- Courtney Jette
Giving It Their Best Shot
After searching for a classic location with old roots, and coming up empty, this next up-and-coming place built their own spot in Richland.
“We wanted to find an old building to refurbish, which is why it took so long, but we couldn’t find a spot.”
Older buildings are, classically, where craft breweries find their home. And this place is a little tucked away, so I won’t blame you if you haven’t been yet. All I know is, it deserves to serve. Laid back and fun is how I feel when I take a seat at a picnic table in Moonshot Brewing. And I felt that way while visiting with owners' Ryan Wattenbarger and Hilary Bird. The taps just started flowing here last March, when they first opened their doors. And like most establishments right now, they are doing to-go and curbside options.
*What do you feel has been the hardest obstacle to overcome in building your own business?
“Money. Our biggest thing was money, and getting open. It took us a year and a half to find a building or location; two months longer to build a building, which eats capital. Then a couple of months late start. It’s just the two of us",
they tell me as we sit, scattered 6 feet apart around the brewery while their daughter plays with colorful bricks on the floor.
The light drifting in one of their huge front windows showcases and flows throughout the large open space, showing how new and ready to chill this place is.
It’s the two of them running the establishment and one employee who helps with brewing, and behind the bar, who is laid off for the time being. They have plans to bring them back once the tap-room opens back up to full staff.
*How long have you guys lived in the Tri-cities?
Ryan is a Sunnyside native who’s been here about 8 years. Hilary started out in Ohio and moved out here 9 months after Ryan. Ryan switched from the wine side of things to brewing, and she moved out here, sight unseen, from Cincinnati.
H: “Opening this place started to make this place feel like home because it brought our community right to our doors.”
The fact that it can take someone 8 years to really click with a community here in the Tri-Cities is not shocking to me. With how spread out and hidden a lot of things are even I, a Nuclear Native, can understand how that feels.
*Are there any other business owners in your family, or are you the first to take the leap?
“We’re the first ones. Our parents are not risk takers, ha-ha.”
*What about the shutdown has you most worried?
“Our business model is built on a tap-room model. We’re not a to go."
"When we can open, will people still come out?"
"I think the first year of having a business is trying to wave your hand around and attract people, ’come meet me’. We started to gain a little of that.”
Before the shutdown, they felt they had finally gotten their “community” and customer base for Moonshot. Moonshot would have been open a year this June 1st.
“Our customers are loyal."
The tap-room area may be closed, but their taps are not. They have been doing beer for local heroes! Also, check out their page to get the full rundown on getting beer into a first responder's hands, and yours! They are matching growler sales up to 50 growlers!
If you are needing a fix on some local brews, you should head to Moonshot to try them out. I suggest asking them about their brews and trying the one that stands out most to me, the “Nora Norah”, which is named after their daughter and the daughter of Sage Brewing, who is just eight days younger than their Norah. They collaborate, occasionally, with other local brewers, and I can bet it turns out some refreshing results. The couple is not only sensible and authentic, they are kind. So hop on it, and get over there to say hi and see what I mean. I can’t wait to be spending time in there again.