From the Winter 2024 Issue
Offers Sandpoint a taste of central Europe
A little experience goes a long way in any business, and that’s perhaps even more true for restaurants and dining establishments.
And that’s the secret sauce at Barrel 33. The new dining establishment in the heart of downtown Sandpoint celebrated its first anniversary in October, and owners Alayna and Manuel Reichl are enjoying the opportunity to reflect on a busy but rewarding first year in business. With more than a half-decade under their belts setting up a similar business in a similar community, the husband and wife duo is applying everything they’ve learned to give diners an experience to remember.
“This was our first chance to reflect on everything we’ve learned over the past five years and apply it here,” said Alayna Reichl.
Barrel 33 is the place to be for wine, beer, and cider tastings, along with a curated food menu to satisfy those post-Lake Pend Oreille or Schweitzer cravings. Whether diners are dressing up for a special someone or just coming off the dock sporting shorts and sun-kissed cheeks, they’ll find a welcoming environment and friendly staff awaiting them.
“We are the perfect place to go for a date,” Reichl said. “You can be dressed for the boat or sporting your ski gear coming down from Schweitzer and have a great time.”
The Reichls got their start as restauranteers in Big Bear Lake, California. Like Sandpoint, Big Bear Lake is a small tourist city sporting a lake and a ski resort, making it a popular vacation destination. Already familiar with the rhythms of business in tourism destinations, with busy seasons offset by slower shoulder seasons, the Reichls had a head start setting up shop locally.
The pre-built experience needed to handle the job was a huge bonus. The Reichls themselves certainly learned a lesson or two in their time as restauranteers, and likewise, their Big Bear Lake staff was ready to help make the Sandpoint project a success. To that end, the Reichls worked to establish a location that functioned as similarly to the original establishment as possible.
“We really want to have a location where we could bring an employee from Big Bear Lake and they’d pretty much know what to do,” Reichl said.
But that’s not to say opening Barrel 33 at its 100 N. First Ave. location was a simple affair.
“When we found our building, we knew it would be a ton of work, because it was in no way ready to be a restaurant, but when we stepped into it and saw that view, we knew we could turn it into something incredible,” Reichl said.
After a daunting amount of work, the Reichls were ready to open in 2022. Since then, they’ve built relationships with regional breweries and wineries across Idaho and Washington. And before long, they turned heads with drinks like their wine slushies or glühwein served in authentic German mugs.
Likewise, the community found fast favorites in Barrel 33’s pear and brie sandwich, carrot cake, and prosciutto flatbread. Instead of traditional breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrees, the restaurant’s menu focuses on simple but satisfying items like sandwiches, flatbreads, salads, sweets, charcuterie boards, and the like, plus gluten-free options like a hummus plate and bacon-wrapped dates. Both the drinks and food have a decidedly Central European flavor, appropriate given the Reichl family’s German roots and distinguishing it from other local eateries.
Open from Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., and Friday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., the First Avenue location features both indoor and outdoor seating, with views overlooking Sand Creek as delightful as the food. Equally welcome are regular live music performances by local artists, and special events like paint and sip parties.
But why Sandpoint? Like many young families seeking to establish a new life, it was for the community. As an outdoorsy couple who like to live where most people vacation, the Reichls were eager to plant roots in a welcoming and vibrant community.
“When we saw this area, we immediately felt at home, and we wanted to bring our own contributions to this community,” Reichl said. The community is glad they did.