Garage-based Yonder Bar gets green light with passage of new land-use bill

The beloved neighborhood cider shop Yonder Bar is back in action with their garage-based venture, thanks to a new bill passed by Seattle City Council on Monday.

The new legislation—co-sponsored by City Councilmembers Dan Strauss and Lorena Gonzales and titled “Bringing Business Home, a Small Business Flexibility Bill”—allows more flexibility for small businesses to operate out of homes. The bill was passed on March 15 on an 8-1 vote, loosening restrictions to allow for food and beverage retailers, such as Yonder Bar, to do business at home.

Yonder Bar, which opened as a walk-up cider stand last summer in the garage belonging to the owners, has been a favorite for neighbors along 1st Ave NW. Yonder was forced to close in February after several complaints were filed, pointing to land-use violations.

When Councilmembers Strauss and Gonzales learned about the situation, they drafted the bill to help small businesses like Yonder Bar operating.

“Our land use code cannot be the barrier to vibrant neighborhoods and a strong economy,” said Strauss in a statement about the bill’s passing.  “It’s essential we meet our businesses where they’re at: whether that’s out of their homes or garages.”

“We know that many of the most successful businesses in our country were born out of garages. We need to support entrepreneurs, providing them the flexibility to operate out of their garages and grow into vacant storefronts. The Land Use Code wasn’t written with life in a pandemic in mind. This temporary legislation allows us to be responsive to our small businesses and make our neighborhoods more vibrant.”

Under the new bill, small businesses no longer have to follow regulations that required sales to be via appointment only and eliminates rules around parking and traffic surrounding the home business. And previously, only one non-resident could work in the business. Those rules have all been scrapped, and businesses are now also allowed more prominent signage for their home business.

The new legislation is set to expire in 2022, at which point the City can vote to extend it further.

Yonder Bar has reopened their walk-up shop at 7800 1st Ave NW; visit them on Facebook for hours and more information.

Photo: Yonder Bar owner Caitlin Braam and Councilmember Dan Strauss | courtesy Yonder Cider on Facebook