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White House adds Oval Office

The theme for the past few weeks has been “If it works, do it more.” In those writings, three very successful restaurants – Michael D’s, The Breakfast Nook and Angelo’s – all announced second restaurants with the Fort Ground Grill, another Breakfast Nook and Bambino’s (all in Coeur d’Alene), respectively.

This week the column theme remains the same as Raci Erdem of the very popular White House adds the Oval Office. This takes a bit of explaining.

Several years ago, Erdem started the White House Grill in, well, a small white house on Spokane Street just north of Interstate 90 in Post Falls. Enhancing a Mediterranean menu with a sprinkle of America, a blast of garlic and Raci’s amiable personality, the place was a great success. So, two years ago, he moved the business a block north into a renovated, much larger building, and it’s an even larger success.

Now Erdem wants to go the other direction – back to the original white house, but this time with a quiet, even romantic atmosphere and “not the stinky smell,” Erdem said. Sticking to his touch of Americana, he’ll call the place the Oval Office.

He’s completely renovating the place, with new flooring, lighting, fireplaces and intimate decorating. It will have two rooms: one with just four tables and the other seating 40 to 45. A six-chair bar will be open to the kitchen, and a tree-shaded deck will double the seasonal seating.

Open 3-11 p.m., possibly in mid-October, the Oval Office will serve two types of meals – upscale dinners (steaks, seafood and lamb) and small plates/appetizers with cocktails.

“People like our cooking, but this will be a quiet place for dates or meeting people,” Erdem said. “It will allow people to be into themselves.” An immigrant from Turkey, he met his future wife, Michelle, in New York City, and she brought him to North Idaho. Lucky for us!

Del Sol is about light

Items that change color when the sun hits them make up the inventory of Del Sol (of the sun), which opened at 207 Sherman Ave. (beside Hudson Hamburgers) last week.

T-shirts with special Lake Coeur d’Alene artwork that changes from black and white to color with the sunlight are probably the signature to the business at $22. Other items include more clothing, nail polish, jewelry, sandals, sunglasses and toys. The color change is done by Spectrachrome, a crystal developed by NASA for astronauts’ protective helmets.

Although this is the first Del Sol store in the Northwest, the 14-year-old company has its headquarters in Utah and 75 stores. Coeur d’Alene owners are Craig and Christine Ely, who came to Idaho in 1979 from Hawaii. Store summer hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and opening at noon Sundays. Phone 665-7657.

Press expands

A new plant for a high-speed, high-tech press is under construction for the Coeur d’Alene Press. The 25,000-square-foot facility will be north (across Coeur d’Alene Avenue) of the existing building at Second and Lakeside. It will replace the old Idaho Power building and a parking lot.

The Hagadone News Network prints six North Idaho newspapers. Started in 1882, the Coeur d’Alene Press is the city’s oldest business.

Press Publisher Jim Thompson declined to reveal what will become of the current space the printing press occupies, how many employees he has orwhat will be on the new building’s second-level mezzanine. Their newspaper’s article about the addition didn’t offer this information either.


“Worthington Antiques will close in the Coeur d’Alene Resort Plaza Shoppes on Sept. 15. The company has been there for 10 years and has a second store in Spokane. The six employees are either retiring or looking for new jobs.

“In introducing himself to North Idaho College employees, new director of human resources Bob Ficken said he and his wife were buying their “toe-tag house:” the final time you leave it is with a coroner’s tag on your toe.

When we checked into a hotel in Granada, Spain, the main clerk saw me write “Coeur d’Alene” in the guest register and said, “You’re kidding! That’s where we’re going to retire!” I guess it’ll be their toe-tag house.

“Next week the Riverstone developers will have a “media gathering” to announce new plans. A building permit reveals that it will be a huge place southwest of the cinema complex that will have 80,000 square feet of commercial space on the main level and 51 residential riverview condominiums on two levels above.