written and photographed by Jackie Dodd
“Hey, Eric! Congrats on nine years, bud!” A silver SUV slows as it passes the serpentine line of customers waiting to be let into The Hop and Hound’s anniversary celebration to shout his well wishes to half of the husband-and-wife team behind the beloved Bothell neighborhood spot. Eric Schaffer holds a toddler in one arm and the leash of his bloodhound in the other as he stands outside greeting the patrons waiting for the doors to open on a cold, rainy June morning. A line of people and pets that have blurred the line between patron and family for nearly a decade. The groundswell of support that has grown around the couple as they bring tasty craft beer offerings from all over the country has formed itself into the shape of a tight-knit community.
When asked about the possibility of expansion, the team’s response feels more like a protective parent than a shrewd business owner; they are too loyal to the community they have built in Bothell to risk their time and attention elsewhere. It’s a loyalty that goes both ways. When the pandemic hit, the patrons didn’t stop showing up. They bought gift certificates they didn’t plan to use to infuse the business with quick cash, filled growlers full of beer daily, bought cans of beer to go, and called just to offer support. Any money the couple received went right to their staff, a move that ensured they didn’t lose anyone during the difficult time. When the City of Bothell allowed the neighboring street to stay closed post-pandemic for outside seating but didn’t allow The Hop and Hound to do the same on their street, the city was so inundated with calls, emails and patrons showing up at their council meetings to advocate for the Schaffers that the city relented, allowing The Hop and Hound to permanently have a street-side outdoor space for the dogs and their humans to enjoy.
Lauren Schaffer, the other half of the ownership team, rings up customers buying the heavily curated selection of craft beer as Waylon, the hound in this equation, howls with joy as furry regulars and their beer-drinking companions enter the small tap room. Lauren knows most customers by name, asking about children, upcoming vacations and recent surgeries. The Schaffers seamlessly navigate the busy morning switching between tasks like a well-rehearsed dance honed over the past nine years. The walls are lined with costumed dog photos, a tradition that started on a long ago “Howloween” and continues all year long as patrons bring in their dolled-up dogs in hopes of making it onto the wall. It’s just another example of how this neighborhood spot has grown a community.
The Schaffers may have started the craft beer explosion in the area, or they may have just been ahead of the curve, but one thing is certain: They are at the epicenter of a growing ale trail in King County. When they opened the shop, just off the small main street in Bothell, they were first. The Hop and Hound opened before The Bine, Beardslee Public House, Cairn Brewing, 192 Brewing or any decent craft beer spots were nearby. Without a road map, they took a gamble on Bothell being the type of place that needed a local hangout for dog people who wanted a great craft beer, and they were right. Bothell and the community they have grown in the small space they occupy are grateful they knew what they were doing.
THE HOP AND HOUND
What to Know:
- Year-round patio seating
- 21+ only
- Food trucks on Friday and Saturday
18116 101ST AVE. NE