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Here’s the Dirt: Gonzaga students get new meal option on campus

Zach Neufeld, left, and Zac Staab work on underground utilities in Cataldo Hall at Gonzaga University, the site of a new Panda Express restaurant under construction.  (Jesse Tinsley)
Zach Neufeld, left, and Zac Staab work on underground utilities in Cataldo Hall at Gonzaga University, the site of a new Panda Express restaurant under construction. (Jesse Tinsley)

And the Bulldog shall dine with the Panda.

Gonzaga University students will have a new dining choice this fall. Crews were demolishing one-half the interior of Cataldo Hall this week to make way for a Panda Express Chinese restaurant.

Charles Wesley, general manager of Sodexo operations on campus, said the restaurant will be the first that is not an in-house brand of the company that has provided food services to the university for decades.

The Panda Express will occupy a space that was formerly a Sodexo Pandini’s.

Wesley said students wanted a Chinese restaurant on campus. Although a Sodexo-branded restaurant sells Chinese cuisine, he said, students preferred a Panda Express, which already has on-campus stores at Tulane University in New Orleans and the University of Nevada-Las Vegas.

After several months of negotiation, a deal for the Gonzaga location was made, he said.

Hours have not been determined, Wesley said, adding that Panda Express will be in charge of hiring.

A building permit values the construction at $150,000.

Savory replaces video store

A new restaurant, Savory, plans a September opening in the former site of the Blockbuster Video store at 1314 S. Grand Blvd., Spokane.

Owner Steven Hermann said Savory will offer contemporary American cuisine drawing on a selection of area food sources.

Josh Hissong, from Spokane Restaurant Equipment and Design, has been hired to provide design and construction management.

Hissong will also help open the restaurant.

Herrmann said he’s had extensive chef experience at several U.S. restaurants. “We’ll focus on farm-to-table food, turning to area farmers and ranchers as much as possible,” Herrmann said.

The restaurant will operate with a staff of roughly 35, he said.

Herrmann didn’t disclose the remodeling cost, but a construction permit listed the project at $250,000. Property owner South Grand Associates LLC is contributing to the building improvements, Hissong said.

The interior has about 4,350 square feet and is designed for about 165 seats. About 75 seats are planned for an outdoor patio on the building’s east side, Hissong said.

Mark McLees of NAI Black represented Herrmann in signing a seven-year lease. Chris Bell and James Black III represented South Grand Associates LLC. Dave Black, of NAI Black, is also managing partner of the LLC.

Sushi bar replaces Sawtooth

Sushi Maru, a Bellevue kaiten sushi restaurant, will open a Spokane location in River Park Square this fall.

It will take the main floor space of Sawtooth Grill, an original tenant at RPS, which is owned by Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman Review. Sawtooth Grill closes on Saturday.

Kaiten sushi uses conveyor belts and different colored plates to allow diners to select items as they pass the table. “Kaiten zushi,” in Japanese, means “turnover sushi.”

Sushi Maru owner Paul Choi said kaiten has become popular in the Puget Sound area. He believes Spokane’s appetite for sushi keeps growing.

“No one else is doing kaiten there, so it should be a good market,” he said.

Choi plans to open on Thanksgiving weekend.

New eatery in Browne’s Addition

Italia Trattoria opened this week in Browne’s Addition. It’s at 144 S. Cannon, taking the space used by Café Marron.

Owners Bethe Bowman and Anna Vogel previously worked at Luna. They’re offering a “best of” Italian menu, combining the styles of northern and southern Italy.

Vogel is the chef. Bowman is the front-house manager.

It’s closed on Monday, offering lunch and dinner Tuesday-Saturday, brunch on Saturday and Sunday. It’s not offering breakfasts.

Garlic dishes coming to South Hill

More food news: Post Falls-based The White House Grill will expand to Spokane’s South Hill.

Owner Raci Erdem has a multi-year lease at 4334 S. Regal, the former location of Lazy Bones Barbecue, which closed last year. He plans to open in September.

Erdem calls the restaurant the West Wing; his second Post Falls restaurant is The Oval Office.

The restaurant will carry a similar menu to the popular White House Grill, with a focus on Mediterranean and garlic dishes.

“I’ve been asked by our customers, for 15 years, when we’ll expand,” Erdem said. He expects the new location will ease traffic and wait times at the two restaurants in Post Falls.

Hotel Lusso makeover progresses

Crews are replacing the carpet and paint in the Hotel Lusso lobby and retouching the ceiling with Venetian plaster, owner Walt Worthy said this week.

The work is part of an ongoing update of the downtown Spokane hotel, which Worthy and wife Karen bought in May 2009.

He said storm windows have been installed in some rooms to reduce street noise. Later this year the rooms will receive new carpeting and bedding, he said.

Staff writer Tom Sowa contributed to this report. Here’s the Dirt is a weekly report on new developments and business openings, closings or movement in the Inland Northwest. E-mail business@ or call (509)459-5528.

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