New taphouse coming to downtown Blaine

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An innovative part taphouse, part escape room is coming to the cornerstone of downtown Blaine this fall.

With Gateway 1890 Taphouse Seafood & Grill in the works, Rustic Fork owners Gary and Kristen Slavin are bringing family-friendly entertainment to the former Rawganique building at 428 Peace Portal Drive.

Gary said he wanted the taphouse to be connected to Blaine, with “gateway” referring to Blaine as the door to the Pacific Northwest and “1890” referring to the year Blaine was incorporated. Murals with historical images of Blaine, Birch Bay and Semiahmoo will remind people of Blaine’s history, while an orange-and-black color scheme will tie the taphouse into present day Borderite pride.

“I want to bring back the feel of what Blaine used to be like,” said Gary, who grew up visiting Birch Bay and Blaine.

Gary said he decided to open a taphouse in Blaine because of the lack of taphouses in north Whatcom County. All beers will cost $7 and be brewed along the West Coast, from Seattle to California. The taphouse will also serve wine for around $5 that can be paired with a charcuterie board or dessert.

“It’s an opportunity to bring different craft beers down the coast,” Slavin said. “Instead of driving 20 minutes to Bellingham, people can try a brewery from six to seven hours away.”

The taphouse will offer small plates to share for just under $12. These appetizers include loaded potato tots, sliders, street tacos, mac and cheese, flatbread, hotdogs and salad. Gary also said he plans to include entrees such as fish and chips, pulled pork and steak.

Live music will be played on stage Saturdays, with throwback trivia nights on Thursdays and 10 percent of Tuesday profits to Borderite sports.

A 1910 bank vault in the building will be converted to an escape room, which Gary said he hopes will be ready by the restaurant’s opening. Three different escape room themes – prohibition, gold rush and bank robbery – will rotate every few months. The escape room can be booked for $100 for one hour, with up to four people allowed to participate. A food and drink package can also be included in the escape room experience. Participants will be handed clues, props and writing notebook to solve a mystery.

The taphouse is scheduled to be open 4-10 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays, 4-11 p.m. Fridays, 12-11 p.m. Saturdays and 12-10 p.m. Sundays.

In addition to the taphouse, Gary said he’s working to open a downtown event center in September. The 5,000-square-foot building, located between Black Forest Steakhouse and Peace Arch City Café, can host wedding receptions, city events, seminars and business meetings, he said. It will also have a restaurant named On Board, which will serve charcuterie boards. Gary said he’d also like to open a bakery in the building, separate from the event center, shortly after.

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