For Oregon Business, October 2022
In mid-September Astoria’s Buoy Beer Company announced plans to stabilize the south wall of its brewery on the city’s waterfront, which would allow the city to reopen the fenced-off Astoria Riverwalk.
The city issued a permit for the job Sept. 12 — almost exactly three months after the brewery’s original building imploded, sending beer cans, labels and other debris tumbling into the Columbia River.
The brewery had operated on a dock in Astoria — the oldest white settlement west of the Rockies — since 2014. Its beers garnered immediate praise in the brewing world, and the brewery and restaurant, housed in a former fish-processing plant, was hailed as a fun, family-friendly gathering spot. Its opening, and that of the Fort George Brewery in 2007, also marked a shift in the city’s identity — from a down-on-its-luck former fishing town to a place where locals and tourists alike could enjoy draft beer, fish and chips, and a great view just upstream of the place where the river meets the ocean. Contractor Jared Rickenbach even carved out a section of rotted floor and installed a window for watching sea lions.
In the weeks that followed the collapse, the brewery announced that it was reopening in a new location and offered free tasting flights at Pilot House Distilling (which the brewery owns) to those who helped clean up debris from the implosion.
No one was injured in the collapse, likely because the kitchen had been closed since September 2021, due, the company said, to problems with the pilings that supported the dock. When the building imploded, a spokesperson for Buoy told The Astorian, “The structural issue was known.”
That raises the question: Who knew and for how long?
Documents reviewed by Oregon Business suggest personnel at Bornstein Seafoods — which owns the building and whose co-owner, Andrew Bornstein, is also a founder and secretary at River Barrel Brewing, Buoy’s parent company — knew as long ago as 2003 that the pilings that support the building were in a dangerous state of disrepair.
Read the rest at OregonBusiness.com.