Forum Social House opens in Bellevue

Eastside gets new nightclub, mini golf, swing suites.

A new nightclub just opened on the Eastside. But it’s more than just that — the 20,000 square foot venue also offers mini golf, cuisine, craft cocktails, two bars, VIP spaces, golf simulators and other games.

Forum Social House, now occupying the space that was formerly The Parlor, is located at Lincoln Square in Bellevue. The club hosted a VIP media opening event on Dec. 14 and opened full operations to the public on Dec. 16.

The space offers a variety of experiences, hoping to appeal to a wide demographic. Additionally, the venue is open seven days a week and all ages are welcome until 10 p.m.

The Rockwell Sound Lounge is an upscale nightclub set up with a dance floor, DJ stage, VIP tables, bar, LED screens and lighting, and overall edgy aesthetic. A rotation of various local DJs will be featured, including DJ Phase of iHeartRadio. Most nights will feature an opener and a closer. Occasionally, for special events, the club is planning to bring in celebrity guest talent.

The Topgolf Swing Suite section of Forum offers several 15-foot wide projection screens that have guests playing game simulations. There are multiple games in addition to golf, such as baseball pitching, hockey, football and zombie dodgeball. Several game tables are in the suite as well.

Topgolf is a golf simulation experience that is currently an ascending brand with more than 80 locations across the country.

Noah Garroutte, one of Forum’s three owners, said it’s a perfect fit for Bellevue, and was practically a “no brainer” to incorporate. The other two owners are Raj Tubati and Roger Eng. They each have some 20 years of restaurant and nightlife experience.

The Par1 Miniature Golf course features creative holes that each have their own theme. There’s a UFO with cows, a drum, a Seattle Sonics basketball hoop, a koi fish pond, and even a rainbow unicorn that one must sit on while they swing.

“That unicorn polo is something you’re not gonna find anywhere else in the world,” Garroutte said.

Management brainstormed what shape they wanted for the different holes throughout the mini golf course. The holes were constructed by Northwest Metal Fab & Powder Coat.

Artwork throughout the social house was commissioned by local artist Josh Quest. Forum management requested the unique designs.

“We approached him with a vision, and a concept, a brand and a color scheme. And he knocked it out of the park,” said Garroutte.

Throughout the venue visitors will find notable figures in blues and purples drawn up in Quest’s distinct style. There’s R2-D2, Avicii, Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven from Stranger Things, and even Bill Gates and Steve Jobs dressed as Star Wars stormtroopers.

Other decor throughout Forum includes mirrors, photo opps, fancy lighting, projectors, screens and a seat that resembles the Game of Thrones iron throne made out of golf clubs.

Garroutte said the build out cost close to $2 million.

Forum Social House employs some 60-75 people currently. Garroutte said that’s probably their sweet spot.

“It’s cool to give that many people a sense of home and family here,” he said.

He said each of the three owners has had a dream to be in ownership and when the doors opened to their own space it was really exciting. He noted that there are no private investors or teams of ownership — they are guys who wanted their place to be more than just a bar.

“It’s a large footprint. We really wanted it to be diverse and not just offer one thing but appeal to different demographics,” he said.

The mini golf is fun for anyone, the dancing is a great way for people to let loose, and the Topgolf let’s people get competitive.

“Everything compliments one another. It also lends itself to an event space as well,” Garroutte said.

One thing he said he loves is that they get to make their own culture indicative of who they are. He said, as owners, they enjoy supporting their employees to pursue their dreams, regardless of what industry they want to be in. They’ll use their personal resources and connections to help staff. For example, he hooked up one of his security guards aspiring to be a barber with some barber friends of his to do some job shadowing.

He said the owners realize that the industry typically has 100 percent turnover and that people are sometimes under their employ as a stepping stone to where they’re trying to be.

“As long as they prove they’re good people, we want to help them at least have a direction to be reaching for their goals,” he said.

The Forum Kitchen is managed by chef Jake Brenchley, former executive chef at the Bellevue Club, who has designed a specialty menu with unique items. There are chicken meatballs, lobster bisque shooters, and lamb wellington, to name a few bites. All of the food items cost less than $30.

Bar cocktails include paper planes, guava margaritas, and Forum’s own take on an old fashioned.

Garroutte explained that while they could charge a premium price given their location and the market they’re operating in, they decided to keep things affordable and more approachable.

Similarly, rounds of mini golf start at $10 per person.

The Topgolf suites can be rented per hour, starting at $50, and can house as many as 12 people at a time. So that could break down to $4 or $5 dollars per person, if the space is packed.

Team Forum already is gearing up for its inaugural New Years Eve party — tickets are on sale and will be sold until the day of the event. The club anticipates it might sell out of tickets, but plans to have about 50 to sell at the door.

The event will feature DJs, dancing, and a special midnight ball drop surprise. There will be a family friendly portion of that event as well with a buffet and dancing for kids.

The adults only part of the evening will include art installations and performers throughout the venue.

The club’s capacity is 626 people and Garroutte estimates they will entertain about 600 people on a good busy day.

Regularly, unless there’s a special event, there will be no cover charge for entry.

“We’re excited, we’re ready,” said bartender Cristina Sahagun who lives in Renton. She said one reason it’s is so exciting is there are so few options for nightclubs on the Eastside.

She remarked that most people tend to go to Seattle to go out dancing or partying on the weekends.

That’s a sentiment that was expressed by several individuals at the party, including Bellevue couple Karla and Marko Ilicic, who were testing out the Topgolf Swing Suite games.

“This place is so cool,” Karla said. “Here in Bellevue there is no place to go.”

Kirkland children’s dentist Susan Kim agreed and said she thought the place was, “amazing.”

Levin Miller, one of the Forum hosts, said she loved that the place is not just a bar and that everyone she’d met so far was super sweet. She said the owners and the team made her feel like family there.

“I love that we offer a variety of stuff to do, and also that we welcome all ages,” she said. “This place is going to be awesome.”

A brief ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the Dec. 14 opening event and included remarks from Bellevue Deputy Mayor Lynne Robinson.

“I can’t think of a better place than Bellevue to have this kind of food, entertainment, and a lot of fun,” she said. “You’ve got the people who are going to really enjoy this, and I’m going to enjoy it too, and I want to thank you for all that you have done to make this such a special place. I’m really looking forward to experiencing it.”

Garroutte also spoke at the event.

“Team members — we wouldn’t be here without all of you putting in your hard work,” he said. “It’s so important to us and special to us to share this with you. It’s nothing to do with us if we didn’t have you, so you all made this happen. It wasn’t just us. So everyone should know that and be proud of that. You helped us get here. Thank you.”

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