August 1st, 1997 I set the alarm off and spent the first 5 minutes of Joe Bar’s first day open, ever, crouched under the counter listing to the siren blare and yelling into the phone at the alarm company employee that I didn’t know the secret password. It’s been a fun ride ever since.
I was an employee then and the walls were pink and the trim was copper. My cohort made an impact that survived the initial boycott from the locals because my employers had taken over the spot once occupied by the beloved Harvard Espresso which was the last cafe on Capitol Hill to allow smoking.
Let me tell you, those were the days! There were very few cell phones and zero laptops! I can barely envision what the world looked like or how people interacted. If you had a puzzling question it was solved by calling the library who would research it and call you back with what they found. (No, captive bears do not hibernate.)
In 2000, I purchased Joe Bar from Mike and Joanne who owned the Hi-Spot Cafe in Madrona.
We started monthly art shows at Joe Bar about the same time as the ownership transferred. After a year or two of me curating I was introduced to Jess Van Nostrand who step to the plate as our first official curator. Since then Joe Bar’s art shows have been guided in turn by Sierra Stinson, Chris Crites and Ben Beres.
Community, coffee and art have been our pillars that have taken us from 1997 to now and I hope twenty more years to come.
There are so many people to thank for forming Joe Bar into what it is. Those whom we’ve been serving since day one to the couple that just moved from DC last week. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of you. Thank you!