YAKIMA, Wash. — My blog and follow-up story last week about North Town Coffeehouse possibly relocating generated a lot of buzz.
I’m not surprised. The coffee shop stood out among the sea of espresso stands and Starbucks when it opened in July 2008.
Here’s how former Yakima Herald-Republic entertainment writer Kim Nowacki described it then: “Bright and airy with a couple of comfy armchairs, brick accents, a 1900s-era tin ceiling (and matching counter) and time-stained wood floors, North Town indeed has an upscale yet relaxed vibe.”
North Town owner Dave Tompkins always made a point of highlighting the shop’s historic location at 28 N. First St. In fact, Tompkins had been offering historic tours of the neighborhood.
One can only hope that Tompkins settles ongoing lease issues. But it seems it’s likely that we’ll see North Town in a new spot in the months to come.
Tompkins has been quiet about possible locations, though he emphasized that he wanted the coffee shop to remain downtown. (The Selah location won’t be affected.)
Here are a few educated guesses about where it might end up:
• The Burlington Northern Santa Fe area on North Front Street. There are vacancies in both the train depot and the neighboring freight station, and the shop would have good company in both: Russillo’s Pizza and Gelato recently opened at the train depot at the former Grant’s Brewery Pub, while Garden Dance has been at the freight station for several years. Both locations offer a lot of history that would be appealing to a history buff like Tompkins.
• The Great Western Building. Building owner Joe Morrier Sr. plans to turn the former Masonic Temple into a boutique hotel. Having North Town on the ground floor of the building at 321 E. Yakima Ave. could add to the upscale vibe of the proposed hotel. As an example, Stumptown Coffee Roasters, which provides coffee for North Town, runs a shop in the lobby of the Ace Hotel, a boutique hotel in Portland.
• The Pacific Hotel building. This is a bit of a stretch since all the ground floor spaces are occupied (or at least spoken for).
Yakima Maker Space, which provides tools and other resources for aspiring creators and entrepreneurs, moved into the space once occupied by the Yakima County Democrats.
Coffee and innovation are a natural combo, so I could see North Town and Yakima Maker Space co-existing in the space at 16 S. First St.
It’s been a few months since a fire damaged the building that housed Geppetto’s Italian Bistro and The Shopkeeper.
Earlier, I reported about The Shopkeeper’s relocation to the Westpark Shopping Center on 40th and Summitview avenues.
The situation at Geppetto’s is still up in the air. Owner Richard Paddock told me last week he still would like to return to the building at 31st and Summitview avenues.
“I always loved that property; I loved the neighborhood,” he said.
Paddock said the building’s out-of-town owners are still dealing with the insurance company, but indicated the building may be beyond repair and may have to be torn down.
Some of you have been asking me about outstanding gift cards, so I asked him about that, too. Paddock said he couldn’t offer a definite answer. He said he has received enough from insurance so far to pay outstanding bills and is focused on saving enough if he is able to reopen.
He’s received assurance from customers that his return would be welcomed. “It does make me feel good that people do miss the restaurant,” he said.
Earlier last week, Liberty Bottleworks, the Union Gap-based aluminum bottle maker, tweeted a sketch of their new retail store at its plant at 2900 Sutherland Drive. Curious, I gave founder and president Tim Andis a call.
The legal pad sketch was one of sneak peeks the company wanted to reveal on Twitter and its other social media channels over the next few weeks. “We try to be fun,” he said with a laugh.
Andis, however, still gave me plenty of details.
When the company gave tours, people often wanted to purchase a bottle or two, he said. That meant having the receptionist coordinate an order with the company’s customer service department, Andis said.
In the interest of finding an easier way to sell bottles to visitors, Liberty Bottleworks remodeled the plant’s receptionist area into the Liberty Bottleworks Factory Store.
Like the bottles it manufacturers, the store fixtures and flooring are made of recyclable and sustainable materials. The store will sell bottles along with branded merchandise and provide a water station where people can refill their bottles.
The music playing in the background will be an eclectic mix that includes everything from Dave Matthews Band to Motley Crue. But the bands included in the mix all have a common thread: they all had bottles made by Liberty Bottleworks.
The store is now open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays, but a grand opening, which will feature food and tours of the facility, is planned for Oct. 30. After the grand opening, the store will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays to Fridays.
• 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.