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Manito Tap House set to sell

December 14, 2018

Manito Tap House is selling.

Patrick McPherson, who opened the restaurant in 2011, is in the process of selling the business to Liz and Curtis Nelson and their partner Todd Phelps.

Nelson and Phelps Hospitality specializes in approachable fare and neighborhood restaurants. The restaurant group owns The Barrel, Steelhead Bar and Grille, Morty’s Tap and Grille, two Fieldhouse Pizza and Pub locations, and Selkirk Pizza and Taphouse.

Phelps also owns The Screaming Yak.

“Manito Tap House will make eight for us,” Liz Nelson said.

Done in reclaimed barn wood and other recycled materials, Manito Tap House has been hailed for its green building and business practices. The eco-friendly gastropub on Spokane’s South Hill features 50 tap handles and a menu that includes burgers, tacos and other hand-helds as well as its signature green chile mac and cheese.

Manito Tap House employs about 25 people.

And, Liz Nelson said, “We have asked that everyone stay with us. We’re not letting anybody go.”

Nelson and Phelps Hospitality reps met with Manito Tap House employees this week to let them know of their plans to purchase the place – and request that they stay on.

The sale isn’t finalized yet.

“We’re just getting all of the elements in place,” Liz Nelson said, noting, “We’re pretty excited about it.”

Other than maybe adding a coat of paint and updating the wine list, she said customers shouldn’t notice any changes.

“We’re hoping to make as smooth as a transition as possible,” Liz Nelson said. “We have the utmost confidence in the kitchen. They do a really good job. They don’t need anyone to come in and change it. There’s no reason for an overhaul. There’s nothing broken. There’s nothing to fix.”

Nelson and Phelps Hospitality plans to keep Manito Tap House’s 50 taps. The pub is well-known for having an extensive beer list. The new owners are also interested in learning about Manito Tap House’s commitment to the environment. Manito Tap House is Green Restaurant Association certified with four stars, the highest of GRA’s four-star rating system.

McPherson also owns the Blackbird in the old Broadview Dairy building. It’s also rated four stars from GRA.

“They kind of go above and beyond, too,” Liz Nelson said. “(McPherson) is really into that, and we respect that. We’re hoping there’s a few things we can learn from this, too. We see this as a learning process, and that’s what we told the employees.”

Liz Nelson said her restaurant group wasn’t in the market to buy another eatery.

“We weren’t looking to buy anything,” she said. “Our priority as a company is trying to finish Monroe Street. But the opportunity opened up, and it really does fit in our wheelhouse, which is why we were interested in it in the first place.”

Nelson and Phelps Hospitality is in the process of completing renovations at its corporate headquarters, located in a historical building on North Monroe Street. Offices are on the third floor. A board room is on the second. And, “this spring, the goal is to move forward with finishing the outside of the building,” Liz Nelson said. “It is our place to make the main level a special events center that would be able to hold events for 100 to 150 people.”

The Nelsons also own Nelson’s Towing Repair and Auto Body and Repair as well as Western International Recovery Bureau, or WIRB, a repossession company, and a property management company.

Manito Tap House, is “pretty turn-key. You might see some new paint next year,” Liz Nelson said – but that’s about it.

“We want to see how the menu works,” she said. “If we change anything at all, it would maybe be replacing one to three of the least-selling items. We want to make sure our menu appeals to everyone in our demographic.”

And that’s one of the reasons Manito Tap House seemed like a good fit for the restaurant group, which aims to offer “a taste of Spokane,” Liz Nelson said. “We want to offer Spokane its favorite places to eat.”

And, she said, Manito Tap House is “very Spokane-oriented. It’s rooted into the community. It’s a little bit of everything for everybody. It offers something for foodies. And it offers something for your average blue-collar customers who want to go out and have good a good meal and a beer.”

Manito Tap House is at 3011 S. Grand Blvd. On the web: manitotaphouse.com. Call (509) 279-2671.

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