Rainier Brewery to get a taste of history as Tully's 'T' is set to come down

rainier R brewery sign
[Image by Flickr user Wonderlane]

A change is coming to the South Seattle skyline, but rather than a brand-new sight, the drivers on I-5 can expect to see a familiar sign. As part of the purchase of Tully's, new co-chairman and partial owner Michael Avenatti has announced that the big green "T" on top of the old Rainier Brewery will be coming down -- and it'll be replaced by that iconic red "R."

Already critical of the mismanagement that's been plaguing the troubled Tully's company, Avenatti noted in a press release yesterday that a replacement of the Rainier Brewery's symbolic "R" would be installed in November. Swapping it out for the "T" in the first place was "a mistake," Avenatti stated.

"That part of the Seattle skyline has always truly belonged to the ‘R," said Avenatti, a lawyer from Los Angeles, calling its meaning "deep" and "historical."

He later tweeted that the new owners were "Happy to do our part to bring back the "R"," adding the hashtag "#makingitright."

The "R" won't be the original -- the original lives at the Museum of History and Industry -- but instead, a 12-foot replica. 

Tully's is also moving their headquarters from the old brewery -- which they moved into when the company began roasting its own beans, but haven't needed since selling off their wholesale business to Green Mountain Coffee in 2008 -- to a location closer to Pike Place Market.

The company filed for bankruptcy in 2012, at which point, interested investors began bidding on what was left. Actor Patrick Dempsey was initially a lead investor alongside Avenatti, though the two, who were partners in both business and automobile racing, parted ways late last month, 

Avenatti is one of several investing partners who have purchased the struggling company, and who have made multiple statements about their plans to improve it, including shedding their previous "obsession with beating Starbucks."

Rainier hasn't been locally-owned in decades, and the brewery was closed by Pabst in 1999. It was then rennovated and turned into offices and apartments. However, in 2011, Emerald City Brewing purchased some of the space and began brewing the first beer in the building in 11 years.