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Portland brewery eyes Astoria

ASTORIA, Ore — Breakside Brewery, one of the dominant player’s in Oregon’s craft beer industry, plans to open a location in Astoria.

The city confirmed the Portland-based business is discussing the logistics with city staff of opening an eating and drinking establishment — not a brewery — in a building that formerly housed the Astoria Co+op grocery store.

Breakside operates several taprooms and breweries in and around the Portland area. The new Astoria location would be just across the street from two established local breweries, Reach Break Brewing and Fort George Brewery, and a block over from Bridge & Tunnel Bottleshop and Taproom.

Clatsop County documents show local developer Paul Caruana and his business partners sold the building located on the corner of 14th and Exchange Street to Break for Beer LLC at the end of August for more than $1 million. The side of the building that contained the Astoria Co+op has been empty since the grocery store moved to a new, larger location off Marine Drive in 2019. Providence Heart Clinic North Coast has been using the other side of the building.

Filings with the state for Break for Beer LLC list Nathan Sasaki, executive director for APEX Real Estate Partners, as the registered agent. Scott Lawrence, founder of Breakside, is listed as a manager.

Filings with the state for Break for Beer LLC list Nathan Sasaki, executive director for APEX Real Estate Partners, as the registered agent. Scott Lawrence, founder of Breakside, is listed as a manager.

Sasaki and Lawrence are still figuring out ideas and concepts for the location. They have a pre-application meeting scheduled with city staff in October.

Sasaki told KMUN he has long been interested in buying buildings in Astoria. His father, since retired, was a doctor in the city and his brother currently works in private practice there, too.

Sasaki said the final result at the new Breakside location will be something the community will be proud of and it will fit in with the surrounding businesses. They would like to be open by the spring.

“We look forward to it,” Sasaki said, “and we look forward to being a further part of the community.”

Local breweries and beer-related businesses say they have been hearing word for some time about a potential Breakside taproom opening in Astoria.

“It was phenomenal having the co-op as neighbors right across the street,” said Josh Allison, the owner of Reach Break Brewery. “They brought a great sense of vibrancy, foot traffic — and really helped boost the community when they were here.”

Allison is happy to see another business poised to move in and believes Breakside will help bring more people to the business hub off Exchange Street. He’s not worried about the extra concentration of beer Breakside’s arrival will mean.

“I think it all is pretty collaborative and we kind of work together and feed off each other,” Allison said. “The more options that we have helps just refine the fact that Astoria is a prime craft beer destination.”

“A rising tide lifts all ships so, you know, one more spot in this little area downtown won’t hurt,” agreed Dwayne Smallwood, the owner of Bridge & Tunnel. “It will bring a few more people.”

But, he added, it is surprising to see someone, especially a business the size of Breakside, looking to open a satellite taproom in Astoria, relatively far from its own brewery operations.

A Breakside taproom would primarily sell Breakside beers, so Smallwood isn’t worried about a hit to his business. Bridge & Tunnel offers a diversity of labels and types of beer.

“So I’m not concerned,” Smallwood said.

But, he noted, it’s a tough hiring market on the North Coast right now. “I’m more concerned about how they’re going to find employees.”