Over there, Cider reopens the garage bar while the Seattle City Council votes on the business bill for home users

Yonder Bar in Greenwood reopened its garage doors this week to serve thirsty residents in search of refreshing cider. More microbusinesses could soon follow suit if a bill to this effect is approved by the Seattle City Council next week.

Yonder Bar hit the headlines in early February when they were forced to close their walk-in retail facility due to complaints from a neighbor that the store was operating too close to a school and church.

The female-owned cidery didn’t open until July 2020, and the window was selling growler fillings and cans to be consumed off-site.

These walk-in window models, which limit guest and staff contact, were successful during the food restrictions, and Yonder’s owners claimed that in the face of the pandemic that resulted in over 90 bars and restaurants in the city being permanently closed, the model was best suited for their business.

“We know Yonder Bar is different, but so do the times we live in,” wrote the owners.

While the angry neighbor got his wish by seeing the garage latch, the forced closure proved extremely unpopular with neighbors and residents. Over 4,100 residents signed a petition to the city to allow Yonder to reopen and bring the legality of these domestic businesses into the jurisdiction of the city council.

Later that month, Councilor Dan Strauss and Council Chair Lorena Gonzalez introduced the Bringing Business Home bill to the Land Use and Neighborhood Committee, which aimed to relax land use restrictions and provide more flexibility for micro-businesses operating out of households or garages.

On a tentative basis, the bill would suspend these rules for domestic businesses:

  • Customer visits are only possible by appointment
  • There is no evidence that the home business is visible from the outside of the structure
  • No more than two people who do not live in the building are allowed to work in a home shop
  • The home business must not cause a significant increase in street parking congestion or a significant increase in traffic in the immediate vicinity.

The bill was passed 4-1 on Wednesday by the committee, with Councilor Alex Pedersen in opposition. A full committee vote will take place on March 15th.

“We need to ensure that our land use code is able to respond to the crisis that small businesses are facing as a result of COVID-19,” Strauss said during a committee meeting on Wednesday. “This legislation recognized that our code has not kept pace with the business owner’s creativity and drive.”

While the closure of Yonder’s garage bar may have triggered the bill, Strauss said there are other businesses in his own district that are not currently working from home.

Pedersen expressed concerns that the possibility of more private businesses failing to comply with city regulations would create competition with pre-existing small businesses that are forced to comply with city regulations.

“The proposed changes will allow retail, food and beverage businesses to multiply across the city, with, in my opinion, affecting existing small businesses that are struggling to reopen and reopen in our many neighborhood business districts set too little consideration. ” Said Pedersen.

Strauss said the Phinney Neighborhood Association, Yonder’s neighboring business district, supported the bill.

While Yonder has reopened its retail space, they’re soon going to get bigger and better too: Embroidery announced it will open a new taproom in Ballard later in 2021 in partnership with Yakima’s Bale Breaker Brewing.

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