Unicorn Two bar coming to White Center; Massive carnival themed space will be colorful and quirky
White Center has never seen anything like this. The Unicorn Two is coming to town full of carnival colors and wild decoration thanks to artist and owner Adam Heimstadt. His existing carnival themed bars on Capitol Hill in Seattle Unicorn and Narwhal have achieved a kind of legendary status for their over the big -top style decor. They have been written about in Buzzfeed, visited by Anthony Bourdain, and many others.
The new space won't be open until December 2019, Heimstadt said, in part because of the extensive work that is required. Located in the La Camera building that spans the block between 16th and 17th SW the business itself will be at 9832 17th SW.
Heimstadt began as bartender in downtown Seattle at the Art Bar, then moved to the Twilight Exit and saved his money with the plan to open his own business. That took fifteen years but he managed to get the space at 1118 E. Pike and his ambitions became real. He opened The Unicorn upstairs and the Narwhal downstairs as different but companion spaces.
He considers himself an artist in a style he calls "CarniFolk" since his work is largely bright primary colors, with gold, in multiple geometric patterns. He usually paints over existing pieces that he finds on buying trips all over the nation. Everything from headboards to trim pieces to doors, but especially clown heads, and stuffed animals are thematically married in his art and decoration.
The main space will be 15,000 square feet and house a large bar, (21 and over only please), two stages for live music or karaoke, and seating for as many as 200 though that is still being determined. Booths along the walls and tables will fill the main floor. A rear space once occupied by a hispanic church will become the game room with another bar, a third stage, pinball machines, video games, Skeeball and much more. Also here will be a private event space. A large kitchen will be installed on the north side of the building (see the carnival style food in the menu link below).
The building will require an extensive retrofit. It's built of cement blocks meaning they must be reinforced for earthquakes and while the glue-lam beams are structurally sound, the interior ceiling must be sand blasted. A new roof is required plus a great deal of plumbing and electrical work must be done. This is a major remodel, not a teardown and build up.
It is being designed by Babienko Architects who did the design for the current Unicorn bar. A smaller pecentage owner Nick Crowson (currently the Unicorn GM) is also involved in the project.
The art Heimstadt creates takes time. He spends "more than forty hours a week" just adding colors in intricate patterns to the pieces in his collection. "One piece of trim probably took me twenty hours," he said. All the work thus far has taken four years of steady work. He maintains a studio in south Georgetown where it all gets done.
The La Camera building, built in 1949 has 24,000 square feet. It has been home to many businesses over the years. It has housed Karl's Shoes, a national chain, a club once before called the B.F.D. Churches of various denominations and more recently a welding shop, and on16th SW a marijuana supplies store (since moved up the block) and a massage parlor. Those spaces are all being rebuilt and will be available for rent in the next couple of months.
One is 700 square feet, another is 2200 square feet and two others that are 1000 square feet. One of them will be a tattoo shop that will be a companion store to the Alaska Street Tattoos that Heimstadt also co-owns.
Also key to the business is the large parking lot out front which once the main bar is completed will become home to an outdoor patio space as well.
"I want to open something that is sustainable for the neighborhood," said Heimstadt.
"We were second in line to buy this place. The previous prospective buyer had a plan to fix it up, rent it for ten years then tear it all down, throwing everybody out, then build something big on the site. That's a dream killer to me I know how much money I put into Unicorn, and I've never gotten a loan, until this place. These people that rent the spots, they know I'm not going to wreck the place in ten years because that's the way Seattle is. This will be here forever hopefully. We bought a house down the street."
He and his wife Kaileigh are remodeling a building near White Center right now so he's committed to the community. "She is my rock without her none of this would be possible. She handles all the paperwork and runs the current UNICORN and keeps track of all of our appointments files everything as far as permits and what not ... we just got married on the 13th of May. Six years together. She’s amazing and extraordinary," Heimstadt said.
Basically it's fun food with corn dogs, burgers, snacks and sweets.
White Center's largest bar ever will be part of the home grown gentrification that has been taking place for the last few years, keeping it true to the neighborhood spirit of self reliance and inclusion. It will be a house of many colors in more ways than one.
wow, white center just keeps getting better. can't wait for this place to open! welcome to the hood!
Oh, white people. This bar will further gentrify the area, drive up home prices even more, and alienate long time residents and drive them out. When will you all stop?
Don’t be silly! Why do you think they call it “White Center”?
Can I guess this is just outside of the Seattle City limits? Just a guess. Regular folk can't afford Capital Hill with its incursion of Brogrammers, a dull yet self assured lot who will seek and force you out of wherever you move to. Sometimes in buses. White Center is a wrinkle in time and now tax, a misnomer for half a century, and stunningly close to the greatest 50 yard outdoor saltwater pool in the entire world. I stand by those words.
Rat city girl that Is silly. Would you rather they remain boarded up or how about more adult video stores? This is a local couple creating a cool local business and not a out of state condo builder. Please tell us what you’d prefer to have instead in this location? Honestly I’m curious what you see would be better than this. It’s very easy to be critical without doing any critical thinking.
Agree, there are plenty of empty storefronts in the neighborhood. I wish more of the new businesses were opened by people of color, but it is true, they live in the neighborhood and aren't going to tear the existing building down. On another note, I wish we could get some less fried/ carnival type food. Dotties double wide seems good but all fatty and fried, I love the crawfish house but ditto all fried.... how about a neighborhood Italian place (sorry, white center pizza and pasta is gross) ??? Mediterranean?
A shining example of how a neighborhood SHOULD grow, by the blood, sweat and tears of members of the community! I'M STOKED and can't wait to throw my money at you!
Signing a 10 year interim non-renewable commercial lease is not getting thrown out of your space.....cool story bro...