The wait for a new ale and cider house in the Willamette area is almost over.
The Willamette Ale & Cider House (WACH) is targeting September for its grand opening at 1720 Willamette Falls Drive, according to owner Ann Chay. WACH, which will fill the long-vacant former site of the Willamette General Store, will showcase cider, craft beer and wine along with "European deli-type food."
"All of the groundwork of construction is done, so they're just kind of doing the build out," Chay said. "There will be a taproom bar, inside and outside seating, but the back of the building is not open because of the zoning situation." The back half of the property is zoned for residential use rather than commercial.
By the time Chay and her 7Bev company arrived in the fall of 2016, the property had been vacant for about two years. The Willamette General Store, which had operated under several owners since 1915, closed permanently in 2014.
Chay said the aim is for WACH to be hyper-local, featuring her own Queen Orchard hard cider and cider wine — an "off-dry apple wine" — as well as an array of local craft brews from home brewers.
"So we're not only selling our own cider," she said.
The food, meanwhile, will take on a distinct European feel.
"It will be more of European deli-type food, not a huge restaurant type of menu," Chay said. A preliminary "Café Euro" menu online features items like spinach and artichoke dip, caprese and Reuben sandwiches and dessert options like chocolate stout cake. The food will be complemented by specialty coffee and non-alcoholic drinks.
The overall goal, according to Chay, is to create a new community hub and fill a noticeable void in West Linn's business district.
"We want it to be a family place, like the taprooms and breweries downtown (in Portland). Oregon City Brewing (Co.) — that's what we're hoping to bring to West Linn, because there's really nothing like it," Chay said. "There's a ton in Oregon City, so this would be the first one in West Linn."
Chay added that the construction process was slowed by a number of challenges associated with the building, including a sewage system that had to be redone.
"Things are taking longer than anticipated, but everyone is working well together, from the mayor to (City Manager) Eileen (Stein) and (Community Development Director) John (Williams)," she said. "And they are helping to possibly get (the zoning) changed back to general commercial, so we can open it up."
The City already agreed to a code change that would allow for the ale and cider house to come in, but has yet to take action on the proposed zoning change on the rear end of the property.
Chay noted that the residentially-zoned back end of the property features a koi pond that she hopes to keep while restoring other aspects to resemble how the building looked in the past.