In the midst of a pandemic, with few establishments open, kegged beer is hard to come by.
Thankfully for locals, the Public House of Yakima has been able to manage most consumers’ craft beer needs. Open for 13 months before the shutdown, Jim Williams’ Public House had been successful in providing a great cross section of craft beers from the Northwest and well beyond. Like the breweries that provide beer to them, they were deemed essential when the shutdown hit and were able to remain open for pick-up only — no indoor seating. People weren’t taking home full kegs, mind you, but 64-ounce growler after 64-ounce growler poured through the front door.
Asked how growler sales have changed in the age of COVID-19, Williams said, “They skyrocketed from the beginning.” It still didn’t make up for the loss of their consumption-on-premise sales (pre-COVID to June was a loss of 75%), but it was better than nothing.
When the paycheck protection program became available, Williams applied and received enough to help get some of his staff back to work. And work they did. A few of them stopped pouring beer and started pouring concrete. Williams knew if Yakima County could open up enough to sit outside, he would need the space.
The outdoor seating at Public House soon grew from 60 to a social-distanced 120, and with all the changes, they even gained 25 new parking spaces.
“We fenced in the grass area around the front side, and more than doubled our usable space,” Williams said. Public House always had a 40-beer tap system inside, but they added 12 to the back deck area. With the latest expansion, they built a new bar and tap system for eight additional handles and a grand total of 60 beers to wet your whistle.
When the county entered modified phase one on July 3, which allowed for outdoor seating, Williams knew his hard work was about to be rewarded. Since then, business has been booming. There is a heavy influx of new customers with the huge patio area as families are wanting to get out of the house again.
Williams said many appreciate the work and the new space. Not everyone is ready to be back among other groups, but the added taps for takeout is a great answer for them.
“At least 30% of our beers are what we consider local (Leavenworth to the Tri Cities), and people love having it in one place,” he said.
With Yakima’s touted 300 days of sunshine, you can bet the new patio area will be enjoyed well into the fall.