Yesterday Keith Waldbauer, the co-owner of the spectacular Liberty on 15th Avenue, told me a little bit about the bar he and business partner Andrew Friedman (currently busy tending to his newborn daughter) are planning to open in the former Online Coffee space at 1720 E Olive Way. Admittedly, details are scant right now. There’s no official name just yet and only the roughest of opening timelines—hopefully this summer. But the guys are excited to translate Liberty’s neighborhood-rec-room-meets-spirits-geekery vibe to a new corner of Capitol Hill. A corner that has a patio.
The smaller space means the Liberty sib won’t have quite the same jaw-dropping collection of spirits (check the mezcal and Japanese whiskey lineups, for instance). But Waldbauer says the drink program will focus on prebatched and bottled cocktails, slushy machines, cocktails on tap, and other methods of “getting drinks out to you really fast.”
Yes, these are fun delivery systems for booze. And yep, they’re awfully trendy at the moment. But the guys say this is about efficiency rather than gimmicks. “As soon as it’s out of your mouth that you want a dark and stormy, the glass is in front of you,” says Waldbauer, whose operational brain sometimes chafes at the amount of time it takes to put together a seven-ingredient cocktail. But if it's a seven-ingredient cocktail you want, a seven-ingredient cocktail you shall get, with pleasure, from the bar staff. “We want to be recognizably different from Liberty but still have the best things from it.”
Both men will be closely involved with both bars. The food program is still in the works (they haven't ruled out sushi, but the plan has to jibe with the space’s tiny kitchen). Friedman and Waldbauer are in full agreement that couches and comfort and casual attire will rule the aesthetic: “Nothing pretentious about it, absolutely not.”
Waldbauer recalls a day a few months back where the two partners were roaming the Hill checking out potential restaurant spaces. Discouraged at what they saw, the guys were walking back up Olive Way, he says, “and I just pointed over at Online Café and said, ‘when a space like that becomes available, let’s talk.’” He liked the “basement vibe,” the patio, and the fact that it was surrounded by good bars (Captain Blacks, Tommy Gun) but the closest of them are on the other side of the street. According to the Stranger, Friedman knew the owner, who called out of the blue and offered him the space. Oh, and here's a vocab lesson courtesy of Capitol Hill Seattle blog.
Both Waldbauer and Friedman live on Capitol Hill and were adamant about opening their second space in the ‘hood. And apparently a third space isn’t a farfetched idea. “We plan on this being bar two of several," says Waldbauer.