By Jack Taylor
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if a soda fountain poured beer and wine instead? Ferndale’s new taproom, DownTime Taps, aims to give bar goers a brand new experience.
With 32 selections of beer and wine, DownTime Taps is Washington’s first and only self-serve taproom. Located off Labounty Drive in Ferndale, DownTime Taps allows customers to be their own bartenders. According to Co-owner Tomas Aminnie, the beauty of the new style of bar is that customers can drink as much or as little as they want.
Aminnie said when a popular local bar, Maggie’s, closed, people in Ferndale had to drive into Bellingham just to enjoy a drink. He saw a window to open a new place in town, and decided to get creative.
“As soon as [Maggie’s] closed down, we had nowhere to go and we thought Ferndale needed something in the taproom scene,” Aminnie said.
Looking for ideas, Aminnie said the inspiration for a self-serve taproom came to him while he was traveling.
“I was doing some traveling on the east coast in Rhode Island and I saw the [self-serve] system and immediately fell in love with it,” Aminnie said.
He said he was drawn to the system because as a consumer, he likes to sample a variety of drinks and often wants more than the average serving.
Alana Winborn, a Western senior and employee of DownTime Taps, said she heard of her current employer through Western’s job site. She said she thinks the unique bar creates a fun atmosphere to work in.
“It is nice to be a part of something revolutionary, [and] something that is such a big change for the state and for the area,” Winborn said. “Ferndale is such a small area, so I feel like this is really great for the community.”
Aminnie said when customers arrive, they get a wristband that is connected to their credit card and ID. Each wristband is also connected to a tab for each customer. Each time the wristband is used to activate the tap dispenser, the amount the customer dispenses is added to their tab.
However, he said there are restrictions to how much a customer can consume. According to Aminnie, the system has a limit of 24 ounces. When a customer reaches the limit, they have to approach a staff member and ask for another 24 ounces. Aminnie said he thinks this is more safe than other bars because the staff can easily keep track of customers’ consumption to make sure they’re not drinking too much.
Aminnie said he has seen an enthusiastic response from the Ferndale community so far.
“The community has been awesome about it, but it is a learning curve because it is such a new thing,” Aminnie said. “Every brand new customer that walks in, we have to educate about the system and how it works. As soon as they learn how it works, we have customers come in and mix different kinds of ciders and make their own fusion of cocktails.”
Ferndale resident Brent Richards said he thinks having people bartend for themselves makes customers more aware of their alcohol intake.
“The whole vibe of being able to pour your own drink changes the game so much,” Richards said. “You’re not waiting for the bartender to say, ‘Would you like another?’
You’ve got to keep track of yourself.”
Although he has no plans to expand, Aminnie said he hopes to continue to serve Ferndale and become a staple in the community.
More information can be found on DownTime Taps’ website, www.downtimetaps.com