In spring 2009, a Korean immigrant named Min Chung opened Super Deli Mart in West Seattle, which sold what its name implied, except for one surprise, one sudsy, tasty surprise — craft beers.
Chung sold some of America’s best brews on tap — next to the Slim Jim and the Camel cigarette display.
He sold Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Younger, the most sought-after beer in America. He sold one-ounce tastes of Utopia ($24), one of the world’s most expensive beers ($190 for a 24-ounce bottle), as well as hosting other epic tastings. And he caused traffic jams doing them, the line snaking around the store, to say nothing of the parking nightmare.
But mostly, folks grabbed $3 pints and drank between the aisles of Rock Star energy drinks and bags of Frito Lay.
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Chung showed that convenience store doesn’t have to be synonymous with malt liquor and 12-packs of Bud Light, that you can make it just like a bar or a coffee shop, where folks can throw down a double IPA at the corner market with friends. Chung didn’t pioneer this European model, but he made it trendy around Western Washington, and many shops around Seattle adopted his model.
Soon, national magazines came calling. Beer geeks from as far as Hawaii visited his store.
But after all the long hours and haggling with brewers to secure special brews to keep the buzz alive, a burnt-out Chung sold the much-loved Super Deli Mart last summer.
Recharged, Chung is back, with an even bigger convenience store. His new Lynnwood spot, Stogies ’n’ Hops, offers 20 beers on tap and a walk-in-closet-size humidor room for cigars, his other passion.
The 4,600-square-feet of space will store 1,500 different bottled beers by year’s end. It’s almost three times bigger than Super Deli Mart, with room to put in a pool table and a patio out back. But Stogies ’n’ Hops, with its well-lit display and new paint job, feels sterile.
What’s missing are the cramped charm and the scratch lotto tickets of the old Super Deli Mart. The rundown store with an incredible beer list was a conversation starter.
No matter. The Seattle beer geeks will find their way to Martha Lake to visit Chung’s new store. As usual, he has the brews the beer geeks are chasing. On tap soon: Deschutes Brewing Black Butte Reserve 26, Cuvée des Jacobins Rouge, Firestone Walker Brewing Barrel Aged Double Barrel Ale and Stone Brewing Ruin Ten IPA.
One of his big events takes place on July 24, where he will feature a dozen beers on tap from Dogfish Head Craft Brewery, including the sought-after 120 Minute IPA and World Wide Stout.
Stogies ’n’ Hops, 526 164th St. S.W., Lynnwood, offers happy hour weekdays from 2-5 p.m. with $3 draft and $7 growler specials. The store has a deli and also attached to the front is a taco joint, Aca Las Tortas (425-741-1000 or StogiesnHops.com).
Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @tanvinhseattle