In Belltown, bars and restaurants come and go - but Queen City is proof that when in the right hands, what's old is cool again.
"I believe we're standing in the oldest bar in Seattle but I'm not 100 percent certain," said owner Linda Derschang. "There was a bar in this location in a wooden structure in the 1890's, but this building was built in 1910. So would the building in the 1890's count? Or do we have to start counting in 1910?"
That question remains open for debate. But there's no debating, this latest addition to Derschang's bar and restaurant empire is already a bonafide hit.
"It's a true neighborhood favorite. It's somewhere you can just come and relax and it's easy," a guest told me during my recent visit.
"What makes all [Derschang's] places really special is that anyone and everyone can go and feel comfortable and happy and at home," added another.
Derschang is the owner of a number of beloved Seattle institutions, including Linda's Tavern, Oddfellows and King's Hardware. But she admits, she didn't go looking for Queen City. Queen City found her.
"I really wasn't looking for a new project, but I knew that this was going to be available and, of course, my mind started going and I could really easily envision what it could be," explained Derschang. "It's got great bones, fantastic windows, exposed brick and the wooden bar was built, I believe, around Prohibition, so I started thinking about going back to the 1920's with a Queen City that could have been here during that time."
That includes a painting that originally hung in her great-grandmother's house and a couple pieces that came to her via crowdsourcing.
"There's always a few funny things, like the squirrel crawling on the wall. A friend of mine contacted me to tell me she had seen it in a vintage store and thought it would be the perfect thing for Queen City," said Derschang. "Quite honestly that happens quite a bit every time I'm opening a new place."
The result is a space that draws people in and a menu that keeps them coming back.
The food is crowd pleasing. Classic dishes, featuring local ingredients, executed at a very high level, like the Smith Burger, steak frites and tuna nicoise. While the cocktail menu, created by Derschang Group Beverage Director Myles Burroughs, is a lot like Queen City itself. A mix of old and new.
"One of the things that he did that is really interesting is [he] created some cocktails on tap. But, they aren't just tap cocktails. It's a nitro system. The sort of system you would use for cold brew or to pour Guinness. So, it gives a creaminess to the cocktail. He has a Manhattan on tap, a mojito on tap and a gin martini on tap," explained Derschang.
Queen City is the ideal place to stop in for a drink or sit down and stay a while. A slice of Seattle history, now revitalized and re-energized.
"I've been hearing over and over...'oh gosh, Linda, this is my new favorite place'. And that to me is the highest compliment you can get."