- Photo by Jonathan Swift
- The vehicle showroom will be converted into a lounge/fashion boutique that will sell lifestyle accessories like clothing, local wine and fruit, and $200,000 Ferraris.
The entrepreneurial team responsible for revitalizing the Pike/Pine corridor has announced their latest project will be a reboot of one of Capitol Hill’s most neglected landmarks: the Ferrari dealership. Together and separately, Dave Meinert and Jason LaJeunesse have presided over many of the neighborhood’s most successful business ventures, including Lost Lake Diner, Neumos, Big Mario’s Pizza, the Capitol Hill Block Party, and, most recently, the refurbished Comet Tavern. In a relatively brief period of time, these two graying impresarios have transformed a shabby bohemian district into an upscale nightlife destination zone where people from all walks of life and all economic strata can raise a glass as equals with the neighborhood’s indigenous population in the dim light of repurposed signage.
Having given Seattle a host of places to eat, drink, and be merry, Meinert and LaJeunesse are now offering the ultimate lifestyle accessory, with their own retro-modernist twist. The former Ferrari dealership will be made over to resemble what Meinert calls "a combination hunting lodge and '80s video arcade" envisioned by renowned designer George Esquivel. The cars themselves will be moved to an underground vault for private viewing, while what is now the vehicle showroom will be converted into the Front Seat, a lounge/fashion boutique that will serve locally sourced sparkling wine and fruit, sell clothing designs inspired by the films of Visconti, Fellini, and Antonioni, and feature a revolving lineup of the Northwest's premier DJ/turntablists. But Meinert and LaJeunesse have been around long enough to know that all this innovation would be for naught without the right name. With that in mind, they've christened their latest brainchild 4RE.
Sleek, simple, elegant, just like the cars they hope to sell.
“To me, [the business] seemed like a no-brainer,” says Meinert. “Everybody says the economy is suffering, but personally, I’ve never had more money than I do right now. I bought my first Ferrari right after 9/11, and I’ve gotten a new one every odd-numbered year since. I'll admit I was a little self-conscious at first, but everybody thinks my cars look cool as hell. That’s significant to me. Anyone who follows me on social media knows my politics are closely aligned with my business ambitions. I figure, if the city isn't prepared to get serious about transit, they better get ready to see a lot more Ferraris on the street.”
Nursing an Oly and a shot of Jameson in a booth at his crowded Lost Lake Diner, Meinert grows pensive. “Seattle,” he muses, “and Capitol Hill in particular, used to be all about dressing down, finding the glamour in poverty, the whole loser aesthetic. And that was great, but that was then. Look around: Our clientele is aspirational. If they weren’t, would they really be paying $17 for a hamburger?”
As a timid server hovers near our table, careful not to interrupt Meinert or LaJeunesse but eager for her bosses to witness her giving me a check for my now-lukewarm coffee, I ask if they have any concerns about their latest foray. Meinert chuckles. “Mark my words: People are going to get right behind 4RE. What's more punk rock than a Ferrari? I can't think of anything. The only challenge will be for people to remember where they parked their sweet new ride. All I know is that it better not be in my spot.”
The wolves of Pike/Pine share a hearty laugh as the server hands me my check.
CORRECTION: Oh, wait, no, Meinert and LaJeunesse have not acquired the Ferrari dealership. They acquired something else. We regret the error.