I recently wrote about plans by HopTown Wood Fired Pizza to move into the former Donald Fruit & Mercantile building in Wapato.
Judging by the number of people who shared the story, there’s a lot of excitement about the business’s new home.
HopTown’s move into the Lower Valley is also great news for the local wine industry, including several wineries located minutes from the property at 2560 Donald Wapato Road.
Wineries get a lot of questions about where to eat, said Barb Glover, executive director of Wine Yakima Valley, a local trade organization that provides marketing for the wine region.
Most often, wineries send visitors to what Glover call the “bookends” of the wine region, namely Yakima or the Tri-Cities.
But that’s slowly starting to change. In the last few years, a number of restaurants have popped up throughout the Yakima Valley wine region. Some area wineries, such as Treveri Cellars and Owen Roe, have filled the void by featuring mobile eateries, but that’s no replacement for the convenience of having a full-service restaurant, Glover said.
HopTown will be “easy and accessible,” she said. “The proximity of that location (to wineries) up and down the Valley is huge.”
Indeed, the new restaurant will be just 10 minutes from Yakima and 10 minutes from the cluster of wineries farther south in Zillah. It’s also about 5 minutes from Treveri Cellars and Owen Roe, located just north of the Donald Fruit & Mercantile building.
Contributing to the region’s tourism was appealing to the restaurant, said co-owner Carrie Wright. One idea that Wright and co-owner Lori Roy are working on is coming up with a bicycle route that would have stops at the restaurant and nearby wineries and breweries.
Wright also looks forward to working with local wineries to attract visitors.
Julie Grieb, co-owner and general manager at Treveri Cellars, is no stranger to HopTown and its pizza — HopTown has catered a few events at the winery.
She often finds that visitors are looking for a place to eat either right before they head farther down the Yakima Valley or at the end of the day when they’ve finished visiting the wineries.
“We’ll have plenty of opportunities to refer (HopTown) to our guests,” she said.
And to give an idea of how many referrals Grieb could give: She estimated that during the Labor Day weekend — Saturday to Monday — a couple thousand people visited the tasting room.
In addition, many of these visitors are eager to take in the full wine experience, which includes food, she said.
“People are really excited to eat where they’re enjoying themselves and eating food from around the area,” Grieb said.
• Mai Hoang’s Reporter’s Notebook is published on Mondays. To reach her call 509-759-7851 or reach her at email@example.com.