UPDATE: Patrons, management pleased with opening week
by: Christopher Onstott Golden Valley Brewery owner Peter Kircher stands at the bar in Beaverton’s new hot spot.

It's been open a little more than a week, but Golden Valley Brewery is already picking up its share of regulars.

Count Anna Venker among the early converts.

The Beaverton resident seemed totally in her element Tuesday evening as she enjoyed a Golden Valley-brewed Dundee Porter along with appetizers of small pulled-pork sliders and macaroni and cheese.

'The atmosphere is wonderful, the crowd is very nice, and the service - they check on you all the time,' she said. 'I really hope they make it. It's probably the nicest place we have in the neighborhood.'

Melissa Benjamin, who runs her own cafe, The Liberty Deli, nearby, had no problem talking up the latest neighborhood attraction for food and spirits.

'This is great,' she said while dining with her friend, Sara Hogan. 'This is really needed. It draws from a lot of the neighborhood who are looking for a place to (unwind).'

Endorsements like those remind Peter Kircher, owner of the restaurant in the former Chili's at 1570 N.W. Bethany Blvd., why he endured the past several months of blood, sweat, tears and the expense it took to open this, his second restaurant in Oregon.

'It's great,' he said. 'It's been busier than what we expected. We're really happy we opened up. It's great to be open instead of struggling with permits and construction deadlines. It's going good, and we're really pleased.'

Kircher and his wife, Celia, opened the first Golden Valley Brewery in McMinnville in 1993. The family's two restaurants specialize in handcrafted beer, entrees and appetizers derived from all-natural beef and produce raised at their Angus Springs Ranch.

Because of space limitations, Golden Valley's seven signature beers and rotating selection of three seasonals are brewed at the McMinnville facility and trucked weekly to Beaverton. Winter offerings including the Tannen Bomb, Black Panther Imperial Stout and Atlas Elevator Bock join perennial taps such as 3rd Street Wheat, Beaverton Blonde, Red Thistle Ale and Muddy Valley Oatmeal Stout.

The new Golden Valley - which employs about 80 full- and part-time workers - boasts two dining rooms that accommodate about 200 and can be divided for meetings and special events. A separate, expansive full-service bar area features wooden booths and long, tall tables.

Upstairs rooms, dedicated to meetings and banquets, will be ready for reservations by mid-February, Kircher said.

The building was entirely gutted of its earlier Tex-Mex chain-restaurant arrangement. Hardwood floors, dark-finished wooden window frames and black-and-white photos depicting Oregon's pioneer history lend a rustic elegance to the emporium.

Outside, a large porch area featuring tables, benches and a gas fire pit - encased by a railing adorned with empty beer kegs - will likely prove popular when winter weather subsides.

'I think it's a really nice facility and really fills a nice niche in this market,' Kircher said.

Manager Andrew Ratto, who joined the Golden Valley team in McMinnville three years ago, has spent the past six months on the Beaverton restaurant.

While enjoying appetizers of seared Ahi nachos, grilled vegetable quesadillas and spicy shrimp in lettuce cups on Tuesday evening, he described the opening days as 'very smooth.'

'It's been constantly busy,' he said, noting patrons are clearly curious about Golden Valley's naturally grown philosophy. 'They're asking a lot of questions about how we raise our own beef. People seem really impressed by that.'

Kircher, who said he's still hiring, spoke highly of his new crew.

'They're wonderful,' he said. 'We've gotten some really fantastic employees. It's a great time to be hiring.'

Sara Hogan, dining with her friend, Melissa, said she was a regular patron of the former Chili's that occupied the building, but doesn't mind the change at all.

'This is much better,' she said. 'So far, it's awesome.'

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