Business

Brewing a dream: Bindlestick ties wandering beer-lover to Snoqualmie

Bindlestick owner Hilary Shemasnki planned her Snoqualmie beer and coffee bar to be a welcoming place for everyone. “I want it to turn out to be one of those places you can go into alone, and still know everyone,” she said.  - Carol Ladwig / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Bindlestick owner Hilary Shemasnki planned her Snoqualmie beer and coffee bar to be a welcoming place for everyone. “I want it to turn out to be one of those places you can go into alone, and still know everyone,” she said.
— image credit: Carol Ladwig / Snoqualmie Valley Record

Hilary Shemanski has enjoyed a vagabond lifestyle, from teaching snowboarding at Snoqualmie Pass to living in Australia, and backpacking across Europe, but she’s no hobo.

Is she?

“I travel a lot, I’m cheap. I’ve been called a hobo before,” Shemanski admitted, “I’ve never hopped a train though. Well, technically.”

Technically, she’s still missing that little bag of belongings tied to a stick, too, but her business, the Bindlestick, makes up for that.

The cozy coffee, beer and wine bar with the hobo on the sign is the fulfillment of a 10-year dream for Shemanski. At least, the beer and wine part is. A world-travelling beer lover, Shemanski had been saving her money to open up her own beer bar for a decade, “and I never wanted it to be any bigger than this,” she said, gesturing around the tiny seating area, capacity 12.

The coffee, like many of her regular customers, came with the building (the former Koko Beans shop), she joked. “The beer I wanted, the coffee I got, but now, I love it, too.”

Many of the regulars that she “inherited” were worried that she’d eliminate the coffee part of the business when she took over the shop, she said, so she decided to keep it all, and learned to make espresso. She also added “just enough wine to make people happy,” and round out the offerings.

Shemanski is grateful to her customers who are “the best in the world,” and to her landlords, who have gone out of their way to help her transform Koko Beans to the Bindlestick. They pitched in to tear out a wall, paint, build furniture and wire the music system, dramatically expanding on Shemanski’s initial plans, almost in spite of her.

“I just sit here and make coffee, and everything falls into place!” Shemanski said.

She makes sandwiches and snacks, too.

This is a place, though, that you come for the people. Shemanski, who worked nearly 80-hour weeks to get the business going while keeping her other job one block over at the Snoqualmie Falls Brew Pub, still misses it when she’s not there.

In early January, she said she took off the first six hours that she’d had in almost a month, “and it made me sad.” Back at work a few days later, she talked about taking some time off in June, but said, “Now this feels like a vacation.”

• Bindlestick beer and coffee bar is located at 8010 Railroad Ave. S.E., downtown Snoqualmie. Call the bar at (425) 888-0259.

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