Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Business Briefs


November 14, 2019

Brayton Long

The Rad Rover all terrain electronic fat bike.

Bamboo Room pop up

Those who don't have, borrow for a small fee-that's chef Travis Kukull's motto, exemplified in his first Haines pop up restaurant set for the Bamboo Room on Wednesday, Dec. 4.

Kukull will open the Bamboo Room and adjoining Pioneer Bar for business during its otherwise closed winter hours for a night of pan-Asian food, tiki-bar style.

"Pop ups create a following," Kukull said. "It allows you to have fun with whatever food that you want to showcase (and) they're generally pretty busy, because it's just happening the once. I like tiki bars a whole lot, especially in winter time. It makes you feel like someplace tropical."

On the menu: Kimchi fried rice with soft egg ($10), pork steamed buns ($8 each), okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancakes, $15), miso ramen ($15), and lime pie ($7).

Kukull, who previously owned two Seattle-area restaurants, said he's always been influenced by Asian food. "It's part of my everyday eating," he said. "I grew up (in Seattle) eating Chinese and Japanese and Filipino food."

His encouragement to the faint of heart: "If you like burgers, you will probably like this. It's just like the Japanese version of pizza," he said of the okonomiyaki. "It means 'fried as you like it.'"

In Haines this year, Kukull has cooked the brewer's dinner at Beerfest, the American Bald Eagle Foundation fundraiser dinner, and sold food at the state fair, beerfest, and regularly at the Farmer's Market.

The Pioneer Bar will feature drink specials (including Mai Tais, pineapple daiquiris, and jungle bird cocktails), beach party decorations, and probably live music, owner Christy Tengs said.

"I think it'll be good for Travis to show his talent but also to show that we're up for doing some new and interesting things at the Bamboo Room," she said. "If it goes well, we'll do it throughout the winter."

Food will be served from 5 to 9 p.m.

Port Chilkoot Distillery expands

This spring, Haines spirit drinkers are in for an upgrade-Port Chilkoot Distillery is expanding its tasting room to nearly eight times its current size.

Beginning this winter, the local distillery will move its production to the neighboring building, opening up the current space as an expanded tasting room by next summer.

"We're moving into the space we need to operate as we are," co-owner Heather Shade said. "The new space and some equipment modification will allow us expand production, make and mature more whiskey in barrels, (and) allow us to grow our business and start distributing out of Alaska."

The 150-square-foot tasting room has operated under the same roof as production since the Alaska state law changed to allow tasting rooms in distilleries in 2014. Shade and Sean Copeland opened the distillery in the historic fort's former bakery in October 2013.

Their whiskies and spirits have since won various awards. In 2015, the 50 Fathoms Gin won The San Francisco World Spirits Competition, and was later recognized by Travel + Leisure editors as a favorite.

The new production building, built by Copeland and a local team with similarly-styled fort architecture, will house four times as much whiskey as current storage space allows.

Copeland broke ground on the 42,000 square foot building in May.

"Right now, there's demand for whiskey around Alaska and we're unable to supply it," Shade said.

The owners assure visitors that the tasting room will have the same personalized atmosphere, just in a larger space.

Visitors will soon enter through the alleyway door, and the porch will be accessible through the building.

Copeland envisions the seating space to look similar to Haines Brewery: "A lot of standing room, maybe some tall tables," he said.

Owners anticipate keeping the current tasting room open as long as possible this winter before making expansion changes. There will be an open house in the spring for locals to tour the new distillery facility, Shade said. Other changes on the horizon: production tours, expanded merchandise, and maybe even more products.

Port Chilkoot Distillery's winter hours are 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

E-bike rentals

Cemetery Hill just became a whole lot more manageable, with Alaska Local Tours electric bike rentals available to Haines locals through the winter.

"You can cover a lot of ground in two hours on those bikes," owner Brayton Long said this week.

Long bought an inventory of six bikes this summer, including two fat tire bikes and four "sportier" city cruisers, from Rad Power Bikes in Seattle. He rented them at an hourly rate to cruise ship passengers beginning in July.

"It was pretty promising," Long said. "I wish I had gotten them earlier in the season. They are great for older people, and people that don't ride bikes on a regular basis."

Long wants to extend his summer season by offering locals a discount rate for winter rentals. He said he expects the fat tire bikes to fare well in the ice and snow, though he hasn't tested them out yet.

Rad Power Bikes public relations officer Tessa Ward told the CVN that the RadRover fat bike "is very capable on snow and ice."

"The 4 (inch) fat tires are designed to handle some of the most difficult conditions, including gravel, ice, and snow," Ward wrote in an email. "The large surface area of the tires gives the rider increased traction and stability. Additionally, the tires have a knobbier thread which is ideal for looser terrain such as snow."

The Fat Bike was named "Best Electric Fat Bike" on for two years running. The battery can last between 25-45 miles per charge depending on use, according to the website.

The bikes have adjustable motor power, so riders can set how much power assistance they want on hills, Long said.

Alaska Local Tours provides helmets and locks for rentals. The bikes are fitted with automatic brake lights, headlights, and a bell for passing. Long said he will charge a local rate of $18 an hour.

Interested renters can call Long at 907-419-6711 to request a test ride on an e-bike.

Next summer, Long said he plans to extend his tour offerings to include e-bike tours.


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