It’s a late Monday night, but it doesn’t feel like the dreary start of the work week inside the Clock-Out Lounge. It’s karaoke night, and the vibe is very casual and lived-in. The patrons scattered around space range from twentysomethings to folks old enough to be their parents. They gather around tables or lean back against the long, booth-style bench that spans the far wall, attractive wood paneling extending right above their heads. Friends are laughing, couples are cuddling, strangers are singing along to off-key renditions of hits, and drinks are flowing. It feels like a diverse pack of regulars making the laid back most of their Monday.
If one didn’t know any better, it’d be easy to assume from the scene that the Clock-Out was the established neighborhood watering hole. But the venue/bar/restaurant just opened to the public last Friday.
Tucked amongst a nondescript little strip of businesses on Beacon Avenue South, Clock-Out can be easy to miss (though the large windows with a direct sight line to the stage makes things much more eye-catching when events are happening). Aside from the neon “C-O” sign, it’s not a flashy or trendy space. It’s practical. And that’s just how co-owners Jodi Ecklund and Denise Burnside want it. They’re trying to foster a working class vibe with a “clubhouse feeling” that features diverse entertainment while catering to the Seattle artist community that makes well under the median income.
“Beacon Hill is an underserved community,” says Ecklund. “Especially in this part of Beacon Hill, there aren’t a lot of food options around here. There are a lot of people that, due to high rent increases in the city, were living in Capitol Hill areas have been pushed out south. I live in Beacon Hill, and I see that there are a lot of people out here, but a lack of things to do.”
As the former booker at Chop Suey and a programmer for queer arts festival ‘Mo-Wave, Ecklund has her roots deeply entrenched in the Seattle music scene (Burnside was also worked as the Showbox’s general manager). Clock-Out hopes to address some of the stresses put on the music scene by the city’s economics. The small room (99 capacity) hopes to fill the concertgoing gap that The Comet and The Funhouse once occupied.
“A lot of these mid-tier venues are kind of all bidding against each other to get these national acts, because national acts sell out, and it’s all about getting heads in the bar. In that process, I feel like the local music community doesn’t have a lot of places to play. We’re losing places a lot,” says Ecklund. “So my goal is to really focus on locals and provide a space where there’s a stage and a nice sound system. My job as a booker is to help be a launching pad for these up-and-coming bands. I still think there’s a great scene in Seattle and I want to help nourish it. … I think that’s just a sad thing that happens with gentrification. I’m just trying to bridge gaps—bring back that old Seattle vibe.”
Based on Ecklund’s booking past, it’s fair expect a decent slate of punk, alternative, and various other rock subsets mixed in with some electronic and hip-hop offerings. Shock drag queen/rapper Christeene played the first show at Clock-Out last Saturday, and the current sparsely-populated Clock-Out calendar features upcoming shows by Sandrider, Bread and Butter, and a Dischord Records tribute night. To keep the space activated, Ecklund is open to everything from DJ nights to School of Rock concerts.
While concerts will be the core of Clock-Out’s events programming, Ecklund wants the space to be a multi-dimensional community space while still “keeping it pretty low-brow.” In addition to Teevie Coahran’s ggnzla karaoke on Monday nights, there’s already a music trivia night slated for the last Tuesday of every month. Ecklund has also had meetings about setting up a comedy night.
In addition to affordable drinks, Clock-Out is the home of Breezy Town Pizza, a new offshoot of local deep dish pizza specialist Windy City Pie. While the popular Windy City offers a more traditional Chicago style pie, Breezy Town features a sourdough focaccia crust and is more of a Chicago-inspired Detroit style pie (for the pizza layman, the slices are still monstrous topping-heavy creations that require a knife and fork to eat, but they’re not quite as intense as Chicago deep dish). While whole pies are available, Clock-Out patrons can also buy individual slices. And if heavy pizza feels like too much of a gut-bomb, the menu also features salads.
Clock-Out Lounge is all-ages until 8 p.m. Since there aren’t a ton of local spots that are kid-friendly while also allowing parents to have a drink or two, Ecklund noticed plenty of families checking into Clock-Out during the opening weekend. She’s now considering hosting daytime kids dance parties on certain weekends.
Ecklund just wants Clock-Out to be “a cool place to hang and chill.” As the relaxed patrons down drinks, carve out pizza bites, and take in a karaoke renditions of “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” and an assortment R&B jams, it feels like the foundation is already solid.