More than two years in the making, including some recent delays, White Center’s newest wrestling-themed Lariat Bar reopens today at 4 p.m. A haven for all things wrestling — especially for 1980s and 1990s wrestling culture — Lariat is decked out in memorabilia, with images of Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Andre the Giant (whose life-sized decal takes up the better part of a wall behind the bar), and more. There are pinball machines, and naturally, a mini wrestling ring.
Lariat originally opened the evening of Saturday, November 13, but some family matters and minor building issues led to an unintended four-day closure. The Saturday opening crowd was larger than expected, a good indicator that Lariat is a great fit in White Center’s growing scene of theme bars, like the horror-themed 2 Fingers Social and upcoming carnivalesque Unicorn.
“A lot of people ended up showing up, like a lot,” said co-owner Jorge Perez about Saturday’s opening. “We had a line out the door pretty much the entire night. It was just overwhelming and fun.”
Lariat fans have been showing up for the bar since 2019 by contributing to the bar’s Kickstarter campaign and keeping the momentum going for the last two and a half years as COVID-19-induced setbacks piled up. Last Saturday’s opening was the first time Perez met some of Lariat’s supporters in person, “It was very humbling,” he said.
Perez co-owns Lariat with Stephanie Burggraf and Nate Little. The three refer to themselves as the “tres luchadores,” all hailing from the Capitol Hill Bar scene, an area with a growing influence in White Center.
Just south of West Seattle and north of Burien, White Center is home to a Latinx population that grew in King County during the 1940s as workers moved to the area for wartime assembly and manufacturing jobs. The neighborhood’s diverse population is reflected in its Latinx restaurants, markets, and small businesses, like the Salvadorean Bakery and Restaurant, longstanding food truck Taqueria La Fondita, and the Nepantla Cultural Arts Gallery. In 2019, The Stranger documented the questionable idea of White Center becoming “the new Capitol Hill,” notably with the openings of white-owned gay bars in the area. Add to that the much-anticipated opening of Capitol Hill’s circus-themed bar Unicorn (the bar’s second location in a sprawling 15,000-square-foot space central to White Center) and the recent opening of Tomo — a new, eclectic fine dining experience — and it does feel a little more like the Hill these days.
Perez wants Lariat to be different. He and his wife were originally from Southern California before they relocated to Seattle. Perez said White Center “feels a little bit more like home.” For now, they live north of the area, but he wants to move closer.
In addition to being a home for Seattle’s underserved wrestling fans, Perez aims to make Lariat just as much a welcoming spot for its neighbors. “We’re really excited to be a part of the neighborhood,” he said. “Not just as somebody opening up a bar but actually just really wanting to be a part of that community.”