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Monday, July 05, 2010

#1171 #S712 - El Norte, Seattle - 7/2/2010

I hadn't heard of the Rose Garden Tavern until the local papers started publishing stories about its imminent loss of its liquor license due to drugs and other problems.  Apparently it was the heart of a part of the Lake City neighborhood that locals and police knew as "Little Beruit."  Owned at the time by a retired drug-enforcement agent, in less than a year there were 10 assaults reported at the Garden, one stabbing of a bouncer, one patron returning to a fight with an axe, and undercover cops were apparently 5 for 5 in attempts to buy crack inside.

The stories warned of the license expiring by the end of the month so I hurriedly added it to my to-do list, but the Rose Garden actually closed just a week later, thus precluding my chances of ever getting it included in this project.

When I visited El Norte in the old Rose Garden space, there was nary a hint of its gangster past.  It's now a club that hosts soft jazz, of all things, with new ownership (of Mr. Villa) serving Latin small plates and drinks.  It later focused on goth/darkwave events. For a while the city fought the new owner's desire to insert another bar in the space, but the new venue has been praised by many of the neighbors for the vast improvements.  The only possible vestige I saw was a boarded window in the men's room, blocked by a 2x4 as if expecting an attack by injuns.  The decor, the bands, and the patrons are all seemed exceedingly genteel during the day.



Historical Notes:  The building currently holding El Norte was constructed in 1921 and the first bar I have found at this address in city guides is Rebel's Inn, owned by Fred Amos in 1936.  Since then names of bars in this location include Chuck's Tavern (1948), Margie's Tavern (1960), B&E Tavern (1970), Burd Dawg Tavern (1977), Chuck and Mary's Tavern (1980), Out-Zen Inn (1983), Dorsey's (1985) and by 1990 the Rose Garden.

13717 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98125 - (206) 954-1349
Est. 2010 - Building constructed 1921
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