I was surprised by the response to my story on the closure of the New Thai Restaurant in West Yakima after 20 years.
It was by far the most-read story out of those I posted on Shop Talk’s Facebook page last week and generated a number of comments from readers lamenting its departure.
Some had memories of when New Thai first opened while others recalled the owners’ children doing homework in the restaurant. Some other interesting points about the story:
• Brothers Sean and Kirk Ly, who helped parents Khanh and Oanh Ly manage the restaurant, will be heading to Vietnam to start a brewery.
I found it interesting that the Ly brothers would travel halfway around the world to start a brewery. We are in hop country, after all.
However, statistics show Vietnam is a growing beer market. In 2010, beer production increased by a whopping 256.7 percent from the previous decade to 2.65 million kiloliters, or 700 million gallons, according to a report from the Kirin Institute of Food and Lifestyle. That helped Vietnam jump from 30th to 13th in beer-producing countries worldwide that year.
• At the end of the story, I noted that the owners of El Porton, Rodrigo Galvan Camacho and Ana B. Galvan, would be purchasing the property at 4808 Tieton Drive. The space will be remodeled for El Porton to move from its current location at 420 S. 48th Ave. The location will provide room for growth as it did for the New Thai when it built the building more than a decade ago.
Of course, that is likely little comfort to West Valley residents who appreciated having a Thai restaurant nearby. The other remaining Thai restaurants, Thai Orchid and Tea Garden, are both in downtown Yakima. Perhaps those restaurants will get new business from West Valley.
After several months of negotiations, it looks like the downtown Yakima McDonald’s is officially a go.
The Yakima City Council voted 4-1 to modify an easement that would enable McDonald’s to include two access points off an alley north of the property at 19 E. Yakima Ave.
The sole no vote came from Sara Bristol, who has stuck by her position that the restaurant isn’t compatible with a pedestrian-friendly downtown core.
The most interesting thing to come out of the vote, however, wasn’t the easement, but a discussion on potential traffic problems.
Councilwoman Kathy Coffey, for one, worried that traffic turning into the property from North First Street could back up into the intersection with Yakima Avenue.
City community director Steve Osguthorpe responded by saying the city would install a curb in the median of North First Street that would block left turns into the restaurant if there are traffic issues.
But it was clear the city felt McDonald’s could not be pushed any further.
“I think we’ve pushed (McDonald’s) as far as we could,” City Manager Tony O’Rourke told my colleague Dan Catchpole, who wrote a story last week on the easement modification vote.
Looking back, both sides had their victories, but neither can claim to be the ultimate winner.
McDonald’s got its downtown Yakima location, but not without spending an extra $200,000 to $300,000 in construction costs and another $80,000 more than planned on site revisions and building designs.
The city got an improved building but with a less than perfect design.
I think the ultimate winner was property owner Patti Schneider. She ended up staying out of the back-and-forth negotiations, got a building design that will look nicer than what’s on her property now and has a tenant for 20 years.
• Mai Hoang’s Reporter’s Notebook is published Mondays in the Marketplace section. To reach her, call 509-759-7851 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.