Dancing Lessons

Music & Youth Task Force Member Dave Meinert Schools Mayor Schell on Dance Ordinance

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ON AUGUST 21, after 18 months of heavy lifting, the Music & Youth Task Force did a jig as the Seattle City Council passed its All-Ages Dance Ordinance (AADO) by a convincing 7-1 vote [“Let the Children Boogie,” Allie Holly-Gottlieb, August 24]. The AADO did two great things: It repealed the restrictive Teen Dance Ordinance (TDO)–a misguided law that impeded Seattle’s youth culture for 15 years–and created new rules that both regulated and encouraged youth dance. 

Unfortunately, on August 23, Mayor Paul Schell vetoed the council vote [see “Dancing Fool” on preceding page] and proposed his own dance ordinance–one that mimicked the original TDO. 

On August 25, local music promoter and task force member Dave Meinert (who co-authored the AADO) interviewed Schell by phone for this exclusive Stranger showdown. 

Have you read the All-Ages Dance Ordinance that you vetoed?

Not every detail, but I know its substance. 

The issue is, below the age of 15, when you’re talking about a nightclub circumstance, there needs to be a standard, which I think will give comfort to the parents and safety to the kids.

But when we’re talking about all-ages dances, we’re not really talking about nightclubs. State liquor laws already prevent kids from getting into nightclubs and drinking. When you say nightclub, what do you mean by that?

You know, I don’t even know the names, Dave, but I know from listening to the police that there’s the rave club down in Pioneer Square with problems. [Schell could not identify the club.]

Last night on the news, you mentioned police reports relating to all-ages dances. We did some searches in public information, and we only found two. Could you clarify which reports you were referring to?

I don’t have any particular reports, but police tell me they have to respond on a regular basis.

Let’s talk about your specific objections to our ordinance [the AADO]. You don’t like that we scrapped the police security requirement mandated in the original TDO. But the TDO’s policy to require police to work off-duty overtime is against city policy.

I’m saying there should be something other than the security that’s provided only by the promoter and the nightclub owner. There needs to be some sort of civil authority on the premises.

But the issue is, the police don’t have to work it. The police guild [the union] becomes the regulator. If they don’t want to work the event….

And Dave, that’s not acceptable.

So one of the solutions put out by the task force was that the city pay for an officer or two officers to be at the event.

That may be what we have to do in the end.

I think it is more an issue that some hiphop dances haven’t been allowed to happen because the police refuse to work them.

That’s wrong.

Do you see any differences between the Teen Dance Ordinance that the council repealed and the one you’re proposing now?

Schell aide Dick Lilly: Dave, what the mayor sent along with the veto message is exactly the AADO, rewritten only to change the points on it. Otherwise it’s the text of the AADO. 

[The problem is, Schell’s rewrites “change the points” enough to transform the AADO back into the TDO. For example, just like the TDO, Schell would keep anyone younger than 15 at home, and require IDs from teens who aren’t even old enough for a driver’s license. Schell’s proposal also follows the TDO’s lead by exempting dances of less than 150 people, rather than the AADO’s 250. Finally, in the TDO’s severe fashion, Schell would make 14-year-olds subject to a misdemeanor for trying to sneak into dances.–Eds.]

Your new proposal seems to be more abrasive than the original TDO. The TDO’s purpose was to protect youth attending the dances. But your new proposal talks about protecting the general public. That’s the same thing that Mark Sidran was trying to pass in the Added Activities Ordinance. Did these ideas come from Sidran’s law department?

Probably. But in this case–and I don’t agree with Mark on everything–there is a neighborhood impact. There’s a noise impact; there’s what happens outside the premises. 

Whether Mark had anything to do with this ordinance, I don’t know. I knew, like everybody else did, that Mark wasn’t particularly happy with this ordinance. I didn’t talk to Mark about the ordinance. I discussed the ordinance with the police department.

There’s concern that, hey, with a brand-new police chief [Gil Kerlikowske] in town, you’ve got a window of opportunity to repair your shaky relationship with the police. Was this purely a political veto, aimed at placating the police?

I absolutely haven’t done that for two and a half years, and I’m not going to start now. Gil Kerlikowske wasn’t displeased [by the veto], but he never lobbied me on this. This was my decision. I’m just saying my concerns were there from the beginning, and not addressed. Maybe [my office] should have made it very clear that if certain things didn’t happen, the mayor was going to veto it, but it isn’t the manner in which I try to do business with the council.

I have a letter from City Council Member Richard Conlin saying he’s frustrated that you didn’t raise your concerns earlier.

We wrote a letter, in black and white, expressing our reservations. That was delivered a week before they voted.

It was actually delivered to them three days before.

But there were direct conversations between [Schell aide] Walt Hubbard and [Conlin aid] Sheila Capestany, and Capestany gave Hubbard the impression that the age issue would be addressed. But I never got any call. [My reservations were] basically getting ignored. So the only option I had was to go along with something I felt was not well considered.

The feeling, though, is that a thorough public process definitely happened. The task force, made up of police, city officials, music-industry folks, and fans, met for 18 months. What we recommended was subject to public comment at every meeting. There were also two public hearings, where the feedback was overwhelming–the public favored this change. And then the AADO was passed by the council, with a seven to one vote. Do you think your veto will have a negative impact on future task forces wanting to work?

I don’t think so. And it shouldn’t. Let’s not let the process get in the way of the substance here. So, I guess I would caution: Don’t put me in a political box where I can’t be helpful. A lot of the work the task force has done I absolutely agree with, and will be preserved if we can get to a calm discussion of how to do this so it reflects the interests of the whole community. We’ve gotta create a safe environment for the kids, and we need to get parents in this discussion as well.

Well, there were parents on the task force.

Amy Jenniges contributed to these TDO reports.


Meinert brings Bernie Sanders to historic Comet Tavern


This Saturday, raging socialist and $15 minimum wage advocate Bernie Sanders will hold a fundraiser at the Comet Tavern—which is owned in part by David Meinert, one of the most vocal critics of local socialists Kshama Sawant and Jess Spear during Seattle’s $15 debate. Political analysts estimate that Meinert may have been responsible for up to 42 percent of Seattle’s public rancor that year.

So what gives? Change of heart on the issue? A willingness to work across the aisle? Lost a bet?

His answer, by email:

Well, I am, and always have been for raising the minimum wage. My biggest criticism of it was the final plan being too complex, and taking too long to get to $15 (as we all know, $15 in 3 years isn’t $15). I also thought there should be total comp (counting tips), and some exemption for mom and pop business (not mine) and small non profits. So no change of heart. I suspect Bernie and I might disagree on some of the specifics of how to raise the minimum wage, I think we agree on the overall goal, and on many, many far more important issues. I’ve been a fan of Bernie’s for a long time, and am super excited he’s running for president…

End of the day, Bernie is the only true progressive in the race. I agree with him more than any other candidate. I’m psyched he’d choose to do a fundraiser at an historic bar on Capitol Hill rather than a mansion in Medina.

Tickets for the event, which Meinert estimates will last for around an hour, start at $200.

Block Party guys teaming up on 24-hour Capitol Hill diner

They may have gone their separate ways on Capitol Hill Block Party but David Meinert and Jason Lajuenesse aren’t done tag-teaming on Pike/Pine nightlife. In the home of former sex club Basic Plumbing — later Tribe — the duo has announced plans to open a new 24-hour diner in the heart of the neighborhood:David Meinert (Big Mario’s, The 5 Point Cafe, Onto Entertainment) and Jason Lajuenesse (Big Mario’s, Neumo’s, Moe Bar, Capitol Hill Block Party) are joining forces again on a new restaurant/ bar project on Capitol Hill,  at 1507 10th Ave, in the former Basic Plumbing space, around the corner from The Comet and next door to Elliott Bay Books.

The yet to be named diner and lounge will be open 24 hours every day and similar in style and vibe to the infamous 5 Point Cafe in Belltown, offering what promises to be the stiffest drinks on the Hill, along with huge portions of home cooked traditional diner fare. No pretentious deconstructed anything, just real food for real people, at great prices. Opening Spring 2013.

In May, CHS reported on the transition of ownership of the Capitol Hill music festival and the rise of Lajuenesse’s role in running the successful summer event. Meinert has added food and drink ventures to his entrepreneurial activities over the years including the opening of Big Mario’s on E Pike and his purchase of the venerable 5 Point in Belltown in 2009.

In August, we reported that the owners of the building the new diner will call home were improving the space in hopes of attracting a new tenant. Basic Plumbing/Tribe closed suddenly in the location early this year after 17 years on Capitol Hill.

The 24-hour food+drink space on the Hill is, apparently, ripe for the picking. Only Glo’s has waded seriously into the business of middle-of-the-night food and drink thing and even that is restricted to the weekend. Other late night players have come and gone — currently Li’l Woody’s remains dedicated — but stalwart IHOP continues to set the bleary pace.

The changes for 10th Ave continue. Around the corner from the legendary Comet, the street is now symbolic of the new Pike/Pine. Finished as 2008 became 2009Oddfellows has set the standard for the new Capitol Hill casual — note: it’s a high bar. The Odd Fellows building it called home has mostly been transformed from dilapidated — but affordable — artist enclave. April 2010’s arrival of Elliott Bay Book Co. from Pioneer Square has cemented the change. Super upscale design and clothes shop Totokaelo now calls the street home. Even Rancho Bravo, resident since spring 2009 and dirt cheap, is part of the transition in Pike/Pine. And it will likely soon be part of even more change to come.

Last month, CHS reported on the early plans to develop a new apartment building on the parcel Rancho Bravo now calls home. The developer and land owner see the space as a “gateway” opportunity for the new Pike/Pine. It’s probably a few years away. When the seven-story building’s residents move in, they’ll be a stone’s throw away from all the good times and late night hash browns Pike/Pine can offer.

By Justin Carder Sept 5, 2012 from Capitol Hill Blog

Sawant and David Meinert team up for small business plan

written by Bryan Cohen for Capitol Hill Blog October 26, 2015

You read that right. Capitol Hill restaurant and nightlife owner Dave Meinert and socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant are teaming up to unveil a “rent stabilization” plan Tuesday for Seattle small businesses.

According to a short announcement sent out Monday evening, the plan will skirt the statewide ban on rent control which the Sawant office says does not apply to commercial properties. You can read the RCW section here. “Business owners can have few options when faced with drastic rent increases, as relocation costs can be prohibitive,” reads the announcement.

UPDATE: Details of the plan — including proposals for rent stabilization, a “portable retirement account” system, and expanded late night transit to help “swing shift” workers commute — are below.

Meinert, who owns Lost Lake, the Comet, and Ernest Loves Agnes, has tussled with Sawant in the past over the $15 minimum wage issue, making the pairing a little unusual. The two apparently started having more productive conversations while pounding out the final minimum wage deal on the mayor’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee last year.

“Kshama and I have been talking/meeting since (then),” Meinert said in an email to CHS. “Lately we started discussing the displacement of small business and how it is similar to the displacement of residents.”

Meinet’s Comet also played host to an appearance by Socialist Alternative-championed Bernie Sanders this summer.

There are few examples of true commercial rent control efforts to point at in major cities — or minor ones, for that matter. In New York, the movement has ebbed and flowed for decades, peaking again this year. Here’s how a proposed bill would work in NYC:

The tale of the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (better known as the SBJSA) in the City Council is a long yet uneventful one. Basically, the bill — which, in structure, is very similar to its upstate counterpart — has been floating around the chambers of City Hall since 2008. (Last year, Gotham Gazette dove into its reintroduction.) It would let commercial tenants have the right to lease renewal ten years or more. If a landlord wants to raise rent, mediation with the tenant would be mandated, and, if the parties don’t come to an agreement, an arbitrator would make the final decision.

While the teaming of Meinert and Sawant might be a bit of a surprise, the two have collaborated before. Meeting records show Meinert met with Sawant in May 2014 shortly after the mayor announced his minimum wage task force.

Sawant’s small business announcement comes in the final stretch of her bid to represent District 3 at City Council. While she has criticized large corporations in the past for eroding small business, her fight for $15 had a chilling effect on many local owners. According to the Monday media release, Sawant will unveil additional proposals aimed at helping small businesses on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Sawant challenger Pamela Banks unveiled her small business plan and a group of Capitol Hill business owners supporting her run. The Banks plan would create a city lending program and a “Small Business Advisory Committee.” The two candidates also discussed their small business proposals at a Greater Seattle Business Association forum in September.

The small business “rent stabilization” plan will be unveiled Tuesday morning at City Hall.

SEATTLE – Councilmember Kshama Sawant will join with Seattle nightlife industry leader David Meinert and other small business owners tomorrow to unveil a plan to pursue rent stabilization for Seattle’s small businesses.  Business owners can have few options when faced with drastic rent increases, as relocation costs can be prohibitive. While the state statute prohibits rent control for residences, there is no such law for commercial properties.

Councilmember Sawant will also unveil additional proposals intended to support small businesses, and their workers, tomorrow. The small business initiatives tie directly to the City’s proposed 2016 budget, which is currently undergoing Council review.


Announcement of plan for rent stabilization for small businesses, other small business initiatives


Seattle City Hall

Lobby, First Floor

600 4th Ave., Seattle 98104


Tuesday, October 27

9:00 a.m.


Councilmember Kshama Sawant

David Meinert

Small Business Owners

The Plan:

Like so many working people, the majority of Seattle’s small businesses and independent self 
-employed individuals struggle to get by. They face ever-increasing rents, poor access to capital, and limited help from City agencies. Too often, small businesses that are integral to a neighborhood’s character are displaced. This is
especially true for women and minority owned businesses.We have come together to propose a series of innovative, progressive policies to strengthen independent and small businesses and to provide a better environment for artists. Both are important to Seattle’s thriving economy and culture. We find common ground in our belief that the City government should prioritize the needs of working people and small businesses, rather than giving special breaks to big developers and corporations. Together, we present seven ways to begin improving conditions for small businesses and their workers.

1. Commercial Rent Stabilization to Benefit Small Businesses
Just like for workers, one of the biggest challenges facing small businesses and artists in Seattle is theskyrocketing cost of rent. While the 1981 Washington State ban on the regulation of rent blocks the City ofSeattle from legally putting limits on rent hikes in the residential housing market, the ban does not apply tocommercial leases.Enacting a rent control policy on commercial property will disproportionately benefit small businesses thatotherwise struggle to sustain their storefront operations and compete with big business outlets. It will also helpartists who struggle for studio space in the urban core of the city. During the current City budget discussions,Councilmember Kshama Sawant will be moving a Statement of Legislative Intent for the City to commission astudy and propose draft legislation to enact commercial rent stabilization in Seattle. This would form the basisfor the City Council to pass an ordinance in 2016.

2. Portable Retirement Accounts for Workers in Small Businesses
Many small businesses face disadvantages compared to big business in attracting and retaining employees. In sectors of the economy with high labor turnover and precarious work, particularly restaurant and retail, small businesses face challenges providing employee benefits. Seventy five percent of Washington workers employed by businesses with fewer than 100 employees do not have a pension or retirement plan.A City-sponsored pension plan would allow small businesses the choice of easily contributing into a portable pension account. This would increase pension benefits for workers at small companies who change employers or have multiple employers. It would also save small business the overhead of running their own plans and help them compete with larger businesses that have benefit packages. The Economic Opportunity Institute has drafteda proposal for such a plan. Increased investment in affordable workforce housing will also help Seattle small businesses have a larger pool of workers to employ.

3.Expand Late Night Public Transit
Seattle’s nightlife and entertainment sectors are an integral part of our city’s livability, economic vitality, and our small business community. But the limited availability of late-night public transit limits customers’ access to these businesses, imposes a serious burden on workers in these industries and other swing shift workers, and hinders public safety, especially for women and LGBTQ people.A world-class mass transit system, including 24 hour service for our buses, streetcars, and light rail, will bring huge environmental, social, and economic benefits for Seattle. Rather than wait for Olympia to provide full funding for public transit, Seattle can and must lead as was done in 2014 with Proposition 1.The City Council can immediately fund a significant expansion in late night service for Metro by re-instating the business head tax (with exemptions for very small businesses) and increasing taxes on commercial parking lot operators. We also renew the call for Washington State to give cities like Seattle the ability to regulate the hours for its bars.

4. Expansion of Social Service Outreach for the Homeless, People with Mental Illnesses and Addictions
The alarming growth of homelessness and the lack of social services for people struggling with addiction or mental illnesses are unacceptable and especially outrageous in a city as wealthy as Seattle. Small businesses are impacted by this in a variety of ways, including property and street crime.Our city needs to make it a top priority to end homelessness and expand social services. First and foremost, this means a significant increase in funding for human service providers as part of a comprehensive plan developed in close discussion with social justice advocates.We strongly support the proposal for opening a new Urban Rest Stop in Capitol Hill and other neighborhoods.We need progressive and creative approaches to addressing crime, such as expanding the LEAD, HOST and SYVPI programs rather than a heavy handed “law and order” strategy.
 Attention to basic infrastructure, such as quality ADA compliant sidewalks, good street lighting, and more regular garbage collection in the busiest parts of the city are also simple steps which can help reduce crime.We support using progressive taxes to fund these programs, such as business taxes, developer impact fees, anda municipal income tax on the wealthy.

5. Municipal Bank & Low-Interest Loans
Small businesses face major disadvantages in competing for affordable credit, especially from the large banksthat dominate our financial system.The City of Seattle should establish a public, municipally-owned bank rather than continuing to contract withlarge private banks like Wells Fargo. A Seattle municipal bank would have a public benefit mandate to providethe same access to low-interest loans to local small businesses and homeowners that big businesses enjoy. Itcould also help finance progressive infrastructure projects like building affordable housing, while directing anyprofit made from interest back to the City. A municipal bank could also help the City address critical communityissues such as the Somali remittance crisis.For background on municipal banking in Seattle, see this article in The Urbanist.

6.Priority for Local Small Businesses in Commercial Leasing
Our city’s economic policy should give priority to local small businesses and artists rather than large chain stores, franchises, or big box retailers. Small businesses face challenges in gaining access to prime commercial leases, which are overwhelmingly given to large companies. The City should commission a study on how City policies(zoning, taxation, regulations, etc.) can be leveraged to advance these goals through legislation.

7.Seattle Needs a Small Business Task Force
The City of Seattle has no task force or commission dedicated to addressing the challenges facing local small businesses. Big developers and corporations have many avenues for their needs to be addressed by the City government, but all too often, truly small businesses and artists are ignored. A local small business task force, including micro-businesses, should be established to study and make recommendations, starting with the proposals we have laid out above.

Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Councilmember;

David Meinert, owner, The Five Point Cafe, Comet Tavern, & others
Molly Moon Nietzel, Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream; K. Wyking Garrett, AfricatownSeattle.com which features and highlights Black-owned businesses and community; Marcus Charles, owner, Neumos & Crocodile Cafe; Mike Rodriguez, Restaurant Opportunities Center United; Sharon Blyth-Moss & Shirley Henderson, small start-up business owners; Ottman Bezzaza, owner, Med Mix; Paula Lucas, owner, Le Frock; Sonja Ponath, small landlord, former small business owner; Ed Beeson, owner, Gigs-4-U; Katey Pierini, licensed massage therapist; Luis Rodriguez, owner, The Station; Shontina Vernon, musician, writer, theatre artist & educator

The small Capitol Hill company behind ‘the top musical act in the US’

Before The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” became a multi-platinum hit, the band was making the rounds in Denver. They had posted a video on YouTube of themselves performing an acoustic version of the song in an apartment. In 2011, Capitol Hill management company Onto Entertainment liked what it saw — and heard.

Today, Onto’s roster includes The Lumineers, Seattle-based Hey Marseilles and poet and spoken word artist Andrea Gibson. And that’s probably as big as Onto is going to get for the time being – all three acts are touring in support of new work this year.

“I think we’re in a really good, sweet spot right now in terms of clients,” said Christen Greene, general manager and head of talent for Onto. “Our model is low-overhead, hard work and clients that we love.”

The path to becoming “the top musical act in the U.S.” and a Billboard No. 1 ranking for The Lumineers shows how it works. At the time the band was signed, Onto owner David Meinert also headed had previously organized the Capitol Hill Block Party, so convincing the folk-rock group to play the show was an obvious opportunity. Soon after they were in town, John Richards at KEXP was the first to play the group, followed by airplay on 107.7 KNDD, one of the first commercial stations to play the song, Meinert said. UPDATE: We erroneously reported Meinert was still running CHBP in 2012 — producer and Meinert business partner Jason Lajeunesse took over the festival that year.

After that, it wasn’t too long before the band blew up, and the 11th Ave-based Onto had stars on its roster.

Meinert started Onto a label and management company about eight years ago, though now, they only work on the management end.

“We started with the idea of finding small bands and developing them,” Meinert said.

Managing acts is a step removed from most of the individual components that goes into a successful group. Meinert agreed with the suggestion that their role is like that of a general contractor in a construction project. They don’t do the specialized work, but they are able to find the right people who can. He said their responsibility is to help the band find deals with a record label, a booking agent, a touring crew, accountant, publicist and more.

“We oversee all of the business end,” he said.

Onto also fields requests from other businesses that want to use an artist’s work. Meinert said it has been interesting to see the change in attitudes toward artists licensing their songs, as the Lumineers did for a beer commercial.

There had been a time when popular bands resisted commercials for fear of being called sellouts. Now, he said, artists are more willing to consider the option. Besides opening a new revenue stream, it can help with exposure, since someone can let phone apps like Shazam help them identify and purchase the songs.

“The right commercial with the right song can really make the song a hit,” he said.

The right company is key, Greene said. She noted that they are frequently fielding offers from companies looking to use their artists work, and many times, they don’t even bother wasting an artist’s time by telling them an offer has come in.

“We turn down a lot,” she said.

Greene said all the artists they work with are willing to trust them, even if that means pushing them a bit. Gibson, for example, had been making the rounds doing college shows, but Green convinced the artist to consider playing larger venues.

“Andrea wasn’t super-excited about doing clubs,” Greene said.

But after a bit of prodding, Gibson played Seattle’s Town Hall and was able to sell 800 tickets to a show on a Monday night.

Some of that can be chalked up to Seattle being a performance-friendly town. A Capitol Hill home base also helps. Meinert noted that there are three record stores (an endangered species in most cities) near the Onto office.

You can learn more at ontoentertainment.com.

Princes of Pike/Pine tapped to take over longtime Canterbury space

A project that never happened

I’m often looking at new projects. This one was close to my heart as I used to live down the street and hang out here. Jason and I had different visions for it, and in the end it didn’t pencil. We were also afraid of noise issues with the residents upstairs, so we ended up passing. James Snyder who owns Sam’s Tavern and Mike Meckling who is partners in Neumos, ended up taking the space. It lasted for 4 years or so and then sold to another partnership. It seems like a great place still, worth checking out. – David Meinert

Posted on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 – 11:30 am by jseattle

The Capitol Hill Block Party is coming to 15th Ave E.

Capitol Hill Housing announced Wednesday that it is working out a lease with business partners David Meinert and Jason Lajeunesse for taking over the longtime home of The Canterbury at 15th Ave E and E Mercer in the nonprofit housing developer’s Fredonia building.

CHS reported on the end of the run for the 37-year-old dive bar earlier this year as longtime Canterbury owners Stefanie and David Roberge announced they could not afford to make a bid to remain in the space after their current 10-year lease draws to a close at the end of 2013. Faced with community concern about losing the relatively affordable watering hole, the nonprofit housing developer issued “a limited Request for Proposals” to restaurateurs who expressed interest with the goal of maintaining the space as a food and drink establishment — “a comfortable, accessible, third place” suitable for “a variety of income levels.”

Meinert and Lajeunesse are longtime players in the Capitol Hill entertainment economy. While Lajeunesse has taken over the reins of the annual Capitol Hill Block Party, he and Meinert have continued to collaborate on food and drink establishments including the May opening of 24-hour diner Lost Lake.


The foray onto 15th Ave E will be a first for the duo. The eastward direction is also a bit of a trend for some of the Hill’s most notable entrepreneurs including Linda Derschang who will open Tallulah’s on 19th Ave E this fall.

Meinert and Lajeunesse were selected in part because of their community vision for the space, a statement from Capitol Hill Housing said. The statement said the duo — who also are part of ownership behind Big Mario’s New York Style Pizza, NeumosOnto Entertainment “and other local businesses” — would like to explore keeping the Canterbury name and having an expanded family seating area.

CHH said it hopes to reach a lease agreement for the new project this summer and begin renovations in early 2014 after the Canterbury in its classic iteration says goodbye.

Dive Bars Bring in the Light


By Mike Seely | The New York Times

Two gloves, a dustpan, a onetime-use broom and some cleaning solution: In Chicago, that’s what the Health Department refers to as a vomit and diarrhea cleanup kit. And until a loathsome regular named COVID sidled up to the bar, Scott Martin, the owner of Simon’s, a beloved Scandinavian dive in the Windy City’s northern reaches, thought a vomit and diarrhea cleanup kit was the most extravagant thing he was required to have on hand in order to keep his very old watering hole in the government’s good graces.
Suffice to say, he no longer feels that way.

While “dive bar” is mostly a term of endearment these days, even the upper echelon of such dark, dank drinking establishments has never been regarded as particularly preoccupied with sparkling tabletops.
Dive bars are lived in, died in, rode hard and put away wet in, laughed and cried in a stranger’s arms in, at once fully yourself and completely anonymous in. They’re where folks go to drink, to lie, to love, to sigh, to put Keith Sweat on the jukebox and have no one ask why.

At Simon’s, Martin moved some of his bar stools into the parking lot and set them up at high-top tables. But that was summer; autumn’s now. He hopes to continue to attract patrons by setting up a large tent with propane heat lamps and fleece blankets, but his real cold-weather draw is glogg, a traditional Swedish concoction that contains red wine, cinnamon, sugar, cloves, oranges, ginger, raisins and bourbon or vodka (take your pick).

“You can stay outside and drink glogg and stay fairly comfortable — until you’ve had too many gloggs, and then you’re freezing,” said Martin, who rang in his 60th birthday by wrestling with a bar patron who repeatedly refused to wear a mask.

While Simon’s was, until recently, able to offer limited seating indoors in addition to its evolving outdoor space, such a plan simply wasn’t feasible for My Brother’s Bar, which, at 167 years of age, is Denver’s oldest continuously operating house of libation.

“The building is extremely old with zero ventilation,” said Danny Newman, the owner, adding that his “summer solution” — picnic tables in the parking lot — “was great.” But now that it’s gotten chillier, Newman has set up plastic igloos, equipped with heaters and exhaust fans, for single-party groups of up to six people.
At first there wasn’t a cap on how much time patrons could spend in the igloos, but after a handful of six-hour hang sessions made it apparent that some imbibers planned to use them as second homes, Newman instituted a 90-minute limit.

Newman added that a nearby restaurant has transformed tiny greenhouses into two-tops so customers can eat outdoors without being bombarded by the elements. Lest anyone wonder whether Colorado’s robust legal marijuana industry has something to do with the ready availability of see-through structures reminiscent of grow houses, Newman said it was.

One of the oldest bars in Seattle, the 5 Point — slogan: “Alcoholics serving alcoholics since 1929” — has also constructed a cozy, heated outdoor area for its patrons. But now that the wind and rain are whipping around, owner David Meinert doesn’t expect the allure to last long. That’s why he recently upgraded his heating, venting and air-conditioning system with Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) filters to improve air circulation.

With the help of Dr. Bruce Davidson, a pulmonary physician and the former president of the National Tuberculosis Controllers Association, he installed fans and UV-C lights — not to be confused with retina-singeing UV-A and UV-B lights — on the bar’s ceiling.

As Davidson, who became enamored of this specific type of ultraviolet light when he observed how effective it was in the tuberculosis wards of Philadelphia, explained, the fans suck the air that customers exhale straight toward the ceiling.

Should any of those customers unknowingly have the coronavirus, the UV-C lights stop it from spreading, protecting patrons and staff alike. (Such lights are also being used to as a safeguard against the coronavirus in hospitals, schools, restaurants and subway systems, including New York City’s.)

Yet for as confident as Davidson is in UV-C lighting’s ability to slay the coronavirus, he remains a staunch advocate of mask wearing as a means of “source control.” It just so happens Seattle has an indoor mask mandate, something Meinert’s employees aren’t shy about enforcing.

“One of the good things about the 5 Point is people have always gotten thrown out of here,” he said. “We’re not like, ‘The customer’s always right.’”

c.2020 The New York Times Company

Don’t be a Dick, Wear a Mask!

Even Vice President Mike Pence admits it, wearing masks reduces the spread of the coronavirus. 

Florida, Texas and California just closed bars in several counties because of increased new cases of Covid-19. 

PLEASE wear a mask when you are near other people. Period. And when you come into the Mecca Cafe or 5 Point Cafe, we require you to wear one unless you are seated. This means when you get up to use the bathroom and when you are leaving. It’s the law. And it will protect our staff and other customers from getting sick. 

If all of you do this, we won’t have to close again. If you don’t we will. And if we have to close again there might not be a reopening. Just keep that in mind when you visit places you love. If you won’t wear a mask, you could be responsible for putting that place out of business. 

Wearing a mask won’t just keep you and others people from dying, it will keep your favorite locally owned business from dying too. 

AND, IF YOU DON’T HAVE A MASK WITH YOU AND WANT TO COME IN, JUST ASK US FOR A MASK. THANKS TO Public Health – Seattle & King County​ WE HAVE MASKS TO GIVE YOU. Please don’t make our staff become mask police. Just ask for one and wear it. (or be creative like the photo attached).

Don’t be a Dick. Wear a mask.

  • David Meinert

Mecca Cafe Set To Reopen Monday June 8

by David Meinert

So happy we’re finally able to reopen the Mecca Cafe Monday June 8 at 7am! 

We only get 25% capacity in Phase 1 of reopening, and it will look a bit different, but come in to eat and drink, say hello, or order take out. 

Some things to note: you must wear a mask at all times unless seated, and you must use hand sanitizer on your hands on the way in. We’re cashless for the time being so bring a credit or debit card to pay. Menus are online or you can request a single use paper menu if you must. Condiments are single use too (but not online). We ask that if you have to wait for a table you wait outside, safely distanced from others. We’ll also have dividers between tables, booths and seats (they actually look pretty great considering). And if you want to use the jukebox, download Touchtunes because you’ll need to use that. 

Staff will be wearing masks, taking temperatures before coming in, distancing, and cleaning and cleaning and cleaning. 

We’re doing all this to comply with CDC and King County health guidance, and to keep you and our staff safe. We appreciate you’re patience and kindness while we implement all the changes and get used to this new rule. 

Hope to see you at the Mecca soon!

David Meinert