Paying it Forward, One Beer at a Time

Above Photo: Mark Foster, right, the owner of Raindrop Taphouse, and bartender Jordan Iwakiri, say the pay-it-forward board has become a permanent part of the business at the corner of Farmington Road and Main Street in Beaverton. PMG PHOTO: STEPHANIE BASALYGA

The pay-it-forward board at Raindrop Taphouse in Beaverton started out as a gift by a patron to buy beers for frontline workers during the pandemic.

In a city—and world—trying to reconnect after two years spent social distancing and staying in place, it has grown into something more.

The oversized pay-it-forward post it notes—pink and yellow and green, each stamped with the word “Cheers” at the bottom—are stuck on a column inside the taphouse, located on the ground-floor of the Westline apartment complex at the corner of Farmington Road and Main Street. Customers who purchase a pay-it-forward beverage—the tap house offers Oregon craft beers and hard cider—are invited to write a message to indicate for whom the beverage is intended.

The messages are humorous and serious and touching.
“To someone experiencing hot flashes, from someone who is over them. Phew.”
“To anyone who has been laid off, from Teri.”
“To a formerly homeless teen, from another homeless teen—it gets better, huh?”

Even before the pandemic, Raindrop Taphouse owner Mark Foster and his staff had been thinking about starting a pay-it-forward board, but they never quite got around to it. Foster opened the business in 2019 and by the time 2020 arrived, the business was on a healthy and steady upswing.

The pandemic, however, threatened to topple that success. As state mandates ordered the closure of restaurants, bars and taphouses, John Dugger, a friend of Foster’s, stopped by and bought a $100 gift card. That influx of cash along with pivots that included adding growlers, emergency relief grants from the city, and eventually the addition of outdoor seating as food-and-beverage businesses were allowed to open helped Foster keep the taphouse going.

Once the taphouse was able to re-open, Dugger stopped by to give Foster the gift card back. Instead, Foster decided to finally start a pay-it-forward board, using the $100 to provide beverages for front-line workers who visited the taphouse. Before too long, other customers started to ask if they could buy a pay-it-forward beverage. The taphouse team was happy to oblige, creating a stack of large, brightly colored post-its that allowed each pay-it-forward purchaser to indicate the intended recipient. Before too, long the board will filled with messages of encouragement and support. A patron even earmarked one—which is still unclaimed—for Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard.

The pay-it-forward board has become a customer favorite at Raindrop Taphouse in Beaverton. PMG PHOTO: STEPHANIE BASALYGA

Raindrop TapHouse

OWNER: Mark Foster

ADDRESS: 4545 SW Angel Ave, Suite 170, Beaverton, Or

Phone: 971-865-0227

Instagram: @raindrop_tap_house

Facebook: @raindroptaphouse

“It just took off,” Foster says.
“To someone fighting their way through beauty school, from a supportive sister who knows how much it sucks sometimes.”
“To a kidney donor, from a kidney donor.”
“To a Bengals fan … sorry for your heartbreak, from someone who understands.”

While some of the pay-it-forward beverages get claimed, Foster said most people are more interested in buying a beverage for someone, which earns them the right to fill out one of the pink, yellow, green or blue oversized post its. He also says he isn’t surprised that the idea has taken hold.

Raindrop Taphouse is located in the area of Beaverton’s Restaurant Row, a several-block area that the city has managed to fill with restaurants, bars and other food-and-beverage businesses. The area has become a destination, and is busy almost every day of the week.

But despite the close proximity so many bars and restaurants, there’s a sense of community among the businesses rather than competition, according to Foster. It’s part of what convinced him that the area was the with place for his taphouse.

“To an architect, from an architect.”
“To new parents on a date night, from your future selves.”
“To a cancer survivor or oncology nurse, from a fan of your fight.”

As the world slowly swings toward something closer to normal, Foster says he’s feeling optimistic about the survival of Raindrop Taphouse.

“Before Covid hit, the business was just growing ridiculously. It hasn’t quite hit that again, but I think (that will change) this summer with everybody starting to relax a bit more. Plus, we have a fantastic vibe going on downtown. More people are going to start coming.”

In addition to keeping busy pouring local craft beers and hard ciders, Foster and his staff are looking at finding a permanent spot for the pay-it-forward board. It’s a feature that has become a symbol of the sense of community that the business has created, and the community that supports it.

“We’re going to keep it going,” Foster says.

So, if anyone sees Damian Lillard, tell him there’s a beer—and a pay-it-forward post-it—with his name on it still waiting for him at Raindrop Taphouse.