After three years of providing free event space for local nonprofits, California-based, now Heineken-owned brewery Lagunitas abruptly shuttered its Community Taproom in Northeast Portland this week, sending dozens of charities scrambling to relocate fundraisers.
The bar was part of the brewer's network of charitable taprooms across the U.S, with locations in Seattle, Chicago and the company's home base of Petaluma, Calif., all of which remain open. Portland beer news website The New School was first to report the local closure.
"Lagunitas decided to close the Portland Community room in order to shift resources that will allow us to support more communities and nonprofits across the country," says Lagunitas spokesperson Max Wertheimer. "This is not a decision we took lightly, as Portland is a community that's been a part of the Lagunitas story since day one."
While the space on Northeast Broadway Street looked like a normal beer bar, it was designed specifically as a place for the city's nonprofit organizations to hold fundraising events free of charge. The brewery would supply beer and a handful of staff members to work the gatherings.
The sudden closure stunned nonprofits that had scheduled events at the taproom.
Girls Build, which hosts summer camps to teach girls the basics of carpentry, plumbing and electrical set up, was slated to have its only self-produced fundraiser for the year at the taproom in mid-November. Now, organizers say they're probably going to have to do without a big event to bring in money this year—they expected to raise $25,000, with a $10,000 match.
"We found out with less than four weeks left until our fundraiser," says Girls Build executive director Katie Hughes. "Lagunitas has been very generous over the last few years, but because of that generosity, nonprofits are not prepared to relocate within such a short time."
Wertheimer says Lagunitas personally contacted every organization that had an event scheduled, and that the company was working with many of them to provide beer donations if they managed to secure to new locations.
Meanwhile, the brewery was working on providing former employees with resources to assist them post-closure.
"We recognize that the closing of the Community Room was sudden, and wish that we could have given more notice to those organizations who had previously scheduled events," Werthweimer says. "There were a wide variety of factors that lead us to make this incredibly difficult decision, and we let the Portland non-profit community know as soon as we could."