OutWest owners announce LGBT-friendly plans: ‘A safe place’

By Keri DeTore
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

The owners of OutWest – the new bar in the works for the former Westside Pharmacy building at California/Brandon, south of West Seattle Nursery, first reported here last December – are finally ready to discuss details.

After months of working through permitting processes, Bob Lunke and business partner Chad Gabelein are announcing their plans for OutWest Bar to be a LGBT-community-friendly establishment. We reported its name back in February, but even then they weren’t ready to comment beyond saying they were working on a “small, comfortable neighborhood (establishment).”

OutWest Bar will include a full kitchen, open for dinner and initially serving appetizers and entrees such as burgers and Caesar salad. They plan to adapt the menu to the clientele’s tastes as they go.

The owners are both West Seattle residents who love it here.

Bob says, “It’s so awesome I don’t even want to tell people about it. It’s an open-minded community with a small-town feel.” They felt the ex-pharmacy space was a perfect spot for their bar because of its location within a business district, but far enough away from other bars to avoid competing with neighbors.

Bob notes that some concerns have arisen regarding parking impacts in the neighborhood. He says they are working with the City of Seattle on the issue and have conducted parking surveys to determine availability during times they are likely to be busiest: “At those times there was only 33 percent usage (of available parking) but we’ll watch the situation and see what happens during the busy times.”

He points out the benefits he feels the establishment will bring to the community: a small business providing food and drink to locals and providing jobs, keeping the building from being demolished and turned into a “condo tower.” He adds: “Small businesses are the road to recovery for this economy, and historically, gay establishments have increased property values in the surrounding neighborhood.”

Bob says he and Chad are most excited about having a bar in West Seattle where there can be interaction between gays, lesbians and “open-minded straight people.” “It will be a safe place for us that is integrated into the community.”

In case you’re wondering – Bob has a background in banking and has been a member of the Army Reserve for the past 30 years, serving in Iraq. Chad has a background in nursing and bartending. They each plan to spend time cooking and bartending.

The space is limited so there will be no live entertainment; however, there will be a TV and a jukebox. They haven’t yet decided on the interior decor, Bob says they’re somewhere between “Old West and Sunset Magazine.”

The last West Seattle establishment that marketed itself as for the LGBT community was Guppy’s, on the corner in The Junction that has since been home to a variety of restaurants including Ovio, Ama Ama, and Table 35, and will soon reopen as A Terrible Beauty.

OutWest’s owners anticipate opening sometime this summer. Hours are planned as 4 pm-midnight Sundays-Thursdays, 4 pm-2 am Fridays and Saturdays.

49 Replies to "OutWest owners announce LGBT-friendly plans: 'A safe place'"

  • Watertowerjoey May 13, 2011 (5:32 pm)

    I think this is great, but are LGBTs “unsafe” in West Seatle , currently?

  • Nulu May 13, 2011 (5:33 pm)


    It has been a long time since the days of Guppies.

  • Mitch May 13, 2011 (5:46 pm)

    A welcome addition to WS. I’m designer/builder selling a new custom home here and at least half the potential buyers have been gay or lesbian couples. Which says to me that we must be doing something right in this neck of the woods.

  • Helen May 13, 2011 (5:51 pm)

    WTJoe- I think this isn’t about “safety” as you know it but rather about a place where people can go and just be who they are without judgement or questioning – either overtly, or worse yet, privately. I can imagine that’s gotta be comfortable for anyone who lives an ‘alternative lifestyle’. I think everyone in WS can benefit from a place like this.

  • Recall McGinn May 13, 2011 (6:01 pm)

    Nice to see!

  • Bonnie May 13, 2011 (6:01 pm)

    Looking forward to it! But I think all places here are LGBT friendly. If not, they should be.

  • Joseph May 13, 2011 (6:07 pm)

    We live in Seattle ,did not realize we needed a “safe place” to hang out. Helen your comment makes Seattle sound like are are in the middle of the bible belt. I like to see the day were this no need for a segregated bar.

  • Helen May 13, 2011 (6:18 pm)

    It’s not segregated. That’s the whole point. It’s for anyone who is ‘gay or gay friendly’. If you want to go, you can too.

  • dawsonct May 13, 2011 (6:36 pm)

    No matter how open the community Joe, there’s always going to be the adults who haven’t outgrown the overt juvenile reaction of fascination/revulsion when they encounter a gay couple in public. I’m sure that having a place where you KNOW people won’t gape when you give your love a kiss for the nice meal is a little extra reassuring.
    In fact, I do believe you will be treated much worse in most of our region with a public display of intolerance, and I think that’s just fine.
    Welcome OutWest, we’re neighbors. If the food and drinks are good, that’s all that matters to me, I’ll spend MY dollars there.

  • Joseph May 13, 2011 (6:40 pm)

    I feel comfortable being a gay man any place I go here in Seattle.

  • islewrite May 13, 2011 (6:48 pm)

    Will we see the return of Miss Chlamydia Burns? :-)

  • coffee May 13, 2011 (7:04 pm)

    Omg I was just talking last night with a good friend at skylark that we needed a lgbt place in west seattle!!!! I am there at least once a week!

  • Katy Walum May 13, 2011 (7:05 pm)

    Welcome to the neighborhood, OutWest! Can’t wait to visit!

  • A May 13, 2011 (7:12 pm)

    Another WOOHOOO reaction from this LGBT couple. While we’re comfortable in most places in WS, we do get the side-eye on occasion in some places if we’re being at all demonstrative. Those who haven’t experienced it are lucky, and I’m glad for them. However, sometimes I’d like to be able to go somewhere that it’s NOT a big freakin deal if I give my partner a kiss or we hold hands.

  • dd May 13, 2011 (7:25 pm)

    congrats and welcome.

  • RJB May 13, 2011 (7:43 pm)

    As a former West Seattlite who moved back two years ago after 12 years on Capitol Hill, I cannot wait and it is close to where we live!! Welcome!! Best of luck!

  • dawsonct May 13, 2011 (7:48 pm)

    Maybe you have Aspergers Joseph.

  • Julia May 13, 2011 (8:19 pm)

    Congrats and welcome from a local t-girl looking forward to being a customer!


  • ZippyDogs May 13, 2011 (8:23 pm)

    This is great news. I enjoyed going to Guppies – but hated the Tom of Finland art that adorned the walls. A real turn off for women. Sounds like these guys have some taste and I look forward to enjoying what they create! Congratulations! There are a ton of gays, lesbians and friends that will patronize such a place.

  • Kristina May 13, 2011 (8:24 pm)

    Welcome, new neighbors! I live just a minute from this location, and I think it sounds great. I’m gay friendly (is that what I’m called?!) and would be happy to support a new local place with good food and a friendly atmosphere, GBLT or otherwise.

  • Julia May 13, 2011 (8:43 pm)

    Sounds lovely. Never felt like I could go to Guppy’s, as it appeared to be more exclusively LGBT and I don’t qualify. Excited about this!

  • crystal May 13, 2011 (8:50 pm)

    This is really exciting!! :) Also, to add my 2 cents to the “safe place” commentary, I personally feel very safe and welcome in West Seattle as a lesbian and know that many lesbians and gay men do. That doesn’t mean though that it is not nice to have a place to go where you are absolutely sure bigotry will not intrude on an enjoyable evening. Also, many people who are just coming out really do need a place to feel safe while they are doing so. Im so happy that West Seattle will soon have a place like this! Congrats to the owners!

  • abstract May 13, 2011 (9:19 pm)

    YAY! Welcome to the hood. I also feel safe pretty much everywhere but am looking forward to going to a bar where I won’t be hit on by straight drunk men.

  • SalishSeaGirl May 13, 2011 (9:51 pm)

    Well thank goodness! It’s about time! As a LGBT friendly straight girl, I miss some of the functions Guppy’s offered my LGBT friends, with me happily tagging along. We are getting there as a community, but acceptance is not a given in every establishment in West Seattle. Everybody needs a place to hang their hat, or their tiara, to call home away from home. Welcome!

  • DM May 13, 2011 (10:39 pm)

    YAY Outwest! Welcome! I’m in hopes that our LGBT neighbors already feel welcome and at home in West Seattle where ever they may roam…As a straight gal I’m excited to check out a new establishment. AND, when my dear gay lads visit from SF, they’re not always sure where they will be completely welcome. It’ll be nice to be able to take them to a place near by, where they will feel 100% okay, that isn’t on Capital Hill. Thanks!

  • upTown May 13, 2011 (11:42 pm)

    Yay! So happy to hear ws finally bringing back an lgbt friendly place. I was a regular at guppies and previous place off the ws bridge where Jones is now and totally miss having a place to go w.like minded folks! Looking forward to meeting new friends and seeing some of the crowds that disappeared over the years. Thank you for your efforts. I’m sure this place will be well received by more people than you can imagine! You guys ROCK!!!

  • JC May 14, 2011 (12:09 am)

    Great news for West Seattle. I wish them the best, and will be there when it opens.

  • dameDonna May 14, 2011 (12:48 am)

    Yay! Congrats!

  • beach drive May 14, 2011 (2:14 am)

    Fantastic! It’s about time.

  • Chris May 14, 2011 (8:02 am)

    Excited for this addition to West Seattle — welcome, OutWest!

  • CurlyQ May 14, 2011 (8:12 am)

    This is great news for our neighborhood. Just wondering, will it be an adults-only establishment or will it be family-friendly?

  • Ray West May 14, 2011 (8:13 am)

    I used to complain that there weren’t enough good eating establishments in West Seattle, now it seems that’s the majority of new businesses that ever open up. Actually, I’m surprised the owners didn’t take over the vacated Bohemian space. Being as I live very near here, I do have concerns about the parking impact. My friends have a hard enough time trying to park on my street when they visit. This will not help, but I wish the owners luck.

  • maude May 14, 2011 (9:04 am)

    As an “L” in the LGBT I find that I can go just about anywhere in the city and not encounter any problems. It is nice, though, to go hang out with my peeps on occasion. I look forward to visiting OutWest and wish them luck!

  • dawsonct May 14, 2011 (9:31 am)

    I will bet they get more walk-in traffic from the neighborhood. Anyway, parking problems are one of the trade-offs for living near a business district.

    One alternative is suburbia, where the businesses and residential districts have their STRICT separation, everyone has a garage and driveway, and if you want to go out for a drink or a meal, you MUST get into a car and drive to it.

    I’ll take the urban model.

  • Keith May 14, 2011 (11:23 am)

    Awesome news, can’t wait to check it out!

  • toodles May 14, 2011 (5:37 pm)

    I am going to be the top regular there. Its in a very convenient location.

  • dhg May 14, 2011 (7:12 pm)

    “Safe” places are not needed in Seattle but it is fun to have a place where LGBT’s are the majority! It just, you know, takes the pressure off. Welcome to the GAY-borhood!

  • FauntleeHillsFag May 14, 2011 (7:21 pm)

    There are very few places in Seattle I feel comfortable being completely out at, and most of them don’t exist in West Seattle. I think that this restaurant/bar is more about creating a “community” space for queer folks in West Seattle than creating a “safe” space. A lot of people don’t want to have to bus or drive over to Capitol Hill to congregate and hang out with their queer and allied friends.

    I hope that this space will be available for people of ALL AGES.

  • Kurt May 15, 2011 (1:32 pm)

    Looking forward to checking this out. My only input is NO TV! They are generally just a distraction in my view. My fave places don’t have them.

  • KR May 15, 2011 (1:53 pm)

    This is great news. In my opinion, the “safe place” distinction is not intended to say any place is actually unsafe. However, it is like saying Rocksport is a safe place for sports fans. Basically, everyone is welcome, but if sports are your thing, BONUS. Same with this place. Hopefully it will provide good food, good drinks, and good times for everyone. And if your are gay, BONUS!
    Welcome to the neighborhood.

  • azulero May 15, 2011 (4:04 pm)

    Hey OutWest — can’t wait to see you guys open this summer! That’s excellent news! However, I don’t expect the establishment to be all things to all people. Comments on this thread suggest that some folks have a wish list of shaping the OutWest brand and concept. I respect that the owners have a good vision in mind for their business, and their ability to achieve it will attract a good customer-base, too. It’s one that’s got my vote! :)

  • Cascadianone May 16, 2011 (12:10 am)

    I’m straight and I welcome the addition to our neighborhood. You create a safe place through vigilance and good communication- sounds like OutWest is off to a good start. Haters beware, right? LOL.

  • T-Rex May 16, 2011 (12:56 pm)

    I hope these guys do well and hopefully I don’t have to look at a picture of a man’s crotch while having lunch and a cold beer.

  • JW May 16, 2011 (1:55 pm)

    Can’t wait! You guys should go for whatever menu and decor you want. I’ll happily enjoy a burger and Caesar salad in old west surroundings, but if it’s a really juicy burger on a delicious bun and a crispy fresh yummy salad…I’ll be back over and over again!

  • FauntleeHillsFaggot May 16, 2011 (7:53 pm)

    T-Rex: That’s exactly like me saying that when I go to non-queer specific restaurants and bars that I hope I don’t have to look at any pictures of heterosexual couples showing affection, or scantily clad women at sports bars.

    If you don’t want to see “the gay,” then stay out of gay bars and restaurants.

  • JF May 23, 2011 (7:21 pm)

    Congratulations guys!! Can’t wait! but PLEEEEEEEEEZE leave the “western theme” out of OutWest. Unless you change the name to “Miss Kitty’s.” West Seattle is about being “West” of “Seattle.” That’s it. Best of luck!!

  • Scotty Black May 25, 2011 (4:27 pm)

    I am currently living in West Seattle and am looking for work. I would be very interested in knowing whether you are hiring. Would also like to send you a resume’. Please let me know if you are. I can also be contacted by phone at 707-570-5426. Thanks for your time and consideration. :)
    Scotty Black

  • Beehive May 26, 2011 (1:50 pm)

    Yay, I can’t wait!

  • dj john england May 30, 2011 (7:59 pm)

    Let me know if you guys need music!

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