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Couple to open community gathering space in downtown Ridgefield in July

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Local musician Matt Brown performs at a recent open house event at The Neighborhood Refuge in Ridgefield. The pub is expected to open on the Fourth of July.
Local musician Matt Brown performs at a recent open house event at The Neighborhood Refuge in Ridgefield. The pub is expected to open on the Fourth of July. (PHotos by Joshua Hart/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD — Renee and Justin Serface recently bought the little white church in downtown Ridgefield at 113 South Main Ave. to create a community gathering space. They plan on having a grand opening on July 4 to coincide with downtown Ridgefield’s Independence Day celebration.

Locals have gathered at this property ever since Henry and Stephen Shobert built the first part of this historic space in 1884 to house the Union Ridge Presbyterian Church. Additions were added in 1907 and 1927, according to new owner Renee Serface. Serface’s husband, Justin Serface, is a licensed contractor. He left his job as a public works supervisor at the city of Vancouver to focus on this dream project.

The couple want to renovate the building in a way that respects its historic character but allows for new uses. Justin Serface plans on reclaiming materials from the site, like the original wood planks he carefully preserved to use in renovating the oldest part of the space.

The building will host events and have multiple bars to serve attendees. On the main floor, cozy little spaces inspired by the snugs found in Irish pubs will be built for people to enjoy their cocktails while reading books and perusing old yearbooks. Renee Serface is currently seeking yearbook donations to build up the Refuge’s library. Downstairs, patrons will find a swanky whiskey and cigar bar with storage for whiskey bottles, elegant leather furniture, and drinks served in Waterford crystal glasses.

The biggest addition to the property will be on the outside, overlooking the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge: a timber-framed, 1,400-square-foot heated patio and an outdoor event space with tiered seating, fire pits, an outdoor stage, and several food trucks that will fill this currently empty spot.

“The outside is going to be warm enough that we won’t freeze our butts off,” said Renee Serface.

An indoor commercial kitchen will be added near the outdoor space. The couple are currently seeking food truck vendors and a professional chef.

“We’re looking for the best of the best,” said Renee Serface. She will add her own charcuterie truck. “I love charcuterie,” she said. “If I was drinking a cocktail, I’d like a charcuterie board.”

The Neighborhood Refuge will add innovative ways to serve its patrons. An app for people boating nearby to order food for delivery to their boats will be offered. Golf carts will be used to bring visitors from their parking spots to the venue.

The response from the city of Ridgefield and the community has been encouraging.

“Everyone’s so excited about it. I thought I would get some kickback because I’m renovating a church, but there’s not been a word about that,” said Renee Serface. Ridgefield City Manager Steve Stuart has been supportive and helpful. Mayor Don Stose stops by regularly to check in.

“Community leaders are rallying to help us get this project done,” Serface said.

The Neighborhood Refuge could also attract some tourists. The property owner next door plans on offering a housing rental through Airbnb. The Old Library Inn across the street is currently listed on that website.

In addition to the events planned for the venue, the area offers boating, kayaking, fishing, and the nearby ilani casino.

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