West Seattle development: Rocksport, losing lease sooner than expected, to close in July

Rocksport, the Junction sports bar/grill that’s on the site of the future two-building Equity Residential development along SW Alaska between 42nd and California, has set a closing date: July 15th. We contacted its owners after a tip from WSB reader Jim, and got a call back this afternoon from co-owner Shannon Beeman. She says they received word that all leases would be terminated on July 31st – though they had thought they had till fall to clear out. So after some discussion, she told WSB, including talking with their employees, they have decided to close after July 15th, the last day of West Seattle Summer Fest and traditionally their busiest weekend of the year. She says that sometime between July 16th and 31st, they plan to auction off not only the restaurant supplies and kitchen equipment, but also a lot of memorabilia. The Rocksport – as you’ll note atop their home page – has been in business 16 years. We have a message out to Equity Residential to ask whether this means the construction timetable is moving up; in January, they would say only that they expected to start before year’s end.

FRIDAY NIGHT POSTSCRIPT: Here’s a touching tribute to the Rocksport, written by Jennifer Balogh, wife of DJ Tony B of karaoke fame.

70 Replies to "West Seattle development: Rocksport, losing lease sooner than expected, to close in July"

  • HelperMonkey May 31, 2012 (4:58 pm)

    I just want to cry. The BF and I met at the Rocksport 11 years ago…our anniversary is July 14. You can bet we’ll be spending it at the Rocksport.

  • Bonnie May 31, 2012 (5:02 pm)

    Will all the businesses in that area close? I hope Young at Art does not have to close!

    So sorry to hear about Rocksport closing. I remember when they opened.

    • WSB May 31, 2012 (5:56 pm)

      Bonnie – I should have included this roundup, but whether they have to close or not, remaining businesses in those buildings will have to move. Young at Art included – I haven’t checked with them yet as to their plan; there’s also AAA and a few others. Before checking with all of them, I hope to reach the developer tomorrow to verify if everyone has the same deadline.
      AN – permit not finalized but I see, looking at some of the other permit-related line items on the DPD site, there are some inspections etc. taking place this very week.

  • Hoyne May 31, 2012 (5:03 pm)

    Oh this is so sad. We love the Rocksport!

  • NotMe May 31, 2012 (5:08 pm)

    Wow… I better get over there for one more mushroom burger.

  • Smitty May 31, 2012 (5:09 pm)

    Come on guys, lease the old Charlestown Cafe space! We can’t lose Rocksport! Plenty of parking, great walking neighborhood business. On an arterial.

    You can do it!

  • coffee May 31, 2012 (5:11 pm)

    So they are not looking for a new space? I was under the impression that they would be moving.

  • Jeff Gilbert May 31, 2012 (5:15 pm)

    It won’t seem like West Seattle without RockSport being here. Good friends and staffers – lots of memories, fun and (ahem) hangovers.

  • MB May 31, 2012 (5:21 pm)

    ^^@HelperMonkey, the hubby and I had our first “date” there :) Many many good memories there (as well as a few not so good ones). Don’t go much anymore, but will likely make a point to stop in a few times in the next few weeks.

  • AN May 31, 2012 (5:42 pm)

    Do they have the demo permits yet?

  • westcoastdeb May 31, 2012 (5:46 pm)

    Though I know this is real it feels like a bad joke. Love the Rocksport. Will certainly miss it.

  • beardo May 31, 2012 (5:52 pm)

    Why are they letting them build a high rise condo in the heart of the junction?!?

  • celeste17 May 31, 2012 (6:11 pm)

    I too thought they would move to another location. I love their food and the staff is great. Not to mention their philanthropy.

  • george May 31, 2012 (6:12 pm)

    Because you know WS wants density high rises, with lots of retail shops, walkability, transit, less sunlight, more ugliness, yada-yada-yada. The supporters will be here soon.

  • AN May 31, 2012 (6:36 pm)

    yes TR, they are drilling on 42nd and in the parking lot again.

  • Nearby Resident May 31, 2012 (6:43 pm)

    This is just ludicrous at this point. They are tearing down, and running out, all the businesses that make living in West Seattle great. And before someone brings up the “stop whining, others want to live here” I am thinking of all the people being shoved into those condos. They will have no where to go either, if all of what makes West Seattle wonderful is destroyed, or impossible to get into due to over crowding and traffic. Yes, some of us who live here have to drive into the junction as it is too far to walk and there aren’t frequent buses in our part of West Seattle.

  • Ari/Nitro May 31, 2012 (6:44 pm)

    I have been going their since the third day they’ve opened over 17 years ago. The Junction will never be the same once they are gone. I was hoping they would be able to last thru one more football season as anticpated. Were am I going to go now to play QB1 FOOTBALL, and what’s going to happen to our normal NTN TRIVIA? It’s going to be a sad day indeed on the last day and I’ll be singing Outside the Wall when the lights go out for the final time….(: Boycott Equity Residential!

  • Kara May 31, 2012 (6:49 pm)

    I want to cry…the Rocksport is one of those great places where everyone belongs.

  • Marie May 31, 2012 (6:56 pm)

    I have alot of good memories of good times with friends at this place! I was there at it’s opening! I’m going to miss this place and all the nice folks that worked there! :-(

  • Dunno May 31, 2012 (7:09 pm)

    It is sounding like there was some kind of a West Seattle connection.
    Still can’t believe the facial hair did’t come up in the suspects discription.
    Kudo’s to the unnamed hero at Racers!! I hope we all get to know who that person is. Bravery in the 1st degree!! I hope the city is able to honor them in some way.

  • WTF May 31, 2012 (7:30 pm)

    So sad that “progress” means destruction of businesses that have supported and thrived in our neighborhood in the name of yet ANOTHER apartment complex. Hope Darren & Dan can move & keep the concept going…

  • MaggiesMom May 31, 2012 (7:40 pm)

    Heard that the old Chuck & Sally’s location might be a consideration for Rock Sport. We need to keep these family friendly business’s in our town! What does it take?

  • sun*e May 31, 2012 (7:49 pm)

    Rocksport has been our “go to” place for years to watch the super bowl…not to mention that they have great food and service. I’m surprised they’re not looking for another location. They will surely be missed. Me so sad. :-(

  • Neighborly May 31, 2012 (8:02 pm)

    I love Young at Art and hope they stay in the Junction.

  • karen May 31, 2012 (8:09 pm)

    Didn’t there used to be a morgue in the basement of that building?

  • miws May 31, 2012 (8:12 pm)

    *Hands box of Kleenex to Jiggers*


    That’s too bad they aren’t/can’t open elsewhere. Like Smitty said; the old Charlestown building.


    Rocksport is the main reason we haven’t had that proposed monstrosity sitting there for around a decade, already.


    When the original owners that had proposed the project, applied for permits some 10-12 years ago, Rocksport held them to the then 10 year lease.



  • Dpws1 May 31, 2012 (8:47 pm)

    Our favorite place is WS to hang out after the kids games with the team. The kids love the games and we love the food,staff and drinks! Really hoping they end up in a new location so we can continue our weekly visits.

  • sun*e May 31, 2012 (9:04 pm)

    To veer off the subject a bit – it looks like West Seattle Summer Fest and the West Seattle Garden Tour are on the same weekend…right? I don’t recall these events being on the same weekend in the past and it doesn’t seem like good planning to me…darn it!

  • jiggers May 31, 2012 (9:08 pm)

    Ugghhh.. I thought Charlestown spot was already spoken for by another business. Can you clarify that WSB?

    • WSB May 31, 2012 (9:11 pm)

      Not that I’ve heard. The “for lease” signs are still up, though of course, that doesn’t always mean it’s really “for lease” (for example, for weeks after we confirmed and reported that Super Supplements was taking over the ex-Blockbuster on Fauntleroy Way in Morgan Junction, that sign stayed up). If you’ve heard something specific, let me know, I can certainly check it with the company handling that listing – TR

  • Theresa Anderson May 31, 2012 (9:11 pm)

    Thank you everyone for the kind comments on Young at Art. Our time in that space is coming to an end but continue on we will. Where will be revealed in the weeks to come. The support and following of young little artists we have received has been amazing. See you at the studio!
    Young at Art

  • miws May 31, 2012 (10:03 pm)

    karen, The morgue was in the basement of the other building, the one that housed Super Supplements, etc. It was the old West Seattle Hospital.



  • harmonic May 31, 2012 (10:11 pm)

    sad to see rocksport go, but remeember the zoning was enacted a long time ago. I wish them the best. Is Rocksport done or maybe they rent the new retail space in an even better space?

  • Trick May 31, 2012 (10:24 pm)

    I hope the Junction doesn’t follow Belltown with high rise condo’s and then the condo associations complaints of the noise, vibrant foodie scene, and nightlife. The same reasons they sell the condo’s in the first place.
    It’s not too far away it appears.
    It all starts with valet parking :)

  • ohthehorror May 31, 2012 (10:26 pm)

    This reminds me of Austin in the late ’90’s/early ’00s. In order to accomodate everyone who wanted to live downtown to be near all the cool places, they had to tear down the cool places to build condos to house the people who wanted to be near the cool places.

    The area from Oregon/42nd to California/Alaska will be a massive construction zone soon. Glad there are other alternatives in the Admiral and Morgan Junctions. I’m wondering if there will be anything in the re-built spaces that will bring me and my dollars back there when it’s all finished.

  • Curtis May 31, 2012 (10:40 pm)

    The Rocksport is the kind of business that should be attached to a bargain movie theater. Just sayin’

  • JanS May 31, 2012 (11:32 pm)

    and if not the Charlestown Cafe location, then the location where the old Porterhouse was…it’s set to go…has a great bar, kitchen…what more do you need?

  • Thistle June 1, 2012 (6:39 am)

    I know exactly what your saying about downtown Austin… and we are not the only neighborhood negotiating this balance – the Pike and Pine corridor is in the exact same boat right now. Correct me if I am wrong, but part of the reason Charlestown left/closed shop is that they could not get the owner to agree to a long term lease. While the former redevelopment plans for that space were held off, I would hate for Rocksport to move there only to find four or five years (or sooner!) down the road they are in the exact same position. Personally, I would think really hard about moving into that space knowing that the ultimate goal is to redevelop it.

  • jwws June 1, 2012 (7:53 am)


    Yes the WS Garden Tour is on the last day of Summer Fest – the Tour is traditionally held on the third Sunday in July and we did not want to break that tradition. FWIW happens every 4 years, we were 2008 gardeners and Summer Fest was going on then too; didn’t stop people from going on the Tour. Also, the driving directions to the gardens this year include Summer Fest detour routes. Hope you join us this year and go to Summer Fest!

  • Dale June 1, 2012 (8:09 am)

    I was in their a month ago and an employee told me the it was not closing, and I mentioned it on the blog too. Clearly, I was wrong.

  • Mike June 1, 2012 (8:33 am)

    Good people at the Rocksport and good place for our sport loving family. Very unique place- it will be missed.

  • Deborah Breuler June 1, 2012 (8:35 am)

    Rocksport, Do a crowd funding offering. Everybody can vote with the almighty dollar. and they could then afford the move to another location

  • Paul on Capitol Hill June 1, 2012 (9:13 am)

    What a shame! One of my favorite places to go for a beer/burger and watch a game when I was living in West Seattle. Always felt welcome. The neighborhood won’t be the same without it. I’ll have to make a Westside road trip to pay one last visit before they close.

  • sun*e June 1, 2012 (9:20 am)

    @jwws – Thanks for the clarification. I will definitely not miss the Garden Tour and I’m so glad the driving directions will include detour routes. We’ll do our best to try to fit in the Summer Fest as well and bid our Rocksport a fair adieu.

  • Time to Think June 1, 2012 (9:41 am)

    If it were a viable business it would not be closing. There are plenty of places in alaska, admiral and morgan junctions to have a burger and beer to the point of market saturation.

  • Karl June 1, 2012 (10:36 am)

    White Center is the new West Seattle.

  • boy June 1, 2012 (12:04 pm)

    They should look into the location where the Hang around bar was in white center. Great bar and they even have a stage and dance floor.

  • admiral-dog-owner June 1, 2012 (12:13 pm)

    What a crappy trade – the Rocksport for more generic looking apartments.

    It’s sad to watch West Seattle slowly vanish.

  • george June 1, 2012 (12:26 pm)

    It isn’t closing because its business isn’t viable. The landlord is kicking them out to build a new building, and probably increasing their leases. The capital costs to start up a new kitchen and bar isn’t cheap, and the profit margin covers costs, but I’d hardly say it makes one rich. Besides, isn’t cool eats what all these new condo/apt dwellers demand in these new buildings?

  • miws June 1, 2012 (1:07 pm)

    Time to Think, did you ever take the time to think, that as george points out, that the start up costs at a new location, may be prohibitive?



  • James June 1, 2012 (1:10 pm)

    Very sad…I’ll miss their Tuna Melt and watching the Apple Cup there. I’m with Smitty…Lease the Charlestown space.

  • T- Rex June 1, 2012 (1:28 pm)

    Let’s pig pile at the Rocksport till the end to help them out. This place has been the home of many happy hours with my fellow employees, sometimes we took up the entire bar area back in the day! I have great memories, those can’t be taken away.

    Shannon is my little sister, maybe not by blood but certainly by heart. I love ya sister and you know who I am!

  • royle June 1, 2012 (2:25 pm)

    Looks like i need a trip to West Seattle shortly.

  • SKB June 1, 2012 (3:44 pm)

    Thank you everybody for your kind words. I too was a customer here back in the day for 5:05 Happy Hour Fridays with my then co-workers & still friends (Hi T!) and now here I am all these years later! I know many of us have had some great times at the Rocksport & there is definitely a chapter closing here in the Junction. We hope to see all of you in the weeks to come, and especially the weekend of Summerfest – we thought it would be very appropriate to have our “last hurrah” be on the weekend of this great Junction tradition!

  • DW June 1, 2012 (4:07 pm)

    Why are they just closing? Are they not even going to try to find another location?????

  • george June 1, 2012 (4:19 pm)

    I smell a cash mob…

  • Harry Reems June 1, 2012 (5:47 pm)

    Sad to lose a great local business for another generic mixed-use abomination. Good thing our infrastructure can handle the influx of new residents.

  • Tammiws June 1, 2012 (10:49 pm)

    I am so bummed out to hear this, it’s the end of a long era and soooo many fun times.

    When I read this yesterday I just felt sad. My best friend and I met Darren at Saltys when we were 21 and all we could afford was an iced tea (or two), salad and bread. We have known Dan since our high school days…

    My friends and I come here to catch up, I met my future husband here and it’s always been a place I could hang out as a single girl and not be hassled. We saw bands, met fun people, prices have always been sooo fair and the nachos are my go to fave… Rocksport is our Cheers….

    And, cant avoid mentioning all they have done to support our WS community in terms of fundraisers and donations…

    Not sure if they even want to continue this restaurant owning journey but we’ll support anything to keep them in our community, just let me know when and where….

    Thanks Dan, Darren, Shannon and all the RS staff for so many great years!!!


  • SKB June 2, 2012 (1:19 am)

    Dear West Seattle,
    We would like to thank the West Seattle community for supporting our business and employees for all of these years. We have developed relationships and created memories that will last a lifetime and will never be forgotten. We are heart-broken and saddened to have to close our business.
    The Rocksport Bar & Grill is indeed closing our doors after 17 great years of business in the West Seattle Junction. Our building was purchased by a company out of Chicago (Equity Residential) in December of 2011. We received notice on May 28th that the Rocksport would need to vacate the premises on or before July 31st 2012.
    We have been blessed to have great employees and patrons. We appreciate the support the West Seattle community has provided us and we have been fortunate to employ wonderful staff members and to be a vital part of Seattle’s best community!
    I cherish the relationships I have made with employees and customers over the years. I have taken pride in providing employment to many wonderful individuals and am so proud of those that have gone on to accomplish their dreams after working with us.
    Nearly 18 years ago, I carried my 9 month old son into this building in his car seat and began demolishing an old bank building. I and three close friends created this sports bar & restaurant. Everyone told us we would fail. However, the West Seattle community embraced our efforts by supporting a business that made an effort to supply entertainment, food and beverages to a community that needed something different from expensive waterfront dining and smoky taverns. We believed that a clean establishment with fair pricing would be successful, and we were right. The Alaska Junction grew around us and we felt pride in being a catalyst and part of creating a vibrant destination in West Seattle. I have been fortunate to be an owner of the Rocksport. This has provided me the opportunity to be involved in my children’s lives; coaching baseball, attending piano recitals and track meets, etc. This year my son leaves for college at ASU to become an aeronautical engineer. I am thankful for the support West Seattle has provided me and my business so that I could invest my time to the most important thing in my life, my family.
    Thank you.
    Darren Ahlf
    Owner/Operator – Rocksport Bar & Grill

  • ari June 2, 2012 (7:53 am)

    Darren.. We’ve known each other for a very long time and we eventually knew this time would come. This closing will also give you new options to whatever it is you want to continue doing in life. If you want to re-open somewhere else or start another different type of business. I’ve also seen the Junction grow for almost two decades along with other regulars and you have pointed out that The Rocksport has fair value/pricing in the industry you served. You go to any of the other establishments in the Junction and you won’t find the same value. Of course it all depends on what you are after. Prices has been kept very reasonable at the Rock and like everything else with time, you have to move with the economy or you’d go out of business. The time has come to close an era that I was happy to be a part of. Your staff through the years has always been great and it is one of the reasons why I’ve always came back. Man I’m going to miss that meatloaf sandwich. And I’ll have to adjust my football viewings.. Ugghhh.. Ari

  • D June 4, 2012 (8:03 am)

    The Rocksport…what can I say! You will be missed…I remember when you opened 17 years ago Darren. Had so many great memories there…funny how things change and here I am at the Sport again meeting friends. Sorry to see this end….

  • Jenn B June 4, 2012 (3:06 pm)

    Rocksport fans and friends, we will be putting together a commemorative DVD slideshow of the Rocksport as it grew up here in West Seattle and we’d love to add your photos! If you have photos you’d like to submit, please send them to: info@djtonybproductions.com (DJ TONY B) along with a short comment about the photos – be sure to include who is in the photo, what the occasion was and the date (or approximate date). We hope to have the DVD’s available within a few weeks. Thanks for your help!

  • denise June 4, 2012 (9:00 pm)

    So sad. Bye-Bye West Seattle. So much change so fast!

  • Joey June 7, 2012 (7:42 am)

    There was not a morgue under the bank. The second floor of the bank was adapted to be a 20-bed hospital from 1938-1967 when it moved to Holden.

  • DW June 7, 2012 (10:23 am)

    But why are they closing not moving? I can think of lots of restaurants spaces that need tenants?

  • Pugnacious June 9, 2012 (3:47 pm)

    The Junction will not be the same. The Rocksport is where so many memories were made!!! Dan, Darren, Shannon and exceptional staff cheers to you!!!

  • aaronsmokes June 10, 2012 (3:45 am)

    Gonna miss the Rocksport.

  • Aundeen June 11, 2012 (10:26 pm)

    No!!! Takes me back to lunchbreaks of nachos, pool, and incredible hulks- must this be happening!?

  • Deborah Johnson June 13, 2012 (9:00 am)

    Thank You Rocksport for maintaining such great quality all these years. We have enjoyed many family meals together with 3 generations. The soups, salads superb and the salmon AH! Sensational! Your breakfast chef was terrific as well, for the time that you served breakfast menu. We didn’t come there for karaoke or events.. we came because the food was wonderful. We were there the concensus for a local fare was usually “Let’s go the Rocksport!” We brought out grown kids and grandkids.. and my folks, too. Even though my parents aren’t sports fans much, my Mom got such a kick out of Michigan game days.. and how the families would sometimes be decked out .. even one baby that had a Michigan pacifier. It wasn’t that we were fans of any team in particular.. but being there at the Rocksport, with tables of people cheering at the giant screen during a broadcast.. well even a novice like me could feel a part of the action. Thank You for providing a place that all of us could enjoy in West Seattle.. For get togethers after the West Seattle All School Reunions, too. You were blessed and so were we because of your hard work.. For nearly 2 decades, your business served our community and our families. Finding a place close to home that everyone enjoyed, all 4 generations worth! I know there’s a lot at stake when it comes to opening up a business and also creating that type of longevity in a small community.. Thanks for all you did to make that happen.
    When you close your doors in July, you will do so on a high note. I bet the place will be packed! You have set the standard and encouraged many businesses I’m certain to hang in there.. and you’ve served the community. That’s both rare and Well Done, Thank You Rocksport!

  • George June 16, 2012 (2:10 am)

    As a neighbor who is frequently (and currently) dealing with the aftermath of fights in the parking lot at 1:30AM, police sirens, fire and ambulance sirens, honking horns, car alarms, breaking glass, and obnoxiously loud and overly drunk people, I can’t wait for Rocksport to shut its doors.

    Yes its great during the day, and yes a lot of people are having a great time there at night too and retain control of themselves. But, there are consistently bad apples who are not being cut off soon enough and they end up ruining it for the people who live nearby, especially in the warmer months. The management of Rocksport doesn’t seem to do anything about it except move it outside and leave it to the neighbors to call police and medics when someone inevitably gets knocked to the ground.

    30 days and counting…

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