New Life at the Loading Dock

By Beacon Staff

When Karen Sanderson looks around her specialty beer, wine and food shop in Kalispell, she sees a shadow of the past.

The idea that everything old is new again fits with her business’ location in Kalispell’s Loading Dock – which has a history of grocery sales – as well as in her décor.

Brix Bottleshop is full of the latest specialty wines and beers, with bottles lining shelves and stacking against the walls. But just above the kitchen area, Sanderson has placed a green bottle that was unearthed during the Loading Dock’s renovation, one that is likely at least 100 years old.

“We have a lot of little pieces of history,” Sanderson said, pointing to an old bicycle that used to grace the building’s façade and now resides on the shop’s wall.

In a few short months, the Loading Dock went from mostly vacant to bustling with new businesses. There’s Brix Bottleshop, Brannigan’s Irish Pub and the Sweet No Wheat Bakery, which opened on March 12.

Sanderson said the Loading Dock was the perfect spot for her business, which opened its doors on Dec. 5. With a background in wineries and business experience in Portland, Ore., Sanderson said the idea to move home to Kalispell came after the birth of her daughter. She moved from Portland in November 2010 to work at Georges Distributing, and saw the market for a specialty shop like hers was ripe.

“It’s something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” Sanderson said.

Moving her shop in next to the already-established Brannigan’s was a no-brainer, she said, because they complement each other. Brix offers plenty of wine selections, as well as a knowledgeable staff and cards to identify each selection.

The business of beer is also increasing, Sanderson said, and Brix’s build-your-own six-pack idea allows shoppers to select a variety of brews instead of a homogenous sixer. The selection is updated frequently, Sanderson said, especially around holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day.

Customers can also build their own buckets, complete with beer, instructional or informative books and snacks. Brix also has a large selection of specialty foods, including pastas, chocolates and cheese, for customers to peruse.

A portion of the beer selection – most of which you can use to build your own six pack – is seen at Brix Bottleshop at The Loading Dock in Kalispell. – Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon

Brix has also partnered with the North Bay Grille for wine tastings, during which patrons taste the wines at the Bay and place orders for more through Brix.

With more orders each day, including Montana microbrews, Sanderson said business is picking up after a slight drop off following the hectic Christmas season.

“Christmas was crazy,” she said. “Things were flying off the shelves as we were unpacking them.”

Two doors down, Jennelle Cassidy of the Sweet No Wheat Bakery feels like the Loading Dock is the missing puzzle piece for her business. Initially located in Whitefish, the bakery grew to the point of a necessary expansion, Cassidy said, and the new location is a perfect fit.
“It just felt like home,” Cassidy said.

The Sweet No Wheat Bakery offers patrons allergen-free fare, without gluten, dairy, or eggs. The Kalispell location will have a full-service bakery, as well as a smoothie bar, a coffee shop, Angel Works Organic Pasta – which is vegan and gluten-free – and plenty of seating.

Cassidy said there would be options for people who are seeking simple, to-go orders, such as toast and jam, and there is plenty of room for the bakery to grow. There will also be outside seating in the warmer months, she said.

Sweet No Wheat Bakery can be contacted at its new number, 751-5111, and will be open Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Check the Facebook page for updates.

Karen Sanderson is surrounded by bottles of beer and wine at her specialty store Brix Bottleshop at The Loading Dock in Kalispell. – Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon

At the other end of the Loading Dock, Brannigan’s Irish Pub is looking to expand, with a new upstairs space that would include quieter, more-intimate dining space, a small card room and a small casino.

Kalispell City Council recently approved the conditional use permit to operate the casino and to increase the amount of allowed casino machines for the upstairs addition.

Dewey Swank, who is involved with Brannigan’s, said construction on the elevator has already begun, and if all goes to plan, construction could begin in May. Diners upstairs would ideally have a view of nearby Depot Park, Swank said, giving patrons a quieter option than the boisterous pub downstairs.

“It’d be a different type of a dining space that doesn’t exist in Kalispell at the moment,” Swank said.

With the remodel on the historic building, Swank said he wasn’t surprised that it has become a hotspot for new businesses in Kalispell.

“It’s pretty upscale now,” he said.

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