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Originally published Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 5:11 PM

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Lost Lake Cafe works the late shift

The Lost Lake Cafe & Lounge on Capitol Hill caters to local stay-up-late artists.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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Went here for the first time last weekend, on the recommendation of a doorman at anothe... MORE

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Early Sunday, last call on the Pike-Pine corridor, and the shivering stiletto set are returning to their cars or stumbling home. Left here are the hard-core party-hardys and the very drunk, the bouncers and the bartenders just off the clock.

They’re out there. And they need a seat and strong coffee, a late dinner or an early breakfast.

The Lost Lake Cafe & Lounge is for them, a 24-hour diner with molded plastic chairs, Palm Springs diner aesthetics and bathrooms that channel the dreams of agent Cooper. Lost Lake is where the “Brady Bunch’s” den, Hopper’s “Nighthawks” and David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks” converge.

The party never seems to end here. It draws lots of folks with lots of time on their hands. It stops serving alcohol before 2 a.m. only to start up again at 6 a.m. with $2 beer specials.

For those who keep sane hours, there’s also a 4-6 p.m. happy hour, with a $2-$3 food-and-drink menu, one of the cheapest deals in the city.

The happy-hour cheeseburger and fries with all the fixings, a notch better than fast food, costs only $2.50.

There’s $3 deep-fried mac and cheese, deep-fried battered bacon with gravy, deep-fried cheese curds and other beer sponges. They sure like their deep fryer here.

The happy-hour food isn’t noteworthy, though it will taste better if you’re a little drunk. Or a little high. Or both.

Lost Lake is the latest project from Dave Meinert and Jason Lajeunesse. They were among the investors in the popular Big Mario’s Pizza nearby, a haunt that stays open until 4 a.m.

Meinert believes that muddled middle between late night and early morning is a gold mine.

His 24-hour diner works just as hard to look divy as new clubs work to look swanky. There’s great effort to paint a diner atmosphere right down to the old-school napkin dispensers and classic ketchup bottles. The restrooms’ color schemes are an homage to the dream sequences from “Twin Peaks,” including the black-and-white tiles in zigzag pattern.

It’s more rowdy on the left side of the diner — the bar area — where the lights are dim, the ’80s music is cranked up and patrons are snapping iPhone pictures of the stuffed black bear above.

A fun spot in the making, for sure.

But unlike Meinert’s other 24-hour dive — the 5 Point Cafe in Belltown — Lost Lake still lacks soul. It’s missing the ambience of scratch-off tickets and the late-night desperation. It’s missing the authentic caking of Salisbury steak specials and coffee spills.

Not to worry. I’ve seen enough drunk Seattle University students — one tater tot away from yacking on the diner floor during the wee hours — to know those stains will come soon enough.

Lost Lake Cafe, 1505 10th Ave., offers weekday happy hour from 4-6 p.m. with burgers and other bar food from $2.50 to $3 and beers and well drinks from $2 to $3.50. There’s a 6-9 a.m. weekday happy hour with drink specials only (206-323-5678 or http://lostlakecafe.com).

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @tanvinhseattleS

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