Retail Tipsheet: Chuckanut Bay Distillery rolling out new products

With the hard work of getting the distillery up and running out of the way, the owners of Chuckanut Bay Distillery are now enjoying the next phase of introducing new products.

The company recently introduced Old Busker, which combines distilled spirits with locally brewed coffee from The Woods Coffee to create a liqueur. Even the label design is local. Created by local artist Tom Sherwood, it depicts co-owner Kelly Andrews’ father, a retired school teacher who aspires to be a street musician.

It’s one of several new spirits the company is rolling out. Another is Krampus, a seasonal herbal liqueur that has hazelnuts and tastes like a Christmas cookie, said co-owner Matt Howell. The company also is coming out with an Irish-style whiskey called Muzzleflash as well as a bourbon due sometime next year.

Howell and Andrews started the distillery last year, in the early stages of the state liquor privatization and changes to the craft distilling rules. Howell said the first year in business has meant a lot of “feeling things out” while working with stores, restaurants and bars to get their product to consumers.

Overall it’s worked out well, Howell said, because of the support they’ve received from customers locally and in the region.

The distillery, which is at 1115 Railroad Ave. (in the alley behind Rumors Cabaret), has a tasting room that also has worked out well, Howell said. Even though the alley spot can be hard to find, traffic was steady in the first year, especially during the early summer months.

Chuckanut Distillery will sell Old Busker year round, along with its vodka and gin. When looking for a coffee to put in Old Busker, Howell said they wanted to go with a local company that has the capacity to pull it off. When they played with the cold-brew coffee, Howell said the mixture was a great combination.

When Woods Coffee began roasting its own coffee earlier this year, it created an opportunity for some interesting local partnerships, said Wes Herman, owner of The Woods Coffee. In making Old Busker, Woods worked with Chuckanut to add extra ingredients that bring out the current flavor, which Herman said was a fun project.

Woods is currently looking at other ways to partner with local companies in creating products.

“It’s amazing the number of local companies in this area,” Herman said. “I think there’s more entrepreneurial power here for a county this size than anywhere in the country.”

Now that the distillery is beyond the start-up phase and producing more types of spirits, Howell said they want to further improve brand recognition. They are working on getting a distributor with plans to be in more stores, restaurants and bars.

As the company grows, Howell said they’ve able to tap into local businesses for ingredients. That’s been particularly true with farmers; the distillery uses potatoes to create its spirits.

“It’s been a pleasure working (with the farmers),” Howell said. “They’ve found ways to help me with my products.”

For further details about the company, visit


A new home decor store will be opening in Bellingham in early 2015.

Angela and Chris Smithson are planning to open Real Deals on Home Décor in late January at the Hannegan Square retail center at 4073 Hannegan Road, across from Lynden Floor & Design. The company is a franchise, offering a variety of products that include furniture, candles, pottery and wall art at warehouse prices.

Chris Smithson said the store will have about 2,000 square feet of retail space. For details about the Bellingham store and updates on an opening, visit the store’s Facebook page.


George and Cycy Guerrero recently took over the Lummi Gateway Cafe, changing the name and menu.

The eatery is now called Our Place Cafe and is at the Lummi Gateway Centerat 4920 Rural Ave. The cafe offers breakfast and lunch. Items include Indian tacos with fry bread; fish and chips; grilled chicken sandwiches and breakfast burritos. Everything is made from scratch, said their daughter Timbre Sheppard. The cafe plans on having a $5 special every day on a selected menu item.

Our Place Cafe has a sit-down area and also makes items to go. Hours are 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day except Sunday, when it is closed. For details, call the cafe at 360-933-4304.


A new coffee stand has opened on Samish Way. Stan’s Gourmet Coffee & Scones opened earlier this month in the former Brewed Awakening stand at 100 N. Samish Way. Owner Stan Schroeder is serving Fidalgo Bay Coffee Roasters coffee and baked goods. The drive-through coffee stand is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day except Sunday. One feature for this coffee stand is being able to order ahead online. To do that, go to The operators of Bellingham Beverage Express at 2001 Iowa St. announced on Facebook that the store will be shutting its doors at the end of December. The company, which sells wine, growlers and beer, is currently having a liquidation sale. Three of the owners, Beau Hughes, Zachary Hughes and Trace Evans, are planning to open a tavern in downtown Bellingham in early 2015. Details on a location are still being worked out, said Beau Hughes. A building permit application was submitted to put in a dental office at 224 36th St., in the Sehome Village shopping center. The name of the new office is Dental Gentle. A building permit was submitted to put in a Sport Clips hair salon at 1301 W. Bakerview Road, in the Bakerview Fred Meyer shopping center near Five Guys. Construction remains on track for The Woods Coffee cafe in Skagit County, owner Wes Herman said. An official opening date has yet to be decided, but he expects it to be ready by mid-December.