By Alethea Smartt LaRowe
The eclectic sounds of Polecat, a band from Bellingham, Wash., drift throughout the multi- use space that is Crow’s Feet Commons. It is a beautiful, sunny spring morning and anyone who’s not working is headed out to ski Mount Bachelor or is gearing up for a bike ride. Even owner David Marchi isn’t going to miss out on this perfect day. He’s taking his four-year-old son, Talus, along for a backcountry skiing excursion.
Patrons who are less able-bodied or have other priorities are enjoying the relative peace and quiet in the cafe. Two people use the free Wi-Fi to conduct business on their laptops over steaming cups of Stumptown coffee and freshly made Sparrow Bakery pastries. Another gentleman bobs his head to the music while reading the paper. Regulars chat with the one staff member who is manning the bar. A couple of tourists come in looking to purchase a Crow’s Nest Commons logo hat they saw someone wearing around town.
At this mid-morning hour, most people are coming into the shop with a purpose, to rent gear for the day’s adventures or to use the space as a mobile office. The scene becomes much livelier in the late afternoon, as the skiers return from the mountain and the bicyclists return from the hills. If the weather is anything but rainy or snowy, the outdoor tables quickly fill with friends enjoying a pint from one of the 16 taps of craft beer, including kombucha and cider. Others grab a bottle from one of the coolers or order wine by the glass. During the summer months, live music in the adjacent plaza entertains not only the shop’s patrons but also anyone who is strolling the path by Mirror Pond or shopping the stores along Brooks Street.
This is all what David Marchi envisioned when he took over the historic Goodwillie-Allen- Rademacher house in the fall of 2012. A lifelong thrill seeker and outdoors lover, he is a professional ski, mountaineering and cycling guide. A native of Mount Shasta, Calif., he moved to Bend from Colorado in late 2010 with the intent of starting his own business. His previous experience working at gear shops and a coffee shop gave him the idea to combine these interests into a community gathering spot that would offer something for everyone. David came up with the name for his new business after reading a poem “that resonated with me and my lifestyle at the time. The essence was ‘success should be measured in laugh lines.’” David says his mentors are all “people who are weather-beaten by the sun, always having a good time and enjoying life,” thus they develop crow’s feet from all the smiling and squinting. The commons part of the name “reflects the space, which I wanted to be as community-driven as possible.”
Besides the cafe/bar and gear shop, the National Register-listed home built in 1904 also includes a small kitchen and retail space, plus offices and a kid-friendly lounge area upstairs. According to David, the city of Bend leased him the adjacent courtyard with the hope that he would be able to change its troubled reputation. After almost two years in business, he now sees himself as a community creator. “I am most proud of how we have turned the place around and of my work with the youth who were committing crimes. It is very satisfying to see people out in the plaza, happy and listening to live music, in a space that is now a gathering spot for everyone.”
Bar manager Jared Smith agrees, saying that “originally, the concept was to feature locally-made beers, but I realized that market here in Bend is pretty well covered.” The tap list has evolved to include world class beer from other areas (for example, Pfriem from Hood River), as well as some international options. The diverse selection of styles is designed to appeal to all types of beer drinkers, just like the mission of Crow’s Feet Commons is to be welcoming to everyone. “We try to bring the best to people who wouldn’t necessarily seek out this level of quality and craftsmanship. This applies to bikes, skis and beer,” says Jared.
Crow’s Feet Commons
(a) 875 NW Brooks St, Bend
Owner: David Marchi
Stories from the print edition of the Oregon Beer Growler.