From the outside, Till Dawn looks indescribable. But when you first step into West Seattle’s new neighborhood bar, it feels like a video game-induced trip.
The walls are covered in murals inspired by the games. The LED lights flash in different colors, resembling a gaming keyboard or the backdrop of a Twitch streamer. There is also a collection of Easter eggs, such as a star of Super Mario Brothersguns from the devil may cryand Pipboy from To fall.
The mystique is mostly intentional, says Andrew Spence, a Bay Area transplant who owns another West Seattle bar, 2 finger social.
“Because of this build, I feel like I don’t even know what’s going on outside,” he said last week during a tour of the soon-to-open space. “I wanted it to take you away from reality.”
The new gaming bar, located at 5048 California Ave SW, will primarily cater to coffee, beer and video game enthusiasts of all ages. There are 16 standing play stations, each with its own monitor and console. Customers will be able to play games individually, in tournaments or in teams. There will also be a private Dungeons and Dragons game room available for campaigns.
One of Spence’s main goals with Till Dawn is to put customers at ease, no matter where they come from, by providing a space where gamers can come together to celebrate their love of video games.
Spence said the goal is to primarily serve walk-in customers. Guests driving will need to find street parking along the popular West Seattle strip.
Based in Seattle Boon Boona will supply the coffee, while all major food items will be sourced from local bakeries. The bar will also feature a selection of “gaming nerd concessions,” ranging from Mountain Dew and Hot Cheetos, to Japanese-influenced snacks like candy rice and Hi-Chew.
Till Dawn has yet to earn its liquor commission and will be serving drinks at the cafe to earn some initial income. Once it obtains its license, it will offer more than 75 beers from around the world, as well as premium liquors, which will be priced from $12 to $15.
Spence said he plans to open for coffee and games within the next three weeks. The store will open for limited hours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The genesis of the name comes when gamers realize they’ve been up too long, when night turns to day, a familiar experience for Spence, who says his passion for video games began when he got the Atari PONG.
He also honed his craft as a restaurateur, serving as a bartender for over 23 years, from Brouwer’s Cafe in Fremont, where he worked for five years.
“There really is no retirement in bartending,” said Spence, who moved to Seattle in 1999. “Either you open your own place or you end up being a dinosaur bartender in a downtown hotel.”
Till Dawn will join a growing list of bars that incorporate video games, including Coindexter’s, Admiral Pub, Add-a-Ball and others. The popular GameWorks Seattle reopened earlier this month. Top Golf, a high-tech driving range that offers other games, debuted in Renton this month, while Five Iron Golf, another high-tech golf experience, opened in the Capitol district. Hill in March.
The Till Dawn site was previously owned by a licensing agency, which closed in late 2019 alongside allegations of its shady business dealings. Converting the site into a gaming bar proved to be a difficult task, with new building regulations passed by the city adding time and cost to the project, Spence said.
He began the process of converting the site into a cafe in October, first reported by the West Seattle Blogsparking curiosity and hype from the surrounding community.
During our visit last week, a passerby poked his head out of the window, commenting on how impressed he was with the layout and his love for Boon Boona Cafe. Spence said it happened frequently, adding that the community was concerned about the bar opening.