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Econ 919 — 1882 Brew

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1882 Brew on Bridge Access Road.
Riley Board
1882 Brew on Bridge Access Road.

It’s not hard to find coffee on the central Kenai Peninsula. Just about every mile in Kenai, Kalifornsky and Soldotna, coffee drinkers can pull over at a drive-through hut and get a quick cup of joe.

Except on Bridge Access Road. The busy connector between Kenai and K-Beach is mostly industrial, and traverses the Kenai River Flats.

1882 Brew is changing that. The royal blue coffee shop popped up two weeks ago, close to Duke’s Automotive and not far past the intersection with the Kenai Spur Highway.

Elisabeth Peterkin is the owner of 1882 Brew. Peterkin, a fifth-generation Alaskan who grew up in Kenai, said she’s received a lot of support from that community since opening her own business.

“It’s very exciting to have the amount of support that I’ve received from people, calling or texting or swinging by,” Peterkin said.

1882 Brew actually started out in Kasilof last summer, as a coffee shop designed to serve dipnetters fishing at the mouth of the Kasilof River.

During the last dipnet season, Peterkin catered to dipnetters at the Kasilof by staying open until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. But she said they were great customers.

“They are very kind. Everyone out there fully supported,” she said. “They came and hung out with the girls at the shop, they were always very nice, and I would have customers until 2 in the morning, it always depended on the tide.”

Because of her dipnet customers, Peterkin said she also offers some products not typical of a coffee shop.

“I sell ice bags, and firewood, during the dipnetting season.”

After the dipnet season ended, Duke Hardcastle, the owner of Duke’s Automotive, asked Peterkin to move the coffee hut to the lot next to his auto shop.

“So we picked up my coffee shop in Kasilof, put it on a trailer, hauled it here, unloaded it, and now I’m open full year-round here in Kenai,” she said.

This season, they’re also offering provisions for dipnetters at the Kenai location.

However, this situation isn’t permanent. By the end of the year, Peterkin is planning to build a new coffee hut about 20 feet away from the Bridge Access Road location, then haul the current structure back to Kasilof, where it will stay.

The name of the shop is inspired by the original Kasilof location. In the 1880s, a three-masted wooden passenger and cargo ship called the Corea started making trips between California and Cook Inlet. In 1890, the ship crashed near Kasilof, leaving wreckage in what is now called Corea Creek, 15 miles south of the Kasilof River.

“And the boat on my logo is almost-replica of the boat that crashed there,” Peterkin said.

The logo also includes forget-me-nots, Alaska’s state flower.

1882 Brew is located on a plot of land within the City of Kenai’s waterfront revitalization project area. The work aims to transform a mile-long stretch along the Kenai River from a heavy industrial area to a commercial and social district. One business that will be a part of that revitalization is Nikiski-based Kassik’s Brewery, which is moving in right next door to Peterkin.

“It’s very exciting to be a part of the new community that will be a part of Kenai, that is on Bridge Access,” she said.

Peterkin said she’s still getting to know the customer base at this location, but that business is picking up, and people seem grateful to find a new business in Kenai.

Riley Board is a Report For America participant and senior reporter at KDLL covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula.
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