With more than two decades of restaurant work in his background, David Fenech is making his first foray into restaurant ownership at the former Smith Rock Brewing Co. site, north of downtown Redmond.

The Vine-n-Tap will open in late September, said Fenech, who has worked almost every restaurant position from bus boy to manager. The concept will be a blend of a wine shop and wine tasting with craft cocktails and craft beer from local producers, he said.

He plans to introduce Redmond to new wines by having featured winery tastings from Washington and the Willamette Valley.

As for food, he’s hoping to attract a food cart operator to come in and lease the kitchen space, Fenech said.

“We’re remodeling and clearing out some of the patios and getting things fixed up,” Fenech said.

The location at 546 NW Seventh St. was home to Smith Rock Brewing Co., owned by two couples who went to court two years after opening in 2012 and attempted to dissolve the company.

Natalie Patterson and her partner, Donald Fredrickson, alleged in court documents that their business partners, Danielle Stewart and Kevin Stewart, failed to make good on a sales agreement to buy Fredrickson’s and Patterson’s interest in the business.

The rift began in 2014 when they agreed it was no longer reasonable to carry on Smith Rock Brewing because they couldn’t work productively together, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit settled in October 2017 with the case being dismissed with prejudice, according to Deschutes County Circuit Court records.

The brewery shuttered permanently on May 18.

In August of 2016, Smith Rock Brewing sold 45 barrels of beer, making it Oregon’s 203rd largest brewery of 251 at the time, according to a report by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Fenech said he’s trying to sell the brewery equipment to homebrewers looking to expand. In the meantime, he’s refreshing the place with paint and a new decor.

“There’ s no wine shop and tasting room in Redmond,” Fenech said. “I’m trying to stick predominantly with Pacific Northwest and branching out to stay local.”

When it’s operational, his business will employ about 10 people permanently and possibly an additional 5 more depending on the season, Fenech said.

The opening of the restaurant comes at a time when Central Oregon economy’s growth is being driven by population increases, making it not difficult to find those employees.

“There’s no longer pent-up hiring demand, but we’ll continue to see hiring and new businesses,” said Damon Runberg Central Oregon economist for the state Employment Department. “We will continue to see hiring and new businesses, particularly from businesses who serve the local community such as restaurants, grocery, and health services, as they keep pace with the growing consumer base.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2117, sroig@bendbulletin.com