Vince Bozzi was not looking to become an event center manager. Along with his wife, Emily, Bozzi runs several Spokane and Coeur d’Alene-based magazines under the name Bozzi Media. Last month they decided to buy the Chocolate Apothecary, a retail shop at the downtown Flour Mill.
Perhaps overcome by chocolate fumes, the couple then bought Saunders Cheese Market, a Spokane business run since 2006 by their office manager, Kim Morin. The Bozzis are moving the cheese business into the chocolate shop.
Then Vince Bozzi met Eugene Blonder, who has a financial interest in the lower Flour Mill floors. Blonder told him he was looking for a partner to develop an events business in the historic building’s lowest floor.
The “main” level is the one where many shops and Clinkerdagger restaurant are located. Under that are two office floors, and one level lower is the space Blonder spent a lot of money renovating.
After visiting the seldom-seen lowest level, Bozzi agreed to lease the space from Blonder. “It’s very unusual and distinctive,” he said. “And very few people living in Spokane even know what it looks like down there.”
The Bozzis named the business Chateau Rive. That French title means “river house,” and it clearly fits, as the center opens onto a green yard leading all the way down to the Spokane River.
They want to host weddings, business meetings, small concerts, special events and perhaps an international dinner series.
The space is not your typical Spokane conference area. It is a spacious 5,200 square feet of rock-lined walls and huge original wood beams and supports. Natural light pours in from a bank of windows facing the river.
But the other side of the basement is darker; the Bozzis say they’ll install lights, and wall treatments will add visual appeal.
Bozzi’s initial research shows the lower level was likely used as a storage area when merchants hauled grain there to be milled.
Built in 1896, the mill operated until 1972 in the same building, at 621 W. Mallon Ave. It was converted into a retail and office building and opened in 1974, coinciding with Spokane’s World’s Fair.
Craig Soehren, a broker with Spokane-based Kiemle & Hagood, thinks the location is spot-on for the kind of business Bozzi has in mind.
“The basement can be used very creatively. It’s an underutilized part of the Flour Mill,” he said. Having plenty of parking and the Arena nearby are also large pluses that can help market the event center, Soehren said.
“If run properly, I can see that location becoming very successful,” he added.
Red Rock Catering, affiliated with Spokane’s Glover Mansion, will provide most of the facility’s catering for weddings. Other caterers will be used for other events.
Bozzi said Chateau Rive will host some of the roughly 20 Bozzi Media events scheduled throughout the year.
“We’ll put some of those now in the Flour Mill,” he said. “Not all, because we don’t want to bore people.”