Ocean Pours Taproom needed an outdoor seating structure to protect customers in their beer garden from bad weather and enable social distancing during COVID-19. They found their solution from WeatherPort® Shelter Systems.
A Dual-Purpose Building Solution for Weather Protection and Social Distancing
Ocean Pours Taproom opened two years ago, becoming the sole taproom in Ocean Shores, Washington.
A wide selection of beers on tap draws locals and tourists alike, so their popularity quickly outgrew the space available in their 600-square-foot building. Shortly after their opening, Ocean Pours Taproom added a 6,000-square-foot beer garden to extend their space outdoors.
While the beer garden solved the issue of limited space, there was still one problem: the weather.
Winters in Ocean Shores are cold, wet, and windy, and even the summers stay pretty cool. With a maximum occupancy of just 40 people, their taproom wasn’t able to hold all of their customers on inclement-weather days.
The Ocean Pours Taproom team decided to start looking for an outdoor structure for their beer garden to protect customers from the weather.
Then, as Ocean Pours Taproom owner Roy Seeman put it, “COVID hit, and it became even more urgent to get a structure as soon as possible.”
For parts of the pandemic, restaurants and bars in Washington state have been unable to offer indoor service, meaning that without a viable outdoor structure for winter months, their business would effectively be on hold.
[Related: Keeping Outdoor Dining Warm for the Winter]
Finding the Right Outdoor Structure for Their Beer Garden
They originally considered going with a pole barn for their outdoor seating, but weren’t happy with the price or the boring aesthetic of these structures. Likewise, constructing a new building would be too expensive, and would require them to hire additional staff to man it.
A tent-like structure, on the other hand, would allow customers to serve themselves and avoid the need for additional hiring.
Moving in this direction, Ocean Pours Taproom first considered going with a standard off-the-shelf popup tent, but city officials quickly vetoed that option: Ocean Shores sits in a hurricane zone, so the outdoor structure would need to be able to withstand 135 mile per hour winds and snow loads of 25 pounds per square foot in order to meet building codes.
At this point, Ocean Pours Taproom started looking at engineered fabric structures, but of the handful of manufacturers they considered, none of them could meet the necessary wind and snow loads.
Then, Roy saw a WeatherPort structure at a restaurant in the city of Westport, and was impressed with its design. The structure reminded him of something you might see at a beer garden in Germany.
“It was more festive than a pole barn, and more unique than a standard tent,” Roy explained. “Having arches instead of a square design really just makes it different from anything else you see.”
In addition to being the only membrane structure they could find that met their wind and snow load requirements, WeatherPort structures could also be designed with numerous windows on all sides, a feature that other manufactures noticeably lacked. They also liked that you could add and remove the structures’ sides to accommodate for changing temperatures.
The Design and Installation Process
Ocean Pours Taproom decided to order a 28 ft. wide by 26 ft. long WeatherPort structure and began the design process.
“It was nice,” Roy explained. “I spoke with [our WeatherPort building specialist] and explained to him what I needed. He gave me a standard package, from there we adjusted the design to meet the wind and snow loads.”
“There were a lot of options for doors and other customizations,” he went on. “We designed in a lot of windows into all the sides so that it lets in a lot more light.”
Roy also noted that he had to change his design a few times after WeatherPort started working on the structure; because the city updated their building code requirements, and that WeatherPort was happy to accommodate the changes.
After ordering the structure, it took about four weeks for the custom-engineered structure to arrive, during which time Ocean Pours Taproom worked on getting its permits in order.
Roy appreciated that WeatherPort provided all of the engineering plans and calculations; which saved him thousands of dollars in the process of getting a Washington state engineer’s wet stamp on the design. Otherwise, he would have had to hire an engineer to retest everything to prove that the structure met the building code requirements.
Then all that was left was to set up the structure, which took about eight hours for two contractors to complete.
A Unique Approach for Engineered Fabric Structures and Harsh Weather
Ocean Pours Taproom has had its WeatherPort structure for about three weeks and, “so far it’s been fantastic.”
They had their first test of bad weather last weekend. “We had 55 mph winds and rain, and it held up beautifully. I saw another tent that was blown over, but our structure was not affected whatsoever. When I came in last weekend, the structure withstood the wind but kept the rain out.”
Of course, that’s just a fraction of the 135 mph winds the structure was designed to endure.
“If we do get 135 mph winds coming through Ocean Shores, the only thing left standing will be this structure,” Roy joked. “Our taproom is just sitting on blocks — it would be in bad shape, but our structure would be fine.”
Equipped with standing propane heaters, the structure has created a very comfortable outdoor seating area that’s drawing in customers. “When you see it from the street, it looks festive. We have a lot of people say that they just want to come see inside it because it looks so interesting.”
The structure has also expanded their ability to protect customers from bad weather. While the taproom has a maximum occupancy of just 40 people, the outdoor structure can comfortably fit 90.
“Even with COVID requirements, we’re able to get 39 people seated with six feet of social distancing,” said Roy. Ocean Pours Taproom is now one of only two businesses in Ocean Shores with outdoor seating.
While many restaurants and bars are struggling to stay afloat right now, Ocean Pours Taproom is actually growing.
“Despite COVID restrictions in our taproom, we’ve seen our sales increase by 40% compared to last year,” said Roy. “It’s crazy that in the middle of COVID we’re seeing increased sales, and we attribute it to the WeatherPort structure.”
Given how well the structure has worked out, Roy says that he’d recommend WeatherPort “to anybody that wants anything outdoors.”
“It’s just so different and better than anything else that you see out there,” he explained. “Definitely give them a call before you make a decision because if you don’t, you’ll be missing out.”
If you would like to learn more about outdoor seating structures from WeatherPort, please contact us using the following: