Purr Cocktail Lounge’s exit from Capitol Hill last month left a hole in the gay bar scene in Capitol Hill’s Pike/Pine neighborhood that Joey Burgess expects to fill this fall with a concept he’s been thinking about for the past 12 years.

“It’s going to be called Queer/Bar, and it’s going to be absolutely for the LGBTQI community,” said Burgess, who manages operations for Lost Lake Cafe and Comet, and is part of the ownership team for neighboring Grim’s. “When you enter, you’ll see all points of that community identified.”

Burgess said this will be his first foray launching his own concept. At one point he had considered making Grim’s a gay bar, but said he didn’t want to create that kind of competition next to Purr.

“I think it’s great that Montlake is going to get a queer business,” Burgess said.

Purr owner Barbie Roberts announced during the cocktail lounge’s last night at 1518 11th Ave. that she would soon be reopening at the former Traveler/ Montlake Ale House space at 2307 24th Ave. E., next to Cafe Lago.

Burgess said programming for Queer Bar has been planned and designs are ready, and the hope is for a fall launch. Burgess’ husband and partner, Murf Hall, will design the space.

“I think it’s the right spot,” he said, “and I like the idea of being in a building with a gay landlord.”

A news release states Queer/Bar will create a community space “for all things queer” by bringing together local artists, performers and nonprofits, with queer bingo and dance nights, drag shows and art performances.

“The space plans to launch a Queer/Chef series that focuses on the culinary talents of LGBTQIA chefs and Queer/Hall which will serve as venue for queer-focused issues in politics, activism, and community driven forums,” the release states. 

It will also have a full bar and offer dinner and brunch.

Purr scratches back

Purr owner Barbie Roberts is challenging former landlord Matt Basta’s statements made to the Capitol Hill Times in regard to just how much rent increased at the space her cocktail lounge had occupied over the last 12 years.

Roberts told KIRO 7 she was relocating due to a 60 percent increase in rent, from $14,000 to nearly $24,000, which property owner Matt Basta said isn’t true.

“I wish I could get that kind of rent,” Basta said, adding the actual rent he would have charged was $14,000.

He said he provided Roberts with an additional five-year extension back in 2012.

“I told her when I did that that it would go up to the fair-market rate (afterward).”

“I’ve been paying $14,000 for the last year,” Roberts fired back in a followup with CHT, adding a five-year lease option would have required paying a new security deposit, entering a new lease and paying $9,000 more per month, or $40 per square foot. She said she still had two five-year options in 2012.

Roberts said she had her own appraiser write up a 90-page report to justify an increase in rent of $3,000-$4,000, while Basta’s appraiser came back with a $5,000-$9,000 mark up.

Basta told CHT that Roberts’ base rent had been $11,000, and adding utilities and other costs brought her monthly payments to him to $14,000. Roberts said she’d been paying real estate taxes, insurance and for water. He said Burgess will be paying $14,000 in base rent, which amounts to $35 per square foot, plus utilities and other costs. Basta added he believes that price per square footage is 10 percent less than what some other spaces are going for around the block.

Roberts said she vacated the property on July 31, and saw a notice for Queer/Bar outside the space the next day.

“Him (Basta) and Joey have had that lined up,” Roberts said. “Him and that Grim’s group, they’ve been doing that all over the neighborhood. … Those people are not honest business people, they’re shady.”

Basta said he put a notice out for the space once Roberts sent him a formal letter stating she would not sign a lease to stay.

“It’s a very popular neighborhood,” he said. “I had four other people besides the one I signed with that wanted that space.”

Roberts entered her new Montlake space on Tuesday, she said, and the goal is still to open about a month from now.