If he had his way, Gary Reynolds would force everyone to throw away their cell phones before entering his new bar, Revolver. He wants to use the space at 1514 East Olive Way to transport people back in time to the 1960s or 1970s, where friends spend an evening listening to full records together instead of texting.
“What have we really done to ourselves? I mean, we’re always connected. I’d put a trashcan for phones by the door if people wouldn’t revolt,” Reynolds told The Capitol Hill Times. “I want people to just relax and listen to good music together. Let’s listen to music the way that it was meant to be listened to, as an entire side of an album – not one pop song at a time.”
That’s exactly Reynold’s plan for Revolver when it opens on May 8 at 1514 . There won’t be iPods, Spotify, or CDs, just records.
If you recognize his name, it’s because Reynolds is a long-time Seattle musician and owner of Electrokitty Studio in Fremont. A lover of music, food, and a good, strong Manhattan, he has now taken his entire vinyl collection and put it on the shelves of his bar, next to his favorite whiskeys.
“My friend said that I should have DJs, but I wanted to just spin vinyl. I’ve been collecting vinyl for years and years and years and always wanted a place to put it. I have one of those giant consoles and a giant sound system, and my wife hates it because it all takes up too much space. Records are a pain in the ass. So now my collection is here at the bar.”
The bartenders at Revolver will spin the records while also mixing the drinks. Reynolds said that he made sure to hire bartenders who had good taste in music, with many of them contributing their own vinyl to the massive collection.
“We’ve got some country and jazz,” Reynolds said. “But it’s mostly rock. This is a place for rock music.”
It’s not just the ever-growing record collection that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time at Revolver; the décor is retro, moody and comfortable. It’s an eclectic mix of dark wood paneling, orange fabric chairs, and gold velvet curtains. But this isn’t the ironic sort of vintage that soon feels overdone or trite; it has a more genuine feel that shows a real passion for objects from times gone by.
“I love mid-century modern. And when I saw the space, I wanted it,” Reynolds said. “I chose most of these decorations myself. I want this to feel like a living room, or like your uncle or father-in-law’s basement where you like to hang out. I don’t want to make it feel like it’s stuck in any one decade; I just want it to feel like how people live. Some stuff looks ‘50s, some is early ‘70s, the way that your house evolves over time as trends change.”
I visited Revolver while there were still mirrors that needed to be hung, drink recipes to be learned, and dishes being tasted and revised. A work in progress, Reynolds was clearly obsessed with the details.
“I think the sauce on the sausage is a little too spicy,” he said to a chef, smiling though clearly exhausted after tasting the latest version of a recipe. “I really like it, but it might be a little too much for everyone. It’s tough getting the menu just right.”
After spending 14 years running Electrokitty Studio, Reynolds said that he’s ready for a new chapter and a new challenge. He recently started then closed a gumbo catering company because he really wanted to open a bar.
“I’ve got someone managing Electrokitty Studio for me now,” he said. “I’m going to focus on the bar and learn to be a good General Manager of a restaurant. This is what I want to do now.”
The menu at Revolver is inspired by Reynolds’ own cooking and childhood. Growing up in Texas near the border of Louisiana, he loves Cajun.
“We’re primarily a bar, but I still want to have good food,” Reynolds said. “The problem with Cajun is that it’s usually a big portion for one person, so we adapted some recipes to make them shareable. We’ve got catfish sliders, a muffaletta sandwich that can be split, beans and rice, and gumbo.”
The specialty drinks are all concoctions created by Bar Manager Clarita Hinojosa. Her favorite is the “Fennel Countdown,” a mix of Campari, fennel syrup, fennel fronds and champagne. I also watched her make a curious-looking Turmeric Soda that got favorable reviews from the other staff members.
“I’m so excited for this,” Reynolds told me at the end of our interview as he watched his new staff bustling around. “I just want people to know they’re going to have a good time here. I promise.”