Pfriem celebrates one year anniversary with expansion

Hood River’s new waterfront brewpub, Pfriem Family Brewing, will be nearly doubling in size just in time for its one-year anniversary.

At its June 4 night meeting, the Port of Hood River commission approved an intent to award a bid to Colton Construction for improvements to the Halyard Building on Portway Avenue.

The $191,000 contract calls for an expansion for Pfriem to increase its size for around 6,000 square feet to 10,000 and improvements on the exterior of the building.

According to Pfriem General Manager Ken Whiteman, the improvements will include expanded kitchen space, an enlarged production space to begin a bottling program, more storage space for sour beers and a larger keg cooler.

It will also allow pFriem to hire additional employees, bringing its total to 25, up from the 10 the company employed when it opened in August of 2012.

Pfriem was the Port’s first attempt at bringing a brick-and-mortar restaurant operation to the waterfront, and both sides were impressed with how well the arrangement has worked thus far.

“It’s gone significantly faster than we expected,” Whitman said the growth of Pfriem.

Pfriem’s success has led to the Port taking in other tenants who do not fit the conventional vision of Port’s being home for industrial uses.

Construction is under way on a separate part of the building to bring in energy food producer PocketFuel. In addition to producing its goods at the waterfront facility, the company will also be selling them.

When the building’s front steps are a hive of activity in the summer — from bicyclists whizzing by and the waterfront park across the street — beer and high-energy food would seem to be a natural fit.

McElwee said the success of Pfriem and the addition of PocketFuel — not to mention windsurfing gear turned lightweight panels for UAV’s manufacturer RealCarbon — were precisely the types of business the Port hoped would call the building home.

“The Halyard building was a speculative building,” McElwee said, meaning the Port built it without tenants already signed on.

He added that while “you never know who is going to come along and want to lease the space,” the three tenants of the building were a much better fit “than someone who makes widgets.”

The success of the Halyard building is leading to other projects and more potential tenants with different niches coming to the waterfront.

West of the Halyard Building at Portway and Anchor Way, a building on Lot 3, owned by Key Development, is in the process of bringing in tenants, which could include Solstice Wood Fire Pizza, which is currently based in Bingen.

As unlikely as it may have seemed a decade or two ago, Portway Avenue is becoming a place to be in Hood River.

It has even exceeded the expectations of the Port general manager, who never said he could have thought of Portway as a happening, crowd-drawing area.

“Never in my wildest dreams,” McElwee said.

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