Give Evan MacKenzie and the Pendleton Planning Commission some credit - they saw an opportunity to pump a little life into downtown and didn't hesitate to tap the keg.

Last week the commission gave a unanimous thumbs up for brew pubs, wineries and distilleries to locate downtown. Now it's up the Pendleton City Council to see the merit of a truly local watering hole. They'll vote on the issue next week.

It's a wonder the zoning change wasn't brought up before, with the unique Pendleton brand an easy sell, especially come September. Pendleton Whisky, a Canadian liquor distilled out-of-town, can account for the eager market and name-recognition of Pendleton first-hand.

It was actually leatherworking that brought the issue to the forefront. Unbeknownst to most, the art wasn't allowed in the downtown sector since the 1970s, and breweries, wineries and distilleries were part of the same ban.

Now that the door's open for such an establishment, there's a buzz growing about new ventures.

The Northwest already has a strong influence of small-time breweries, especially in vital downtown areas, and a local line of beer could create another much-needed social center in town year-round.

Great Pacific gives downtown some of that individualized flavor, but there's always room for a brand that makes Pendleton its own. Imagine popping open a bottle of Round-Up Red or McKay Creek Porter. Sounds right, doesn't it?

Part of the draw of the Tri-Cities and Walla Walla are their hot spots for the twenty-something crowd. It goes beyond microbrews, but there's an atmosphere at a real local place that's hard to imitate in a bar with options of Budweiser and Bud Light.

Any time Pendleton can take a step toward making downtown more relevant to a younger crowd, it's a step worth taking.

Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the East Oregonian editorial board, comprised of Associate Publisher Kathryn Brown, General Manager Wendy DalPez, Managing Editor Skip Nichols, News Editor Daniel Wattenburger and senior reporter Dean Brickey. Other columns, letters and cartoons on this page express the opinions of the authors and not necessarily that of the East Oregonian.

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