The Dirt: New brewery’s home in Audubon neighborhood has long business history

April 28, 2019 GMT

A new brewery is coming to Spokane’s Audubon neighborhood, renovating a building that was long home to a string of grocery stores before becoming a popular “hattery” that specialized in making custom cowboy hats.

For the Love of God Brewing, 2617 W. Northwest Blvd., is taking part of the space most recently used by the Little Rascals Children’s Center, according to permits issued by the city. Much of the work is renovating the building’s interior, said Steve Moss, the brewer who owns the business with his wife, Dawn Moss.

“We demoed out everything that’s in there,” said Moss, noting that rafters and concrete block walls will remain exposed. Some interior framing is being installed, creating a common space apart from where the beer will be brewed. Inside, the building will have space for nearly 50 people, and an outdoor patio will have seating for an additional 20.

Moss, who worked in construction for 16 years, is doing the work on the project.

The taproom is expected to open sometime in July, and Moss said he’ll have up to eight beers on tap, plus small plates of food. Moss has been brewing beer for about six years and focuses on “fruited” and “adjunct” beers, which include fermentable sugars from sources other than malted barley, such as “cinnamon, lacto sugar, vanilla beans, and many other herbs, and natural flavors,” according to the brewery’s website.

“I don’t know if anybody in Spokane is doing quite what we are,” Moss said. “Whistle Punk is similar, but with the caveat that the majority of what they do is German-style.”

Other than downtown Spokane’s Whistle Punk Brewing, Moss said the best comparison is Great Notion Brewing and Barrel House in Portland, which he’s admired for years. For the Love of God’s website currently lists four beers ready to tap: First Fruits IPA, the Salt and the Light Gose, Through a Glass Dimly NEIPA and a Raspberry Cheesecake Sour.

The 1,150-square-foot building Moss is working on was constructed in 1929, when a streetcar still ran down the boulevard.

In 1930, the first full year the building was open, it housed a number of businesses, including Audubon Food Shop, Frank Michael’s Meats, Spokane Hardware Co. No. 5, Kraut shoe repair and a barber named V.R. Eichwald.

While other businesses changed over the years, including a rotating cast of barbers and dentists, the Audubon Food Shop remained for decades. As part of the Red & White chain of independent grocery stores, the small shop was independently owned but connected to the large Red & White distribution network to compete with the larger grocery stores, which were becoming more common.

In 1965, the food shop was replaced by the Audubon Garden & Hardware Store and the Audubon Thrift Store, a grocery store. By the 1980s, the Audubon Family Store, also a grocery store, was in the spot.

In 1986, the building was vacant except for the Pobody’s Nerfect Center and, in 1990, Mad Max’s Furniture.

In 1997, Wolf’s Hattery and Mercantile took the space, which operated there until 2011. According to a 2002 profile of the business, though the store carried “every lid but baseball caps – no top hats, this week – the broad-brimmed Gus favored by cowboys clearly tower over the subdued homburgs, Clark Kent fedoras, saucy bowlers and pugnacious oxfords on display.”

At its closing, a Spokesman-Review columnist said the “demise” of the hattery warranted “a word or two of eulogy,” noting, “This is no mere closure. This is the end of an era.” – N.D.

GSI headquarters undergoing $400,000 renovation

The first two floors of the Spokane Regional Business Center are undergoing major renovation, according to city permit data.

The work is being done by Greater Spokane Incorporated, the floors’ tenant, and the work is valued at $400,000.

Dale Damron, GSI’s vice president of finance and administration, said the work is a “refresh.”

“We’re just doing a refresh – making some bigger changes to our public places, our meeting rooms, in order to enhance and expand their use for ourselves and our membership base.”

The work will incorporate the organization’s new logo and tagline, “Together We’re Greater,” which in September replaced the old slogan, “Creating Something Better.”

GSI formed in 2007 when the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce merged with the Spokane Area Economic Development Council. The nonprofit has 1,200 members that employ about 100,000 workers.

Work on the project is happening in two phases. The first, which has gutted the first floor, will last through June. The second phase, which will occur on the second floor, will last until the fall.

The project’s contractor is Spokane’s Baker Construction. The architect is Mercier Architecture & Planning, also of Spokane. – N.D.

Tacos El Cabron food truck operator to open brick-and-mortar

The owner of food truck Tacos El Cabron is planning to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Spokane Valley.

Tacos El Cabron owner Erica Garcia has filed permits with the city to convert a 1,800-square-foot site formerly occupied by Granite and Kitchens For Less into a restaurant at 5704 E. Sprague Ave.

Garcia opened Tacos El Cabron last year as a food truck and operated it outside the building, which was used to provide additional seating for customers.

“It actually became too much for us,” she said, referencing the food truck. “We got way too busy, so we decided to close the food truck down and open up a restaurant.”

The restaurant is anticipated to open in July or August, Garcia said. – A.E.

Multitenant development planned on Barker Road in Spokane Valley

The owner of Liberty Lake Athletic Club has purchased 3 acres of land in Spokane Valley to build a multi-tenant development.

Grant Bafus filed plans with the city in March to construct three buildings totaling 25,000 square feet at the northeast corner of Barker Road and Appleway Boulevard.

Potential uses for the buildings include a “tunnel car wash, retail, dental office and a restaurant,” according to an application filed with the city.

Bafus purchased the site for more than $660,000, according to Spokane County Assessor’s Office records.

Spokane-based Baker Construction is the project contractor. – A.E.

Contact Nick Deshais at (509) 459-5440 or nickd@spokesman.com.

Amy Edelen may be reached at (509) 459-5581 or amye@spokesman.com.