It will not return.
In its stead, though, The Tailgate is now under construction, owned and managed by Liza Danger and Trevor Marsh, the owners of The Octopus Bar on the same block.
However, don’t go there expecting to find an extension of The Octopus’s Georgetown vibe. Tailgate, as its name implies, will be a sports bar first and foremost. The promo text explains:
Tailgate is redefining a sports bar as the place for all those who enjoy drinking, community and culture, and of course sports and entertainment.
Tailgate intends to be a neighborhood Seattle sports bar and entertainment venue synonymous with a search for your neighborhood bar that offers also offers comfortable seat you’ll never want to leave. We will also provide areas for gaming which include foosball, air hockey, arcade games, table games as well as nightly specials, a stage for events and weekend DJ’s/acts. Tailgate is the future Seattle destination and landmark for all things sports, nightlife, and community driven entertainment.
According to Liza, their goal is to get people in for games, and then give them a reason to stick around after the game is over. The bar will have 13 TV’s for watching the game. For food, they’ll serve “concession-style” food (“wings, fries, nachos and red vines”), but are also planning to apply for food truck permits for a more interesting selection.
Nearby neighbors (especially residents of the Bagley Lofts, right across the street) have watched the construction with trepidation, fearing the potential increase in night noise and drunkenness that can accompany a successful bar. When I chatted with Liza last week, she sought to re-assure people on a number of fronts that they will be doing what they can do mitigate the impact on the neighbors.
“We’re going to do everything we can to be respectful neighbors,” she said. “We will be installing additional sound insulation as well as replacing all the windows with double-pane to reduce sound. We’ll also continue to work with the liquor control board to train on practices. Nobody wants a douchebag bar next door.”
She also notes that the outdoor patio on Bagley, which was on city property, has been permanently removed. They will be applying for a beer garden, but primarily for daytime use during games. “The noise ordinance says we could keep it open until 10 pm, but we wouldn’t go that late,” she said.
Liza explains that her goal is to complement other nearby bars like the SeaMonster Lounge, Al’s Tavern, Murphy’s and the Grizzled Wizard to build the critical mass that will make Wallingford a “destination”:
“When Iron Bull and Moon Temple closed, there was a deficit,” she said. “By opening Tailgate, we’re hoping to bring more people from different areas of Seattle, as well as tourists, visitors to all the bar and restaurants in the area.”
The Octopus and the Tailgate create a problem for the derelict theaters that sit between and beside them. The easternmost theater property, in particular, is difficult to sell because it shares a wall with the Iron Bull / Tailgate building, and the two properties together would make a much more compelling opportunity for a developer if they could wrap up the Octopus’s property with it.
Neither the Octopus nor the Tailgate are likely to succumb to developer dreams anytime soon, though. The Octopus’s lease gave them the right to purchase the property and Liza was emphatic that they had no plans to go anywhere. The Tailgate property, she added, is owned by someone who owns a number of single-story properties around Seattle and has no interest in developing them, even in light of that block’s recent conversion to NC-55 zoning (meaning one can now build a 5 story mixed-use building on the lot, usually with ground floor shops and apartments above).
I imagine there will be some cheering of this news in some corners of Wallingford, even if that cheering comes from people who will never set foot in either the Octopus or the Tailgate. I appreciate the dedication to ideals, but also worry that the two empty buildings where the Guild 45th used to sit will remain an open sore in Wallingford’s core, gathering litter and graffiti. (Liza said she has been in contact with the theater owners and will be taking care of the graffiti.)
Construction is well underway at the Tailgate, with a target opening date in September (just in time for football season). The new owners are doing what they can to retain pieces of this piece of Wallingford history, including attempting to remove the Dave Niehaus portrait intact for charity auction, and having a professional photographer take photos of the western mural to offer prints.