Bottomfeeder: Sly & the Family Scone at the Scarlet Tree"/>
It may sound like a hyperbolic statement, but the old Scarlet Tree on Roosevelt Way might have been the most dichotomous, original business establishment in all of Seattle. By day, it functioned as half dive bar, half family-friendly cafe, known citywide for its fresh-baked scones. Northeast Seattle is about as white as it gets, and the complexion of diners before sundown generally reflected the neighborhood's demographics.
A gussied-up Tree hasn't lost its soul.
But at night, the Tree morphed into a nightclub, with live music tending toward jazz and classic rhythm and blues. On Friday and Saturday, the crowd was comprised predominantly of middle-aged black folks. The term night and day never took on such a literal connotation as when describing the Tree's racial diversity.Beloved by such a broad spectrum of folks, when the Tree shut down after a 2005 fire, pleas for resurrection came quickly and vocally. But in 2006, co-proprietor Peter Kolytiris--who also owns nearby Mona's--told the P-I that he'd given up hope of reopening in the original location.
Three years passed, as former regulars resigned themselves to a perpetually Tree-free existence. Then, this past summer, Kolytiris' business partner, Rob Lowe (not to be confused with the actor of the same name), announced that the Scarlet Tree would reopen a few blocks away from its torched predecessor.
Aesthetically, the new Tree, which opened just in time for New Year's Eve, is as sexy as its progenitor was scruffy. And the new location has a happy hour menu, including meatloaf sliders and truffle fries, that'd be more at home at Mona's than at the old Tree (not a bad thing, necessarily). Yet in terms of clientele and popularity, the Tree has picked up as though it never burnt down. The breakfast scones are still impeccable, the portions gargantuan, the tables perpetually packed, and the service a little uneven. On weekend nights, bands like the Phat Phunk Family Band ensure that the lounge is still a draw for sisters and brothers interested in shaking out the workweek's Sturm and Drang.
Don't let the slick digs fool you: The Tree has been reborn with its soul intact.
The Scarlet Tree, 801 NE 65th St., Suite C, 523-8888, scarlet-tree.com, ROOSEVELT