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Walking the walk

The pedestrian stylings of those walking in downtown Spokane often leave a bit to be desired in the best weather conditions.

Sidewalk hogs, distracted phone yakkers, jaywalkers…I'm sure you could draw up your own list.

But when there's snow, ice and slush to contend with, things get even more iffy.

People understandably wanting to see where they are stepping have a tendency to look down while walking. And that can lead to scenes that resemble rival rams about to butt heads. Then there's the situation where someone walks up behind an individual who has stopped. That can look like a full-bodied goosing, a clumsy attempt to simulate intimate social congress or, at least, start a conga line.

Better to look up and see where you are going. Even if your shoes get wet.

One third of our survey-takers said they’ll spend more at Starbucks during 2012

The unofficial results are in: one third of the respondents to our Starbucks budget survey said they expect to spend more there this year.

Five of 16 respondents said yes, and you can see the other responses for yourself right here.

Thanks to those who helped answer the survey.  Gotta leave for now, I'm off for my morning cup …

The buzz: Starbucks coffee cards are a solid bottom-line pick me up


For much of the past three years, the Office Hours staff has made its daily visits to the local Starbucks store, plunking down cash for java and pastry. Sometimes the experience is more about meeting folks from area businesses, rather than the Joe.

The Wall Street Journal's story Tuesday on Starbucks highlights the chain's surprising growth in amount of money spent via card-based purchases. A key statement:

“Last year, purchases made on the (Starbucks) cards accounted for 18 percent of the company's revenue. Starbucks doesn't split the transactions by country, but assuming purchases were almost all in the United States, they accounted for 27 percent of domestic retail sales. That compares with 13 percent in 2006.”

What could be driving that growth, especially as the company has been steadily increasing the costs of its drinks the past four years?  Please take this informal survey below. (Click SUBMIT after checking your answer.)


Love crepes? A new downtown creperie is calling your name, will open in June

Judie and Ryan Sowards are leasing a downtown Spokane storefront for a new Euro-styled creperie called Beignets, in the Crescent Building, at 707 W. Main.

The mother-son team believes Spokane foodies are ready for a place that full-service business that serves thin, French-inspired crepes and other lunch and dinner items. They plan to open the business in June.

Ryan Sowards said the name is meant to convey atmosphere and variety. Diners will be served fresh beignets — deep-fried pastries — before the entree, he said.

They’re leasing 3,800 square feet at in the back side of the building, directly behind Madeleine’s Cafe. It’s The Sowards are taking the space once used by Cucina, Cucina.

They plan to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Stephen Pohl and Jon Jeffreys represented property owner Red Tail LLC. Chris Bell represented the Sowards. All three work with NAI Bla

Ghost of Christmas Past

“Hello Paul,

“My wife, Sandy, and I were having a latte at Madeleine's Wednesday morning and it all of a sudden dawned on us that we were sitting right where the amazing and magical mechanized Christmas displays were in The Crescent window,” wrote Jeff Nadeau.

“What a difference a few decades make. From staring in through the windows in rapt fascination as children, to staring out through the windows with pangs of nostalgia as adults.”

Season of miracles

One problem with avoiding downtown Spokane because you don't like the parking options is that this policy rules out the possibility that you will experience the minor thrill of happening onto a miracle spot.

You know — a legit, roomy streetside opening right in front of your destination.

I was off work last week but still had occasion to drive downtown just about every day. And time after time, the perfect parking spot beckoned just as I arrived at my destination.

Maybe I should buy a lottery ticket. 

Lighting up the morning

Rode my bicycle to work this morning.

Yes, it was a bit brisk. But I wanted to be able to say I had bike commuted at least one day in every month of 2011.

Once I got downtown, I took a little detour before heading to the Review Tower. I rolled over to Main to see the illuminated Madonna and child while it was still dark out.

And there it was, where it always is at this time of year, on the corner of The Bon, er, Macy's.

I know I am not alone in thinking of it as one of the true signals that the Christmas season has arrived in Spokane.

As I made a slow turn and admired the lighted art above me, I heard some guy in a hardhat talking on a phone. He wasn't happy about something.

I tried to tune him out and took one more glance up at the colorful scene.      

Two historic downtown Spokane building renovations nearly done

View Larger Map

Restoration and renovation are more than halfway done at two downtown Spokane buildings, including the former Empire State Building.

Part of the work at the Great Western Building, at 905 W. Riverside, includes renaming it the Empire State Building, the structure’s original designation. Built in 1900, it’s was called the city’s first fireproof structure. In recent years it's been known as the Great Western Building, at the corner of Lincoln and Riverside. 

Work includes removing the stucco sign band façade above the first floor and exposing the original “Empire State” name. You can see the stucco and sign facade in the Google Maps view above (if it displays properly for you).

Goebel Construction is the contractor with architectural help by Patsy O'Connor.

A new skylight has also been installed, said Alicia Barbieri. Both projects are overseen by Goodale & Barbieri Co.

The Michaels Building, one block away at 828 W. Sprague, is completing interior and exterior work. It was first called the Germond Block Building. The top three floors have been converted from apartments to offices, with final plans depending on tenants.

Goodale and Barbieri owns the Great Western Building; the Diamond Family owns the Michaels.

No renovation costs were provided by the two firms.

Spokane Apple retail store to close for two hours Wednesday to honor Jobs

Apple retail stores, including the one in downtown Spokane, will close for part of Wednesday to allow staff workers to celebrate Steve Jobs. The celebration will run from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

During that time, employees company-wide are invited to view a live broadcast of a Jobs celebration occurring at  an outdoor amphitheater at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino


Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, died recently after a struggle with pancreatic cancer.

Downtown hike a great way to celebrate whatever water has flowed under your bridge

HIKING — My wife, Meredith, and I celebrated our 29th anniversary Sunday afternoon (and evening) with a lively troop of trekking friends, shown here bagging the Kardong Bridge on the Centennial Tail.

This was Bridge No. 18 in the 7.8-mile downtown hike of 18 Spokane River bridges. We could have made it 20 bridges had we scampered across the Maple Street and Division Street bridges, but we left that goal for another year of marriage.

 We started and ended at the Sandifur Bridge near High Bridge Park.

What next? We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Openings: TJ’s, Title Nine and the downtown Sapphire Lounge

Thursday morning new openings (an update):

These two you may have known about already.

  • Trader Joe's will open Oct. 28 in the Lincoln Heights Shopping Center. Good luck with parking that weekend. Smartly, TJ's knows it has to be open a few weeks prior to Thanksgiving.
  • Title Nine, the fashionable outerwear and sports wear apparel company, recently opened a store on South Perry in the Perry Street District. A good company, with an interesting gamble on where it's set up its shop. See our earlier story.

And not least, the Sapphire Lounge, at the corner of Lincoln and First, will do a grand opening this weekend. This is the front-side intimate lounge-eatery attached to the Hotel Ruby, operated by Jerry Dicker and partners. 

The lounge will do a soft opening tonight and Friday. Saturday is more or less a formal opening, according to Dicker. The lounge normally operates Wednesday-Saturday, with the option of reserving the space for functions the other days of the week.

Sante restaurateur Jeremy Hansen did not remain in the executive chef role. An earlier story from the SR described him as the architect behind the Sapphire Lounge menu. Dicker said they chose to go separate ways.

Paul Samson, the bar manager, will still be working the lounge, said Dicker.

Let’s see a show of hands

Who remembers when United and Northwest had ticket offices practically across the street from one another in downtown Spokane, staffed by actual humans?


Don’t think he was talking about the NYT

Overheard in the little coffee shop inside the STA Plaza.

Customer: “How much is the newspaper?”

Young woman behind the counter: “It depends on which one you're getting.”

Customer: “Today's.”

It's 75 cents. Our price. Cheap.

If I'd had my wits about me, I would have told her to put it on my tab.


Meet the new boss

You know how it's kind of frustrating when you come up with conversation material and don't get to use it? Sure.

Well, there's this guy named Al who operates a small business downtown. I duck in to his place most weekdays and usually see him.

I want to convey to him that I listen to the various things he says to me. So I've been ready with “Hey Al, are you doing karate this summer or do they not have classes at this time of year?”

But he must be on vacation or working a different schedule. Because I haven't seen him in days.

The thing is, I am really ready to use that line. So be forewarned. If I see you when I'm out on my midmorning walkabout, I just might ask if you have been doing karate this summer.

I guess I could have used that on Marcie (Marcy?) the pharmacist at Rite Aid, my next stop. But I was sort of distracted by the fact that “Won't Get Fooled Again” by The Who was playing as the in-store background music.

I've always liked that song and suppose I should have enjoyed the moment. But it didn't seem quite right.

There should have been some get-off-my-lawn type yelling “Turn that racket down!”

As usual, I'm living in the past.

Then, heading west on Riverside I noticed this good-looking young couple looking around in a way that signaled they were lost. I asked if I could help.

That turned out to be easy. They wanted to go to Madeleine's and it was quite nearby.

As we parted, I thought about a conversation I overheard at work yesterday afternoon. A colleague I'll call “Tom” said the S-R ought to do a series of promotions featuring pictures of attractive people reading the paper. But another co-worker — let's call her “Ruth” — countered that good-looking people don't read the paper.

Anyway, the Madeleine's couple would have been just right for Tom's campaign. And I suspect Ruth was kidding.

After that, I went into the Post Ofiice. Wanted to buy some stamps for my mom. A counter clerk went to a bit of trouble to track down the “Evergreens” strips I requested.

On my way out, I passed a bunch of people going through security before being allowed to head toward federal court. In the midst of this small crowd were three or four priests in clerical attire. I considered telling the city editor about that. Then I imagined what she might say.

“When AREN'T there priests appearing in court?”    

True or false

This a photo of what used to be Thudpucker's restaurant.


Brewster to take over Far West Billiards; his plan does not include billiards

The manager of Far West Billiards, a downtown Spokane food-and-pool hangout, said the business is closing after 10 years in operation. Closing is expected to be Thursday night

Yvonne Millspaugh said she decided to shut down in anticipation of major remodeling that building landlord Rob Brewster is ready to start.

The billiards business, at 1001 W. First, has been owned by Andrew Sackville-West and other LLC partners. Sackville-West has moved to Portland and is allowing Brewster to take over the space, Millspaugh said.

 Brewster said Sackville-West has been an exemplary business tenant in the building. But he also noted the Far West has been late on rent payments in recent months. At the same time, Brewster said he's seeing plenty of tenants in the area also struggling to cover their bills.

Brewster has developed a number of downtown properties, including the Montvale Hotel and the Catacombs Restaurant.

Brewster said he’ll announce  plans for the Far West space in several weeks. “It will not include billiards,” he said.

Downtown Spokane offers a twin bill for its annual meeting next week

Downtown Spokane is offering a double-barrelled program for its annual meeting, which starts at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 17.
It will be at the Spokane Convention Center exhibition hall.
Renowned speaker and consultant Roger Brooks, founder and CEO of Destination Development International, will talk about how Spokane can showcase its distinctive urban features, beyond the now-obvious “Near Nature, Near Perfect” marketing approach.
The second topic will cover how Avista Utilities and the City of Spokane have begun collaborating on efforts to build a energy future that includes sustained cost savings, respect for the environment and enhanced quality of life, according to a program note.
To register, go to DowntownSpokane.net. Registration is $30 in advance before Feb. 10, $35 at the door.

Saturday, Snow and the Happy Boy.

There are times, or so it feels to me, when our lives are fed to us the way food is stuffed into a goose to make foie gras. We don’t get a break. We’re crammed with more than we can possibly handle. There isn’t time to savor a bite.

 I was thinking about that as I stood in line at the bakery on Saturday morning, waiting my turn to place an order. The day was cold and fat snowflakes fell, swirling and drifting down from the flat gray sky. Through the wide front window of the downtown patisserie, I watched a family walk down the sidewalk. Two little boys - maybe four and six-years-old, dressed for the wintry weather - walked a bit behind their parents. The littlest boy dawdled, taking his time. He wasn’t in any kind of a hurry. Every few feet his parents called back to the boys to catch up. The big brother dutifully picked up his pace and tugged at the little one to do the same. And he did. For a step or two. Then he began to slow down again.

 It was obvious the little boy wasn’t particularly interested in where the rest of the family was going in such a hurry. It didn’t matter to him at all. Besides, I suspected no one had asked him where he wanted to go, anyway. He was just along for the ride. He’d been bundled into his coat and a cap had been pulled onto his head. He’d been hustled into the car, buckled into a car seat, driven across town and then unbuckled and lifted out onto the sidewalk. And now he was being told to keep up and stay close.

Instead, he strolled happily along, face turned up to the sky, mouth wide open catching snowflakes on the tip of his tongue.

I felt the landscape of my face change as I watched him and I smiled.

After paying for my purchases, I took the box of pastries and walked out the door. By that time, the light snow was over and the family with their sky-gazing little boy was gone.

 I took my time going back to my car, even though I suspected there might be a parking ticket fluttering under the windshield wiper. Even though I had other stops to make and dinner to cook and deadlines to meet.
At that moment, I think if even one snowflake had dropped out of the sky, down to where I was walking,  I would have done just what the little boy did a few moments before. I would have opened my mouth and stuck out my tongue and let everything else simply melt away.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes for The Spokesman-Review. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Does the word ‘think’ make you a better thinker?

Our newsroom colleague Paul Turner mentioned in his Slice column recently the appearance in downtown Spokane of the word “think.” on a mural not far from the heart of town. The source, at the time, was unknown. He later got a message from Dennis Magner, one of the founders of Spokane ad agency Magner Sanborn. Magner explained how the word got there.

The company had just moved this summer into newly remodeled offices on the third and fourth floors of the Banner Bank Building, 111 N. Post.

Magner and partner Jeff Sanborn were looking for some way to crystallize ideas, especially for people in the company’s brand new conference room, which looks out to the east over the roofs of the next block.

They settled on a single word, painted on a wall 50 yards away.

In his note to Paul, Dennis wrote:

So at one level, it’s like having something staring back at us when we’re staring out the window. At another level it’s a reminder to our staff that good “thinking” is the core product that we provide. And hopefully it reminds some other folks to think along the way as well.

 Can anyone else find something similar in the community, a calling card or corporate slogan that has  become a quiet (or noisy) part of the landscape?  Please let us know if you know of something that fits.

Clark: Bike Lanes? Bah, Humbug!

Oh, yeah. I was once the poster boy for cycling suave. I’d still be riding, too. But unfortunately the bicycle-seat industry failed to keep pace with my ass. So the red Schwinn Paramount with custom chrome lugs that I ordered from Chicago back in the late 1970s remains abandoned in my basement like Puff the Magic Dragon, gathering cobwebs and dust. It’s so sad. Some days I go down and look wistfully at my old ride and think: “How in the sacred name of Floyd Landis’ steroid connection did I ever manage to straddle that thing?” The point is that I’m still very sympathetic to the bicycling mentality. It’s just that I’m even more in tune with the gas-guzzling Spokane driver mentality. So trust me when I say that trading a car lane for a bike lane on Second Avenue strikes me as one gaping pothole of a bad idea/Doug Clark, SR. More here.

Question: How often do you use bike lanes to get around town?

The front design of the new Spokane Apple retail store

We wonder when workers downtown at the new Apple store will install the stainless steel plate and laminated Apple logo to the front of the two-story building.

Until you see it, here are a few drawings from the city’s building permits that show the basic plan and roughly what it looks like. The front wall of the building will be about 34 feet high, to the roofline, and about 41 feet wide along the sidewalk. The doorway will be roughly 7 feet in height.

In a soon-to-be-posted second Apple retail update, we’ll post a short video of the work taking place there, at 710 W. Main in downtown Spokane.

Officially, Apple Inc. still hasn’t announced this is an Apple store.


Apple retail store, downtown Spokane, phase one

The company doing the construction work at the former Eddie Bauer building, in downtown Spokane, recently painted a plywood sheet black to block views of renovations inside the retail office space, at 710 W. Main.

We knew for months that this is the Apple retail store going into River Park Square. Today a workman was adding a stenciled Apple logo to the black wall. We got this image. This is just a temporary wall but it’s the only “official” indication the store is going in. Sometime in the fall the store logo will be added to the facade.

We asked Apple headquarters for comment and received a note saying no announcement yet has been made. Which is Apple’s way of saying, “It doesn’t count until we say it does.”

The opening will be in the fall but an exact date isn’t set yet.

Which retailer will move into Talbots location in downtown Spokane?

Downtown Spokane women’s clothing retailer Talbots is leaving its 706 W. Main location, effective Aug. 21. Its lease expires the end of this month, a Talbot’s employee told us today.

We’ll provide some kind of reward — non-monetary— for the reader who can convince us they really know who will move into that location.

Disclosure: We work for the Cowles Co., which also operates River Park Square, Talbot’s landlord. We asked company officials who would go in there. They were mum, as of Tuesday.

I’m guessing the company taking that spot outbid Talbots when the lease came up for renewal. Whoever that company is, they might feel it’s to their advantage to be next door to 710 W. Main, where Apple will open a retail store this fall.

Apple is taking over the location of Eddie Bauer, one door west of Talbots.

Apples permits don’t say when its downtown Spokane store will open

We’d known for awhile that contractors were filing and obtaining permits needed before Apple Inc. moves into a new Apple Store in downtown Spokane.

We found the permits online and ran a story this afternoon. It’s here.

The managing architect for the $400,000 remodel is listed as Dimple Manghani of MBH Architects, based in Alameda Calif. MBH lists as its clients Apple, J Crew and Target.

The online permits filed on behalf of Apple in Spokane are at https://aca.spokanepermits.org/CitizenAccess.  To find them, use the address search box, with 710 W. Main.

Search for 710 W. Main, the former address of Eddie Bauer’s River Park Square Store, to see the listed permits. No opening date is listed anywhere, though we have city sources suggesting it won’t be until August or September.  Just in time for school.


U-District Coordinator to talk about development

Marketing Associates of Spokane is hosting a discussion by Brandon Betty, project coordinator for the Spokane University District, on April 8 from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m. at the Red Lion Hotel at the Park.

Betty took the job as project coordinatory last summer.  The meeting, which costs $20 for MAS members, $30 otherwise, will give an overview of the district and the set of projects and goals for the district.

“I’ll review how the district went from a grassroots organization to a 501(c)3 board” that also serves to recommend funding priorities for money being collected by the City of Spokane, Betty said.

That money is being raised through a state-provided Tax Increment Financing plan for the University District. The city gets to allocate TIF money for the district, but the district board sets priorities and makes recommendations.