Jeff Sexton

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An Open Letter to Laurelwood Brewing

Laurelwood -

First of all, congratulations on the new location on Sandy. I have no
doubt that this will prove to be a good choice for business expansion.

I am what you'd call a beer snob, and myself a brewer. And I have long
enjoyed the food and beer selection offered by Laurelwood. The beers are
outstanding, and the food has always been very good and reasonably priced.

However, over the past few years, on each visit to the Hollywood location,
I have had a mixed experience. The time passing between my visits, and
those of all my friends, has been getting longer. None the less, I was
looking forward to visiting the new location, and I did so yesterday; or
at least I tried to. My friend and I didn't even stay long enough to
place an order.

I'm baffled. I don't understand why this is, but each time I have visited
Laurelwood's NE location, a trend has been increasing - the place is
overwhelmed with young children. Now, I have nothing against kids in
"pubs". I think that a family atmosphere is one of the best things about
Portland's rich microbrewing scene, of which Laurelwood is a key part.

However, at Laurelwood Hollywood, the past couple of times I have gone
there, my fellow diner and I have been, quite literally, the only table in
the place, aside from the bar itself, that did not bring young children.
For quite some time now, the place has had more children than adult
customers.

I had thought my experiences might be unusual - a fluke. But people I've
spoken to report the same. With sincere regret, I think I'll be joining
them in staying away from now on.

The new location on Sandy was quite nice. However, it was so much like
being in a Chucky Cheese's that we simply had to leave. There were not
more than two or three parties without children in the entire place,
again, leaving aside only the bar itself. The room was loud. We felt
like we'd walked into a day care - definitely not conducive to enjoying a
meal and a pint.

I am a little curious as to whether Laurelwood has somehow done this
deliberately, or if it has strangely evolved this way on its own.
Regardless, I don't doubt that it may be a profitable business model.
But it will have to be profitable without people such as myself. I hope
there's been forethought in this strategy, because I'm speaking here for
many like minded frequenters of brewpubs and restaurants that I know.
It's deeply disappointing.

I hope to continue to enjoy the NW location, and Laurelwood's outstanding
beers at other independent locations, along with, as always, Portland's
many, many brewpub options.

Thanks

---
Jeff Sexton
jsexton@agora.rdrop.com
http://www.rdrop.com/~jsexton/

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