YAKIMA, Wash. — When Bob Hargreaves said he was moving Bob’s Keg and Cork from its current location at 27 N. Front St. to a space across the street, I immediately thought of the old Depot Restaurant and Lounge, which has been empty since the restaurant closed in November 2010.
Not that space, Hargreaves said. He did look at it, but decided it was too big: “It doesn’t have that small comfortable feeling we want.”
Turns out Hargreaves was talking about the former Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight station, which is still owned by the rail company, at the corner of Front Street and Yakima Avenue.
Currently, Michelle Wyles runs two stores there, Garden Dance and raindance.
Turns out there’s more space on the northern end of the building. Bob’s Keg & Cork will be moving into a 1,600-square-foot space that has been empty for several years. But some of you may remember it as the former home of Loofburrow Wetch Architects, which is now at Second and Yakima avenues.
Hargreaves is looking to move in three to four months when improvements to the space are completed.
The new site will maintain the intimate nature of the bar, which has drawn loyal customers for 14 years. The new space is about the same size as his current location but comes with more flexibility, such as a smaller kitchen and the ability to have outdoor seating, he said.
“It’s more user friendly.”
As many of you know, Hargreaves opened Bob’s Keg and Cork in September 1998. When the Yakima Mall closed, many smaller businesses followed suit and left the downtown area.
But not Hargreaves.
Instead, he continued to build his niche of offering small boutique wines and microbrews and developed a following that included everyone from Hanford employees to local attorneys. Those regulars would later band together to raise funds to help Hargreaves with medical bills after he was hit by a truck while crossing the street in late 2010.
“Bob’s is like Cheers, where everyone knows your name,” said Wyles, the Garden Dance and raindance owner.
Not surprisingly, she was thrilled to hear that Bob’s Keg and Cork was moving into the building. She doesn’t expect any issues regarding parking, since she is a daytime business and Bob’s is a night time joint. But she believes Bob’s, with all its regulars, could give her shops some nice exposure.
“After 5.5 years, people don’t necessarily know that Garden Dance is here,” she said.
That does bring up an interesting point. Bob’s regulars would likely follow the bar anywhere, so why stay on North Front Street?
Hargreaves, 66, said he still wants to be part of the downtown revitalization he contributed to all those years ago.
“This is such a neat neighborhood,” he said. “It’s got some thriving businesses.”
Some of you have been asking about the status of a proposed Lowe’s store at the northeast corner of Longfibre Road and Valley Mall Boulevard since a Yakima hearing examiner rejected the city of Union Gap’s appeal of environmental approval for the development at the end of last year.
The Mooresville, N.C.-based retailer looked at several sites, including some in Union Gap where it is currently located. Ultimately it decided to build in Yakima, which granted environmental approval for a 111,415-square-foot store and 26,568-square-foot garden center.
Things are in a holding pattern right now with Lowe’s, Printing Press Properties, the business entity that owns the proposed site, and Union Gap working out its core point of contention.
Union Gap has taken issue with Lowe’s plans to include an access point to the store that is off Valley Mall Boulevard. Union Gap has argued that since it spent several million dollars acquiring property for and constructing the road, it has authority over it and can prohibit any access points.
Shortly after Union Gap’s appeal was rejected, a Seattle attorney representing the city sent Printing Press Properties a letter stating that it would be in violation of an agreement that was signed during the development of Valley Mall Boulevard if the store proceeded as planned.
“Both parties agreed to the condition that they would not have access off Valley Mall Boulevard,” said David Spurlock, director of Union Gap’s community and economic development department, referring to Printing Press Properties and the Bud Clary Toyota dealership, which is located across the street, on the northwest corner of Valley Mall Boulevard and Longfibre Road.
Jay Sentz, a member of Printing Press Properties, disagrees. He notes that the development agreement states a need to limit access of Valley Mall Boulevard, but doesn’t prohibit access outright.
“Nowhere (in the development agreement) does it preclude us from having access off Valley Mall Boulevard,” he said.
Sentz said that while things have been quiet, he’s received assurances from Lowe’s that it wants to move forward with the new store.
Mike Shinn, a Yakima attorney who represents Printing Press Properties and represented Lowe’s during the environmental review process, added that Lowe’s has been tinkering with its site plan and hopes to hear an update in the next few weeks.
Over in Yakima, Bruce Benson, supervising planner for the city’s planning department, said his work is done. All Lowe’s has to do now is submit plans for a building permit, he said.
“As far as I’m concerned, they’re approved,” he said.
• 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.