IT’S A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT, you’ve got nothing going on and fancy a quiet evening with a book, but also need to get out of the house . . . maybe have a glass of wine. Where to go, in Cannon Beach, for that at home-yet-out feeling? Grab a jacket and head for Lush, Midtown’s comfy wine bar, owned and operated by Tracey Abel and Todd Rowley.
Cannon Beach in a depressed economy might not seem the most obvious time/place to open a wine bar, especially as Abel and Rowley both have successful day jobs and are extremely immersed in community doings. But it was an idea that niggled at them until one day they decided to go for it. A fair amount of research and a leisurely remodel later, Lush opened in July of 2010.
The décor is modern meets vintage funk, in an inspired interior makeover that Rowley, who also owns T&T Construction, did himself. Unique touches include the poured concrete bar top that Rowley impressed with the bottoms of wine bottles for texture. Admire the colored bottles hanging above the bar, transformed into hanging lights also Rowley’s idea. Low couches invite relaxing, as does the gas fireplace and bookshelf filled with wine and local lore.
“We wanted people to have the feeling that they’d just come over casually for a glass of wine, to our home,” Abel says. “We didn’t want to be pretentious.”
That’s not to say the details aren’t all in place. Cloth napkins, impressive stemware, and local art even one glass-topped table is the work of a regional artist are part of Abel’s aesthetic. The floors are poured concrete and cork, the to-go containers are recyclable. An outdoor, dog-friendly space beckons in the nicer weather, but for now the inside will definitely do.
Northwest wines dominate the wine list, but drinkers will also see international varietals. “You won’t find a California Pinot Noir on our list,” Abel laughs. “We find customers really want to focus on NW wines.” This includes labels created by locals Dean Reiman of The Wine Shack and Laurel Hood of Laurel’s Wine Shop. The small plates and appetizers change frequently and are made by Rowley in Lush’s tiny custom retrofitted kitchen. Nibble on warm brie with honey and dates, gird up with flatbreads featuring green apple, fennel & blue cheese, savor some soup, and finish yourself off with a chocolate caramel tart.
Lush has seen a goodly amount of support from locals, for which Abel is grateful. “People want to see business succeed here. That’s what I get from the locals. And we live here too, pay our taxes here. We’re a part of the community and want to give back.” Besides being a great local hangout, Lush offers some much needed entertainment options to the community. Every Wednesday finds a small gathering of open mic enthusiasts, and on first Saturdays of the month “dmoefunk,” a DJ from Portland, spins tunes for an eight-to-late dance party.
“I love it,” Abel muses. “It’s not exactly as I expected, but I wouldn’t change anything.” She and Rowley have lived in Cannon Beach long enough to understand the challenges of owning a business in a seasonal town. They have an eye for the long game and still want to be pouring wine in three years. “What I love are the customers. I know it’s cliché, but the people are what make it for me. We have some customers that are like family. That’s worth a lot.” Meanwhile Abel continues her career as a meeting planner and Rowley fits in remodels on the weekend. Like most Coasties, they’ve made a patchwork that pays the bills and allows for the lifestyle they want.
Lush, as in a descriptor for “wines that are rich, soft, velvety, sweet & fruity,” is open Tues-Sat from 5-9pm. Summer hours will probably be Tues-Sun, 4-9pm. The atmosphere is comfortable, the wines approachable, and the company agreeable. What else do you need to know? Stop in and raise a glass.
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Lush is located at 1235 South Hemlock Street in Cannon Beach.
Winter hours: Tues-Sat 5-9pm
Summer hours: Tues-Sun 4-9pm
Events: Wednesdays Open Mic; first Saturday Dance Party
Contact Tracy for special event reservations.