Roots is a new establishment that had its grand opening May 18th in the Palisades Marketplace in Lake Oswego. This not-for-profit public house has interesting and unusual trappings, but is not unique in Oregon.
The Oregon Public House reviewed by Thebeerchaser in a 2015 post asserted that it was the world’s first non-profit pub when it commenced operating in 2013 and even got national publicity on their mission.
Shortly after that in 2014, Ex Novo Brewing, opened its doors claiming to be the country’s first nonprofit brewery.
“The nation’s first nonprofit brewery opened around the same time as the nation’s first non-profit beer pub in a rash of Obama-era do-gooderism, at a time when people could make a difference without braving tear gas. Even if you didn’t know these were pints with a purpose, you’ll love…..” (Willamette Week 3/2/17)
Now in these days of intense competition in the micro-craft industry, there are a lot of establishments that are not making a profit – albeit not intentionally – so let’s distinguish the objectives of the those above and the new Roots Public House in Lake O founded by Derek and Katie Abbott.
Their goal is to make a profit – just that whatever financial returns are derived, are directed to select charitable (or sometimes governmental) organizations. The model allows the patron to select the organization which garners the overage on his or her pint. (You place a token in the appropriate jar.) Katie Abbott said that the Oregon Public House (OPH) was an inspiration for their plans.
Roots has identified four areas in which their efforts are focused:
Education Hunger Arts Literacy
The four recipient organizations when we visited this month are below. These may change at some point in the future but will be restricted to local causes:
Lake Oswego School District Foundation Lakewood Theater
Tualatin Food Pantry Lake Oswego Library
Those who are suspicious or possibly have a cynical view of human nature, may dismiss this benevolence based on creative accounting. For example, do the owners get a substantial salary which would be considered an expense and deducted before the bottom line figure. Roots pledge is “We give 100% of our profits to local charities. You GATHER, we GIVE.”
OPH is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit while both Ex Novo and Roots are LLC’s which allows them to maximize deductions. Katie and Derek currently do not take salaries although all of their staff are obviously compensated – former Lake Oswego or Lakeridge High School students who are now college seniors or graduate students and work during the summer or part-time when school is in session.
Regardless of the manner in which they accomplish their motto – for OPH it’s “Have a Pint – Save the World”) and at Roots, it’s “Gather and Give” – Thebeerchaser’s position is that the individuals behind these establishments, even if taking a salary, are working for far less than they otherwise would be taking home in order to promote worthwhile philanthropic endeavors.
Katie and Derek Abbott have a good story – Texas natives who moved to Oregon in 2002 to complete graduate studies – they both have backgrounds in education and Derek is a math and AP statistics teacher at nearby Lakeridge High School where he has taught for fifteen years. Katie at one time worked for Marylhurst University. Falling in love with the Northwest, they decided to plant their Roots here.
A homebrewing hobby ultimately led to the desire to have their own pub. They built out the bar area (about 250 square feet) themselves including the attractive woodwork starting in April which “took us about six weeks to complete – generally two hours per evening and on weekends about five hours per day.”
Their are plusses and minuses to their location. The bar itself is tucked into a niche one sees to his left when walking into Palisades.
There are five tables and the bar has four seats to drink one of their beverages – a cozy environment but one which can also accommodate a community gathering.
Some pub enthusiasts might prefer not to have their favorite watering hole in a grocery.
Palisades Marketplace, however, is a cherished community store with long-term and friendly staff that has a tradition of supporting the community.
It has a great deli and bakery within shouting distance of the bar and an excellent selection of wines. Katie stated that they have been a great partner.
Besides, there are subtle, but practical advantages to picking up a growler of your favorite beer or just having a pint at the bar when you make the trip to pick up a quart of milk or the organic veggies you forgot for your stir-fry dinner.
Roots has an impressive lineup on tap for a small operation with14 diverse micro-crafts, two hard ciders, a hard seltzer, two wines, three Kombuchas and a few non-alcoholic offerings.
There is certainly a case to be made for Katie’s assertion, “We have the best selection of draft beers in the area.” And at $5 and $6 their pints are very reasonably priced. ($1 off at “Happiest Hours,” which are from 6:00 to 8:00). Don’t be surprised to see a special whenever you pop in including some nights when wine is featured.
Currently, their food selection at the bar itself is limited to snacks such as pistachios, chips and salsa, chex mic and Bratwursts. (However, remember you can get that corn dog or macaroni salad by walking a few feet to the deli…..)
I have to admit, Thebeerchaser will return for a Happiest Hour when a beer and a Brat can be rung up for only $10. Roots is open every day from 2:00 to 8:30 although they may cut back slightly during the winter months.
Janet and I joined our good friends, Michael and Pat Lammers, on a Saturday afternoon and I had one of my favorite IPA’s – Sticky Hands IPA (8.1%) from Block 15 Brewery in the great town of Corvallis.
Michael – a dark beer aficionado opted for the Great Notion Double Stack Imperial Stout notwithstanding that “…it is fermented with an irresponsible amount of maple syrup…” and it has an 11% ABV…
Janet and Pat both enjoyed a pint of the Breakside Sugar Cube Hazy IPA (5.6%) because they wanted to try a hazy brew and to assuage some of Michael’s guilt for the sugar consumption in his beer…..
Derek and Katie are striving to make their establishment a community gathering place with events such as trivia nights on Tuesday for which they have regularly drawn 30 to 45 people. It’s family oriented and minors are welcome.
They have also partnered with the Ceramics Dept. at Lakeridge for a “Plants and Pints Night” where for $20 participants consume their favorite beer, get a hand-made ceramic with a class taught by Nicole Forbes from Seven Dees Landscaping and chose the appropriate succulent plant to take home. All proceeds go to the school.
We were served by Sophie French, a delightful young woman who works at the pub during the summer while attending the University of Portland where she will be a senior and majors in Human Biology.
She is also a member of the notable UP Women’s Soccer Team and has had an outstanding record in both high school and intercollegiate soccer. Her one year at the University of Idaho, she made the Big Sky All-Academic Team.
Sophie and her twin sister, Lille according to a 12/3/15 article in the Lake Oswego Review “Twin Sisters Pull Off Rare Athletic Feat,” were well known for their diverse achievements in sports.
“Growing up, Lakeridge twins Sophie and Lillie French played virtually every sport that was available to them. There was basketball, soccer, swimming, water polo, baseball, softball, tennis and track in their childhood.”
And by the way, if you check out Roots’ website, which is very well done, don’t get confused in your Google search — there is a Root Public House in Flagstaff, New Mexico that looks interesting, but requires either a road trip or some airline tickets……
So how has the first three months gone for the two young entrepreneurs? In response to this question, Katie replied, “Well there hasn’t been one time when Derek and I both wanted to quit on the same day!!”
She stated that their intent is to expand to more locations so other communities have the opportunity to support their local community and share the fellowship a public house provides. This has been an ongoing faith journey for them. “We love the way this helps us give back to the community and the community has loved it to this point and given back to us.”
Regardless of whether you are running low on foodstuffs and need to resupply your pantry at Palisades Marketplace, you should make a point to hit this new venture. Show your support for this wonderful couple. They radiate enthusiasm and their efforts to “Gather and Give” and make their community and state a better place are commendable.
Besides, when doesn’t a Bratwurst fit into the plan……..?