ADDRESS: 300 SW Jefferson, Corvallis, OR 97333
PHONE NUMBER: 541-758-2077
WEB SITE: www.block15.com
OWNERS: Kristen and Nick Arzner
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 5
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 70
WHAT THEY SELL: Seasonal food and craft beer
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: Block 15 is a wonderful spot in downtown Corvallis to enjoy great food and drink for lunch or dinner. All ages are welcome, and good cheer may always be found.
Block 15 Restaurant and Brewery’s warm atmosphere and welcoming faces greet customers as soon as they step inside. Co-owned by Kristen and Nick Arzner, the restaurant beats with a lively vibe, perfect for enjoying a great meal or beer with friends or family. It’s easy to see that Nick and Kristen care very much about Block 15, their customers, and the broader Corvallis community.
Kristen, when and why did you decide to start your business? Nick and I both spent many years working in restaurants and breweries, and dreamed of someday opening our own together. When Nick and I moved to Corvallis and OSU eleven years ago, we noticed there was no local brew pub, and this was surprising to us as Corvallis is such a locally driven and vibrant community. In 2007, a space opened up downtown, and we decided to start Block 15. It took a full year to get the place ready, but in February of 2008, we opened our doors!
What does Block 15 provide for Corvallis? We offer a wide variety of beers, in many styles. We hope to please our customers, and also educate them about all the special styles of beers available. We have eight standard taps, and then five to nine seasonal or specialty beers which we are constantly changing. We aim to offer more familiar styles as well as unique ones. Working with our brew staff, we have a lot of different inspirations for what we will brew. Just yesterday, Nick was brewing a Gose beer, which is a traditional German brew. He did his research to make it true to its history, and made it unique by brewing it with Meyer lemons. Block 15 provides Corvallis with a great range of beers for its size. I recommend the Super Nebula [which they brew in February], the Golden Canary [a wild and sour beer], and our Alpha IPA.
We also offer local and regional foods. We like to think of our menu as unpretentious pub food- casually fantastic! We offer monthly specials, as well as daily specials.
What does being featured as a Local Business of the Week mean to you? As there are so many great local businesses here in Corvallis, we are flattered to be featured as a local business of the week!
Do you fill an unusual niche? What does Block 15 do really well? In addition to our beer and food, we offer friendly service, with a fun atmosphere. While some pubs may only welcome adults, we try to make a setting fun for all ages. We have two year olds, and even 102 year olds!
What challenges have you faced as an independent local business owner? How have you met those challenges? It hasn’t all been easy! This is our first business, and it was tough getting the doors open in the beginning. 2008 wasn’t an easy year. Since then, we have been growing, which is great. This growth also calls for a constant demand to evolve and adapt to our customers. We really try to listen to what they have to say, and respond. As a local business, we work to tailor Block 15 to Corvallis. Additionally, in the past five years prices of foods and running a business have increased substantially. While faced with these increases, we also don’t want to raise our prices too much. This has encouraged us to be very efficient in how we run the business, to cut unnecessary costs.
What do you feel is the impact of local independent businesses on Corvallis? What does the future look like for local independents? Local businesses can offer unique services, specific to Corvallis. Each business owner has a personal investment in their work, as they care about the broader community of Corvallis; we each live here and work here, and are involved in the community. The future of local businesses looks good, because they create jobs for people right here in Corvallis, and constantly evolve to suit the needs and desires of our community.
What’s fun about owning a local, independent business in Corvallis? I love what I do, and working in Corvallis is wonderful. The best part about the job is interacting with all the people. We talk about the beer and the food, which provides a creative outlet for me!
What is your relationship to the community? What charities/nonprofits/civic organizations do you support? We donate over $20,000 a year to a range of charities. Nick and I always have considered this an important part of owning a business. Since the beginning, we’ve wanted to give back to the community through our work. Generally we spread out our donations into three main areas: families and education, health and fitness, and environmental sustainability.
How many people do you employ? Have you added jobs since starting Block 15? We started out employing twenty-five people. Now we employ seventy at Block 15! The business has really grown. We also have opened Caves, a second restaurant that focuses on beers from around the state, and from around the world. At Caves we are able to be even more seasonally and locally focused, and we offer brunch there on the weekends. Caves employs 25 people.
How important is sustainability to you and your business? Sustainability is very important to us, and has been from the get-go. We recycle everything we can, and now compost all of our food waste. We also compost paper towels used throughout Block 15. Our spent grains are now transported to farms to provide feed for livestock. We are members of Northwest Natural Smart Energy, which helps to offset our carbon emissions. We are members of Pacific Power Blue Sky, and BEF – Bonneville Environmental Foundation, which helps offset our water usage. Personally, I care a lot about these issues, as my degree from OSU is in Natural Resource Law and Policy. In terms of using locally grown foods, we actually have a hand-built cart, given to us by a wonderful customer, which we take down to the farmers markets two times a week. This is very fun! Our beef is regionally grown, from Painted Hills, Oregon.
A one-sentence take away: Nick and I and the Block 15 team are proud to be Corvallis’s locally owned and operated Brew Pub, so come enjoy some casually fantastic food, fresh from-the-source craft beer, friendly welcoming service, and a fun atmosphere!
(Interview and article by Elizabeth Humphrey – April 7, 2013)
The Local Business of the Week program is designed to help the Corvallis community identify our locally-owned independent businesses by featuring one business each week. The program is part of the Buy Local First campaign co-sponsored by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition and the Corvallis Independent Business Alliance.