Four months after an explosion caused by a natural gas leak leveled three businesses on Greenwood Avenue and 85th Street, Angry Beaver, the neighborhood's resident hockey bar, is finally reopening.
Bar owner Tim Pipes, hockey fanatic and former Torontonian, said he could not be more relieved.
Pipes, who has owned the bar for four years, said he was sitting at the corner of his bar near the front door when the explosion destroyed Mr. Gyros, Neptune Coffee, and Quik Mart, which stood across the street from Angry Beaver. The bar windows, thankfully made of safety glass, buckled and chunks of the ceiling came down from the blast's force.
"Out of the corner of my eye, I caught the initial explosion. Then there was a wall of flame coming at me, literally 50 feet wide. When that hit, it was like being in a car accident. ... Bottles were flying off the shelves," said Pipes.
Pipes said he thought the bar would be up and running again after a couple weeks, but, instead, he ended up spending months renovating the building to fix its old structural bracing and remove lead paint and asbestos. According to Pipes, although his bar was closed, he still had to pay rent and utilities for the space.
During the closure, people broke into Angry Beaver and stole their cash register computers, a guitar amplifier, the bar's speakers, and even his prized signed photo of hockey player Rick Middleton.
During this time, Pipes said he received financial aid from the Phinney Neighborhood Association, which raised nearly $300,000 for its Greenwood Relief Fund. Initially, PNA provided employees some financial aid and gave Pipes a check for $15,000 to help with business expenses, said Emilia Jones, development coordinator for PNA.
"Two weeks ago, I'm on the verge of reopening. I'm down to $2,000. I don't have food, I don't have beer, I don't have booze. [PNA] calls me up on a Thursday and says 'Tim, we just want to let you know that we have another $7,100 for you.' I literally burst into tears," said Pipes. "Every time I think I'm going to fail, every time I'm at the end of my rope financially, something happens," said Pipes. "This neighborhood is unbelievable. You never would've known that if this explosion didn't happen," he said.
According to Jones of PNA, the check was part of a last round relief disbursement from the emergency fund, which was given to businesses severely impacted by the explosion. "They've been through so much between being rebuilt and being robbed. Their staff has been in limbo this whole time," said Jones.
After four months of battling with his insurance company and Seattle city permitters, Angry Beaver is slowly getting back on its feet. After a "soft" reopening on July 22, patrons are slowly trickling back into the bar. During The Stranger's interview with Pipes, around seven local firefighters donning kilts and bagpipes sat themselves at the bar for burgers and beers. Visitors came over to hug Pipes and congratulate him on his reopening.
"The hockey bar is back," said Pipes.
Angry Beaver will be hosting an official grand reopening this Friday starting at 5 p.m.
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This story has been updated.