Web Analytics Made Easy - Statcounter

Wallingford's Changes bar turns 35

Share this Post:

Photo courtesy of Changes  

Seattle's longest continuously owned-and-operated Gay bar will host karaoke on Jan. 31 to celebrate 35 years of business.

"It's been an interesting ride, that's for sure," owner Floyd McIsaac said.

Before Changes, the space was owned by two women, who ran a bar called the Bus Stop. McIsaac would stop by after his warehouse work shifts and eventually asked what it would take for them to leave the space.

"I didn't mean that in a bad way. I just thought it had a lot more potential," McIsaac said. "I just thought, 'Well, it'd be kind of fun to have a bar. It doesn't have to make a lot of money, just to serve the community.'

"When I first opened up this place, there were other bars that I would go to, and I could see what the pros and the cons were on how they ran their places," McIsaac said. "I said to myself, 'I'm not going to run mine that way.'"

The new bar became so busy, McIsaac was able to quit his other job, and Changes is now his retirement. He concentrates a lot of personal energy on it.

Photo courtesy of Changes  

SGN Archive  

What's changed?
Since opening, the bar has switched from mostly beer to mostly liquor and also serves food. The biggest change, though, is the clientele.

Back when it opened in 1989, the SGN called Changes "a place that is an alternative to high-pressure evenings on Capitol Hill." McIsaac says that during the bar's life, it has gradually shifted from primarily serving Gay customers to welcoming everyone.

"Things have changed out there to where a lot of the bars now are just very, very mixed, Gay and straight. We're more a neighborhood bar," McIsaac said. "There's a lot of hipsters that have kind of taken over the neighborhood, who are very open-minded."

McIsaac attributes the shift to a liquor law that took effect in 2000. Before then, there was a separation between "taverns" and "cocktail bars." Taverns could sell beer but not liquor, and cocktail bars had a liquor license.

"Prior to when I opened up here, you had two classes in our community," McIsaac said. "You had the working people who after work would go out to a tavern, drink a few beers, and then go home. Then you had this other group of people who only drank liquor. The availability [of] liquor was not that much at that time. There were only a couple restaurants that had liquor available to our community."

SGN Archive  

McIsaac knew his clientele would change as soon as the switch to liquor happened, which was in 2001. "I knew things were going to change a whole lot as far as our customer base went," he said. "The younger people, as they started becoming of age, were going to be more inclined to drink liquor than they ever were to drink beer."

But despite this development, the neighborhood feel of the bar has not been modified.

"We're well accepted in this community to the point where the other businesspeople around here stick up for me if they have to," McIsaac said. "I try to make sure we're a part of the community here."

Photo courtesy of Changes  

For now, Changes isn't going anywhere
When Changes first opened, four Capitol Hill bar owners told McIsaac that buying the spot would be a mistake. None of those bars are open anymore.

"We're still here," he said. "As long as my landlord will continue to renew our lease here."

Right now, McIsaac calls himself "semiretired." He comes into the bar every day, counts the money, and does the bookwork. He says he doesn't see himself selling the place and moving away.

"This is kind of it for me. I'm happy with it. It gets stressful from time to time, but I've been doing it for so long now it's not as stressful as it could be," he said.

Changes Bar & Grill is at 2103 N. 45th St., Seattle. It is open every day from noon to 2 a.m.