David Meinert has taken over ownership of Mecca Cafe in Lower Queen Anne, and is poised to reopen the diner/dive bar soon.

The revelation earlier this year that Meinert was taking over ownership of Mecca Cafe brought back to attention the July 2018 report by Sydney Brownstone for KUOW where five women accused him of sexual misconduct, including rape. Six more women came forward with their own allegations against him a month later.

Meinert tells Queen Anne News he’s since quit taking drugs and partying, and is seeing two therapists.

“I would ask people, I guess, to recognize that I’m aware of my faults and deficiencies, and working on them daily,” he said.

Meinert declined to talk about the 11 women who last year accused him of sexual misconduct.

The fallout from those reports resulted in his selling his interests in several Capitol Hill diners and nightclubs, and the loss of acquaintances in the political sphere and other social circles.

Meinert denied the allegations from the first five women who came forward, and did not respond to his other six accusers, though he admitted to Brownstone in her reporting that he had previously been “handsy.”

He applied for a new liquor license with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board in June; it was issued earlier this month.

WSLCB communications director Brian Smith tells Queen Anne News the board received a number of letters requesting Meinert’s liquor application be denied because of the sexual assault allegations, many of which were reported to have occurred while he was drinking and involved women in bars he’d owned.

“I have a lot of friends who are women, which have yelled at me,” he said.

Meinert is also aware that there could be confrontations that arise after reopening Mecca Cafe.

Mecca Cafe closed after service on Sept. 15, so cleaning and installation of new kitchen equipment could be completed. These are the things that never get done after a diner opens, Meinert said.

“We’re not fixing everything,” he said. “We’re trying to leave as much patina as possible, but make sure things are working right.”

Not everyone who worked at Mecca Cafe stayed for the transition, but Meinert said the diner/bar is fully staffed and expected to open soon. The change in ownership does mean employees will qualify for health insurance and retirement benefits with profit sharing, the same as at his 5 Point Cafe in Belltown. He said he talks about making his businesses a safe place for his staff, and not just to the women who work for him.

“I think the staff believes in me as much as they need to,” Meinert said. “Regardless of what anybody thinks of me personally, I think the people working with me have good jobs and they appreciate that, and we’re always working to make it better.”

Meinert spent a lot of time hanging in Lower Queen Anne in the ‘90s, and in the early 2000s he was a partner at the Mirabeau Room. Musician Eryn Young accused him of sexually assaulting her there in 2004, which is the same year he purchased a house in Queen Anne; he lives and votes in Burien, he said.

Mecca Cafe has been in business for nearly 90 years, and was opened by Preston Smith in 1930. He opened 5 Point Cafe in Belltown the year before.

Meinert purchased 5 Point in 2009, and said he’d spent the past 11 years trying to acquire Mecca.

Preston Smith’s son, Dick, took over Mecca in 1975 and ran it with his wife Darlene until his death from cancer in 2001. Their daughter-in-law Karon Hanke took over the business shortly after.

Meinert said he was happy to be the one to take over the business when Hanke was ready to sell, because he didn’t want the space to become something else. He has a love for diners and dives, he said, and wanted to bring Mecca and 5 Point back together. When they had been under the same ownership, Dick Smith expanded the building and kitchen to allow prep for both diners to be handled at Mecca.

“That will be happening again, which will be great,” Meinert said.

5 Point manager Michelle Young will now also manage Mecca, and bartender Hank Hollman is moving over from 5 Spot up the hill now that the cafe no longer provides dinner service.

Something Meinert said he didn’t think Queen Anne had before was a breakfast happy hour, which will be added at Mecca, as well as some new menu items.

He will also spend the next several months blocking certain music from being played on the digital jukebox, he said, which he did when he took over 5 Point.

Meinert still has a band management company, he said, which occasionally distributes albums, however, the company currently is not representing any bands.

As Lower Queen Anne continues to change with new development, Meinert said he’s secured a 20-year lease for Mecca Cafe. There is no clause that would allow the trust that owns the building at 526 Queen Anne Ave. N. to end the lease for redevelopment, he said.

Whether Mecca Cafe will continue for another 20 years will be decided by the community.