Story and photos by Mary Sheely
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
Kyle and Kristi Duce love living in West Seattle.
Kyle manages Feedback Lounge (WSB sponsor) on weekends and spent a year tending bar at Shadowland, where he got to know and love the regulars. Kristi is a graphic designer for Prentice Design on Alki Beach. The couple enjoys sharing beers and barbecue on summer nights with their neighbors in the High Point community where they live. But that’s also where they realized that something was missing.
“We’d start talking about how nice it would be if we had a place we could walk to to get a beer or a glass of wine,” remembers Kyle. “There’s 1,600 homes in High Point — it’s huge — and the whole area is such a dense residential area. The demographics are phenomenal and there’s nothing like that there.”
So Kyle, who currently manages the Oakley store in Bellevue Square, Kristi, and their friend Shane Whittall, a bartender, decided that not only should there be a place like that, they were the ones who should open it. Seven months later, the lease has been signed on 7902 35th Ave SW (map), a narrow storefront between Sharon’s Westwood Florist and Kenyon Hall.
The liquor license has been applied for, the dumpsters arrive this week, and construction is about to begin on Locöl, “West Seattle’s premier wine & beer bar.”
As you might imagine, there’s a story behind the bar’s name. “‘Loc’ is the abbreviation for the word ‘locality,’ but mainly it means pride in your neighborhood,” says Kyle, “and ‘öl’ is ‘beer’ in Swedish.” Kyle, who grew up in Wisconsin, is of Scandinavian descent. He adds that Locöl will be similar to the bars in Sweden: “nice and cozy because winters are so long.”
It’s the “loc” part of the name that’s most important to Kyle, Kristi, and Shane. “I’m excited that we’ll be in West Seattle, working just six blocks from my house,” Kristi says. Kyle says that Lou Magor, who manages Kenyon Hall next door, “has been so ecstatic since he heard. Once he caught wind we were doing this, he was leaving messages every day offering to help us out and promote any events when we open.”
That kind of neighborhood camaraderie helped prompt the Duces’ plans for Locöl. When Kyle worked at Shadowland, he met “phenomenal people in their 80s and 90s who have awesome stories. I want to educate new residents about the people who made West Seattle what it is and love it.”
Plans include a projector that will rotate through slideshows of historical West Seattle photos and regular history nights where longtime West Seattle residents can share their stories. Peder Nelson, a history enthusiast (he coordinates West Seattle-themed trivia nights at Beveridge Place Pub and put together the Frances Farmer tribute in 2008 at Admiral Theater) and friend from Kyle’s Shadowland days, will help put together historical displays and events.
Drinks and food will be local, too, with as much originating in West Seattle as possible. (“I’ve already met with the guys from the Swinery,” Kyle says.) The food will be simple — Locöl will be too small for a kitchen, so there will be no hot food — and chosen to accent the real stars of the bar, the beer and wine selection.
But don’t expect Locöl to look like it’s out of a history book.
Kyle and Kristi walk around the former tanning salon, pointing out where garish tanning booths will make way for a bar that runs the entire length of the space, where a modern fireplace will be built, and where they hope to add new windows and an outdoor patio. “There will stained glass, polished concrete floors, a lot of artwork, kind of an earthy modern feel,” Kyle says. “It’s not that big of a space, which is what I wanted — small and cozy and intimate and romantic. We’re ripping it out to studs and starting from the ground up.”
He means that literally — Kristi is in charge of design, while Kyle and Shane are going to do as much of the renovation work as they can, working with Brian Okroy, whose construction work on Matador and Shadowland speaks for itself. The target for opening is in early April.
One thing that Locöl won’t have is a TV. “I hate TVs in bars,” Kyle says adamantly. “I go into a place to have a conversation with my wife, friends, bartenders. I don’t go to watch sports; I can do that at home.
“I have always been very, very meticulous with the atmosphere of places I like to frequent,” Kyle continues. “If I have great service, I don’t care if it’s in a barn, I’ll go back. But if you can nail all those things — good drinks, good service, good atmosphere — that’s where I want to be.”