Inside The Tahoe Pourhouse

Concrete truck at the Tahoe Pourhouse

Whew! 2017 sure blew by quickly! While many of our website and Facebook visitors may know of our efforts, successes and failures, I thought it be a good time to let everyone have a peek inside the TAHOE POURHOUSE and the project we have undertaken.

It all started Father’s Day enjoying a freshly poured self-tapped beer from our neighbors Lake Tahoe Aleworx. Ed and I were enjoying the beautiful weather, the kids playing corn-hole, and the company of Danette and Molly, Ed’s wife and daughter, when we both noticed the FOR LEASE sign up in the space #2042. It was the beautiful garage door and it’s location on the plaza that really intrigued us.

For several years, Ed and I had been tweaking a plan to open a charcuterie and cheese based deli somewhere in South Lake Tahoe.  We had the plan nearly done, but it was far off in our minds because we could not find the perfect location. Ed nudged me and said, “What about putting the deli in there?” and from that the dream was born.

I inquired the next day and was told there was another interested party looking at the space but they were still putting together the business model. After a long phone conversation with Ed, and doing a huge amounting of soul searching, we decided that now was the time to bring our vision to light. After all we had the three most important things needed to be successful in the restaurant industry, location, location and location. (and over 80 years of experience between us). So then started many late nights on the computer making the original business plan work for that spot. An interesting challenge is that the space cannot support a full kitchen hood, so Chef Edwin and I crafted a menu that can be produced with limited cooking equipment. No fryers, no steam jacketed kettles, no open flame range or griddle. The plans included a full coffee bar, Self- tapping wine wall, deli counter with ready -made and made to order sandwiches, display cases of freshly prepared meats, charcuterie, house made cheese, sausage and condiments, a retail space for gourmet prepared foods from around the world, wine by the bottle and the service of small plate dining in the evening hours.

Lo and behold, the property owner was impressed in the thoroughness of our plan, our combined talents and access to funding. We signed the lease and the real work began in earnest. Design and architecture began and we made several changes, improvements and decisions which ultimately have been included in the final layout. We also made some errors, some of them caused serious delays, other things popped up for us because SLT is changing, and what was allowed in the permitting process before is now tightened up, resulting in a few hidden issues, things that our advisors and contractor had not been asked for up until now. We needed engineers for everything. Thanks go out to Jennifer Shaw at SacEng for the electrical, Tonnarelli Plumbing for their advice, and Sugarpine Engineering in Truckee for the HVAC work.

The most substantial of the errors we made was initially designing the build-out with a single restroom. The building department informed us that we require 2 restrooms for our 20-25 occupancy, and so there went 70% of our retail space, poof! But, we made a decision and if when you get lemons you make lemonade, now that we had 2 restrooms, might as well make them beautiful. We even joked about changing the name to TAHOE POURHOUSE, coffee, wine, art and beautiful restrooms!

The next shock was that County Health will not allow food preparation in an area with an open garage door, to do the deli we’d have to put up glass walls to the ceiling around the deli counter. So we pivot again, and took out the front of house deli concept, moved it to the back “preparation area” and came up with our unique “discovery wine bar”. It’s a traditional wine tasting concept where we intend to sell a variety of unique and special wines from quality vintners first by the glass and then hopefully by the bottle to our interested guests.

Its been quite an adventure, we are learning a lot and even within the difficulties we are able to see that much of the struggle has enhanced the concept by fostering creative use of space, spawning a unique space unlike any other currently in the Tahoe area.

In spite of all of this, we are underway, and will keep you posted as the story continues. Latest milestone: we have underground plumbing in and “poured” concrete this past week.  Walls will be going up soon. Keep peeking in, you will see progress soon.

-Mark