Northeast Broadway, probably Portland's most consistently awful street for nightlife, is about to get a massive new two-story bar called Capitol Bar—from the people behind Bye and Bye, Century Bar and the ChefStable restaurant group that includes Ox, Lardo and St. Jack.
Capitol Bar is expected to open by the end of the year on 14th and Broadway—previously home to Sugar Laboratories salon—according to co-owner Christopher Cook, who made the menu at DJ-happy Church bar on Sandy Boulevard after a stint at the Woodsman Tavern. The upstairs will have karaoke made by sound engineer and composer Phillip Kraft, best known for his work on the tEEth collaborative dance project.
Other partners include John Janulis and Liam Duffy of Lightning Bar Collective (Bye and Bye, Jackknife, Century Bar), and Kurt Huffman of ChefStable.
According to Cook, large corporations had both made offers on the bar space, but those offers didn't interest the building's owner, renowned kitsch-pop photographer and music video director David LaChapelle—responsible for a whole host of MTV fare including lots of Elton John, Christina Aguilera's very dirty "Dirrty" video and, of course, the Dandy Warhols' "Not if You Were the last Junkie on Earth."
"David LaChapelle is owner of the building," Cook says. "He loves John [Janulis]'s bars, karaoke and vegan and vegetarian options. He was getting offers from Kaiser and Starbucks. It was a really awesome—he wanted to maintain some artistic integrity."
Cook says they'll be maintaining some small parts of the aesthetic from the salon—keeping a few of the mirrors and using the private upstairs rooms as private karaoke rooms in addition to the main karaoke floor.
But they're jettisioning about "95 percent" of what the salon looked like, he says, and will be running with a "subtly nautical theme."
"The building lends itself to a lighthouse style," says Cook. "with a big octagonal skylight. We're kind of of running with what complements the beautiful space we're moving into."
The bar will have vegan options, he says, but most of the menu is still to be determined.