Walking down the stairs on the corner of Wall Street and Oregon Avenue, the eyes are instantly drawn to the bright, classically badass vintage theater sign, beckoning you down into the unknown. Upon reaching the base of the stairs, there are so many options for different directions to go, it's almost overwhelming. The incredibly polite hostesses led myself and my lady friend to dark and comfy booths on the kitchen side of the space, where we kicked back and relaxed. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Back in the day, Bend had a Capitol Theater just a few blocks before The Tower Theatre, where the Bank of America building lives now.
"We saw a photo on the [Vintage Bend Facebook page] of old 1940s Wall Street and saw The Capitol Theater," explains Capitol 2.0 co-owner Sean Day. "We thought the name The Capitol was great and also liked the idea of bringing back history to our awesome, progressive little city."
The Capitol Theater may have been short-lived—open from 1922 until 1955—but the new spot's owners hope to keep its memory alive. And they come to the table with a wealth of service industry experience.
"I've been in the service industry for 20 years," Day says. "I started bussing tables at 15 and then bartending the day I turned 21 in Portland. I've been in all aspects of the industry, from fine dinning to hipster dive bars. I've been visiting Bend my whole life and four years ago I decided that the small, outdoorsy life was for me."
Day met his business partner Nate Edgell while bartending at Velvet Lounge and became fast friends. "Nate has lived in Bend for over 15 years and has worked at the mountain teaching snowboarding and skiing. He has also been in charge of the beverage distribution at the Les Schwab Amphitheater, so together we had a pretty good grasp of Bend," Day explains. "Nate had known my past in the service industry and wanted to start a new venture so we started brain storming. Working in Bend for almost four years, I started to listen to people about what was lacking and what would be cool, so we went to work."
They really did. The space is packed to the gills with just about everything you would want in an underground lounge. There are vintage arcade games, pinball games (including The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones), a space for live music, a space for group events, a space for intimate meals, and one of the longest bars I have ever seen. It's somewhat maze-like without ever being overwhelming.
Once we were seated, we found out that there was a private party going down, so only the happy hour menu was available. We ordered the tacos with bahn-mi style pork and the tater nachos with Tillamook cheese and all kinds of goodies. Both were pretty perfect for a late-night menu as they would be decadent and comfort food-y enough to satisfy the hungry and drunk Bendite.
Speaking of drinks, we tried a few of the infusions also, with the Buena Cocktail (pear and ginger vodka infusion with Bucha Buena kombucha) being the highlight.
With tons of live music events and DJ parties coming up, The Capitol is definitely angling to be the place to be. And if the full menu—featuring non-GMO, local, and organic products—is half as good as the dimly lit and homey atmosphere, then they will definitely be on to something.
In short: "We have good food, sweet vintage video games and pinball, cool shows coming, and a fun environment for everyone everyday," Day says. "Expect the music to be slightly louder than most places, old school movies playing on the TVs, and people having a great time."
190 NW Oregon Ave.
Monday-Saturday: 4 pm-2 am, Sunday: 4 pm-midnight