Hell’s Kitchen announced today that they would be shutting their doors for good after this weekend. Originally on Tacoma’s 6th Ave., Hell’s Kitchen moved to downtown Tacoma a few years ago to a spot on South 10th and Pacific. In both locations it was a loud, rude, and interesting bar. It’s the sort of place where you really had no idea who you might meet there. In their decade of existence, they hosted all sorts of acts from Rancid to Hank Williams as well as a steady line up of local bands.
On any given Saturday night you could hear the music blasting out of Hell’s Kitchen. The building itself is located under a parking garage and next to a tunnel of steps that homeless people sleep in on rainy nights and that leads to the 10th and Commerce Bus Station. Hell’s Kitchen is a dive bar in the best possible sense.
The demise of Hell’s Kitchen is much like the death of any other business in that it was simply no longer profitable to run it. But of course there’s more to it than that. Recently, they had to pay over $180,000 in plumbing costs thanks to ancient plumbing that failed and thanks to some tree roots. The landlord agreed to let them take the money from the rent, but that sort of expenditure made difficult to get back on top. If they hadn’t been forced to spend the money on plumbing, they could have been spending that money on getting more acts, marketing, and other things that could have improved business. Unfortunately, though they’d managed to pay everything off, things haven’t improved enough for them to continue as a business.
This isn’t the first time that this particular location has had problems. Before it was Hell’s Kitchen, it was a Southern food place called Stephanie’s which kept on trying to open but had a near constant problem with cockroaches which caused them to close down multiple times.
Before that it was a transsexual Mexican bar where they had a Thursday night striptease. And before that it was a somewhat upscale Mexican restaurant. Now that Hell’s Kitchen is leaving, it’s anybody’s guess what will fill the place next, though judging from the other empty store fronts nearby, we may have a while to wait before we find out.
- Jack Cameron