from “West Seattle 101” by Lori Hinton
Take a stroll through The Junction and you’ll notice an intriguing sign. Strapping red bulbs contrast the black backdrop of West 5 Lounge, harkening back to a quality and comfort found on storefronts and restaurants decades ago.
A proverbial sign of the times, West 5 is a space where a new generation of West Seattleites meet for old-fashioned fun — a gathering place unlike many that have given way to neon signs and a sort of sameness found throughout.
“We were looking to do something different without being a theme bar,” says co-founder Dave Montoure.
Montoure and business partner Dean Overton, both born and bred in West Seattle, gave up their corporate lifestyles to open West 5 Lounge. In his other life, Overton worked as a veteran marketing executive for a leading record label; Montoure traveled the globe as an internet tech for a major shipping company.
But this new generation of West Seattle proprietors finds value in the neighborhood’s past.
A “Certified Original West Seattle Establishment,” the West 5 name comes from the old “935” West Seattle telephone prefix. If you lived here, you were a WE5. If you lived in Ballard, your prefix started with an SU for Sunset Ave. Queen Anne was AT for Atwater. You get the picture – these guys are hip to Seattle history.
“There’s a lot of West Seattle memorabilia,” says Overton. “It has an early-’60s feel from the era of the Seattle World’s Fair.”
The owners drew from all kinds of local resources to outfit the place with the proper look and feel, from tabletops to personnel. They obtained the pink, neon cocktail sign from the old Admiral Benbow Inn. They purchased an old oil painting from the former Vann’s restaurant.
And the signature signage? The owners took a liking to a sign seen in an old Bette Davis movie, similar to the look of the Merchant’s Café sign in Pioneer Square, and they had to have it. A custom sign maker produced the red-bulbed beauty.
West 5 is referred to by Overton as a “good, clean cocktail lounge.” The bar features a notable wine list and signature drinks (see a list here) such as the West 5 Mai Tai, the Citrus Currant Drop, and the Chartreuse Martini. And the kitchen offers up American bistro-style cuisine and creative comfort food (try the crowd favorite: Mac ‘n Cheese; here’s more of what’s on the menu).
Step into the new generation of West Seattle class while tasting a bit of the neighborhood’s past at West 5 Lounge.
What: West 5 Lounge
Where: 4539 California Ave. SW; WE5-1966 (206.935.1966)