At Long Last, Rainier Beach Gets a Bar to Call Its Own

by Staff Writer

Soft Launch
Patrons at Jude’s Old Town during its soft launch. Photo Credit: Daimian Lix

South Seattle, WA- For Rainier Beach residents the long wait for a watering hole to call their own is finally over, as after a soft launch on Tuesday and Wednesday, Jude’s Old Town bar officially opens it doors today to the South End community.

Ever since it was announced last October that Rainier Beach would be the recipient of its own Cheers style tavern,  residents have eagerly anticipated its opening.

“It’s about time we finally had a place you could actually just sit down and get a drink after work without feeling like you were walking into the Wild West,” said Yvette Sampson, a Rainier Beach resident who frequently passed by Jude’s during its development phase to chart its progress.

Sampson said she speaks for many in the area who have long desired a community friendly bar that provided a comfortable climate for its patrons as opposed to some past establishments, such as the Hook, Line and Sinker, that attracted more trouble and police sirens than they did customers.

This was a need owners Mason and Courtney Hebert, who also live in Rainier Beach, are seeking to fulfill with Jude’s Old Town.

“Courtney and I have a loved this area and lived in it for awhile. We both kept asking: Why isn’t there a place you can grab a cold beer at and hang out with your neighbors?” Said Hebert.

The Heberts, who also own Columbia City’s Lottie Lounge, see Jude’s not just as a bar but as a catalyst for neighborly interactions that might not normally take place.

“It seems like people in our neighborhood only ever get together for peace marches and traffic calming rallies. We really want the community to get together in a different way, around something constantly positive.” Hebert shares.

This commitment to community building is why Herbert says he and his wife have deliberately crafted an atmosphere at Jude’s (named after Mason’s mother) that encourages conversation amongst its patrons.

“We want neighbors to talk to each other, which is why we don’t have any television sets. We’re trying to create a place that can really be the fiber of the neighborhood. When we were asking ourselves if we should take this on our not, what made us go ahead was that we wanted a place where locals in this community could really get to know one another and forge connections. We really think that will help change the perspective of the people who live here in Rainier Beach,” said Hebert.

Local will not only be an apt description for its customers, but also its beer as the South End bar will carry Hillman City’s Spinnaker Bay Brewing and Georgetown’s Machine House Brewery on tap. Ale from Columbia City’s Flying Lion Brewing will soon be available as well.

Additionally, all of  the hard liqueur served at Jude’s will come from distilleries with roots in Washington State. Hebert also shares that the food on the bar’s menu will eventually be entirely locally sourced.

Along with the recent openings of Red Wing Cafe and Nate’s Wings and Waffles, Jude’s is the latest business to open in Rainer Beach’s sneakily resurgent business district, which stretches from 57th to 58th street along Rainier Avenue. Something that has several in the community excited for the area’s future prospects.

“I’m so glad for what’s going on in my community. We have a bar now- so that means I don’t have to drive all the way to Columbia City and try and find parking- to go along with a coffee shop and eatery,” exclaimed Antonio Foster, another resident.

Foster continued, “People only want to ever talk about the violence here, and that they’re afraid to open a business because it will get shot up. We’ll people should look at the type of businesses that stuff happens to instead of painting our entire area as bad. Thankfully those types of businesses are on the way out and places like Jude’s are coming in. This area is on the rise!”

Featured photo credit: Jude’s Old Town