A Capitol Hill mainstay is saying goodbye. On Wednesday, Bill’s Off Broadway — one of the more popular places in the neighborhood to catch a game or eat a satisfyingly greasy pizza — announced it is closing permanently after 40 years in the neighborhood. Capitol Hill Seattle first reported the news.
The bar had been shut down since March due to COVID-19 measures, and didn’t reopen when bars and restaurants were allowed to do so at 50 percent capacity. In late April, Bill’s had launched a brief GoFundMe campaign to raise some funds, but it appears that has since been deactivated. The bar hadn’t offered any to-go options, and the Facebook announcement Wednesday said it was closing “due to situations outside of our control.”
For many longtime neighborhood denizens, this is the end of an era. Throughout its four decades, the dive harkened back to a time before Capitol Hill was a trendy dining destination. Never the slickest place in the neighborhood — even after a remodel — it was still a welcoming place to watch sports or indulge in a boozy brunch. The bartenders were always friendly, the fans were usually diehards, and the menu included decadent options such as breakfast pizza with scrambled eggs and vanilla Stoli French toast.
There were a few changes over the years. In 2013, the building that housed Bill’s was bought out by a developer. The bar took a two-year construction hiatus, then came back with a new look that still kept elements of the old place, with wood paneling and fixtures from the original spot, but also more beer taps, more seating, and a bigger kitchen.
Five years later, it looks like external factors proved to be too much to overcome. The COVID-19 pandemic shut down not just dine-in services for months, but also just about every sporting event in the world. A place like Bill’s that relies on heavy weekend game crowds for revenue doesn’t have a lot of options to shift gears. And with the Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) taking over many of the blocks near Bill’s, it probably wasn’t an ideal time for the dive bar to make a comeback.
Bill’s hasn’t been the only major Seattle venue to permanently close in recent weeks. Nearby Japanese hot spot Adana decided to shutter for good in late May, adding to a growing list of restaurants and bars that have closed during the coronavirus crisis. As the uncertainty over reopening plans continue, and COVID-19 cases increase across Washington, Seattle may have to brace for more dining shake-ups soon.
- Bill’s Off Broadway [Facebook]