On Wednesday, June 7, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) issued an emergency six-month suspension of the liquor license for Flowers, a University District bar that specializes in cheap drinks and vegetarian food. The announcement of the 180-day suspension notes that the LCB will be seeking a permanent revocation of the bar’s license, which would be a crushing blow for the business, a mainstay of the Ave for 30 years and a popular bar for University of Washington students.
LCB’s officers “found a consistent pattern of disregard for the health and safety of the community, including serving liquor to minors, participating in violence and refusing to cooperate with law enforcement,” the announcement read.
Officers checked in on Flowers 39 times since the beginning of 2022 and confiscated 20 fake IDs in that time, according to the LCB, and in the past year the Seattle Police Department (SPD) has received at least 11 calls from people reporting violence related to Flowers.
“Most recently,” the LCB report reads, “on May 21, 2023, an incident involved security staff and the licensee repeatedly punching a patron on the sidewalk outside the building, inciting a larger altercation which ultimately escalated to gunshots being fired.” (A review of police reports from that day show that the SPD did respond to a report of shots being fired around 2 a.m. but did not locate any shooters or victims.)
The bar has been a neighborhood fixture since 1992, when owner Fadi Hamade took over a closed-down flower shop and retained the signage and name for the bar. The Stranger’s Charles Mudede has been a vocal fan of the place, calling it “the best bar on the Ave” and “a mirage of Lebanese cosmopolitanism.”
As it happens, Mudede was sitting at Flowers at 6 p.m. Wednesday when LCB agents showed up to revoke the liquor license. Hamade was “clearly on the verge of exploding,” Mudede wrote for the Stranger. “What happened to America!” Hamade reportedly yelled during his interaction with the LCB. “This is not the same country I came to. I came here for freedom. Freedom! What happened to freedom? This is not the America that I love.”
This isn’t the first time in recent years that Flowers has gotten in hot water with the authorities. In 2021, it was closed down by Public Health for not following COVID-19 guidelines. At the time, Hamade told the Seattle Times that these allegations were “a complete fabrication,” but the health department sent the paper a photo of customers dining “shoulder-to-shoulder or back-to-back,” in defiance of the social distancing guidelines that were then in effect.
Eater Seattle stopped by Flowers when it was supposed to open at 4 p.m. on Friday and found the door locked and the lights off. We called the phone number associated with the bar but there was no answer and we were unable to leave a message. This post will be updated with Hamade’s response if we can contact him.