By the Bottle heading next door

Vancouver beer store is moving into part of Salmon Creek Brewery and Pub

By Sue Vorenberg, Columbian features reporter

Published:

 

The bar is gone, with wood and levers lined up against the wall at what was once By The Bottle's taproom in downtown Vancouver.

Bottles, boxes and refrigerators will follow soon as the bottle store, arguably the core of the Vancouver beer scene, continues preparations to pare down and move next door into what was once the banquet room at Salmon Creek Brewery and Pub at 108 W. Evergreen Blvd.

Arlene Nuñez, owner of the store, couldn't reach an acceptable lease agreement with the landlord, she said, so she decided to move the business one door down into part of the brew pub owned by her husband, David Nuñez.

She has to have everything out by Halloween night, about a month after the parties realized they couldn't come to an agreement, she added.

"If you had asked me how I felt about this a month ago, I would have had a completely different answer," Nuñez said. "I went from bitter to bittersweet, and today, aside from all the logistics and semantics of having to move, I'm really looking forward to the future."

The business closed on Friday but will reopen soon, she said.

Phil Schofield, of the property management company Schofield Group, said he was sad that he couldn't reach a deal with Nuñez.

"We hate to see them go, but it's purely a business decision," Schofield said. "They've been great tenants."

It's a done deal, though, and both David and Arlene Nuñez said in some ways, it may be a blessing.

"We'll have our beer store right here, and we'll continue to sell a great selection," David Nuñez said. "Our taproom from By The Bottle is gone, but at Salmon Creek we have 26 taps. Our businesses are still separate, but there's a great synergy in having them this close to each other."

They also saved a bit of money on the rent, he said.

The brewpub and bottle shop will share a common patio, so in the summer customers from both locations will have a place to try a variety of beers while sitting outside.

Arlene Nuñez is also planning to reinvent her shop through the move, she said.

"It's going to be completely reorganized," Arlene Nuñez said. "We won't be bigger and better, we'll be smaller and better. We're going from stocking about 600 beers to about 500 beers because of the space."

When the store reopens -- probably in mid-November -- Nuñez plans to put a larger focus on beers that have been cellared. High-alcohol beers and barley wines change flavor and can improve after a few years of storage, and she has several that she's been preparing since she first opened the shop in 2006.

"That program's going to have legs," she said. "I'm encouraging people to share their reviews with us."

She also wants to offer some light food and sample flights of different beer styles -- for instance, a Belgian beer flight paired with Belgian chocolate, she said.

"We're going to reorganize our pricing structure, too," she said. "We want to give people a reason to go to both businesses."

The bottles will be lined up and sorted along one wall, turning the establishment into a sort of "library of beer," she added with a smile.

The focus, as it has been for some time, will be on providing rare craft beers, including many that are locally produced.

"My feelings today are really of great positiveness," Arlene Nuñez said. "We would never have guessed when we took over Salmon Creek earlier this year that By The Bottle would end up in the banquet room. But this is a ticket to reinvent ourselves in a better way."