Dolly Madison performs during Purr's Going Away Party.
Dolly Madison performs during Purr's Going Away Party.

After more than a decade on the Hill, Purr Cocktail Lounge said goodbye to its longtime patrons, and welcomed them to a new Montlake location — slated to open soon.

Owner Barbie Roberts said she began looking at viable new locations for Purr a year before the nightclub’s lease was up, assuming the new rent would be too high; it was, she said.

“We’re taking this time to just go back to our roots, and where we started,” Roberts told the Capitol Hill Times during Wednesday’s going-away party.

Purr opened 12 years ago in the former Bad Juju space at 1518 11th Ave. Before it was Bad Juju, the space was occupied by Safari and Encore, two former gay bars, Roberts said.

“A nightclub wasn’t really our vision,” Roberts said, “but I embraced it because you get with the times and go with the flow.”

Roberts said Purr started out as a neighborhood cocktail lounge, a gay bar that could be a safe place for people to get together, hence the name Purr.

That’s the renewed vision Roberts said she’ll be bringing to the new location, which will be the former Traveler/ Montlake Ale House space at 2307 24th Ave. E., next to Cafe Lago.

Roberts looked at many potential new locations for Purr, and had two spots in Capitol Hill that didn’t work. There were a lot of space that had apartments above them, she said, and the property owners didn’t want a bar there — even when the last ground-floor tenant had been a bar.

“We hit that obstacle so many times — so many,” Roberts said.

The next iteration of Purr will be similar, she said, but utilize the space. There is a brick fireplace in the back, she said, and there will be a pool table and televisions for sports events. Pub food will be offered to cater to the neighborhood.

Purr’s Capitol Hill closure was announced in early July, with plans for Wednesday night’s going-away party. Roberts said the agreement for the Montlake space was finalized at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, 2 1/2 hours before the party started.

“It was very stressful,” Roberts said at the party. “I was hoping to announce tonight.”

Purr has until the end of July to vacate the 11th Avenue space, Roberts said, and she anticipates reopening in Montlake — she’s calling it North Capitol Hill — in about a month.

Roberts does hope to bring back as much of her old staff as she can, but realizes a lot can change in a month.

“These people, they’re all my family here,” Roberts said.