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Kevin Brannon thinks big with restaurant plans for former Blue Iguana in Beaverton

by: TIMES PHOTO: LACEY JACOBY - Kevin Brannon stands in the Central Beaverton building that will soon become Brannon's Pub and Brewery. The pub will open in late fall of this year.Brewpub restaurants come in all shapes, sizes and styles in the Portland metro area, from super casual holes-in-the-wall to more stylish, family-oriented emporiums.

When pondering a microbrew-fueled restaurant for Central Beaverton, Kevin Brannon decided less-is-more was not the way to go.

“The less risky approach is a smaller place with picnic tables, but we thought with this market, that sort of approach wouldn’t be our best shot,” he said. “We’re trying to provide a little more high-end experience.”

To that end, Brannon is gutting and renovating the former Blue Iguana restaurant at 3800 S.W. Cedar Hills Boulevard to accommodate Brannon’s Pub and Brewery, a 10,000-square- foot brewery, pub and full-service restaurant. By following his gut with a larger, more deluxe establishment, Brannon — a Portland attorney and experienced East Coast restaurateur — is willing to go the extra mile to make the concept work.

“That’s the risk we’re taking. The place is big,” he said. “The way we went about it means the investment is large. That means we have to make it popular. We need people to show up. The other (key) is to hire good people and get out of their way.”

Set to open by mid-to-late October with about 35 employees, Brannon’s will accommodate 200 guests inside and about 40 on the west-facing TIMES PHOTO: LACEY JACOBY - Kevin Brannon looks at the building plans for Brannon's Pub and Brewery. The building that will house the pub is currently under construction.

The restaurant will brew numerous styles of beer on site and specialize in stone hearth-baked pizzas prepared in the Neapolitan style, spit-roasted meat and fowl, salads, pastas, house-made bread and a range of pub-oriented specialities, with an emphasis on local ingredients.

“We will have gluten free and vegan versions of everything,” he said. “It’s pub food kicked up a notch. I find the term ‘gastropub’ to be pretentious, but that’s kind of what we’re doing.”

A Northwest Portland resident, Brannon, 59, and his business partner — who chooses to remain in the background while designing and building furniture for the restaurant — explored a variety of locations before settling on the Cedar Hills Boulevard space. The location has been vacant since last fall when the owners of Blue Iguana did not renew their lease.

“We looked around,” Brannon said. “It just seemed the area was underserved. We talked to people on the Westside, and a lot of what we heard was that there were proportionately too many chains and not enough independents to keep people in the neighborhoods. There’s lots of traffic, parking and people driving by on their way to somewhere else.”

A native of Lebanon, Ore., Brannon sowed his micro-brewing oats after relocating to Fredrick, Md. He founded the Fredrick Brewing Company, which gradually developed into one of the mid-Atlantic region’s largest independently owned craft breweries.

Brannon returned to the Portland area in 2001 to practice law closer to home. He founded the BrannonLaw PC law firm, which focuses on business transitions, mergers, acquisitions and business financing.

With his Beaverton venture, Brannon is channeling his business and law experience into what he considers his true passion.

“I’m excited to return to my craft brewing roots and to see my vision for Brannon’s Pub and Brewery come to life,” he said.

Despite the preponderance of brewpubs in the Portland area — including Raccoon Lodge on Southwest Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway in Raleigh Hills and Golden Valley on Northwest Bethany Boulevard — Brannon is finding his search for a local qualified master brewer more challenging than anticipated.

“I’ve been surprised how difficult it is to find brewers,” he said. “We’ve done a nationwide search and gotten applications from all over the country, but not from here. Brewers seem to like their jobs, but they don’t move around much.”

Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle welcomes Brannon’s Brewery as a quality complement to the Creekside District the city is working to develop between Canyon Road, Beaverton Creek and Cedar Hills and Hall boulevards.

“The city of Beaverton is pleased to welcome Brannon’s Pub and Brewery to the area,” he said. “This new establishment is well positioned to become a key feature in the already bustling Cedar Hills district and the Three Creeks district that we are working hard to develop.”

And it’s not lost on Brannon that Beaverton City Hall soon will be almost directly behind his brew pub when the city’s administrative offices move from Southwest Griffith Drive to The Round in August.

“I’ve joked with all the city officials holding up my permits that they’ll have to pay me back by buying a beer,” Brannon quipped.

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