Thanks to my work for a story on restaurants in our upcoming special publication, Discover Yakima Valley, I was able to get an update on Cowiche Canyon Kitchen and Icehouse Bar, the downtown Yakima eatery under construction.
I recently visited the 10th floor Larson Building office suite where owner Graham Snyder has set up temporary headquarters for the restaurant at 202 E. Yakima Ave.
The office wasn’t very large — in fact, Snyder and the restaurant’s management were in the process of moving to a larger space on the same floor — but it had plenty of visuals to explain the restaurant’s concept, which he earlier described as “polished Americana.”
After chatting with Snyder, the concept also seems to be one big homage to the Yakima Valley.
The building design, for example, is a modernized version of a fruit warehouse.
During the construction process, my husband was fascinated by the use of poured form concrete for the Icehouse Bar. We joked that the restaurant was building a cold storage room.
Turns out we were on to something — the bar’s design will be a nod to how cold storage rooms were constructed in the past, Snyder said. Using formed concrete kept a warehouse building cold and also gave it a wood-like exterior.
One of the more noticeable things in Snyder’s office was a restaurant booth, a sample of the kind that will be installed in Cowiche Canyon Kitchen.
He noted that the tabletops and most other fixtures were made locally. For example, the coat hooks come from Atlas & Cedar, a modern furniture company in Yakima. The material for the hostess station was made out of old wood from a local hop warehouse.
I asked how he was able to get so many local sources.
“It’s word of mouth,” Snyder said. As a result, finding local sources “happens very quickly.”
Speaking of local people, I bumped into a familiar face — Mark DiPietro, who has been in the local restaurant scene for more than three decades and most recently served as general manager at Zesta Cucina in west Yakima.
He came on as general manager for Cowiche Canyon Kitchen in January. DiPietro is no stranger to the Snyder family — he once worked as manager for Red Robin in Yakima when it was owned by Graham Snyder’s father, Michael, and uncle, Steve.
So it only seemed appropriate for DiPietro to go full circle and use his experience to help the son of his former boss.
“Everything was leading up to this,” he said.
All management positions have been filled, but Snyder is still seeking servers, bartenders and cooks for the restaurant. An online application is available at www.cowichecanyon.com/apply.
So when will local diners get to see the finished product? Snyder doesn’t have an opening date nor is he chasing after a certain deadline.
Snyder didn’t want to rush a construction job if it meant there wouldn’t be sufficient time to work on important aspects of the restaurant, such as providing sufficient staff training.
“You have to think about the big picture,” he said.
I asked for an estimate instead. Late summer, he said.
Meanwhile, construction of the building continues, and with a bigger office at the Larson Building, Snyder and his team will soon start employee training.
So that’s what the restaurant booth was about.
I also got information on some of the new tenants at Rainier Square (formerly Nob Hill Plaza).
The news was likely not a big surprise to some, as there has been speculation (thanks partially to several hints given by developer Hogback Development Co.) that Starbucks and Jimmy John’s would build new locations at the development at 2550 W. Nob Hill Blvd. Still, recent building permits approved by the city of Yakima provided official confirmation.
More news and analysis can be found by checking out Shop Talk on its blog (www.yakimaherald.com/blogs/shoptalk), Twitter (http://twitter.com/shoptalkyakima) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/shoptalkyakima).
• 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.