While Jesse Spring was courting his now-wife Rachel Brown he taught her to play chess. It became one of their favorite pastimes, and they always agreed that the term “bad bishop” would be a cool name for a bar. And come October 24, that shared chess sentiment will become reality. The space that housed Easy Joe’s mish-mash sports bar at the edge of Pioneer Square for about seven years (the technicolor history also includes a speakeasy, brothel, jazz club, and an Asian bistro with karaoke) will become Bad Bishop.
Spring and business partner-slash-friend Keaton Cooper both hail most recently from JarrBar in the market. Spring helped open and managed the Spanish bar for the past two years, and Cooper worked in the kitchen. While they both appreciate Spanish cuisine and wine, they are looking forward to a style of service that’s not tied to any one geography. Keaton plans on playful bar food: a housemade corn dog, a tuna melt, and of course, a badass burger. His version has American cheese, Stopsky's pickles, and a housemade Kewpie mayo served with fries for $10.
Cocktails are Spring’s specialty. An icy vodka martini comes kissed with pipparas pepper brine and a chorizo-wrapped pepper garnish. Mezcal and vodka meet pimento and espelette for a pepper-focused bloody mary. A Wild Turkey hot toddy leans traditional and arrives in a funky mug from Goodwill.
Their bar at 704 First Avenue has seen a major upgrade—Spring and Brown embrace a minimalist style, at once elegant and classic. Dry wall removal exposed red brick circa 1891; old, scratched tables shine after a sanding and finish; a record player and a standup piano beg for late-night group singalongs; muted metallic floral wallpaper specially ordered from the U.K. will complete the face lift. Working on a tiny budget, the team reused and recycled as much as they could. That’s clear in the bathrooms where sports memorabilia, quirky paintings, mirrors etched with cheap beer brand logos, and a collage of some of the hottest men of the '70s cover the walls in tasteful arrangements—a fun contrast to the simple aesthetic of the main bar area.
And it should be noted for all you would-be-Garry Kasparovs out there, Bad Bishop is not a chess-themed bar per se, but they plan on eventually having a designated table with a hand painted chess board and pieces available. (Getting your chess partner good and buzzed sounds like a solid strategy.) The trio are all big sports fans, too, so the TV will be streaming games on the regular.
Bad Bishop will be softly open starting on October 17 working out menu items and kinks, but barring any major issues the official grand opening will be October 24 when that wallpaper glue is good and dry. Starting hours will be 11:30 to 9 Monday through Friday (closed on Tuesdays) and 10 to 9 on Saturday and Sunday.