Brewing a dream
Steve Vandervort and Connie Parks
A few steps east of the intersection of Montgomery and Myers streets in downtown Oroville is Miner’s Alley Brewing Co., a brewhouse and restaurant owned by engaged couple Steve Vandervort and Connie Parks. Parks, who also owns Papacito’s Mexican Grill & Cantina, and Vandervort, who also owns Voodoo Tattoo, purchased the building about two years ago because they both wanted to be a part of the revitalization of historic downtown Oroville. Recently, the two purchased the corner lot, which housed a bus stop, next to the restaurant and have expanded and created an outdoor dining area with plans to have live music and a beer garden to be open during community events. All of the brewery’s beers—there are seven so far—are brewed in-house by Vandervort, and the food menu includes Americana fare like gourmet burgers and sandwiches. For more information, visit www.minersalleybrewingco.com.
Why did you open Miner’s Alley?
Parks: We were looking for a historic building downtown and this one became available. It had been several different restaurants in the past, so the Miner’s Alley Brewing Co. idea was born when we purchased the building.
Why a brewing company?
Vandervort: Originally, it was supposed to be a coffee shop. We have multiple businesses; one of them is Voodoo Tattoo and we were thinking of moving it here and possibly marrying a cafe next to it. We thought about doing Voodoo Tattoo and Brew, but the brew being coffee, not beer. When we found this building, we thought it’d be better to drop the tattoo shop [part]. There’s a coffee shop across the street, so brew became beer instead of coffee.
Parks: Things morphed into what they needed to be.
How did you two meet?
Parks: He owned Voodoo Tattoo, which was next door to Papacito’s. We met in the alley behind our businesses and now we own the Alley together.
What’s it like being a business owner in downtown Oroville?
Vandervort: Because of the current economic situation, starting any business is a leap of faith, but to go into an area that isn’t booming, that’s an even bigger leap of faith. We love the downtown historical district. We both grew up here in Oroville, so it’s what we really wanted. We wanted something with character and a sense of community.
What’s changed downtown in the past few years?
Parks: There’s definitely a positive vibe and an electricity because of the people, the business owners who have taken the leap of faith and want to see the historical district of Oroville be the shinning star of this town.
Vandervort: I think, economically, things are little better, but people in Oroville need to know places in Oroville for them to go. Chico’s always been a draw because it seems to have it all, but the more we have, the more people will stay. The stars are aligning with people willing to invest, and that’s giving it momentum. Now the trick is to keep that momentum going.