Well 80, a new brewery and restaurant on Fourth Avenue in downtown Olympia, is getting close to opening. Owner Chris Knudson says he is aiming for March 12 as the official opening of the long-awaited business next to Ramblin Jacks.
It’s been a long process, Knudson acknowledged, but he wanted to “do it right” before the doors open. Once they do, customers are bound to be impressed with the 6,500-square-foot interior, which will feature a brewery, bar and all-ages restaurant that plans to serve pizza, burgers and sandwiches, but with a unique twist, he said. The business, which Knudson calls a brewhouse, also will serve free popcorn with a variety of seasonings.
And hard to miss is the 1952 Olympia beer billboard that adorns one wall.
But let’s address the elephant in the brewhouse room: The beer. Knudson, working with head brewer Paul Pearson, previously of Fish Brewing Co., plans to brew beer using an ingredient that Olympia beer used to tout: Artesian well water. Downtown Olympia is home to 96 wells, and Knudson’s business just happens to occupy No. 80.
Knudson said when he began looking at property downtown and discovered the building at 514 Fourth Avenue E., he was unaware of the well — until he heard it.
“When I heard the well in the back of the building, it was a light-bulb moment for us,” he said.
The water will be used to brew beer. Pearson said the great thing about well water is that you don’t have to filter out chlorine found in typical tap water.
“The natural minerals are just right,” he said. “You don’t have to do much with it.”
The beers they plan to initially serve: A bock, a darker, sweet lager; India Pale Lager, a crisp and clear beer, but with the punch of an India Pale Ale; and the double rye IPA, with an alcohol content of 8.4 percent. The tentative name is “Tipsy McStagger,” Knudson said.
And in another homage to Olympia beer, Pearson, working with a former brewer at the Olympia beer plant in Tumwater, plans to produce the 1964 version of Olympia beer, calling it “Original lager, year ’64.”
Knudson isn’t new to the restaurant business. His father, Bob, bought into the Italian restaurant Casa Mia in 1982, then established locations in Olympia and Lacey, which the family continues to run. They also have five other locations that are operated as franchises. The original location in Hoquiam, which opened in 1952, is still open but has no connection to the Knudsons, Chris said.
In prepartion for opening, Well 80 held a recent hiring event and attracted 86 applicants to fill about 40 positions, Chris Knudson said.
▪ Owner: Chris Knudson, with head brewer Paul Pearson
▪ Location: 514 Fourth Ave. E., Olympia
▪ Years in business: New. Business is aiming for a March 12 opening.
▪ Employees: About 50, including management.
▪ Online: Find Well 80 on Facebook or at www.well80.com.
▪ Did you know? Chris Knudson is a co-owner of Casa Mia. His father’s business partner passed away about nine years ago and that share of the business was sold to him.