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7 Seas breaking ground next month on replacement taproom

Posted on September 26th, 2022 By:

7 Seas Brewing plans to elevate its Gig Harbor taproom to match the site’s unparalleled views.

The local venture has been operating out of the former Green Turtle Restaurant at 2905 Harborview Dr., between the Tides Tavern and the old ferry landing, since March 2021. Waterfront customers peer out at a lighthouse-adorned sandspit that pinches boats through a small inlet to the harbor. In the background, majestic Mount Rainier towers above the steel blue Puget Sound.

The panorama is hard to beat. But the 2,800-square-foot structure wasn’t designed with brewing and enjoying beer in mind. A new one will be.

Demolition of the old restaurant and construction of its 6,000-square-foot replacement is expected to begin in mid-October.

“We’re completely through the city processes at this point,” said Mike Runion, who co-founded and co-owns the firm with Travis Guterson. “The issuing of the final building permit and demo permit is days away.”

Mike Runion, who co-owns 7 Seas Brewing with Travis Guterson, stands at the Gig Harbor taproom bar.

Mike Runion, who co-owns 7 Seas Brewing with Travis Guterson, stands at the Gig Harbor taproom bar.

Twice as much space

The building’s footprint will be about the same size, but square-footage doubled by adding a second floor.

The main level will house a taproom with both family and adults-only areas. The lower level will provide office space, storage and on-site brewing. A deck will wrap around the water and south sides. An 1,100-square-foot patio will offer more outdoor space.

An artist's rendering of the new building hangs in the current taproom.

An artist’s rendering of the new building hangs in the current taproom.

The existing 4,300-square-foot dock, which isn’t available to customers, will be redeveloped to a smaller marina of 3,700 square feet that will be shared among taproom visitors and private moorage. Twenty-three creosote-treated piles will be replaced by 12 steel piles.

The driveway, which currently is used for both entering and exiting, will become one-way only and exit from a new extension to Harborview Drive on the property’s southern end.

The view is unmatched

“I don’t think that property and the view from it is matched anywhere,” said Runion, 37. “With Mount Rainier and the lighthouse, it’s one of the most iconic views Gig Harbor offers. We’re super excited for the community to enjoy that regularly.”

The property overlooks the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbor and is backdropped by Puget Sound and Mount Rainier,

The property overlooks the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbor and is backdropped by Puget Sound and Mount Rainier.

7 Seas didn’t ask for any building code exemptions.

“The size and height are all within city codes,” said Runion, who attended Discovery Elementary, Goodman Middle School and graduated with the Gig Harbor High class of 2003. “We’ve just seen so many people come into Gig Harbor and propose projects that go outside of what’s allowed. We didn’t want to do our project that way. We wanted to do a project that’s good for Gig Harbor, good for the community and use a local contractor, Washington Patriot (Construction).”

Building fits Gig Harbor’s character

The company also designed the new building to fit the city’s fishing village character.

“It’s kind of a take on a historic netshed, Runion said. “The profile of the building is based on the heritage and history of Gig Harbor with a few slight modern twists, but very much in the classic character of Gig Harbor.”

Customers enjoy beer at one of the existing taproom's outdoor areas.

Customers enjoy beer at one of the existing taproom’s outdoor areas. The new building will feature decks around two sides and a patio.

Thoughts of a new facility arose during the time 7 Seas leased space in Peninsula Shopping Center on Judson Street from 2012 to last year. The brewery occupied space previously home to Thriftway and QFC.

The future became murky when Rush Construction proposed redevelopment with hopes of returning a grocery store as the anchor tenant.

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Town & Country Markets of Bainbridge Island was interested in opening a store there, but backed out in July, citing a slowing economy, supply chain issues and cost escalation. Rush said it plans to move ahead with the renovation, preferably with a grocery store, but it will also consider other solid tenants. It, however, has paused permitting while it gauges market interests.

Future at Judson location was up in the air

Runion said Rush didn’t communicate what 7 Seas’ future would be there, so it looked elsewhere.

“With development coming in, we made the choice that we needed to control our own destiny,” he said.

The brewery had hoped to build anew from the start, but administrative delays with new waterfront construction and the COVID pandemic forced a change in plans.

The existing dock isn't available to 7 Seas customers, but a new one will be.

The existing dock isn’t available to 7 Seas customers, but a new one will be.

“It was an adaptation through the pandemic to move down there, enjoy the view and see how things progressed in the world,” Runion said. “We didn’t know if it would go on for years or be done in a month. We thought the waterfront would be the best place to let that all play out for us.”

Runion expects construction of the new building to take 11 months. During that time, 7 Seas will return to where it began in 2009 — at a former auto repair shop behind The Inn at Gig Harbor that it will share with Locust Cider. The address there is 3207 57th St. Ct. 7 Seas expects to move in mid-October.

Despite growth, it’s still a small business

7 Seas has grown considerably in 13 years, including buying the old Heidelberg Brewery building in Tacoma. There it opened a taproom in 2016 and enjoys 80,000 square feet for brewing and canning. (It was the first craft brewery in the state to sell its beer in cans, in 2009.) It also resurrected the classic Heidelberg lager that had been discontinued in 1979.

Entrance to the current 7 Seas taproom in Gig Harbor.

Entrance to the current 7 Seas taproom in Gig Harbor.

The brewery typically has more than 20 beers available at any one time. Six can be purchased throughout the state in bars, restaurants and grocery stores, four are made exclusively for its first customer, the Tides Tavern, and many others are only available in its taprooms. Yet Runion says it’s still “very much a very small company” where authenticity and transparency are important to the 34 employees.

“We’re always incredibly inspired by the history of beer brands that came before us,” Runion said. “To be able to revitalize the Heidelberg brand in Tacoma was a dream come true and to be able to build a beautiful location in Gig Harbor is a dream come true.”