Venture into the Vinwood Taphouse at dinner for a plate of fettuccine, on the way home from work for a cold one or on a weekend morning for breakfast, and odds are you'll sense a strong Philomath presence.
Sure, it's in town on Main Street next door to Marys Peak True Value, but that's a given. No, the feel goes beyond the location. Look over toward one of the walls and you may recognize a red door that was once hinged at Wing Sing. Enjoy your food and drink on a table that was handmade by a local craftsman. And while looking over the wine list, you'll see selections from a Philomath winery.
But to top it all off, chat with the three sisters running the place — Chelsea Halahuni, Missy Harwood-Muir and Lisa Harwood. They are Philomath originals as well, born and raised here and graduates of the local high school.
"Half the people (who come in) we know from our hometown, so it's awesome seeing everybody we know and they love seeing us and our parents," Chelsea said. "It's fun ... we get hugs from everybody. It's just a really 'hometown' place to be."
In late September, the Harwood family officially took over ownership after buying out Tim and Teresa Vincent. The business opened nearly a year ago in a joint venture between the Vincents, and Mark and Lorie Harwood — thus, the name "Vinwood."
The idea to open up such an establishment in town had been something on the mind of Mark Harwood. It took off during everyday conversation.
"My dad's talked about it for years, he really has, about opening up a restaurant or a bar or something like that," Missy said. "And so him and his friends were sitting around and Troy (Muir) talked about it a few times and Joe (Halahuni), too, with them, and it led to 'let's open up a taphouse.'"
Vinwood Taphouse employs more than 20 employees, some of them friends and family. Their aunt, who worked for years at the Old World Deli in Corvallis, produces her magic in the kitchen.
"All of us decided to help work at it," Chelsea said. "We love it here; we love seeing everybody come in."
The taphouse feature of the restaurant includes 30 taps, with beer and cider selections. A digital board hangs above with all types of information, including type, brewer, ABV (alcohol by volume) percentage and IBU (international bittering unit) rating, serving size, price and even the keg level. In fact, an online app called Digital Pour allows customers to check out the selections before arriving.
In the kitchen, Vinwood features homemade cooking and among its promotions is Taco Tuesdays.
The Harwood sisters have adapted to running a restaurant following work in other fields. Chelsea was a hairdresser, Missy has a photography studio and also works with her husband at Marys Peak True Value, and Lisa used to sit in a cubicle working in the medical services field.
As might be expected with any group of siblings working together, there is drama from time to time.
"We still love each other at the end of the day," Chelsea said with a smile.
"We'll fight during a shift and then it's over by the next evening," Lisa added.
Vinwood Taphouse designed the business with families in mind, Missy said.
"We made this more family-oriented ... it doesn't have that bar feel to it," she said. "We all have kids and we love having kids in here."
The establishment features patio dining out front and will look further into adding the same option for patrons with seating in the back.
"That's most likely, hopefully, by spring they'll look into that a little more," Missy said. "As long as you have cameras and stuff out back, you're OK, and it has to be roped off or painted, that type of thing on where they can go."
Vinwood will also be adding a lottery room for folks who enjoy gaming. There's been talk as well about possibly upgrading and expanding the kitchen.
Beyond the details of running a taphouse and restaurant, the sisters just appreciate where they work. For example, Lisa has really enjoyed getting out of an office setting and thriving in an environment that features public interaction.
"It's also being a part of your own business and it's not that day-to-day job you hate so much," she said. "You don't feel like you're in a routine every day, doing the same thing and hating it. It feels good to come to work and be happy and enjoy it."
Missy loves the benefits of a hometown family business.
"I love that, being able to see each other all the time, have out kids in here when we want," she said. "And it's the same thing with seeing people in town we haven't seen for a long time. I see people all the time next door (at True Value) but seeing them in here and interacting instead of something quick — it's nice to see everyone again."