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The Return of Vessel: Folks, We Have a Location

"We’re going to do things no one’s ever done before," says bar manager and owner Jim Romdall.

September 1, 2011

Vessel’s new home

Photo: Google Maps

UPDATE: Okay, here’s another piece. Old Vessel owner Clark Niemeyer, who stayed aboard after co-owner Coleman Johnson quit dramatically in 2008, is returning as a partner, and will design the Olive Way space. Romdall still isn’t naming any bartenders.

When Vessel closed in December of last year, bar manager Jim Romdall was clear in his intentions to reinvent the fancy cocktail lounge at a new Seattle location.

It’s happening. In a phone call today, Romdall told me that a lease has been signed for 624 Olive Way (at Seventh Avenue) in the space that previously housed a Red Balloon Company store. The location has a storied past: It was home to the original El Gaucho—"part speakeasy and part…breakfast club," according to El Gaucho’s website—first opened in 1953.

Romdall says the new Vessel has about twice the square footage as the old 1512 Fifth Avenue space, and will include a private dining room. Vessel’s much-remarked-upon austere interior will not be recreated at the new digs. The new bar will be "warmer," says Romdall, "with a lot more wood and metal."

The emphasis will remain on cocktails but there will be a "vastly expanded food program" that includes lunch. And Romdall has big promises: "We’re going to do things no one’s ever done before. When we opened five years ago we raised the bar in Seattle. We want to do that again."

What are they going to do, exactly, that’s never been done before? Romdall, who is an owner and will manage the bar, won’t say yet. He also won’t name any partner(s), but promises he/she/they is (are) integral to the project’s originality.

Romdall is one of the first bartenders to make use of the Perlini Cocktail Carbonation System. Invented by Seattleite Evan Wallace and launched at Tales of the Cocktail this year, the Perlini system carbonates cocktails without diluting them.

Romdall says new Vessel will be open before the end of the year.

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