallingford, it is just a sign of the times. Look at Ballard and West Seattle. All we can do is hope we fit in with whatever changes they bring. I never went to Moon Temple, but I know people were sorry to see it go.
Q. There’s been talk of building light rail along N 50th Street or N 45th Street. How do you feel about that?
A. I don’t see where it would hurt anything. I think something is needed to connect the U District to Ballard.
Q. Is there anything you would like Wallyhood readers to know about Changes that they may not know?
A. We have been here 27 years. Anyone new should know this is a very friendly neighborhood bar. Everyone is welcome. We have a full menu and good food. We do karaoke. Many of our regulars are vegetarian.
Q. Can I just tell you how much I love the name Changes. Do you play a lot of David Bowie?
A. Not really . I didn’t name it after the song. We play DMX (satellite radio) though so sometimes we have David Bowie on.
Changes definitely has a loyal following. I arrived at exactly noon when they open. A patron named Jimmy was walking up to the door at the same time. He told me he moved to Wallingford to be close to Changes. We walked through the door and there was Floyd and two employees. Everyone was chatting while setting up for the day. You could feel the community bond.