ADDRESS: 160 NW Jackson Ave, Corvallis, OR
OWNERS: Scott McFarland, Brian Bovee & Mark O’Brien (General Manager: Jonathan Scott)
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 8
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 75
WHAT THEY SELL: Locally brewed craft beer and pub food
WHY YOU SHOULD GO: This community-oriented restaurant boasts world-class beers and elevated pub fare in a uniquely designed four-story renovated building that has sunset views overlooking Corvallis. Customers are encouraged to “eat and drink heartily” on Sky High’s heated porch, indoor dining room, indoor/outdoor bar, Tap Room and rooftop, which is open during the dry season. It’s no wonder that this downtown pub became a popular gathering place in just a few short years!
Scott, when did you decide to start your business? I’ve always wanted to build a brewery, the shiny tanks and all that beer, and make beer for American Dream Pizza. Sky High Brewing came from this idea.
Tell us more about what you serve. What are your specialties? Well, we serve what we call elevated pub food, most everything made from scratch using local ingredients when we can. Folks enjoy our fish tacos, burgers, salads, pulled pork Reuben, 4-story nachos and our pizza. We brew 13 different beers and offer them all on tap. Two of those are cask conditioned and on nitro. Our Freewheel IPA and Bohemian Pils are two of our best.
What does being featured as the Local Business of the Week mean to you? We are both flattered and honored to be featured as Business of the Week. We are both community-minded and community-oriented, so this falls right in line with our values as a local business. Also, that we’ve finally made it! Ha.
Do you fill an unusual niche? Why should folks patronize your business? We do fill an unusual niche. Our kitchen is second to none in the way that we source ingredients, and our beers are unique. We work to take pub food and craft beer and the entire brewpub experience to a different level and create something special in town, even down to our architecture.
What challenges have you faced as independent local business owners, and how have you met those challenges? We have faced the same challenges as any independent business in town, but we believe in our product and everything we’re doing – and we stick to it.
What do you feel is the impact of local independent businesses on Corvallis, and what does the future look like for the local independents? We feel that local independent businesses have a very positive impact in Corvallis. Many of us are thriving here in town, the people of Corvallis support us in a big way and we bring a lot of energy, creativity and fun to the community. We’re plugged in to the community as we all live here, and we enjoy being part of that. Sky High employs 75 people, creating lifestyles and good jobs for them. With all the support the people of Corvallis bring to the local independents, we think the future is very bright.
What do you enjoy most about owning a local, independent business in Corvallis? What excites or inspires you? Getting to name beers is way cool! We love working and living in Corvallis. The community is so supportive and creative, and that makes the hard work very satisfying. Corvallis allows us to grow in our own way, which inspires us to new and fun heights (had to get a Sky High play in there).
What is your relationship to the community? What charities/nonprofits/civic organizations do you support or participate in? We feel that we have a close relationship with the community. We’re all part of it and we care about it, so we have our ear to the ground about what’s happening. Many causes come our way: fundraisers, schools, people who are ill. We do what we can to be involved in as much as possible. We’ve had fundraisers for the Corvallis Environmental Center, and if you quaff a pint of Fender Blues IPA at the pub some of the proceeds from that pint go to support their fine work. If we can help, we will.
Do you think your employees are better off working for a local independent rather than a chain? Heck yeah! As we mentioned, we have 75 employees. These employees aren’t constrained by corporate edicts, and they’re given the opportunity to provide feedback and ideas on how to grow and improve our business. We create a respectful work environment, one that fosters creativity and fun. We all play a role in making decisions, and we encourage input.
How important is sustainability to you and/or your business? What are you doing to save energy, decrease your carbon footprint, reduce waste, and so on? Sustainability is important to us. We want to make Sky High as sustainable as possible as we go forward, and we continue to look for new ways to do this. Our brewery delivers kegs by bicycle and gets their spent grain to local farmers to feed their pigs. We’re working there to minimize our water usage. In the kitchen we source local ingredients whenever possible. We compost our food scraps, and we use compostable paper products. Our t-shirts are made from organic cotton. We worked with the City of Corvallis to install a big bike parking area across the street which gets a lot of use. There’s a solar array on our roof. It’s in our interest to turn the lights off when we don’t need them. We understand that resources are limited, and we have a responsibility to have as light a footprint as possible.
Please give us your one-sentence take-away message about your business. Creating tasty food and great beer and sharing it with Corvallis is a lot of fun, and we’re glad to be here!
(Interview and article by Devin Stuart – June 21, 2015; revised April 10, 2020)
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 Community Independent Business Alliance (CIBA).