A slight tinge of sadness echoed in Larry Pratt’s voice as he acknowledged that it’s time to pass the Salmon Creek Brewery & Pub on to new owners.
The business that Pratt, 66, and his wife, Ana, founded in 1994 has just been getting too hard to manage. So the couple plan to retire at the end of the week, he said.
“My body’s starting to wear,” Pratt said in his typically sparse New England cadence. “Sooner or later, all good things come to an end.”
Vancouver’s beer drinkers need not fret over the passing of downtown’s only full-service brewpub, though.
The new owners — David and Arlene Nunez from By the Bottle — said they have big plans to make the pub an even bigger hub for the city’s growing beer scene. That includes bringing in a new brewmeister, Tomas Munoz, a 20-year industry veteran who’s brewed at Pyramid and Red Hook, and adding a wider selection of Washington-made craft beers to the pub’s 25 taps.
“We’re going to serve 20-some-odd craft beers along with five of our own beers,” David Nunez said. “Our goal has always been to support local craft breweries here in Washington, and I see no reason why we wouldn’t include beers from (new Vancouver breweries) Mt. Tabor and Loowit to our list.”
The Pratt and Nunez families have been friends for more than a decade. So when David Nunez heard Pratt wanted to retire, he started thinking about ways to keep the pub — which is literally right next door to By the Bottle — open.
“There were other people interested,” Nunez said. “Some wanted to turn it into a wine bar or a sports bar or close the kitchen. But it’s our last real downtown brewpub. I thought, ‘You know what? I’m not going to let this die.’”
Pratt and Nunez declined to disclose the details of business revenues or the terms of the sale.
With a handful of new breweries opening in Clark County, and Vancouver’s first two brewfests coming this summer, Nunez thinks there’s plenty of room in the economy to support the pub.
“We’re really excited about it,” he said.
Splitting the duties, Arlene Nunez will continue to run By the Bottle, which sells bottles of specialty beer, and David Nunez will take over management of Salmon Creek. By the Bottle will also keep its tap room open for specialty beers from
around the state, the couple said.
Pratt has sold all of his brewing recipes to Nunez, and the pub probably will continue to serve some of his more popular styles, like Pratt’s citrus-flavored Hellas beer.
“They’ll decide what they’ll keep and what they’ll modify,” Pratt said. “I bet some of my beers will probably end up better.”
Pratt and Munoz have already brewed a few beers together in preparation for the change, and Pratt said he enjoys Munoz’s beer recipes.
“I’ve had his IPAs (India Pale Ales) before, and they’re good,” Pratt said.
Nunez also plans to completely redo the establishment’s menu and expand hours to include lunch service.
“We want to use local farmers and local ranchers for vegetables and meat,” Nunez said. “We want to produce great food and healthy food. We’re also going to include a good selection of vegetarian food, because it’s been so hard to find downtown.”
Hours are still up in the air, but Nunez expects the pub will be open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. He’s also planning specialty events where diners can experience various food and beer pairings.
“Beer’s our focus,” Nunez said. “We’re going to try to give those Portland people a run for their money.”
Salmon Creek will close for a few weeks after its final day of operation under Pratt on Saturday. Nunez plans to do some minor remodeling and hire six or seven workers before reopening in mid-May, he said.
Ana Pratt, well-known to many customers as the official greeter and hug-giver, said she’s happy her friends will be taking over the business.
“We’re very glad they bought it,” she said. “And I’ll still come in and visit. I’ll be here with a mug in one hand and a hug with the other.”
As a tribute to their customers, the Pratts plan to have a free nacho bar from 3 to 6 p.m. daily through Saturday. Food will be 25 percent off, and beer will be $3 a pint for all hours during the final days of operation, as well.
“We just want to say thanks to all our customers who supported us,” she said.
Salmon Creek Brewery & Pub
What’s new: Larry and Ana Pratt are retiring and have sold the business to Dave and Arlene Nunez of By the Bottle.
Location: 108 W. Evergreen Blvd., Vancouver.
Hours: 3 to 10 p.m. through Saturday. Reopening in mid-May with new hours, probably 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
Information: Salmon Creek Brewery & Pub or 360-993-1827.