After seven years, Denise Tempest has retired from bartending. The owner of the popular cocktail destination in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood served her last customers Tuesday. Tempest Lounge opened in November 2005.
I appreciated Tempest Lounge for its revolving door of interesting clientele. Everyone was welcome there – artists, hipsters, grandmas, club hoppers, foodies, book lovers, gay, straight, vegetarians, omnivores, factory workers, politicians, neighborhood activists and anyone looking for good eats and drinks. Tempest Lounge had an abbreviated menu and a kitchen that produced quality cocktail comfort food, which was pretty amazing considering the closet-sized kitchen. This newspaper published several articles about Tempest’s cocktails, famous pickled vegetables and other fare. Tempest Lounge was among the first wave of lounges – along with the now defunct Monsoon Room – that turned the Hilltop into a fine cocktail destination. Tempest remained the anchor cocktail lounge as other spirit destinations, like 1022 South and recent newcomer The Eleven Eleven/Peterson Bros. joined the neighborhood.
Tempest was as welcoming as it was charming. The decor was engaging, from the low-slung lounge seating that encouraged strangers to sit together, to the cheekily themed unisex bathrooms that were among the most memorable in the city.
Tempest said she wanted to leave the business, that’s the long and short of it. “I am retiring from the bar business to pursue something else. Not sure what yet,” she wrote in a message. Will there be a goodbye party? Tempest said she wasn’t sure, but she’d announce one if there was. Here’s the bar’s Facebook page.