Opening in 1934, the Blue Moon Tavern has gone through many phases, including no longer legally being considered a tavern (we now serve liquor). Having been a beatnik speakeasy, a biker bar, hippie hive, and a grunge era dive, the Blue Moon is now focusing on being a safe place for all of our neighbors.
From all varieties of music and comedy to local breweries and distilleries, we support our growing community the best we can while maintaining our old-Seattle vibe.
History of Blue Moon Tavern
1934 - Blue Moon Tavern first opens it's doors founded by Hank Reverman. The tavern was an instant hit with students who, under state law, had to trek one mile from campus to buy a beer.
1930s & 40's - Blue Moon Tavern was one of the rare bars outside of the Central Area to serve African American servicemen during World War II.
1950s & 1960s - The Blue Moon became famous (or infamous) as a clubhouse for Seattle's emerging counterculture. Poets Theodore Roethke, Richard Hugo, Carolyn Kizer, Stanley Kunitz, and David Wagoner could often be found at the bar, along with famous visitors such as Dylan Thomas and Allen Ginsberg. Former Communist Stan Iverson reigned as its unofficial maitre 'd.
1982 - The tavern was purchased by "Three Fools, Inc.," comprising partners Gustav Hellthaler, Robert Morrison Jr. (1948-2008), and John Caldbick.
1984 - the Blue Moon was refurbished for its 50th anniversary and won a new generation of customers.
1989 - Tavern supporters and neighborhood leaders mounted a spirited campaign to gain Landmark status for The Blue Moon Tavern.
1990 - The effort secured broad public and media support, but landmark designation failed on a tie vote on March 7, 1990.
1991 - According to the biography Heavier than Heaven, Kurt Cobain and his bandmates hid from fans before their in store signing for Nevermind in the now closed Beehive Records (they expected 50 and over 200 showed up) at The Blue Moon Tavern. After awhile the fans caught up with them, eventually coaxing them out by staring through the windows of the tavern. You can watch their in store performance from that day here.
2019 - Blue Moon Tavern was purchased by Emma Hellthaler from her father Gustav Hellthaler.
2020 - Like many small businesses, The Moon closed its doors temporarily in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time owner Emma Hellthaler was the subject of a documentary, American Portrait by PBS.
2021- Blue Moon Tavern is currently operating as a pay what you can coffee walk up window while undergoing renovation to update the taverns beer lines, sound system, and fixtures. The Blue Moon hopes to reopen its doors in the fall as a music venue and performing arts space.
Early history courtesy of HistoryLink.org
New PBS series features historic University District bar
In American Portrait by PBS, everyday people share self-shot stories about their jobs and careers as they navigate the changes they’re experiencing and the goals they’re working toward.
“It’s a beautiful documentary series that is beautifully done, is there to remind people who America really is,” said Emma Hellthaler. The Seattleite was one of many featured in the PBS series, chronicling her efforts to keep the U District’s historic Blue Moon Tavern afloat amid the pandemic.
It’s an intimate look inside the ongoing crises music venues proprietors and bar owners across the country have been grappling with since the start of the pandemic. The four-part series is part of PBS’s 50th anniversary. The episode featuring Blue Moon Tavern aired Jan. 19. You can find the episode in the PBS App.
11 Places That Prove Old Seattle Is Alive and Well
The quintessential dive bar serves as home turf to Seattle's most alcohol-soaked celebrities. Writers and rock stars alike (see Tom Robbins and Layne Staley) made their permanent roost on a stool at the U-District tavern. Though it's had to fight through multiple development and destruction attempts, even losing a battle for landmark status, the Blue Moon stands strong, just like the “Hammered Man” spoof sculpture out front.