SEATTLE — A cider bar operating out of a Seattle garage is at the center of new legislation meant to help home businesses adjust to COVID-19 restrictions.
"We are glad it’s back open for now and hope we can keep it open,” said Yonder Cider founder Caitlin Braam.
Three weeks ago, Yonder Cider was forced to shut its garage door.
"It really came to a head in December, when we received violations from SDCI (Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections), which is the zoning department of Seattle, saying that as a home business, we were violating a few different things,” said Braam.
The notice came after an anonymous person filed multiple complaints about the business.
Under the current Seattle land-use code, homeowners must be able to fit a car in the garage, can’t have a large sign outside, can’t look like a business from the outside, and must offer appointment-only customer visits.
"We’re in a very different time and things are changing. And for small businesses to start right now is scary, there’s a lot of challenges we’re all facing,” said Braam.
City councilmembers have come up with a temporary change, to last one year, that would remove some restrictions for home businesses and allow Yonder Cider to reopen in Seattle's Phinney Ridge neighborhood.
The temporary flexibility for home businesses was designed to allow home-based businesses, including those that may have once operated out of a storefront, to operate with fewer restrictions during the COVID civil emergency.
Councilmember Dan Strauss sponsored the Bringing Business Home bill. In a statement sent to KING 5, Strauss said, “The Land Use Code wasn't written with life in a pandemic in mind - this temporary legislation allows us to be responsive... and make our neighborhoods more vibrant."
"This is novel, we understand that it’s totally outside the box, but we are a business that was built during COVID and we’re just trying to survive and change with the times,” said Braam.
SDCI's code enforcement case involving Yonder Cider remains open, but the business is allowed to operate while the City Council discusses the proposed changes.
The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board said Yoder Cider is in compliance with its liquor license. Yoder Cider's walk-up counter is being used as the business' offsite tasting room. The business' domestic winery license, which allows for cider, also allows for to-go sales for wine or cider of their own production.
Braam hopes the new bill will help other business owners see their dreams realized.
"What this has allowed us to do is build a following, have some really important direct-to-consumer sales revenue and that’s allowing us to open a larger tap room,” said Braam.
Yonder Cider plans to open a taproom in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood this summer.
The city’s Land Use Committee will likely vote on the bill during Wednesday’s meeting. It will then head to the full council.