You’ve heard of nonprofit churches, museums and health organizations. But what about a nonprofit pub? Center Public House, the project of two craft beer enthusiasts with a passion for community, is exactly that.
Started by husband and wife Scott and Loni Wetzel, the pub is in its early stages of development and will likely open around March 2017 in downtown Snohomish.
Loni Wetzel said she and her husband first thought of the idea while driving home from Colorado about two years ago. They had been looking for a way to give back and had recently heard about Portland’s Oregon Public House, the first nonprofit bar in the United States.
“We really loved the idea,” Wetzel said. “It was just pulling on our heart strings.”
Wetzel said they had initially looked into opening the pub in the Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle, but decided on the Snohomish location after a friend showed them the space.
“I think this is where we’re supposed to be,” Wetzel said.
Wetzel and her husband are serious about building community. They plan to move from Arlington, where they live now, to Snohomish to be close to their new business. “We want to be within walking distance. We want to be a part of the community that we’re in,” Wetzel said.
The pub’s charity list will feature four to six fully vetted nonprofits. The charities will benefit causes including animal rescue, sex trafficking and the environment.
Customers will be able to choose which charity to donate to. That way, as Wetzel said, “You know that part of your money is going to something that you love.”
The pub will also have its own charity, which will benefit employees in the restaurant industry by providing marriage counseling and other kinds of assistance.
Because the pub is registered as a nonprofit, no proceeds will go back to the Wetzels. Employees will be paid and receive medical benefits, and Loni Wetzel will take a salary as the restaurant manager.
Before the pub can open, however, the Wetzels need to raise money. Their total goal is $500,000, but Wetzel said they will start construction on the building once they reach about $200,000. Donations can be made at centerpublichouse.com.
A lifetime membership in the Center Public House Founders Club costs as little as $500, which gets you one free beer per month for life. For $1,500 you get a beer per week and for $2,500 you get a beer per day. Straight donations are also accepted in any amount.
When it comes to food and drink, the Wetzels plan to go as local as possible. “Our goal is to do all local beer, ciders, house-made sodas and wine.”
They plan to have 15 beers on tap, plus at least a couple gluten-free options. In addition to local breweries and wineries, they will also support local farmers and ranchers.
Wetzel said she and her husband have already heard many positive reactions from people who find out about the pub. “People in the community, local business owners, even some of the local churches are excited about it,” Wetzel said, “It’s been more than we expected.”
According to Wetzel, the success of the Oregon Public House was one of the biggest reasons they had the courage to go all in. The Portland nonprofit was created in 2010 and has donated more than $84,000 to charities since then. The Wetzels were able to meet with the owner of Oregon Public House to get advice and ask questions. “They have been really helpful for us,” Wetzel said.
When asked what went into the name of the pub, Wetzel explained, “We see the Center Public House as a center of the community. A place where people can gather from all different walks. Not only that, but we envision it to be a central place of restoration as well.”