Yesterday The Oregonian reported on the troubles of the 15th Avenue Hophouse, the upcoming 2nd location from the owners of the Hawthorne Hophouse that is coming soon to 1517 NE Brazee (I reported on the new location here). Apparently owner Leah Lockwood and her husband are having trouble with their neighborhood association just outside of Hollywood. I was pretty surprised to hear this, considering that the Hawthorne Hophouse has a pretty solid reputation for being a friendly neighborhood spot for the family, whether you like it or not. According to the Oregonian article, neighbors seem to think it would be a disturbance and are concerned about noise and live music. This is very strange, since the Hawthorne Hophouse only has unamplified live music a couple of days a week.
|Photo by Larry Bingham - The Oregonian|
Whether you are a fan of the Hophouse or not, it is known for being a clean family friendly pub that centers on local beers from small and nano-breweries and classic pub grub. It's hard to see a location in the upper class Irvington neighborhood as a bad thing. The 15th Avenue Hophouse is hoping to open on 15th and NE Brazee in the same small retail strip as Foster & Dobbs, a high-end wine and cheese shop, in the old home of Mio Gelato. It seems to be a good fit in a family neighborhood, adding a much needed laid back vibe, but the owners have been inundated with locals complaining that they do not want to walk their kids past a bar. Mio Gelato had a beer and wine license themselves, but the Hophouse chose to not continue it and apply for a new one that included liquor, which seems to have triggered a review. While the Hophouse does sell liquor, it only accounts for about 5% of its sales on Hawthorne, and it's clearly emphasized as a beer stop with food secondary and wine and liquor a distant 3rd and 4th. Fitting for the neighborhood, the 15th Street Hophouse plans to have Oregon Pinot Noir Sangria with Brandy on tap, too. (More about this on the Hophouse blog from back on June 10th.)
Since issues have been brought up the city has stepped in to mediate and has enacted a Good Neighbor Agreement that the owners of the Hophouse gladly signed, guaranteeing closing by 11pm, limiting live music, and closing outdoor seating by 10pm, but it's not enough for some board members intent on handpicking businesses that meet their standards for a neighborhood they claim to be worth more than the Alameda hood (the property next door to the retail center is supposedly valued at $2.2 million). Again, I wonder what this has to do with this business? One has to wonder if a pub centered around beer would face similar opposition, as if it's the liquor license that has enacted some sort of outdated stigma. A campaign against the business spearheaded by Dean Gisvold, chair of the Land Use Committee, submitted a petition signed by 20 or so to the Irvington Neighborhood Association after going out of their way to cover the hood with over 200 flyers against the pub. The petition went through the Irvington Neighborhood Association and a resolution against the Hophouse was passed, which then led to a letter writing campaign from its supporters. Now the city has had to bring in several employees to mediate the issue, with the owners agreeing to the good neighbor requests. According to The Oregonian article, the city is siding with the Hophouse and hopefully will be recommending approval of their OLCC license, but you have to wonder if this has not been a waste of cash even if its really finished. Even that assumption is questionable, according to owner Leah Lockwood, who has no knowledge of a stamp of approval going through as of yet.
Though I am in favor of neighborhoods having a say in what businesses go into their area (i.e., Wal-Mart), this seems like a classic example of pre-conceived bias against a beer bar. I welcome an opposing opinion.