By the Bottle owner turning beer shop into event space

By Brooks Johnson, Columbian Business Reporter

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A successful business is a dream come true. But it doesn’t have to be a recurring dream.

“You start to think what else is out there, and you want to get challenged in new ways,” said Arlene Nunez, owner of Vancouver’s By The Bottle for the past 10 years.

Faithful craft beer buyers may have noticed a reduced inventory and odd hours in recent months as Nunez reinvents her business for its next chapter. Say goodbye to By the Bottle, and hello to the Evergreen Room.

“This is going to be Vancouver’s private taproom,” said Nunez, whose “husband-by-day, business-partner-by-night” runs Old Ivy Brewery and Taproom next door.

She calls the change a win-win for her, the business and the city: “The pub gets its banquet room back, and I get a new job. And Vancouver needs a small banquet space that’s affordable.”

With a grand opening set for early October, the Evergreen Room and its patio will be available to rent for business lunches, birthday parties or just private beer tastings, with a catering menu and Old Ivy beers on tap and bottles to buy.

“Basically it’s an event space — it’s a banquet room — but I’m calling it a private taproom,” Nunez said. “Of course, there’s going to be a beer aspect to the space itself. I want to remain in the beer culture.”

By the Bottle started in 2006 next door to its current location at 108 W. Evergreen Blvd. When she opened, there wasn’t much of a local beer scene in Vancouver. Quite the opposite is true today.

“My mission 10 years ago was to bring craft beer to Vancouver,” Nunez said. “For me — the bottle shop concept — I don’t want to say it’s run its course, but for me personally, I need a change.”

A few years ago, her bottle shop moved into what was then the underused banquet space for Old Ivy. But in that short time, an increase in demand for small venues prompted Nunez to broaden her scope.

“We were turning too many people down,” she said.

As the business changes scope, Nunez won’t completely abandon her original plans to provide hard-to-find microbrews. In the future, the beers she sells will just be harder to find anywhere else, and the selection will be pared back.

Last week the changes were already evident, with fewer coolers, new paint and an air of excitement as Nunez prepares her new venture. To help build the private taproom, she’s launched a crowdfunding effort at indiegogo.com, where a portion of donations will be sent to area nonprofits. Perks for those who donate include admission to a private cider tasting and a pumpkin beer tasting this fall.

With some events already booked — go to bottledbrews.com to check out current pricing and menu options — Nunez is poised to keep bringing craft beer to Vancouver, just in her own new way.

“I hope I can stand here in the next 10 years and ask, did I do what I sought out to do? I hope the answer is yes.”