Floyd Lovelady is nearly ready to open The Comeback, a new bar located two and a half blocks from the SoDo stadiums. But before the doors can open, it’ll need a few more finishing touches — for example, doors.
“They’re in the middle of the ocean right now,” he says, surveying the currently boarded-up entryways that will (hopefully) soon be replaced by working doors. Aside from minor details like those, the venue’s nearly ready to make its debut — possibly this month, if everything goes according to plan.
Though this is the first time Lovelady has owned a bar, for years he was the general manager at R Place, the recently shuttered anchor of Capitol Hill queer nightlife. Lovelady’s presence makes The Comeback, at least in part, R Place’s spiritual successor. But, he says, the new venue will be something entirely new.
"I started looking back in February,” he says, right around the time news broke that R Place would not return post-pandemic. “I looked in the Central District, Queen Anne, looked all over Capitol Hill and just couldn't find anything that piqued my interest.”
That’s when the SoDo Business Improvement Area brought an empty space on 1st Ave, between a sandwich shop and a weed dispensary, to his attention. It had everything he wanted, including kitchen facilities so they could serve food. Is he concerned about being located outside of Seattle’s nominal gayborhood? No, not really. “A lot of people have moved off the hill,” he says, seeking more affordable housing to the south. And despite the perception, SoDo isn’t just flooring warehouses and wholesale bakery outlets; over the last few years, venues like Supernova have popped up, alongside the Showbox, Monkey Loft, and Club Sur.
“There’s a lot down here,” he says, noting the light rail station two blocks away, the water taxi, and the freeway ramps.
At around 9,000 square feet, the new space allows a bar to spread out in a way that might not be possible in more tightly packed areas. “I've got a forty-foot stage, it's going to be one of the biggest drag stages in the city,” Lovelady says. There’s room to seat 150 to 200 people, with tables that can easily move on and off a dance floor. Modular walls allow the space to accommodate different needs on different nights, and there’s a gaming area with pool tables and dartboards near gender-neutral restrooms. He’s hoping that after an inspection, they’ll be able to bump capacity from the current 431 up to 500 people.
Since the location is so close to the Lumen and T-Mobile sportholes, Lovelady says they’ll plan to cater to “the game crowd” with game-day food (nachos, chicken wings, hot dogs) and team-colored lighting. “There’s a couple LGBT sports groups for the Sounders and Kraken who want to make this the meetup place before the games,” he says.
Doors, when they arrive, could open before the end of the month, but that’ll depend in part on unpredictable supply chain whims (and also staffing; Lovelady is currently seeking servers, bartenders, barbacks, hosts, and more).
Meanwhile, the neighborhood’s lure continues to grow: The Mariners recently leased a nearby tavern, and a new lounge called Tony T’s just opened in the former Henry’s Tavern space nearby. Lovelady sees an opportunity to establish a queer anchor as the area continues to rise. “We’re hoping to get on it while it’s hot,” he says.