By Emily Hamann
For The Bellingham Business Journal
Bellingham has a new bar, full of subdued excitement, in Barkley Village.
“It’s not a dive bar. It’s not super fancy,” owner Kurt Hartmaier said. “It’s a Bellingham bar.”
“It’s a come as you are and everyone feels good,” his wife Katy Hartmaier added.
The couple spent most of 2017 working to open The Blue Abode at 2925 Newmarket St.
Previously, the space was a nail salon. So to get it ready for food service, everything from top to bottom had to be ripped out, fixed or added to.
“Just getting our doors open has been a lot of work,” Katy Hartmaier said. Along the way, they got help and support from their neighbors in Barkley Village, including Overflow Taps, Jalapeños and Mod Pizza.
“I think we all realize we offer something different here and bring a great vibe to Barkley,” Kurt Hartmaier said.
It’s their first time starting a business, although Kurt Hartmaier has lots of experience in the industry. He has worked as a bartender for more than five years.
“I’d always wanted to bar-tend in Bellingham and I could never find an opening here,” he said.
So he worked in Seattle, at large, chain bars and small, owner operated bars. Eventually, both of them found jobs in Whatcom County, and were able to move back. Katy Hartmaier, who is a nurse, got a job at the childbirth center at St. Joseph Medical Center.
“Our number one thing, our whole life mission revolved around moving back to Bellingham,” Katy Hartmaier said. “We’ve never been anywhere like Bellingham.”
Their love for Bellingham is apparent in their food and drink options. All but one of their taps are dedicated to Bellingham breweries. The prime spot in the middle of their liquor shelf is dedicated to liquors from Whatcom and Skagit counties. Their food menu boasts a number of local vendors as well.
“We feel like there’s so much good product here in Bellingham,” Kurt Hartmaier said.
Their dedication to Whatcom County suppliers isn’t just about supporting local companies, though. It’s about finding the best product.
“It’s just fortunate that Whatcom County does put out a lot of good stuff,” Katy Hartmaier said.
While they’re not a restaurant — they have just a 160-square-foot kitchen, there’s not a mozzarella stick or french fry, or other usual bar fare on the menu. Instead they offer basic sandwiches, soups, salads, made with local ingredients. Their menu uses as many whole, not processed foods as they can. They make things in house where possible — like their hot buttered rum mix. Kurt Hartmaier came up with the cocktail menu, using familiar ingredients and putting spins on classic cocktails.
“We tried to make it so the average person can get a feel for what they’re going to get,” Katy Hartmaier said.
Now that they’re open, they hope to get involved with the neighborhood.
They said they plan on throwing Barkley block parties with their neighboring businesses in the summer. They also hope to get more involved with the larger community, and make charitable donations.
“Once we get some of our big bills paid we’re going to be taking some of our profits and finding local charities that could use our support,” Katy Hartmaier said.