The Burke-Gilman Trail is some 27 miles of cyclist delight. Starting in Ballard, it runs all the way to Kenmore, according to the Seattle Parks Department – and the Sammamish Trail picks it up for biking to Woodinville and Redmond. It’s a lovely ride to wine country, and a well-traveled one.
The City of Kenmore recognized that the Burke-Gilman was a major arterial for commuter traffic, according to Nancy Ousley, assistant city manager. Kenmore even conducted an observational study of the traffic on the trail, estimating 100 cyclists in the morning and 300 or so in the later afternoon. This traffic was a source of revenue to be tapped.
“A few years ago we had an economic strategy meeting and one of the things that came out of it was to try and attract a few more microbreweries to Kenmore,” Ousley said. “I myself always thought Woodinville was highly associated with the wine industry and always felt that Kenmore’s vibe was more in tune with microbreweries.”
To that end, the city has worked to make an area of Kenmore in the vicinity of 73rd Avenue NE and the Burke-Gilman Trail more attractive to light industry and artisanal-type businesses. One of the changes made to specifically target microbreweries was to change the requirement for a conditional use permit for light manufacturing to allowing outright use without the permit.
Currently, there are two breweries in the area – 192 Brewing Company’s Lake Trail Taproom and Nine Yards Brewery. Another brewery, Cairns, will be opening up in early 2016 across from the other two on 73rd Avenue NE. All three of these business consider the Burke-Gilman a resource and substantial contributor to their businesses.
“It’s a huge factor in the success of our business,” Derek Wyckoff, owner of 192 Brewing, said. “I wanted to create a community-minded restaurant with the relaxing environment of hanging out in the neighbor’s backyard.”
The two open businesses estimate anywhere from 50 to 90 percent of their business is cyclists from the Burke-Gilman during the spring and summer when the sun is out. During the cooler and wetter times of year it drops substantially.
Nine Yards Brewery has even installed an indoor bike rack and lockers for its patrons. Ethan Savaglio, co-owner of the brewery, doesn’t want people off the trail having to worry about their bikes being outside or their stuff being in the way.
“It’s great to be given or have a place to lock up your bike, but what’s even better is if it is in sight,” Savaglio said. “If it rains you don’t have to put grocery bags on your seat. It’s just kind of a bummer when you have to do that.”
Bill Boyd of Cairn Brewing said that cyclist impact is seasonal, but noted that 192 Brewing and its taproom serve as a good example of a brewery benefiting from the Burke-Gilman. If next year’s summer is similar to this year’s summer it may be a very nice summer for breweries and cyclists.
Boyd’s plans for Cairn’s is to make it into a destination brewery – a place where people will have to come to purchase the beer – and said that having multiple breweries in the area only makes it more of a destination.
“Our taproom will be amongst the brewery and equipment,” Boyd said. “It’s going to be very much the feel of coming in and sitting in the middle of the brewery and enjoying your beer.”
Whether the Kenmore breweries are the destination or part of the journey is open to speculation. With features like a nearby Park & Ride it is a simple thing to start a bike ride from Kenmore, but then cyclists start their trips from other parts of the Burke-Gilman and they don’t always end at a brewery.
“Every variation of the bike ride happens with folks at the brewery,” Savaglio said. “I have people that start their ride there, sometimes they are meeting a group there, and sometimes they have had a beer and I ask them if they want another beer and they’re like ‘No, I’m off to Woodinville’ or ‘No, I’m on my way to Freemont, we just came from Woodinville.’”
Wherever they are coming from and wherever they are going, cyclists are good for the budding breweries of Kenmore.