A tap house with a twist
A tap house with a twist. That's what Lake Oswego residents Derek and Katie Abbott are planning to open in downtown Lake Oswego in spring 2019.
"We're really excited about this project, because we believe it fills a food/beverage niche in our community. But it so much more than that," Katie Abbott says. "We believe it is a mission our neighbors in Lake Oswego will rally behind as well."
The couple — along with sons Braylon, 11; Liam, 8; and 6-year-old Nathan — plan to open Roots Public House in spring 2019 in a space in downtown Lake Oswego. It will be Lake Oswego's first not-for-profit restaurant and tap house, with profits donated back into the community.
"Roots Public House is a place where neighbors will call each other by name, families of all shapes and sizes will feel welcome and goodwill and good conversations will go hand in hand," Katie says. "It will be a gathering place that generates a steady revenue stream for important causes in our area, because we will donate 100 percent of our profits to our charity partners."
And what's more, the Abbotts plan to open their doors debt-free, which will enable them to immediately give to charities that are making a difference in the community.
"About 18 months ago, we felt a nudge to let go of the comfort of our lives and do something scary in answering that call," Katie says. "As dreams often are, it was bigger than us and our abilities and meant taking a leap of faith. Since that time, we have consistently taken steps to bring us closer to achieving this dream."
The Abbotts moved to Oregon in 2002 to complete graduate studies and fell in love with the thriving craft beer scene. They made their first home brew in 2012, and what began as a hobby quickly turned into a deeper mission to "take the little joys and use them to build a better world."
"While we'd always shared the value of giving as a family, the thought of how much more we could give as a business was truly exciting," Katie says. "After Derek's 14 years of teaching (math and ASB at Lakeridge High), we'd built so many meaningful connections and seen so many pressing concerns, and we knew this was our opportunity to make a difference in the Lake Oswego area."
The not-for-profit restaurant will support local charities focused on education, literacy, the arts and hunger, she says, although specific partners have not yet been identified.
Following the motto that "a community is only as strong as its roots," the Abbotts say they are building Roots Public House in the manner of an old-fashioned barn raising, where a community comes together to help a family build or rebuild a much-needed structure. Because barns are large and costly structures, they required more labor than one family can provide, and helping build a neighbor's barn ensures the favor will eventually be returned.
"Our barn happens to be an old tire shop turned community public house, and a new way of giving back," Katie says.
The Abbotts are hoping to secure the former Firestone tire store at the southwest corner of A Avenue and Fifth Street in Lake Oswego for the tap house. Among the friends signing on as board members: Troy Furuta, a professional chef, and his wife Courtney Ouimet, a former manager at Clyde Common restaurant in Portland; and Melinda and John Caskey. (John will also serve as lead on beverages.)
Together, the couples have eight children, all of whom are enthusiastic about helping to make sure the tap house opens.
"With 20 years in the industry cooking and training alongside some of the best chefs in the industry and an established expertise in hospitality management, we were absolutely thrilled at the prospect of realizing a life-long goal — pioneering a restaurant of our own," Furuta and Ouimet write on the Roots Public House website, rootslakeoswego.com. "When Derek and Katie brought their dream to us with open arms, we knew we couldn't pass up the opportunity to join forces.
"We can't wait to craft the menu of our wildest dreams, share our passion for Southern cuisine and use our deep love for food to create positive change in our little corner of the world," the say.
The Abbott boys say Furuta's fried chicken is the best — and it will be on the menu.
"Initially, we will not be brewing our own beer, but we are already roasting coffee. John (Caskey) is our roaster," Katie Abbott says. "As a member of the board, John is definitely taking the lead on all things craft beverage, just as Troy and Courtney are paving the way for food and the restaurant operations."
The Abbotts invite all to be part of the barn raising of Roots Public House, and they are now accepting donations of cash and services in order to open Roots Public House debt-free. As is the case in a traditional barn raising, all skills are needed and many hands make light work.
"But we are not just raising a 'barn,'" Katie says. "We are raising a new way of giving."
At www.rootslakeoswego.com, community members can learn more, donate services and view a calendar of events where members of the Roots Public House board will hold meet-and-greet events. For example, Katie Abbott will be the guest speaker at the Lake Oswego Women's Coalition meeting on Oct. 17 at The Stafford, 1200 Overlook Drive in Lake Oswego.
Cost of the luncheon meeting is $22 for non-members and $18 for members. The luncheon meeting begins at 11:30 a.m. with networking, followed by lunch at noon and Abbott's presentation at 12:30 p.m. To serve a seat, call 503-638-1589.