Kevin Taylor, owner of Birch Street Uptown Lounge, always had an interest in historical Prohibition-era culture and cocktails, and as his artistic outlet he decided to venture into the nightlife scene with the hopes of contributing to the revitalization of the downtown Camas area.
“I had enjoyed my own fine dining server experience in my college days and wanted to do something very different from my regular, everyday career as a fire department battalion chief,” Taylor said. “That said, Birch Street Uptown Lounge was always a business with a plan, not a hobby.”
The business, which opened in December 2010, makes its home in a 1928 building in the heart of downtown Camas. They doubled their size with an expansion about two and a half years ago, and now the company regularly employs up to six people, which allows them stay open seven days a week from 4 p.m. to midnight. Their weekends are very busy, and Taylor said that he believes that part of that is due to the Camas and Vancouver nightlife scene being complementary.
“We are always flattered to see business owners and bartenders from the great places in downtown Vancouver come in to check us out,” he said. “We still see people that recall Camas as a mill town that are shocked to see the transformation of our downtown.”
“We don’t stand alone in the downtown Camas community,” Taylor continued. “We are surrounded by boutique stores, a wine bar, several brew pubs, several great dining venues and the Liberty Theater. All of these bring more people to circulate downtown, which is good for all of us. We are all in a slightly different lane, but that works even better.”
Taylor explains that understanding the Camas demographic has been a key component to his success.
“The venue needs to match the demographic of the population,” Taylor said. “In our specific case, Camas offered a highly educated, highly compensated demographic with disposable income. It’s the reason I opened there, and why all the other nightspots/dining establishments continue to open there.”
When customers come in, the bartending team works to provide each one with a uniquely memorable experience. The drink recipes and the chic ambiance are what make Birch Street Uptown Lounge really stand out, too, and classic cocktails are what they’re known for.
“The look, the live and recorded music, the quality of the food and drink, and even the lighting all contribute to the customer experience,” Taylor said. “All our juices are fresh squeezed – no mixes. We have no ‘well’ booze, no Fireball, no flavored vodka and no lottery. Those aren’t bad things in some settings – it just isn’t us. We use the original vintage recipes and ingredients for our cocktails – not an updated spin.”
The future continues to look bright for Birch Street Uptown Lounge and Taylor looks forward to continuing to provide Clark County with an experience that is unlike any other in the area.
“We sell an experience, not just cocktails,” he said. “We have done a good job of consistently executing that experience.”
Birch Street Uptown Lounge is located at 311 NE Birch St., in Camas.