Belltown is a neighborhood in flux. It changes by the day—like the Landmark Preservation Board's decision last month to remove the Wayne Apartments' historic status, putting a beloved stretch of bars, like Shorty's and the Lava Lounge, in jeopardy.
Nevertheless, bars persist—with booze!
Joining the ranks of other Belltown bartender-owned spots, like Neon Boots and Screwdriver, is Black Cat.
Dustin Haarstad is the boozy brains behind this operation. He spent four years at Canon, revamped Adana's bar program, and runs Blind Tiger Cocktail Co. The dude knows how to throw down a solid drink. But for someone whose cocktail know-how runs deeper than a commercial ice well, he wants to keep things simple: "We want to bring back that kind of culture of how people used to drink," says Haarstad, "You get a shot of whiskey, a nice beer, and converse with your friends."
Opening in the former Cuadra 32 space on First and Blanchard, Black Cat will be feel both modern and old school, with a 1920s-style back bar that feels like it's been there for decades, says Haarstad. But you won't need to dress up like a dandy to drink here. Nope, the plan is, again, to keep things fairly simple. Helping out on that front is Paul Blake, one of the founders of Unicorn on Capitol Hill, who understands how to nail that unfussy rock-slash-party vibe.
Drink wise, the shot-and-a-beer focus is straightforward. Keep with tradition and get a Rainier or Pabst, grab a pint of something local from Holy Mountain Brewing or Cloudburst, or throw back some "quirky Belgian beer." And fret not, there will indeed be cocktails to be had here. When the weather warms up, says Haarstad, the big patio will open and frozen slushy cocktails will floweth.
As for the food end of things, Haarstad has brought in Andrew Cross, fellow alum of Canon, where he was executive chef. Cross's menu will likewise hew towards simplicity in the form of "elevated comfort food."
At Black Cat expect other familiar Belltown comforts, like mural walls and pinball machines (courtesy of Shorty's).
Black Cat's slated to open sometime in February, possibly as soon as this week, at 2132 First Ave. But things can change, as they do often do, so stay tuned to Nosh Pit for any updates.