THE CHANGING WEST END
“You got your gun?” she giggled. My friend was mostly joking, but twenty years ago, it wouldn’t have been a laughing matter to wander through the West End of Spokane at night.
We were heading to Andy’s, one of Spokane’s most Cheers-esque watering holes. (They may not know yours but they surely know my name) Going to Andy’s means navigating dark (very dark) streets and an endless maze of construction projects, through a part of town that the Spokesman-Review once deemed a “headquarters to vagrants and pigeons.”
It wasn’t always that way.
Let’s go way back to the economic panic of 1893. This era crumbled the fortunes of once-unstoppable families such as Glover, Browne, and Cannon. At that time, as the city rebuilt and recovered, a rush of mining and railroad men established their fortunes—hard. Before 1910, Spokane was rumored to have 26 millionaires. As the affluent neighborhoods of the South Hill and Browne’s Addition sprang up, the newly-established auto industry took its hold on the slice of property between the two, the area aptly titled “The West End”. Suddenly the promotional slogan “All Roads Lead to Spokane” began to make sense.
The area of town now home to Rocket Bakery, 4 Degrees Real Estate, and the aforementioned Andy’s became a bustling district of fast-talking auto dealers, blacksmiths-turned-mechanics, and wide-eyed new drivers enamored with the promise of a new life centered around the automobile. Wing-tailed Cadillacs and joyful smiles filled the streets. Hope was in the air. Flying cars, space travel, and a futuristic, Jetsons-style world were just around the corner.
Fast forward to the tail end of that same century, though, when the 80’s and 90’s brought crack and crime to the once-eminent area. While some Spokane neighborhoods bloomed in this era thanks to economic diversification, most Westenders were left behind, unemployed, to live under bridges and in skeletons of condemned buildings. Silver, timber, and agriculture prices plummeted, the recession hit hard, and the area became a bit of a nightmare. The West End was a destination for no one (unless you needed drugs).The aforementioned gun was merely a tool for business on the streets of Spokane’s own “Skid Row”.
It's time for change.
That reputation has stuck well enough that we still crack jokes about it, but that is all about to change. The smell of hops, er, I mean, hope is once again on the horizon for the West End. Enter revitalization. Enter entrepreneurship. Enter beer.
The Dish is proud to be the first to report one of the most exciting developments to come out of the West End since the boom of the early 20th century: Brick West Brewing. That endless construction we have all come to know and love (who loves the construction) actually has an end in sight—a complete revitalization of the area, which means another fantastic place to drink! Brick West is about to lead the charge back toward relevance. The West End is set to become not just desirable again, but downright sought after. Hell before you know it, the cars might just finally fly.
So, what do we know?
Well, Spokane knows founders Matt Goodwin and Jordan Tampien because Spokane knows Remedy, The Volstead Act, Backyard Public House, Fast Eddie’s, PRESS, 4 Degrees Real Estate, The Boiler Room, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseum. Brick West is a new venture from these entrepreneurs that will act as the cornerstone for the West Side’s facelift. The architectural gravitas, the neighborhood’s history, and the founders’ love of beer will prop all that surrounds the project.
This time around will be a family affair. Matt and Jordan (The same partnership that brought you the Backyard and the Boiler Room), have recruited the expertise of their respective brothers, Ryan and Joel, to build out the venture. Brewing will be headed up by Spokane native Joe Byers, who brings over a decade of experience, having cut his teeth as lead brewer at Tamarac Brewing (Montana), and as a brewing sciences instructor at Flathead Valley Community College.
Give us the DEETS!
While the founders sift through the details, a few definites guarantee a unique Spokane experience to future patrons. The historic Watts Automotive building will house the brewery and serve as the perfect location to restore that positive, optimistic spirit of the early automobile era. The building will be fitted with regal doors, opening up on what’s planned to be a gorgeous new park; they’ll even have what might become the best rooftop patio in the city. We find ourselves dreaming of an assemblage of delicious food trucks, local music festivals (fingers crossed for Elkfest), and a neighborhood crowned in the winter by a giant, illuminated Christmas tree. Most of all, we dream of extraordinary beer.
The West End is ready to drop its reputation as a tough place and become Spokane’s newest gem. The Dish team is excited to continue delivering updates on this developing Spokane wonder as they come across our desks. We will bring you along with us as we discover this exciting new addition. You can leave your gun at home; this is no longer the Skid Row days of yesteryear. Hope is alive and well on the streets of our beloved West End.