As you walk down Holly Street toward the bustling streets in downtown Bellingham, you come across a mysterious yet welcoming set of stairs with a large star at the top. It draws you in and takes you to the front door of The Orion. As you step inside, you are embraced with constellations lining the walls and the sound of games from the ‘80s consuming you. 

With every detail of the room thought out to perfection, let’s dive into the mastermind behind the bar, Jonny McIntyre.   

McIntyre joined his brothers up in Bellingham in January of 2000 and made his start in the restaurant business working at Boomers Drive-In. For over a decade McIntyre flipped burgers and traveled with his band across the country.  

“The owner, Chris Irwin, he was so nice about supporting art and so he allowed me to work a bit and would give me time off to tour,” McIntyre says.  

After working there for many years, McIntyre began to crave his own business.  

While he originally wanted to open a restaurant, McIntyre’s goal shifted once he started working under Aaron Roeder at 3B Tavern—he later became the manager of Cap Hansen’s Lounge, now owned by Roeder.  

“I managed Cap’s and it taught me that I’d rather do a bar than a full restaurant, especially as my first business,” McIntyre says.  

After visiting a few buildings in the area, McIntyre fell in love with the small and simplistic Odd Fellows Building on East Holly Street. 

“The space itself is so beautiful and inviting. It needed to be loved, as it should, and the community needed to be allowed to love it in that way,” says McIntyre. 

As an artist, McIntyre was passionate about the blank canvas he had just bought and was excited about what he could do with it, waking up early to paint. 

“I know that when I’m excited about something because it’s the thing I can’t stop myself from doing,” he says. “I was waking up and instead of purchasing refrigerators, I was going to the paint store.” 

McIntyre explains his interest in space and the connectedness it creates for people: 

“I wanted something that was universal, something that could speak to everybody and Orion is not only like a powerful constellation that everyone sees in the night sky in the winter, but to me, it’s a very Northwestern kind of constellation,” McIntyre says.  

The name was more than just a constellation to McIntyre—it was also an homage to a late friend of his named Orion.   

Using the night sky as his muse, McIntyre spent the next three and a half months getting the bar ready for its opening, hand painting everything himself. On October 27, 2017, The Orion opened its doors to the public.   

Within the bar you will find a dark blue atmosphere that takes you up to space. Creative drinks mark the walls named after some of the most known constellations, pool and old games like Frogger are scattered throughout, and detailed, handmade artwork surrounds you.  

“I wanted it to have a timeless feel,” McIntyre says.   

The Orion also offers a unique birthday treat, a free shot taken with a space helmet and ladle.  

“I wanted to do something that was for birthdays, and I wanted to do something that was for every birthday.” McIntyre says, “We had a woman in her 80s do the shot.” 

After seven years of use, the helmet finally broke, prompting McIntyre to invest in a new one. The old helmet will be placed in a case, preserved for all time.   

The new Odd Fellows Temple Room opened up in The Orion a few months ago, and now McIntyre looks toward the future.  

“After this side step, after doing this room, I really think that I have everything I want,” McIntyre says. “I could eventually even make this grow more, if I wanted to. I do want to work in [collaborations] with some other businesses, maybe, and I’ve already been talking to some people about doing some pop ups foodwise, or something with performances and working more in the community.” 

From cheeseburgers to cocktails, McIntyre brings his love of music and art to The Orion, in a place he says is “unique to any other place that I’ve ever been.”