Peter Johndrow Represents Bellevue Brewing Company in Leasing Space at Evergreen Center
October 10, 2011
September 22, 2011
Bellevue man shifts focus from real estate to start new brewery
By KATIE ZEMTSEFF
Journal Staff Reporter
Photos courtesy of Bellevue Brewing Co. [enlarge]
Early next year, Bellevue will get its first locally owned craft brewery when Bellevue Brewing Co. opens its doors. The company recently leased 12,000 square feet in the Bel-Red Corridor.
The brewery will be in Evergreen Center at 1820 130th Avenue N.E., Suite 2.
Today, the space is empty — and cavernous. When the brewery opens in mid-January, the space will be divided into a 6,000-square-foot, 20-barrel brewhouse and a 5,000-square-foot, family-friendly taproom. Taproom visitors can visit the brewhouse and drink beer there when it is not in operation.
John Robertson is the founder and managing member of the brewery, and the brains behind the project. Robertson said he has a long history in real estate and founded Robertson Capital Corp. in 1997. The business provides funding of $2 million and above to commercial real estate projects nationwide, but when the market turned in 2008, Robertson realized he needed to make some changes.
“It's a lot less fun now. It feels a lot more like work,” he said. “Everybody wants to have more fun in what they do and this is a way I can do that. Make some money and with that money do some things that are really important to us and do some good in the community.”
Robertson said he wants to spend more time around people who are smiling and enjoying themselves, rather than people who are negotiating basis points.
BBC will brew four signature beers, seasonal beers and one brewer's series beer each quarter. It will start with ales and then add lagers. The team has considered creating an IPA, ESB, a stout and Scotch ale.
There also will be two guest taps, for a total of eight beers on tap.
The taproom will have three hospitality rooms that businesses can rent, a large L-shaped bar, multiple video monitors and a 22-foot projection screen. There will be free Wi-Fi. Food will simple and organic, and Washington wines will also be served. Live music is planned periodically.
Peter Johndrow of Wallace Properties represented BBC in leasing its space.
The idea for the brewery began in 2009 when Robertson got together for a beer with an old friend, Scott Hansen, founder of Leavenworth Biers, which is now part of Fish Brewing. They noted there was no local brewery in Bellevue and talked about starting one. The conversation led to Robertson forming the company in January of 2010. Now, they have a space and are getting ready to open. Hansen is chief operating officer.
JPC Architects is designing the space and RBI Construction is the general contractor. Both are based in Bellevue.
Al Triplet, the original head brewer at Redhook, chairs the advisory board, and Todd Malloy, formerly of Firestone Walker Brewing Co. of Paso Robles, Calif., is head brewer.
Robertson said building a craft brewery in Bellevue is a natural fit because there's huge demand for craft beer on the Eastside.
The team is excited for its taproom, which will be similar to a wine tasting space where visitors can learn about the brewing process. It will not be an organic brewery but will use organic ingredients whenever possible.
The brewery will also participate in charitable work for children. Robertson said BBC will donate beer for other nonprofits' events, and hold its own charitable events. A portion of every dollar spent at BBC will go toward giving a needy child in the community help in personal safety, health care and education. Robertson said he believes society needs to invest more in children for the future.
BBC is about beer but it's also about community and Bellevue's future, he said. Robertson grew up in Bellevue, and said he loves the city, but he said Seattle overshadowed it economically for a long time. He said Bellevue has come into its own in the past decade and continues to shed its image of “richy-rich streets paved with gold” as more people understand how it is changing.
He said Bellevue today is much more diverse, with 41 percent of its population born outside the U.S.
Robertson said Bel-Red Corridor is the next hot sub-market in Bellevue. Downtown serves its purpose, he said, but its stores are the same as those in any big city. He said Bel-Red Corridor is Bellevue's chance to create a walkable, livable, unique space with local, mom-and-pop stores.
“I think the Bel-Red Corridor is Bellevue's opportunity to get it right,” he said. “We'd like to be part of that growth and definition.”
Robertson isn't quite sure how his schedule will change over time. Initially, he will work more on the brewery than his real estate business, but eventually he wants both entities to be successful.
“I want to do something nice in the community,” he said. “Beer's been bringing community together for 8,000 years. It has a good shot at creating cultural cohesiveness here.”
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