OutWest Bar opens: ‘Welcome to your gay and lesbian bar …’

(At OutWest Bar: Holly, bartender Josh, co-owner Bob)
Story and photos by Keri DeTore
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Though butcher paper is still on the windows, the sign on the front door of OutWest Bar reads, “Yes, we’re open!”

By 4:00 today, patrons such as Glenn Bafia were already seated at the copper-topped bar and in the booths for OutWest’s “soft open” in the former Westside Pharmacy space at California/Brandon. He said, “I’m very excited that the gay and lesbian community has a bar in West Seattle that we can hang out in.”

Co-owner Bob Lunke greeted guests with “Welcome to your gay and lesbian bar in West Seattle!” and then proceeded to figure out how to use the cash register.

Another patron, who followed OutWest Bar’s journey via Facebook, said he came “all the way from Magnolia” to check it out.

Neighbor Lisa Laughlin says she’s been watching it “come to life. I’m very excited that it’s now open—it’s good to have a bar I can walk home from!” while Dawn Leverett, West Seattle Windermere agent, added, “West Seattle loves to support restaurants and bars and we’re excited about new venues. In this economy it’s great to see a small business open — these are the backbone of the economy. We’re very happy to have the OutWest Bar in West Seattle.”

Co-owners Lunke and Chad Gabelein still anticipate a grand opening sometime in the next two weeks. (Per their FB page, Happy Hour is 4-6 pm, Tuesdays-Fridays.) For more backstory about OutWest Bar, see our stories from May (here) and December (here).

57 Replies to "OutWest Bar opens: 'Welcome to your gay and lesbian bar ...'"

  • Irukandji August 11, 2011 (9:00 pm)

    Yay! A place for the straight girls, too, who are creeped out by the repository of dumped and desperate ex-husbandy-types in other local bars :)

  • redblack August 11, 2011 (9:27 pm)

    welcome to the neighborhood.
    there’s a paucity of social/scene in that area, and i hope you guys do well.
    cheers, and best of luck!

  • shed22 August 11, 2011 (9:49 pm)

    Right on! Looking forward to a visit. West Seattle rocks.

  • Grant August 11, 2011 (9:56 pm)

    Welcome to the gayborhood!

  • Manflora August 11, 2011 (10:05 pm)

    Pardon my ignorance but what does gay and lesbian bar mean? I would imagine everybody is welcome, right? No membership or credentials needed, right? I can only imagine what kind of comments would this story get if the header read “Welcome to your straight bar”
    Just sayin’…

  • Aman August 11, 2011 (10:07 pm)

    Best of Luck OutWest Bar. Welcome to West Seattle!

  • Marilyn August 11, 2011 (10:36 pm)

    Yes! I’m very excited. Congratulations to our new bar and all who are involved in making it work. I will be there soon to check it out! The color of copper means stimulating and exciting! I love the copper color.

  • S.O. Sincere August 11, 2011 (11:00 pm)

    How about a gay bakery? We really need a gay bakery. Also a gay shoe store. Those straight shoe stores are so boring. Welcome to the year 2011. It’s not 1974 any more. Do you really need your own special closet to hang out in?

  • JumboJim August 11, 2011 (11:18 pm)

    Sorry Irukandji, I was planning on going to Outwest tomorrow night! Sorry to harsh your buzzz… ;-)

    Love the name ‘OutWest’ BTW.

  • ZippyDogs August 11, 2011 (11:24 pm)

    We visited tonight after the Storm game. The count was 24 men and 28 women! Every new person that walked through the front door was treated to shouts of welcoming joy and applause. It’s so nice to be around good friends. Yay – OutWest!

  • Lura Ercolano August 11, 2011 (11:35 pm)

    Yay! Glad they are here.

  • Traci August 11, 2011 (11:54 pm)

    Welcome to the neighborhood! We’re happy that you’re here… Maybe I’ll finally be able to coerce my friends away from Purr for a trip to West Seattle :)

  • meg August 12, 2011 (12:03 am)

    @manflora and S.O.Sincere: no it is not 1974. And oppression exists. Homophobia exists. And as long as it does a special place is nice to have. And, there is no need to have a header welcoming straights folks. That is an assumption given to the large majority.

    • WSB August 12, 2011 (12:12 am)

      To clarify re: the headline: It’s in quote marks because it is a quote from something someone said in the story – in this case, owner Bob, a few paragraphs down – which is one time-honored way to write a headline, as is the more basic flat descriptive style, which would have been something like: Opening night for new West Seattle LGBT establishment OutWest Bar – TR

  • breezygirl August 12, 2011 (12:33 am)

    YAY!!! Welcome to the neighborhood!! No haters allowed!!

  • metrognome August 12, 2011 (3:47 am)

    meg — that may be an assumption, unless you have a disability that makes it difficult or impossible to gain access to numerous new bars and restaurants in the area. I have yet to see one that advertises their accessibility on their website (incl OutWest, altho their site is under construction) and have seen a few that flat out violate building codes. So, there are other groups in the city that are discriminated against and not made to feel welcome — in a ‘straight’ bar or an LGBT bar.

  • redblack August 12, 2011 (6:04 am)

    manflora: what that means is that if you’re hanging out in there and someone of the same gender hits on you, you shouldn’t be surprised.
    that behavior doesn’t go over so well in talarico’s, does it?

  • RJB August 12, 2011 (7:46 am)

    Gay, straight, big, small, blue, red whatever……welcome to West Seattle!! A great place for anyone and everyone…!

  • AJP August 12, 2011 (8:14 am)

    manflora & SO Sincere:

    There are bars that cater to sports (even different kinds of sports and different teams), to different kinds of music, different kinds of vehicles they drive (bikers! classic cars!) to different types of alcohol taste, etc etc. This is just another group of people who have something in common. No big deal.

  • Bob Loblaw August 12, 2011 (8:32 am)

    I’m still honestly confused and honestly need to know whether straight folks from the neighborhood are welcome here. Would love to have a local place so close to chill. But I don’t want to take up space that would be occupied by another person who would get more out of having a welcoming place to enjoy.
    And, welcome!

  • nina mattoon August 12, 2011 (8:35 am)


  • The Velvet Bulldog August 12, 2011 (8:56 am)

    I stopped by yesterday to welcome these folks and check out the bar, since I’ve been following the story here on the Blog. Though I’m not LGBT, I was welcomed as much as anyone else and chatted comfortably with the other customers.

    I have gay/lesbian friends who, though they live their lives pretty openly and comfortably, are not always comfortable holding hands or sharing a quick smooch in public. OutWest will be a place where these folks can show their affection for each other, without getting disapproving looks or comments from people around them.

    I’m looking forward to visiting OutWest with my gay friends, and supporting their community.

  • meg August 12, 2011 (9:07 am)

    @metrognome: good point and true! being able-bodied is another area of privilege (and one I myself hold)

    @redblack- funny, and yep. Anyone can come to a queer bar/event/etc. As long as they are respectful, come on in. =)

  • WSJEEP August 12, 2011 (10:21 am)

    @manflora and S.O.Sincere, a gay bar is needed that way when I go to meet a date or my bf I dont have to worries about getting made fun of or getting beat up.

  • kathy August 12, 2011 (10:33 am)

    Hi Western Gay Bar

    Great to see this ,and Happy for all.
    Was wondering ”being its a Western type Bar …would you be interested in some original Western Art … By A Local

    Thank You

  • dbsea August 12, 2011 (10:53 am)

    I’m not much of a bar hanger outer, though I wish I were at times. But do the LGBT crowd have problems, or are unwelcome, at other places in W. Seattle? Just curious, my impression is that it’s a pretty friendly, open place.

  • amalia August 12, 2011 (11:14 am)

    Great, this might be the one full-service bar close enough to walk to. Thanks and welcome to the neighborhood! I hope you have some interesting cocktails on the menu. As far as I’m concerned, that’s a lot more important than the gender preferences of the clientele (says the straight girl :) ).

  • old timer August 12, 2011 (11:46 am)

    @ Manflora, dbsea, et al.
    In the Seattle context, I think it’s more of a cultural thing.
    Gay humor, conversation, music, even clothing and choices of beverages are usually not always what you’d find in a straight bar – not to mention any ‘action’ that may occur.
    Think Italian restaurant, Indian restaurant, Thai restaurant – all wonderful but different ways of presenting food.
    And, if you don’t like a particular presentation, you do not patronize.
    Gay is just a different way of presenting human. If you do not like that presentation, do not patronize.
    Straight being the dominant culture needs no announcement of it’s flavor.
    It’s basic Seattle’s ‘live and let live’ attitude that makes this such a wonderful oasis, and allows differences to be accommodated.
    It’s great to see an empty space being put to productive use.
    I wish them all success.

  • Vanessa August 12, 2011 (11:53 am)

    WHOO HOOO, our very own Holly, bartending and she sings beautifully. Hoot hoot for the Seattle Women’s Chorus. We’ll have to have Tuesday at the bar after rehearsal be the place to cool our pipes. Congratulations Outwest, welcome with big open arms to West Seattle.

  • amalia August 12, 2011 (12:32 pm)

    “Gay … choices of beverages are usually not always what you’d find in a straight bar”

    Really? Well, I hope gay cocktails are good, ’cause that’s what I’m looking forward to. If the bloody Marys at Guppy’s were gay, I’m hopeful.

    (No offense or snarkiness to poster intended. I don’t think I understood the post.)

  • shed22 August 12, 2011 (1:18 pm)

    There is a BIG difference between exclusive (only for . . . ) and inclusive (embracing of . . .).

  • Manflora August 12, 2011 (1:34 pm)

    prejudice and racism exists and this is not 1974. Understoood. But I am having a hard time picturing a Mexican Bar, not as in Mexican cuisine and traditional mexican drinks bar, but as in Mexicans here you are cherished and welcome and we will cheer for you when you cross the door and we are happy there are no Mexican hating people here.
    I do not drink so I have no idea how the bar scene works, but this whole “welcome to your gay and lesbian bar” headline sounds very interesting to me to say the least.

  • breezygirl August 12, 2011 (2:27 pm)

    You know, the more I think about S.O. Sincere’s comment about having a gay bakery, the more I think its a pretty darn good idea!! My fairy godfather (yes, he is a gay man) is the best baker I have ever known in my whole life…. we could probably make some serious $$$$!!

  • TeeTaw August 12, 2011 (2:56 pm)

    I welcome a new business in this type of economy and I will be more than happy to lend my support by lifting a few pints.


  • 35this35mph August 12, 2011 (3:43 pm)

    Don’t drink (recovering alkie)
    Don’t romance dudes (married breeder)
    Don’t hate! Welcome to the hood!

  • Mr.Teach August 12, 2011 (7:05 pm)

    Me wonders if those who seem to have difficulty understanding why those of us who are gay/lesbian and/or are simply welcoming are celebrating the opening of a gay-friendly place might actually be a part of the “problem” when I get a dirty look at Elliot Bay Brew Pub for giving my parter of 10 years a quick peck on the cheek….

  • WTF August 12, 2011 (7:40 pm)

    I’m straight as as a string; to set the stage. Regardless of the the headline, label (labels suck by the way), name of the place, ‘hood it’s in, etc.,….I will be there to throw back a few with my fellow West Settlites. Peace People. I hope & pray for the day that headlines will read: New, Great Drinking Establishment that Welcomes EVERYONE… Welcome guys and best of luck.

  • petert August 12, 2011 (8:03 pm)

    Who the flippin’ flip cares ?? Gay, straight, whatever – you should feel comfortable that another small business has opened up in West Seattle. And if you patronize local businesses, you should feel comfortable patronizing this one. This is West Seattle. We don’t draw lines. We support each other.

    My wife and I are going there this weekend.

    Welcome to West Seattle, Outwest.

  • Manflora August 12, 2011 (8:30 pm)

    To set the record straight:
    I am not gay (as in the sexual orientation, but I am very gay as in happy)
    My best friend is gay (homosexual) and proud of it.
    I am a small business owner and truly support buy local (in this case drink local).
    Some of my favorite clients are guy couples (male/male, female/female).
    Welcome to West Seattle whatever label is attached to your business, I wish you the best of luck!

  • Chris August 12, 2011 (9:38 pm)

    I have to say that it is a pleasure to read the almost completely positive and welcoming messages regarding the new establishment. I am gay but I do frequent all of the restaurants in West Seattle and do feel completely safe. But it is also nice to have an establishment for my friends that might not have been so lucky. I do agree that it will be nice when one day the label will not be needed and frankly, I’m not sure it’s even needed in this case, but perhaps more of an identifier – a description if you will. For that (and many other reasons), I am very happy to live in West Seattle.

    Welcome Outwest. Great name btw,

  • shed22 August 12, 2011 (10:18 pm)

    @manflora: from a recent experience (not WSB) “i hope you die of aids, fag.”

    Let’s not forget Velo_nuts recent forum posting: “nice spandex, faggot.”

    And the insults overheard at Lincoln Park recently by teenagers egging each other on with “f’ing faggot; g’damn queer.”

    Go on forbid a place where the LGBT community can feel safe and welcomed in West Seattle.

    What a pollyanna world you must live. Please invite me in. I would love to see the rainbow.

  • Manflora August 12, 2011 (11:13 pm)

    Insults and sarcasm not necessary. I do not recall ever forbidding or condemning a place where LGBT or anybody else can feel safe and have a good old time.
    My world is far from perfect but you are not invited. Gay or straight.
    Aaaaah, the joy of cyber anonymity…

    • WSB August 12, 2011 (11:35 pm)

      Side soapbox: The discussion twists and turns have nothing to do with “cyber anonymity,” which is often blamed for something that’s not its fault. I continue to see the worst online behavior on Facebook, where supposedly “real names” will save us all. Sorry, they don’t. We keep this as a place where you don’t have to use your name – though you are MORE than welcome to, if you so choose, and some do – because that’s the way the world should be, in discussion that could potentially involve large groups of people. I attend a multitude of public meetings, for example. You do not HAVE TO state your name before you start speaking. Nor should you be required to. There are times in life when we have to present ID, but energetic discussion shouldn’t be one of those times.
      The most important factor in keeping discussion from deteriorating, whether online or in person or whatever, is to have some guidelines, and for their to be a host/owner/editor/whatever who does her/his best to explain and enforce them. Regarding this discussion, I think it’s stayed relatively civil – though certainly acerbic at times, as tends to happen in any passionate discussion. We have very strict rules against namecalling and against using any sort of denigration regarding traits with which people are born – sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, size among them – and luckily I’ve only had to decline to approve a couple comments in this thread. None of them involved anti-gay insults, by the way – just attempted generic namecalling against others with different views. Remember, our rule is: You can’t say I’m an idiot, but you CAN say my comment/opinion is idiotic. Fine line but important.
      Sorry, just had to step in with my defense of anonymity, which has an undeserved rap, when it’s lazy website owners who refuse to moderate or enforce rules (worst offenders are big media companies!) who are the real problem … TR

  • Manflora August 12, 2011 (11:48 pm)

    My reference to cyber anonymity was related to how I did not need to disclose my name because some folks just do not understand the difference from having an opinion and sharing some thought-provoking statements vs prejudice.
    You as the WSB editor know who I am and I hope you know I am far from meaning any harm. Good night.

    • WSB August 13, 2011 (12:15 am)

      I know, I just need to get that on the record from time to time because even many of my news-business colleagues who support it fail to advocate for it. Somebody has to, lest we get to a point where something crazy happens like some politicians passing a law against it – stranger things have happened! – TR

  • heather August 13, 2011 (8:25 am)

    Yeah! Welcome to the neighborhood!

    In response to dbsea:

    “But do the LGBT crowd have problems, or are unwelcome, at other places in W. Seattle?”

    Yes. We’ve been together for 13 years and look just like everyone else. I’ve never been physically attacked and we own a house here but even going out to breakfast (which we do every weekend at Endolyne) I’ve had to endure loud comments directed at us by people at the next table saying they could show us what it feels like to be in a ‘real’ relationship, couples have asked (quietly) to be seated elsewhere when shown the table next to ours and I’ve frequently had to endure hetero couples being overly affectionate (our waiter has asked if we wanted to move) in demonstration of how ‘it’s supposed to be’. Why don’t we go elsewhere you ask? Because these are common occurrences for someone in a same-sex relationship. It’s always makes me sad but its so frequent you just try to ignore it.

  • Beth August 13, 2011 (9:51 am)

    Welcome to West Seattle! Glad to see another local business, and such a welcoming and accepting one at that.

  • 1000amys August 13, 2011 (12:27 pm)

    Actually, Manflora, I think the idea of a bar where there are “no Mexican hating people” is a great idea. I’m pretty sure it’s just about as tiresome to be out and about and be picked on, given dirty looks, etc. for being (or being perceived to be) Mexican as it is for being (or being perceived to be) gay.

    Anyway, now my wife and I know where we are going on our next date night without the kids. As much as we enjoy other restaurants in West Seattle, it will be nice to have a place nearby where we are understood to be a couple and aren’t afraid to hold hands during dinner.

    Yes, we feel safe in West Seattle; but no, we are not generally comfortable being at all affectionate in public. It’s stressful because of the risk of being insulted or hurt because of it, particularly around our children.

    I am amazed by all of you who really are surprised that there is still a need for a place that makes it clear it is gay-friendly. Trust me – there is still plenty of nastiness directed at us and at our families. We have worked to find a school and a church where our family is understood and welcomed, and are delighted to hear about OutWest. Now, who wants to open a family restaurant where no gay-hating people or Mexican-hating people or any other kind of hating people will be there?

  • Manflora August 13, 2011 (1:17 pm)

    Thank you for sharing. It saddens me to hear gay couples go through this kind of treatment, specially when there are children involved.
    And as far as hoping for a Mexican-hating-free atmosphere I will tell you as an American citizen of Mexican origin. I do not care about dirty looks related to me being perceived by others as Mexican. I am confident, highly educated and as successful as anybody else, Mexican or not. And I am raising my kids to be proud of their origin and speak their second language and embrace their cultural heritage because I feel it is very important.

  • Manflora August 13, 2011 (1:18 pm)

    Thank you for sharing. It saddens me to hear gay couples go through this kind of treatment, specially when there are children involved.
    And as far as hoping for a Mexican-hating-free atmosphere I will tell you as an American citizen of Mexican origin, I do not care about dirty looks related to me being perceived by others as Mexican. I am confident, highly educated and as successful as anybody else, Mexican or not. And I am raising my kids to be proud of their origin and speak their second language and embrace their cultural heritage because I feel it is very important.

  • MP August 13, 2011 (3:35 pm)

    Welcome! I’m so excited to have you in my neighborhood! My husband and I cant wait to check you out. I have to say, our gay friends are some of the funnest people we know! I’m sure your bar will be full of life and laughter :).

  • guy August 13, 2011 (3:35 pm)

    Welcome!!! I will stop in for a beer soon.

  • ikahana August 13, 2011 (8:32 pm)

    My nullified husband and I feel comfortable in most of the bars and restaurants in Seattle (West and otherwise) that we go to. Of course, there are many we would never choose to go to. Ones that are clearly for men picking up women (or vice-versa) for instance, or those that cater to the Frat boy crowd, or many other non-gay identified bars and clubs. I can’t remember the last time I was in a gay bar in Seattle, but I see the need for them. Sometimes you just want to be with your tribe, where you are NOT the minority, where you are NOT “gay” (I’m only gay when I’m around straight people – otherwise I’m just a person like the other people because there is not a “norm” to be compared to).

    I look forward to checking this place out. Since West Seattle has a rep for being the place that gays and lesbians move to after they have outgrown the Hill, I hope that is reflected in the atmosphere. And if the music is 80’s greatest hits or club hits at a too loud to hear conversation volume, I probably won’t go back but I’ll be wishing them all the best. Just not my scene. I just go to bars for good drinks and to visit friends these days. :-)

  • Guvna August 14, 2011 (1:22 am)

    I love this thread. The majority of posts are, why the hell do you even need to worry about stating you’re a GLBT in West Seattle, we don’t care?

    I love living in West Seattle, unfortunately the ignorant minority here and in other areas of the city struggle to let people live they want they want.

    You describe your bar how you want, I’ll be stopping by soon to welcome you to the neighborhood.

  • Rich August 14, 2011 (2:27 pm)

    RE: Manflora and 1974. People in the majority don’t usually get it. Helps to trade shoes now and then, and see then if you don’t appreciate a place to call your own. Doesn’t mean you aren’t welcome, just that everyone deserves some place of comfort, where you don’t have to watch your back all the time.

  • Recall McGinn August 14, 2011 (8:24 pm)

    Welcome! I will be happy to come down and hoist a few.

  • Barb August 17, 2011 (1:22 pm)


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