Papa’s Pub in downtown White Center: ‘Closed for good’

(October 2011 photo by Deanie Schwarz)
Three and a half months after the “Center of Attention” raids in White Center focused on Papa’s Pub and a few other establishments, Papa’s has handwritten signs up this afternoon saying it’s closed, and the windows are all papered over:

(Next two photos taken today by Patrick Sand)
Closer look at one of the signs, both of which say the same thing:

About an hour and a half ago, the mournful tones of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” – and its hook, “We could have had it all …” – could be heard blasting from inside.

Just last week, King County Sheriff’s Office White Center Storefront Deputy BJ Myers told the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (WCN coverage here) that a new round of problems at Papa’s had led him to confer with the Liquor Control Board, and that he was under the impression penalties ordered for Papa’s because of violations might kick in soon. We have messages out to the WSLCB to ask about its status.

ADDED 5:13 PM: Deanie Schwarz talked with Papa’s owners this afternoon. Though we don’t have official information from the LCB yet – probably tomorrow, they tell us – Richard Bienhoff told Deanie that he has a hearing before the LCB next Monday and Tuesday (February 13-14). According to Bienhoff, the closure is a complex situation – he’s being evicted, after falling four months behind in rent ($20,000), but he also contends the space is not usable because of leaking sewer lines he claims the owner won’t fix.

His relatively new business partner Mark Weatherhoge says they are looking for someplace else in White Center to start fresh – under a different name. He said last night was the final night for Papa’s.

Of the LCB and law-enforcement troubles, Weatherhoge told Deanie, “One of the bartenders got written up for serving a minor a couple of times – same bartender. We’ve got a couple of tickets for over-service. King County police says we’re nothing but drug-infested and all that, but when they came in and raided us with 25 police with guns out, they found nothing – no guns, no drugs. So ever since their raid of a dog and pony show here, business went right down the tubes. We lost all our good customers – it scared them and it scared me too. They came in at 1:00 in the afternoon when all of our normal good folk were here. But the problems happen late at night – that we’ve been working on…”

Bienhoff echoed the complaint about the October raids’ subsequent effect on business:”When 25 cops come in and point guns at all my good customers nobody wants to come back. I wouldn’t come in here if I didn’t own it. They ruined my business and I didn’t see any dope. They didn’t find nothing. And then they have come back a week ago and said I was manufacturing drugs in the basement.” He says he got a letter from the King County Sheriff’s Office making that allegation.

And he continues to contend he has done nothing wrong. “I got a raw deal here. The whole neighborhood hates me now. I have tried to do everything they told me to do. I got security … I did everything. I did this three years ago. When the cops come in here and tell me I’ve got drugs in my bar, why don’t they arrest them? They told me they can’t? That don’t make sense to me. … Drugs ain’t going to go away. Drugs are everywhere. I don’t want them. I don’t know anything about them. But what could I do about them? Nothing. They weren’t looking for drug dealers – they were looking for things I was doing …They steered all of my customers away – which is rotten.”

Weatherhoge reiterated, “We are trying to fix the problem, but everyone tries to put us down as though we are the problem. That isn’t fair.”

Bienhoff said: “We’ve done more for this community than any place. I do dinners for the homeless. I do breast cancer events because my wife died of breast cancer. I do every good thing and everybody hates me now. And I’m pissed. I ain’t done nothing wrong.”

In addition to following up with the Liquor Control Board, we will also be following up tomorrow with authorities to see the status of the investigations related to the October raids.


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18 Responses to “Papa’s Pub in downtown White Center: ‘Closed for good’”

  1. Awesome, glad they’re gone!

  2. Dose this mean its up for rent?

  3. While walking to the Vietnamese sandwich store by Full Tilt around lunchtime I noticed a bunch of gravelly voiced scruffy dudes standing out front seemingly angry about something so approached via the other side of the street. So thats it? And without the Wall? Well, bout time I guess. Triangle and Company better hire bouncers for a few days:>)

  4. Really? Seems that their own bartender was busted for criminal activity. Save the sob story.

    http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2011/10/ramona_rigney_papas_pub_bartender_crack_dealer.php

  5. I think the point you’re missing is that we don’t want a bunch of businesses that cater to a crowd whose “good normal customers” are getting sh*t-faced at 1PM…

  6. The only way WC is going to come out of the gutter is when all the trash is taken out…

  7. Dick Thurnau, M.Wollam Says:

    If the owner and his partner are seeking to open a new business elsewhere, but still locally, this won’t be the end of the story…I suspect his old customers, good and bad, will find him again.

  8. The drive down 16th ave sure looked better yesterday than it has in a while. There was no big crowd that looked shady hangin outside the bar. Only a few men in front of the Locker room who looked to be just off a construction type job having a smoke. Now of course that still doesnt cover the 25 foot rule…. but I dont want them in front of the deli or full tilt either.

  9. Get rid of the Locker Room and things will really start looking up!

  10. White Center will never change its image. Its still the same as when I was kid growing up there in the 1950′s
    The retail business owners and county should get together with a business plan that will result in bulldozing all of W/C’s retail space, then rebuilding it into something worth while.
    The plan would be accommodating to business owners/residents/shoppers alike.

  11. Yeah Gary maybe we could just create a big strip mall. How would destroying the few new businesses there make anything better?

  12. I disagree with the comment that WC will never change its image. I think the change is coming. Its already starting to happen with several decent businesses opening up in the area, including Proletariat Pizza, Full Tilt, Mike’s, Seattle Silkscreen, the Pie place, Company, WC Pho, and several others. A couple more good businesses like that, some really good enforcement by KC Sherrif, and some help from our political leaders, things will reach a tipping point, its almost there, we just need to stick with it.

  13. White Center still has a fairly intact classic urban pedestrian-oriented architecture in its business district. This is a great base to build upon. Indeed, it IS being built upon.

    Bulldozing it all would be a huge mistake, likely resulting in sterile, car-oriented developments that would destroy the community’s connection to its history and that would look like they could be in any suburb anywhere in the country.

    We in the surrounding neighborhoods need to nurture our business district by shopping at the beneficial businesses that are here, so that new ones will be encouraged to take root alongside them.

  14. JW-

    Bulldozing the White Center Business District would probably create a mall type shopping environment similar to South Center with indoor shopping and convenient parking.
    The intoxication type businesses would be either allowed at one end of the new mall or not at all via zoning rules.
    The current White Center image of mismatched buildings and uses could make a big difference to the area.
    W/C’s history is one thing and noted as an important consideration but moving along out of the 1920-30′s era W/C is in, into today’s choice of shopping, such as (South Center) malls etc. would very likely be welcomed by most, attracting a new group of retailers and at the same time provide local, convenient, indoor shopping coupled with less local area crime.

  15. Turning white center into a mall would kill the small businesses that have cropped up there in the past few years.

    I am sure there are many people that would prefer to shop at south center, and they should.

  16. Jw,

    “Kill small businesses”
    A new shopping alternative in W/C would probably increase small business owners monthly income, their businesses would be safer and would attract a clientele that probably with more money to spend. Change would probably be good for them.
    Are you convinced? (Kidding) It will never happen. (mall)
    W/C will most likely die a slow death as it has for prior decades.

  17. I’m the most cynical person around but I think you are wrong about WC dying a slow death. Its gonna get better. Lots of good businesses down there, lots of people who care about this area. Things will get better in the next few years.

  18. Sorry it happened but Papa was warned by myself his manager & security of the BS going on there at night. I’m going to remind you Richard, While I was on shift & his manager Heidi was in control this crap was at a minimum. Guess that’s what happens when you listen to fools with nothing to lose but their dope connect.