Creativity flows at Pinot’s
Popular classes pair painting with beer, wine
Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” pumps up participants who pose for selfies and belly up to the bar, where owner Jackie Casey offers wine – “It’s cheaper by the bottle” – or beer – “Would you like a chilled glass with that?”
The motto is painted on the back wall: Paint. Drink. Have fun.
Pinot’s Palette opened in Spokane at the end of February. The wine-and-art franchise has more than 50 locations nationwide. But this is the first one in Washington. The next closest is in California.
Local artists help participants re-create a particular painting during a two- or three-hour art class where wine and beer are available for purchase and snacks are encouraged.
Aprons are provided. Seats are assigned. Palettes are paper plates.
Reservations are highly recommended
“It’s been crazy busy,” Casey said. “We’ve sold out almost every class so far.”
Some repeat customers have visited as many as five times. (“I’ve had someone come seven,” Casey said, “but that’s my cousin.”)
Of the 41 people expected for class on this recent weeknight, four are men, three – by a show of hands – have been here before, and two are celebrating birthdays.
Other nights, there have been book clubs and bachlorette parties. There are also special classes for couples during which each paints half of a painting. “They come together to make one big one,” Casey said.
She’s not an artist. That wall of sample paintings facing the bar? “I didn’t paint any of them,” she said.
Casey, 26, moved to Coeur d’Alene last August to be closer to her parents, who retired there. Originally from Billings, she had been living in Oklahoma when she took a Pinot’s Palette class with some girlfriends. She was apprehensive – at least, she was at first.
“I’m not artistic, but it was something to do,” she said. “I had a blast. It was so much fun. The way they break down each step is amazing. You take (your painting) home and you’re like, ‘I did this.’ ”
Four paintings and three years later, Casey opened her franchise with her business partner and boyfriend, Jeff Hansen, 27, an engineer.
“It was his idea,” she said. “My degree is in teaching. I never planned on owning a business.”
But the more she thought about it, the more Pinot’s Palette seemed like a good fit. Here, anyone can be an artist.
“It’s made for people who have never picked up a paintbrush,” Casey said. “All of our classes are for beginners. We don’t do any advanced classes.”
Creating a copy of Dutch post-Impressionist Vincent Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” is the No. 1 seller. The second is an image of a woman in red carrying a red umbrella and walking away from the viewer.
There are some 700 images in the library of Pinot’s Palette. About 75 are replicas of famous works by the likes of Van Gogh and French Impressionist Claude Monet. Some are designed especially for Spokane, like the Clocktower and Monroe Street Bridge.
At the downtown studio, easels are lined up back-to-back down the middle of three rows of tables. Pinot’s Palette provides the supplies: canvas, easels, brushes and paint, even plates, utensils and napkins for participants who bring food.
All six employees – excluding Casey and Hansen – are local artists, who take turns assisting and teaching classes. (Their day jobs include high school art teacher, graphic designer and mechanic.) Participants are welcome to substitute colors and try different techniques.
“People are more than welcome to paint whatever they want,” Casey said. “We’re not really educational; we’re more just for fun. We encourage creativity. The wine does help, too – seriously.”
Classes take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well as some Wednesday nights and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Private parties are available by appointment.
Two-hour classes cost $35. Three-hour classes are $45.
Beer or wine isn’t included in the cost – “I didn’t want to include it in the price because not everybody drinks,” Casey said – but beverages are available for purchase. Bottled beer – from local breweries like No-Li, Orlison and Selkirk Abbey – is $4. Glasses of wine – from local wineries like Arbor Crest, Townshend and Patit Creek – run from $5 to $8.
Pinot’s Palette isn’t the only local outfit offering drink-and-paint events. Van Gogh and Merlot hosts several painting parties per month at various locations. For more information, visit vangoghandmerlot.com. Tipsy Muse also organizes similar events. Its website is www.tipsymuse.com.
Black Tie Coffee and Bakery
This South Hill drive-through espresso and bakeshop is expanding its menu and going (almost entirely) gluten-free, beginning July 1.
Husband-and-wife owners Amber and Will Quinn have been developing and testing gluten-free baked goods since they bought the business in April, providing free samples to customers.
“We asked for constructive criticism,” said Will Quinn, 33. “People absolutely love the cake. The scones went over really well. The most popular were the lemon-berry.”
He’s the barista. She’s the baker.
They gave up gluten in their own household when their oldest child – they have five between the ages 3 and 12 – became ill and couldn’t hold down food.
“We couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her,” said Amber Quinn, 31. “When we pulled her off wheat her health turned around 180 degrees. It was amazing. Within two weeks she was running around like a normal 10-year-old.”
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. People who have celiac disease, like the Quinn’s oldest daughter, can’t eat gluten because the proteins damage the villi of the small intestine and prevent absorption of nutrients from food. A gluten-free diet is the only existing treatment for the disease. Some people are gluten intolerant and feel better when they eat a gluten-free diet.
Will Quinn gave up gluten in a move of solidarity – “just to go through the suffering with her,” he said.
“I feel great,” he said, noting he has more energy and less inflammation. “I’m never going back to (gluten).”
In the meantime, his wife found many gluten-free products on the market to be “sub-par” and began experimenting with combinations of almond, spelt, brown rice, white rice, potato, tapioca, quinoa, coconut and other flours.
“Through trial and error and lots of dollars” during the past two years, Amber Quinn has refined dozens of recipes, which she’s keeping secret.
At the shop, she’ll sell scones, cookies, muffins, cakes, cupcakes and breads, like banana. Scone flavors include piña colada, chocolate cheesecake, cherry-almond, orange and poppy seed.
“These are the cream of the crop,” she said.
“I could feed you a piece of her cake and you couldn’t tell it was gluten-free,” he said. “Our goal is to have the kitchen certified gluten-free by the fall.”
The shop will also sell dry mixes so people can make their own gluten-free baked goods at home. It will continue to sell a couple of non-gluten-free items, like breakfast burritos and bagels. It will also offer a breakfast burrito made with a corn tortilla.
Other menu items include Italian sodas, blended coffee beverages, chai and other teas, and espresso drinks.
Black Tie Coffee and Bakery is located at 2910 E. 29th Ave. It’s open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. On the Web: blacktiecoffee.com. Call (509) 535-2843.
Egg It On
This new breakfast eatery, located in the former Hooters in Spokane Valley, has a light, modern feel and – perhaps most importantly – generous portions.
The plates resemble platters at Egg It On, which serves an array of hashes, scrambles, Benedicts and 14-inch pancakes with words like “monster” and “massive” in their titles.
That’s a good thing for manager Jorden Nelsen.
“I’m personally a big eater,” he said.
Egg It On opened May 3 following the January closure of Hooters.
After a monthslong remodel, the new restaurant – a cross between a diner and a cafeteria-style counter – is done in egg colors. Think bright white subway tiles and sweet-corn yellow tabletops. Retro-looking turquoise booths line the walls.
“We wanted to make it feel homey and bright,” Nelsen said. “We wanted to make people feel comfortable.”
The restaurant caters to shoppers at the Spokane Valley Mall, hotel traffic, workers in the nearby office buildings and pretty much anybody who wants a big breakfast.
Its Pork Tenderloin Hash includes roasted corn, baby green beans, three eggs, tomatoes, mozzarella, beef gravy, hash browns and mashed potatoes.
A few of the pancake and French toast options are named for the cereals and candy bars found in them: Fruity Pebbles French Toast, Crunch Berry French Toast and the Snickers Pancake.
Diners can wash it all down with a “Massive Mary” – or have one as a meal in a glass. This Bloody Mary is topped with a slider, shrimp and vegetable skewer, celery, asparagus and bacon.
Or, they can build their own mimosa for $25.
On the cheaper, no-booze side, most smoothies, like the Sunshine Kickstarter – with carrots, oranges, ginger and apples – are $3.99. And there’s a self-service soda and coffee station.
“We’re trying something new,” said Nelsen, who has worked for the parent company – Hootwinc LLC Management Co., which also owned the old Hooters – for four years.
“We want people to feel like they have a little more freedom,” he said. “People can get in and get out faster.”
When customers walk in, they take a menu from the bucket just inside the doors and place an order at the counter. Then, they choose a seat and wait for their entrée to be delivered. They can add items, ordering and paying at their table via computer tablet.
“It’s nontraditional,” Nelsen said. “It’s more self-service, but we don’t want to lack in service.”
It’s also kind of an experiment. This is the first breakfast-only joint for Hootwinc, which, Nelsen said, still owns Hooters locations in Southern California. “We’re testing it out in Spokane.”
Egg It On is open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 16208 E. Indiana Ave. On the Web: www.eggiton.com.