Seattle musician Ian Hill and his wife Allison were outbid in their quest to buy the Comet Tavern. "We got outbid, by a lot," Ian Hill said in a phone interview. Hill, who plays bass for the band RebelMart, said that they don't even know who outbid them.
"They asked that the bid, the plan, everything, remain silent. That just screams ‘evil empire.’ They don’t want anyone to know what’s going on."
The Hills met with building owner Charlie Chao and his daughter/lawyer Stacy Krantz at the Comet on Saturday. Ian said the talks went well, but the price was too high for them. "So we countered with something more reasonable and Stacy... said she wanted us to have it, because we were the only ones who had any kind of passion for keeping it the Comet, keeping the integrity of that space and what it means to people. Everybody else who went in there to talk to them was just about money. She didn’t say how much over the top they went, but they pretty much doubled everything—rent, goodwill… So far over the top, it was… think Easy Street in Queen Anne. Chase Bank comes in and says, ‘Well, why don’t we write you a check for five times what your highest bid is?' How do you compete with that?"
Krantz told the Hills that she wanted them to run the Comet due to their passion for the venue. "We lost out to big money," Ian concluded. "It came down to doing the right thing isn’t enough. We’re pretty upset over here. We put a lot into this… not just money, we put a lot of heart and soul into it. We went to benefit shows, we met with the employees, we did a lot of legwork. We tried to rally this sense of community, the resiliency the punk-rock and music community has. Stand by and fight the man. The man won again.
"We’re not gonna give up," Ian promised. "We’re gonna keep our passion for what we do, knowing we’re good at it. When you do something the right way, you know it’ll work out. We’re always gonna stick by that. It didn’t work this time and that really sucks. We have to keep that resiliency we have and put it into something else. Ugh, we’re just really broken up about it."