I did not think a bar like this still existed in Seattle. With Seattle's Central District and Rainier Beach neighborhoods becoming increasingly diverse, and the closure of places like Thompson's Point of View, I didn't think there were any bars left in the city where you could count on a lively, and typically 100% African-American crowd. I'm not talking about places that may cater to recent immigrant communities, like some of the area's many Ethiopian restaurants at certain times of the day. I'm talking about an old-school, American black community bar where people are shouting insults at each other, jumping off their chairs in laughter, telling loud stories and arguing about life -- and assuming you must be lost when someone like me walks in.
During the day the crowd is more mixed in the Rose Petals restaurant, which appears to serve some of the best soul food in the city, particularly on days when Cedric or Ms. Helen are working. (Try the oxtail, I have heard.) But I arrived after the dinner hour, when the kitchen was closed and the center of activity is the back bar, lit entirely by one remaining good light bulb. Being in a neighborhood that's had it's troubles over the years, owner Bettye "Mama" Gray has had to deal with a occasional challenges over the years related to gang activity, crime, and fighting: A bouncer was killed trying to protect another man in a fight; The building was burglarized 20 times in 23 years; Some locals refer to it as "Guns and Roses." Sometimes it seems like the well-worn building is being precariously held together with plywood and masking tape.
But the staff are some of the friendliest you'll find anywhere, and most nights everyone in the bar is just looking to socialize and have a good time. And even if you are conspicuously not part of the regular crowd, you won't be allowed not to take a position in the arguments at the bar. That's more than enough to make it fun bar stop for me.
Est. ? - Closed 2014 - Building constructed: 1957
Previous bars in this location: None known
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