The traveling bartender has found a place for his suitcase, and so far it's suiting him just fine.
Brandon Wicklund is planning to officially open The Real McCoy Home Bar & Kitchen in downtown Bellingham on Wednesday, Feb. 20, offering a variety of cocktails, beer and wine. The business also will offer a light food menu, including a Wagyu beef slider and Thai meatballs.
Wicklund said he wants the bar to have an upscale but relaxed feel, with the kind of service where people can have a drink and a bite to eat before going to an evening event.
The bar also has a bit of history in its atmosphere, with pictures of old Bellingham hanging on the walls and items that harken back to Prohibition. The name itself is a tip of the hat to William McCoy, a bootlegger who sold alcohol along the East Coast during Prohibition.
Wicklund's path to opening The Real McCoy began about three years ago when he paid a visit to the Jim German Bar in Waitsburg (near Walla Walla). He became hooked on the idea of making specialty drinks, so much so that he developed a traveling bar business. His friends made him an old-style suitcase for storing his ingredients and equipment, and he became popular at events. The suitcase now sits atop a piano in the bar.
After the Prospect Street Café closed last May, Wicklund quickly became interested in starting his own bar. By August he had signed a lease and began work remodeling the space at 114 Prospect St. With the help of his friends, including local woodworker Mike Badgley, a bar was built and the seating area was redesigned.
Wicklund said his focus will be in concocting drinks, while his chef, Kirk Stotler, will handle the kitchen duties. Wicklund's girlfriend, Marin Schy, will handle some of the operations.
"Marin's been my rock through this whole thing, including the vision of what it should look like," Wicklund said.
Wicklund also has received help from his parents, Jeff and Edalyn Wicklund, who operate Purple Smile Wines in Fairhaven.
The cocktail drink has risen in popularity in Bellingham, with the opening of several similar bars in recent years. Wicklund said changes to craft distillery rules and new products have helped add to the creativity in cocktail drinks. Plus, people seem more willing to try different drinks.
"I also think television shows like 'Mad Men' made cocktails a little more cool," he said.
Once open, hours will be 4 to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. For details, visit the company's Facebook page or call 360-392-8051.
MEN'S CONSIGNMENT CLOTHING STORE OPENS IN BELLINGHAM
O'Donnell's Bellingham Flea Market has launched a men's consignment clothing store.
Flea market owner Dan O'Donnell said at this point the business name is Man Cave Enclave, since it's in the basement area and surrounded by the rest of the Flea Market.
"We saw a gaping hole in Bellingham with the lack of a men's consignment store, so we're making it happen," O'Donnell said in an email.
The plan is to focus on outdoor gear such as REI and Carhartt. Other products planned are leather, wool, military surplus, as well as work and hiking boots.
The store size will begin at about 1,100 square feet, with later plans to expand to the entire 2,500 square foot basement as its selection grows.
The store is currently accepting consignment items.
For more information, go to BellinghamFleaMarket.com or call O'Donnell at 360-220-7157.
Birch Bay Square is starting to fill up again after the sale of the retail center last October. One tenant in place is After Five Fashion, which opened earlier this month. Based in Canada, this is the company's first U.S. store, offering women's formal wear, including prom dresses. Also signing a lease is a dollar store and an antique furniture business, said Patrick Starr, the leasing agent for the retail center. He said about six other potential tenants are doing feasibility studies.
Goat Mountain Pizza at 215 W. Holly St. recently had its state liquor license approved to sell beer and wine.
Retail Tip Sheet runs each Sunday.