Streamline Tavern: Another Great Dive Bar May Be Doomed

A much beloved Lower Queen Anne dive bar is on the way out to make room for a new building to house the Korean Consulate. Marked by its iconic neon sign, the demise of the Streamline Tavern is emblematic of the long, slow decline of old-style, frill-free shot-and-a-beer neighborhood watering holes in Seattle. (Click here for a list of the city’s oldest bars.)

The dark, boozy joint with its pool table and dart board, cozy wraparound bar and schlocky art collection has been around since the mid-50s. It was first located near the Uptown Theater before settling sometime in the 1970s into its well-worn digs at 121 West Mercer.

The place is an institution, a serious drinker’s mecca and comfortable haunt for desperadoes and professionals alike. When the Seattle P-I closed down in March 2009, many an unemployed reporter paid a visit (or two) to the Streamline to cry in their beer.

Mike Lewis, a former P-I reporter, bought the Tavern a few months after the paper ceased publication, kicking in with several other partners, including Blue Moon Tavern bartender Mary McIntyre, Lewis’ longtime girlfriend, whose tastefully nude likeness, as ex-Seattle Weekly editor Mike Seely once noted, adorns the sign of the historic blue-collar U District bar .

“We’re not happy to leave," Lewis says. "Location for us is everything. We want to stay in Lower Queen Anne, but it’s hard to find commercial space, and the rents are going sky high. If we move, we’d lose all our customers.”

Last December, the sale was finalized, with the Consulate paying $2.4 million for the property on West Mercer Street, between First Avenue West and Second Avenue West.

“After the sale, we had to negotiate with the South Korean government,” recounts Lewis. “We’ve talked with their attorney and they’ve given us till December 31."

A source familiar with the negotiations tells SW that the Korean Consulate was offered space in the Chinatown-International District, as the home to Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipinos and a small number of Koreans has been officially referred to since 1998. But, the source, said, “They felt uncomfortable going there.”

Consul Chul Ho Choi, who presently keeps offices in a building downtown on Sixth and Lenora, was not readily available for comment.

Aside from the Streamline, other current tenants of the buildings, a Radio Shack, an antique store and a Spic ‘n Span dry cleaner, will also have to leave the properties, set to be demolished sometime in 2015.

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