New bar with a ‘Cheers’ feel

The Back Door beneath Baxter’s Restaurant offers a swanky atmosphere below street level

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff Writer

The Sandpoint bar scene offers a handful of options. From rowdy to more subdued, most can find a watering hole that fits their nightlife desires.

But something Sandpoint didn’t have until now is a bar similar in feel to the one from beloved sitcom “Cheers.”

Downstairs from street level, the Back Door was recently opened by Baxter’s owner Rich Curtis.

Bar manager Brandon Emch pours a glass of wine in the Back Door. Photo by Lyndsie Kiebert.

“We’re trying to get a nice, cozy feel down here,” Curtis said. “It’s got kind of a ‘Cheers’ feel.”

Candles decorate the tabletops and the shiny bar has rows of wine glasses hanging above it. Between the downstairs location and the rotating wine list, the Back Door could be an easy place to spend a lot of time in.

“We’re not big, wide and open,” Curtis said. “We have that intimate feel.”

Curtis added that having the extra space downstairs at the Back Door will help with Baxter’s overflow during the busy months. Baxter’s currently only sits about 50 guests.

“We’ll have a good vibe down here. There will definitely be more of a bar feel, as compared to Baxter’s,” Curtis said.

As far as filling a void in the Sandpoint bar scene, Curtis said the Back Door is focused on providing a uniquely cozy environment unlike any other nightlife location in town. In addition to beer and wine, they will also serve food until as late as 11 p.m.

“In this town, there’s not many options after 9 p.m.” Curtis said. “We want to be the place people go after shows at the Panida, for example.”

The Back Door will also focus on providing live music, private parties and some “really good” happy hours, Curtis said.

“It’s ambience, it’s music, it’s the full package,” said bar manager Brandon Emch, who managed a wine bar for 10 years before taking on the Back Door. “I think we have the tools here to be really successful.”

The Back Door is open Monday-Wednesday 3-11 p.m. and Thursday-Saturday 3-12. It is located right next to Baxter’s on the corner of Cedar and Second Avenue, down the stairs. Curtis said there is a grand opening event, complete with live music, tentatively planned for the upcoming Thanksgiving weekend.

“There are so many personalities in this town, so you can’t cater to everybody,” Curtis said. “You have to find your niche.”

Check out the Back Door at 109 Cedar St. in Sandpoint on the corner of Cedar St. and Second Ave. Follow the sign and walk down the stairs… “Where everybody knows your name.”

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