Ice Harbor Brewery’s ambitious plan to relocate its flagship brewpub will see the beloved beer maker become an anchor tenant for a downtown Kennewick redevelopment.
Owners Mike Hall and Bill Jaquish are working hard preparing to move their base of operations in time for summer. The brewery has been named the Tri-Cities’ favorite by Herald readers nine years in a row, and they want to offer customers a new experience in 2022.
Ice Harbor will be moving into the old juice processing facility in downtown Kennewick. The building opened in 1952 as a Welch’s juice plant, and was most recently occupied by J. Lieb Foods.
They’ll be one of two major tenants in the redevelopment, with the Public Market at Columbia Warehouse on the main floor of the same building. The market is on track for a spring opening.
Jaquish estimated Ice Harbor will be investing about $400,000 into renovating their part of the new facility and for moving costs.
“This will be a step up in both size and the overall experience, but it’ll still have that tie to old downtown and the history of the area,” Jaquish said. “It’ll have the same environment and the same vibe. We hope to continue down here for a long time.”
Jaquish said they have a tight schedule for the move, hoping to shift brewing operations within the next few months and welcome patrons to the new brewpub by summer.
“We’re shooting for May, it’s an ambitious schedule, but we think it’s possible,” he said.
Hall said Jaquish is taking the lead on renovating the new site, and work already has begun on the interior. They don’t expect it to look too different from the industrial look of the current facility or their flagship location, which was an old grain mill.
“There’s a lot of history in this building, and we’re trying to learn more about that and share that with people,” Jaquish said, standing inside the new site. “A lot of these finishes will stay as they are, we like that industrial look. Anything else probably wouldn’t look right in here.”
By far the most complicated part of the move will be relocating their brewing equipment.
They’ve already worked out a plan to kick up production to begin brewing enough inventory to last while they transfer their equipment.
“The biggest part of it is to work the logistics so that we brew enough beer at the old plant, and have it in cold storage while we’re shut down to move everything over here,” Jaquish said. “The new cold storage will be full, I’m guessing we’ll have close to 60 barrels on hand by the time we get ready.”
He estimates that they’re about two months out from beginning to move equipment, so brewing for the backstock will begin soon.
Hall said that expanded cold storage area was one of the most important factors in deciding to make the move. Once they’re up and running at the new location, they plan to take a look at options for expanded their brewing operations. They don’t have details on what that expansion could mean, just yet.
Their beer can currently be found regionally, east of the Cascades. Their distribution range stretches from Yakima in the west to Pullman and Spokane in the east, and bars and retailers in between.
They offer a variety of beers, many with Tri-Cities-related names, such as its Columbia Kölsch, Runaway Red Ale, Sternwheeler Stout, Dust Cloud IPA and Hop Warrior.
Building a brand
When considering their next steps, staying in downtown Kennewick was a priority. Despite their growth over the past two decades, they never considered leaving the Tri-Cities.
“We started really small, originally we just did individual small tastes and we sold growlers to go,” Jaquish said. “It was pretty small, humble beginnings and we’ve come a long way.”
Hall and Jaquish were workers at the Hanford site when they began brewing in 1997. After seeing the demand for their beers, they opened the downtown pub in 2004.
Ice Harbor at the Marina followed in 2007 on Clover Island. They bill the Marina location as an upscale dining experience with a fuller menu, full-service bar and the same popular brews. The move of their downtown location won’t impact operations at the Marina.
Room to grow
Jaquish said the Benton Street location has served them well for more than 15 years, but they had long outgrown the space.
Hall and Jaquish do not own the Benton Street building, and will be ending their lease there once the move is complete.
At about 14,000 square feet, the processing plant is double the size of their Benton Street brewery.
They’ll be taking over what was once a cafeteria area for workers, and the large cold storage warehouse.
Because it was once a dining and rest area, the front of the house is ideal for renovating into a bar and restaurant. It already has a dedicated kitchen and cold storage, in addition to plenty of storage space and room for dining.
They just need to bring it up to date, and put their own touches on the space.
He said the kitchen is almost three times larger than their current facility, and the cold storage will provide them double the room to brew.
They’re also gaining enough room to comfortably accommodate 120 customers inside, double the occupancy of their current space. They also have big plans for the spacious outdoor area.
“We want to make it so people can come in (and hang out), it seems like our trademark is people can stay as long as they want,” Jaquish said. “It’s very much a social environment. We have people who come in and spend a lot of time with friends and enjoy catching up on things and meeting new people.”
Hall said the menu will initially be largely the same, but with room for additions. They plan to bring on three to four more servers and extra kitchen staff to manage the larger area.
They’re also excited for the new outdoor area, which will offer significantly more space for customers to enjoy during nice weather.
“We’ll have room for a lot more people outside. We’ll open in May so the weather will be good,” he said. “We just hope more people will come in and enjoy being part of the old downtown Kennewick.”
They’ll be occupying a large portion of the second floor of the main process building, at 10 E Bruneau Ave. When looking at the plant from Washington Street, it’s the building that currently has the large J. Lieb Foods sign.
They see the move to the old juice processing plant as the beginning of an opportunity to be part of a major new redevelopment. The plant sits on 7.5 acres, with 210,000 square feet across five buildings. That’s more combined space than an average Walmart Supercenter.
“I think that we’ve developed a community that we enjoy being a part of and enjoy giving back to,” Jaquish said. “We love being part of the continued growth of downtown Kennewick, I think there’s a lot to offer here. We want to be part of (the) development of this whole property, to be an anchor to bring others in to make this place a destination.”
While their new spot is technically on the second floor, the building sits on a slope so the entrance is actually up just a short set of stairs or ramp.
They’ll be joined on that floor by an as-yet-unannounced event venue and commercial kitchen.
The main floor will be the Public Market at Columbia Warehouse.
That market will come in at 60,000 square feet, which is roughly the size of grocery store like the Safeway on Kennewick Avenue, and have room for up to 140 vendors.
The market will be open Friday through Sunday and expects to launch with vendors such as a coffee shop, produce sellers, artists and homes good vendors selling items such as decor, antiques, candles and specialty foods.