Oct 14, 2022 - Business

The perfect Seattle dive bar that almost disappeared

Streamline Tavern Seattle

The Streamline Tavern. Photo: Melissa Santos/Axios

The Streamline Tavern is the best kind of dive bar: A place where people from all walks of life wind up in conversation with total strangers.

Yet the neighborhood joint in Lower Queen Anne nearly shuttered about eight years ago, until its owners lovingly moved it piece by piece to its current location.

Why it matters: Many Seattle dive bars have disappeared, and watering holes like the Streamline — unpretentious with an old-school vibe — are growing increasingly rare.

The backstory: The Streamline is a known haunt for local journalists. It's co-owned by former Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Mike Lewis, who bought his share using the severance money he got after the print paper shut down in 2009.

  • But at the end of 2014, the bar had to move from its longtime location — at 115 W. Mercer St. — to make room for a new building (the one that houses the South Korean consulate).

Yes, but: Lewis and his business partner, Mary McIntyre, didn't just find a new address and slap the Streamline name on it. They took the paneling from the walls, the tile, the toilets, everything — and moved all of it to the Streamline's present-day location at 174 Roy St.

People stand on a sidewalk and on an outdoor patio at a bar, talking, with a yellow sign that says Streamline Tavern above.
People talk outside the Streamline Tavern on Lower Queen Anne. Photo: Melissa Santos/Axios

The result: This is a bar that feels lived in, with graffiti scrawled on the walls from decades ago.

  • The oblong-shaped bar in the center of the room — which Lewis and his team also hauled from the old location — makes it so that whichever direction you look, you are making eye contact with people instead of staring at a wall of bottles.
  • Lewis notes that when you walk in, hardly anyone is on their phone or staring at a TV — they're talking to each other, often in animated fashion.
  • That's part of what drew him to the place all those years ago.

The bottom line: There's pinball. There are dogs perched on barstools, with seats that have at times been held together with duct tape. And the place is perfect in its imperfections.

Of note: You can get a Seattle-style hot dog with a side of tater tots here for $8 — about the same price as buying a hot dog from a late-night street stand.

  • The food window is cash-only, but there's an ATM on site.

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