Richland’s intimate Fox and Bear Public House will close as its founder steps down.
Owner Dan De Groof confirmed Fox and Bear will close Aug. 20 following its sale to a current employee. It will reopen a few weeks later under a new owner, a new name but the same chef.
“We’re happy to pass the baton to the new owner,” De Groof said.
De Groof and his wife started the community-oriented gathering spot in a former wine bistro at Columbia Point in 2012. The self-funded venture blended his interest in owning a bar with her interest in owning a bed and breakfast.
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The timing is not accidental.
Fox and Bear’s lease for its 50-seat spot at 430 George Washington Way expires in 2017. The hard deadline to renew inspired hard thinking about the Fox and Bear’s future. In the end, De Groof decided to list the business in order to contemplate his next business move.
Dan De Groof wanted Fox and Bear to do for beer what the Tri-Cities was already doing for wine: Highlight local brands.
De Groof declined to publicly disclose terms of the sale or the buyer before the deal closes.
The De Groofs are Tri-City transplants who came to the area in 2003 to work for the Department of Energy. De Groof previously served in the military, but said he had always had an entrepreneurial bent.
“I’m that guy in the Army who always asks ‘why?’ ” he said. “If you want to know ‘why,’ sometimes you have to step out and go on your own.”
De Groof said he’s a long-time beer aficionado who embraced wine after landing in the Tri-Cities. But he retained his love of local brews. He wanted Fox and Bear to do for beer what the Tri-Cities was already doing for wine: Highlight local brands.
The self-funded venture blended his interest in owning a bar with her interest in owning a bed and breakfast.
With his chef brother on board, Fox and Bear offered Tri-Citians a locally-owned beer and wine-focused spot serving fresh pub-style fare. It was a deliberate alternative to the chain restaurants that dot the landscape.
Fox and Bear soon gathered a dedicated following through trivia events and live music. Its Facebook feed highlights actual foxes and bears in the news almost as much as it does its own offerings. (Example: “This is what happens when a bear gets into your Subaru”.)
Fox and Bear was De Groof’s first restaurant venture, and he concedes there were plenty of mistakes. The restaurant, with a capacity of about 50, has thrived and employs nine.
De Groof said he’s not sure what his next move will be, but freeing himself from the daily business of running a restaurant will give him a room to make a thoughtful choice.
Owner Dan De Groof and his wife started the community-oriented gathering spot in a former wine bistro at Columbia Point in 2012.
“I will be looking for new business opportunities. It will be in a similar vein: Beer -related,” he said.
Eat All About It will catch up with the new owners in a future column.
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