Speakeasy Café

2300 2nd Avenue

Second Avenue and Bell Street, Seattle, May 27, 2020, HistoryLink photo by David Koch
Second Avenue and Bell Street, Seattle, 1951, Courtesy Seattle Municipal Archives
Before Speakeasy Cafe, Second Avenue and Bell Street, Seattle
Speakeasy Cafe original layout, Seattle
Flames from second floor, Speakeasy Cafe, Seattle, 2001

2300 2nd Avenue

In 1994, at the dawn of the Internet era, the Speakeasy CafĂ© was founded on this site by Mike and Gretchen Apgar, and Mike’s brother Tyler Apgar. The Speakeasy was a combination cybercafĂ©, bar, art gallery, performance space, and tech hub, where people without computers or internet access could use in-house computers to get online. In 1999 the company began offering DSL services nationwide, while the Speakeasy’s popular performance space hosted events ranging from plays to comedy to music.

The building had previous lives as a used-furniture store and fringe-theater space, while the upstairs had long housed a crusty old pool hall, the 211 Billiard Club. By May 2001 that hall was defunct, and the space was being renovated into a call center for the Speakeasy Network’s technical staff when it was consumed by a fire caused by an overheated electrical cord. The building was destroyed, but Speakeasy lived on as an Internet service provider. In 2007 the company was acquired by Best Buy, and by 2010 it had merged into yet another firm, Megapath Corporation.

Walk a half-block east on Bell Street to the alley and turn left. Our next stop, the former site of Black Star Forge, is in the alley behind 2316 2nd Avenue.

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