Wandering Hop Venturing Into Food Service

Growing Yakima Brewery Adds Handcrafted Food Items To Its Lineup

By Molly Allen
After a strong first year in business, Wandering Hop Brewery is ready to give its customers even more of a reason to come back.
The brewery at 508 N. 20th Ave. opened in September 2017, and the business has been expanding little by little. Now, owner Nathan Cooper and his team will launch a food menu and extend their hours.
“Adding food has always been a part of the plan,” Cooper said. “We get calls all the time asking if we serve food, so it was finally time to get that additional service going for our customers.”
The menu launched Wednesday, Dec. 5, and features a variety of panini sandwich options, such as a Rueben and Cooper’s take on the Cubano, as well as his personal favorite, the adult grilled cheese.
Other selections include beer bratwursts and a charcuterie board — or, the Brewer’s Board, as Cooper calls it.
“We’re offering the types of food we like to see. Our ingredients are as local as possible and nothing is fried,” he said. “We handcraft our beer, so we’re doing it with our food, too. If you’re going to have good beer, you have to serve good food to match.”
Cooper has spent the last few months developing the menu based on customer recommendations. He has also let brewery customers sample the food to see what would be the best fit.
Mug Club members have already been ordering off the new menu, offering valuable feedback to Cooper and his team throughout the development process.
“We have the best customers in the world,” Cooper said. “A lot of this is in response to what people wanted to see.”
Each of the Valley’s new breweries aims to offer customers at least some food options to pair with their brew, often partnering with a food truck like 5 Salsas (Single Hill Brewing), Tacos Don Chayo (Bale Breaker) or What I Crave (Valley Brewing).
Cooper was having a hard time finding a regular truck for Wandering Hop, so he decided to do something about it internally.
“In this industry, we love to go to other breweries and check out what they’re doing,” he said. “But we often move on because they don’t offer anything to eat on site. We don’t want that.”
Cooper’s goal is to offer food that makes more people interested in coming to the brewery, whether it’s for a pint and a sandwich at lunch or a snack after work.
“Everything is going to be prepared fresh when ordered, so I know we’ll have some kinks to work out in the beginning as we get the flow of the new addition,” he said. “The staff is receiving detailed training, because everything that comes out of the kitchen will be handmade, and I want guests to receive it just as it’s pictured on Instagram.”
Although Wandering Hop is adding food to its lineup, Cooper still wants to maintain the brewery atmosphere.
“We’re still a brewery first and foremost,” he said. “We just want to add a little more.” In addition to introducing the food menu, the brewery has installed a crowler-filling station (crowlers are 32-ounce to-go cans). Four new 55-inch TVs are also being installed to show sporting events.
Meanwhile, the brewery will now be open at noon on Fridays and Saturdays, and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
“Ever since we opened, we’ve been introducing new things little by little,” Cooper said. “We’re not becoming a restaurant or a sports bar, but we do want to keep adding things in for our regulars.”

Originally published in Yakima Business Times

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