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Latest from The Spokesman-Review

Smart toy retailer Whiz Kids will relocate to new RPS spot

Spokane educational toy and game retailer Whiz Kids will move to the third level of River Park Square, next to the Nordstrom third floor entry.

The shop will take 4,000 square feet in a corner location that has never been leased up to now, said RPS spokeswoman Elizabeth Mills.

It's had a location on the second level of RPS for nearly nine years, near the Made in Washington shop at the mall's east end.

The goal is to relocate in January, allowing the shop to do holiday business in its present location, said owner Jan St. George.

River Park Square is owned by the Cowles Co., which also publishes The Spokesman-Review.

                                                                       

A quick double shot: inside the Starbucks work on West Main in downtown Spokane

Free ad for Starbucks.

We had to grab this quick shot of the work taking place inside the downtown Starbucks near the Apple Store on West Main Avenue.

I get the impression this work crew doesn't take their coffee breaks here.

The work led to the downtown coffee shop being closed all this week. Area managers for Starbucks say they hope to reopen on Monday.

This shot is from the street and shows the service counter has been switched from perpendicular to Main to parallel with the street.

Any other photos from the project?  Send them to us here at Business@spokesman.com.

 

Ben and Jerry’s downtown moves out — temporarily. Reopens in a week

The downtown Ben and Jerry's, in River Park Square, has not downsized.

It's moved temporarily into the corner spot of the third floor food court while its main service area is going through a total makeover.

The company expects to reopen in the fresh new food area around Feb. 12.

RPS is owned and operated by the Cowles Co., which also operates The Spokesman-Review.

 

Chatters vacates its River Park Square shop; no new tenant lined up

Retailer Chatters Salon & Beauty Supply has closed its shop in downtown Spokane's River Park Square.

No new tenant for the main floor shop has been announced.

The company is based in Canada and reportedly had just the Spokane store as its first U.S. location.

Bryn West, general manager of River Park Square, said the company informed RPS it wasn't willing to continue operations in Spokane.

RPS is owned by Cowles Co., which also operates The Spokesman-Review and Spokesman.com.

Sandwich Gardens closes; landlord leases space to women’s clothes shop

Last Friday was the final workday for Pat Matthews and his Sandwich Gardens restaurant in downtown Spokane.

After opening a downtown food place and then closing it in 1998, Matthews got the chance to come back and reopen in 2009, in the east side of River Park Square's second level.

Last week Matthews had no choice but close again. His landlord, the Cowles Co., told him his lease would not be renewed.

In his place, River Park Square has leased the shop to Francesca's, a women's apparel retailer. No opening date has been set.

Matthews continues operating the Sandwich Gardens Catering business. "We've had our catering business all along, for the past 25 years," he said.

Sandwich Gardens' first downtown location was in the western half of the old River Park second level. He was there for 23 years until forced to move when River Park Square expanded.

Matthews said he'd consider finding another physical restaurant if he finds the ideal location.

Cowles Co., which operates River Park Square, also owns and operates The Spokesman-Review and spokesman.com.

 

 

Waitts still waiting for spelling correction

You know the artistic display of Inland Northwest lakes in the entranceway floor at River Park Square?

Sure. Of course.

Well, do you also remember how Waitts Lake was spelled "Waits"?

I had a Slice column item about it on Oct. 19, 1999.

And there was a letter to the editor about it on June 15, 2002, from a Ruth Waldron.

Frankly, I assumed it had been fixed and moved on. But no.

I just received an email from Tom Dalrymple, pointing out the spelling problem.

He wrote, "Why should the masses be subject to bad spelling when we shop?"

Fair question.

I walked over to RPS and looked at the floor. He's right. It's still wrong.

I suppose I should query mall management about it. But then, if I wound up writing something, I'd have to get into that whole "…is owned by…" nightmare. So, to quote Bartleby the Scrivener, I'd prefer not to.

Besides, I'm sure they're going to get around to fixing it. It has been only about 14 years. That's hardly any time at all. Let's try to be patient.

New rental dining-parting venue, Fan Suite, opens on RPS third level

Downtown retail alert:  River Park Square announced Fan Suite, a rental meeting and entertainment venue, is opening on the mall's third floor.

It's taking about 1,000 square feet next to Nordstrom.

The location has three flat-screen TVs in a family living room setting, with seating for about 25, a release said.

Rentals can be arranged through any RPS food business or food court tenant, according to the media release.

Rental fees run $80 for four hours.

RPS is owned by Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

Former Edo owner opens two Miso Fresh Asian locations in malls

Jay Underwood has gone from Edo to Miso. Actually, his two new eateries are named Miso Fresh Asian.

Underwood opened the first Miso Fresh Asian last week at NorthTown Mall. This Friday he opens one in the food court at River Park Square. Both take the spots of the former Edos he ran in those two malls.

He describes the cuisine as Southeast Asian street vendor food. He also likes the idea of having all ingredients visible by customers. He incorporated a trait he thinks Subway has used well — giving customers a full selection and view of fresh ingredients.

Edo Japan was a franchise connected to a Canadian parent firm. Last year the parent firm decided not to renew many of its U.S. deals, Underwood said. That led him to strike out on his own, with Miso.

Underwood gives the menu's culinary credit to Chef Curtis Smith. The stores were designed by Paint Room Studios, owned by Dawn Kiki and Catherine Boles. 

They incorporated recycled glass countertops, and selected tile that resembles wood and cork. Each store has a striking glass mosaic that wraps the stove hood.

And no, the cooks there don't use woks. In keeping with an agreement with mall managers, Miso can't use a "wok," because another eatery established itself as the sole "wok-based" business inside the mall

Underwood said the solution was to use stir-fry pans. "In fact, that's the name for what we use, 'stir-fry pans,' " he said.

River Park Square is owned by the Cowles Co., which also owns and publishes The Spokesman-Review and Spokesman.com.

April 5 will be the opening date for Sephora’s new downtown store

A while back we mentioned national health and beauty product retailer Sephora would move into River Park Square, in downtown Spokane. It's taking about half the space vacated two years ago when Abercrombie & Fitch moved out.

We learned today the opening day is April 5.

The company already has in-store locations at NorthTown Mall and Spokane Valley Mall. This will be the company's first full stand-alone location in Spokane.

RPS is owned by Cowles Co. The Spokesman-Review is owned by Cowles Co. Spokesman.com receives no special information from RPS. The newspaper has no connection with River Park Square and treats it as just another retail mall.

I know it is not a toy

But overhearing well-behaved little kids getting a bang out of riding the escalators at River Park Square is enough to make you think it's good that we survived the Cold War.

Holiday kiosk in River Park Square features EWU items and keepsakes

Starting this week and running through Jan. 1, Eastern Washington University Foundation is running a kiosk in River Park Square to sell Eagles items.

The third floor kiosk features  sweatshirts, sweatpants, youth T-shirts, infant items, license plate frames, and other items.
 
"Our alumni and fans have asked us for more accessibility to EWU gear," said Mike Westfall, executive director of the EWU Foundation.
 
The kiosk will operate Monday through Saturday.

Cowles Co., which operates The Spokesman-Review, also owns and manages River Park Square.

North Face store in RPS will open Sept. 30

The new North Face Store, which took over the River Park Square space held by Talbot's, will open on Friday Sept. 30.

The outdoor gear retailer has been working on its interior for the past two months. If there's going to be any sort of grand opening with special attractions, we'll put something here later to call attention to that.

Disclaimer: River Park Square is owned by the Cowles Co., which also owns and operates The Spokesman-Review.

Vivo moving into third floor space in River Park Square mall

Still no word on who might take the 8,000 square feet of space last used by Abercrombie & Fitch in River Park Square, in downtown Spokane.

But Vivo, a Coeur d'Alene-based retailer of clothes and other household wares will take a spot up on the third floor, River Park Square announced on Monday.

Vivo has stores in CDA, Spokane Valley and North Spokane (at NorthTown Mall).

About Nov. 1, Vivo will move into the space between Claire's and the AT&T store. Vivo is owned by Dale and Shawnda Rainey of Post Falls.

River Park Square is owned and operated by the Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review newspaper.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory to move into River Park Square

The spot in River Park Square last used by Godiva Chocolatier will be taken over by another chocolate franchise.

Rachelle and Aaron Blackmer, who run one Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory store on Sullivan Road in the Valley, will open their second area franchise inside River Park Square on or about May 20. Godiva closed down in January.

The couple has been in the Valley for more than two years. They'll fill the spot under the escalator on the main floor. They expect to have five employees, said Rachelle Blackmer.

About 60 percent of the items they sell they make themselves; the rest is provided by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory's main office.

Big sellers are the 30 or so different flavor caramel apples. The No. 2 top seller is dipped strawberries.

Fudge and other confections will also be sold.

RPS is owned by the Cowles Co. The Spokesman-Review is an affiliate of Cowles Co.

Ben Bridge jewelers to move into River Park Square this summer

Ben Bridge Jeweler, the well-known retailer of rings, gems and pendants, will open a store in River Park Square this summer.

RPS is managed by the Cowles Co., which also owns and operates The Spokesman-Review.

A release Thursday noted Ben Bridge will move into the first-level space occupied by The Walking Company, the footwear retailer.

Walking Company will take over the second-level location last used by Sunglass Hut. Sunglass Hut has already moved into a new second-level kiosk due west of the escalators.

Demolition work is underway on the Sunglass Hut shop just off the escalator.

Ben Bridge, founded about 100 years ago, operates locations across the country. It has one other Spokane store in NorthTown Mall.

Verizon’s Spokane area stores to start selling iPhone 4 at 7 a.m. Thursday

Verizon launches its sales blitz of the iPhone 4 with stores here opening bright and early Thursday.

We know the River Park Square Verizon location will open two hours early, at 7 a.m., to meet the first wave of buyers. Doors to the atrium will open at 4 a.m. to let shoppers get the line started.

All other River Park Square stores will open at 10 a.m.

Other Verizon stores in the region are likely following suit.

An assistant manager at the downtown store said the staff is gathering in RPS at 4:30 a.m. to prepare.

RPS is owned and operated by the Cowles Co., which also operates The Spokesman-Review.

Godiva’s out, but who’s going to grab that kiosk space in River Park Square?

Mall rats can start guessing which new retailer will move into the kiosk in River Park Square vacated by Godiva Chocolate.

Bob Smith, the guy who manages the RPS, told us talks have nearly concluded with a retailer expected to take over that spot, on the main floor of the downtown Spokane mall.

Godiva closed down on Monday after operating in that spot for 10 years. Most RPS leases run 10 years.

Smith, who works for Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review, said the new tenant fits a category currently "underrepresented" by other retailers in RPS.

What could that be?  Probably not food. Clothing?  Only if one thinks niche apparel.

Smith said the decision to refresh the kiosk operators follows a regular review of customer wants and wishes. Customers are apparently telling the management they don't want chocolate as much as something else they want.

Smith added that total sales at the kiosks is another factor for review. RPS collects a portion of monthly or quarterly sales as part of the lease agreement.

Once we know who's going in, we'll announce it.

Godiva Chocalatier kiosk in downtown Spokane shuts down

The River Park Square Godiva Chocolatier kiosk shut down Monday, Jan. 24, with no formal statement on the reason.

A River Park Square mall spokesperson confirmed the closure but had nothing else to add. Another mall tenant, clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch, shut its doors last week.

The kiosk has been there at least since 2000. 

Cowles Co., which also operates The Spokesman-Review and spokesman.com, owns and manages River Park Square.

Downtown’s first kaiten (belt) sushi restaurant opens on Friday

Sushi Maru, a kaiten-style sushi restaurant, opens its doors on Friday in the former spot of Sawtooth Grill in River Park Square. Kaiten restaurants use conveyor belts with foods on plates that pass by diners’ tables. Diners pull off the items they want.

Sushi Maru is run by Paul Choi, a Bellevue owner of a number of kaiten restaurants in western Washington.  Choi has stocked Sushi Maru with an extensive sake bar in the restaurant lounge. It will seat 145, counting lounge and dining area.

Plates are equipped with microchips that keep track of how long they sit on the conveyor belt. After an hour, food items not selected get pulled off, to insure that customers get fresh choices.

Hours are 11 a.m. to close Monday through Saturday, noon to close on Sunday. Disclaimer: River Park Square is owned by Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

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.

Jos. A. Bank moves to Talbots site

This is not exactly big or surprising news. Jos. A. Bank, a menswear retailer, will move from its current 811 W. Main address in downtown Spokane to a new location in River Park Square, opening in November.

Jos. A. Bank is taking the spot down the street previously leased by Talbots. Talbots has not said if it will open a new area store.

The Mobius Science Center will take over the ground level of 811 and 809 W. Main, opening its doors in 2012, its nonprofit board announced this week.

Both buildings — River Park Square and the West 809 Building across the street — are owned by the Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

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.


A large number of eateries are opening across town

A raft of new restaurants are spreading across the Inland Northwest.

We’ve spotted about 10 new or expanded locations here and in North Idaho. They include the White House Grill on the South Hill, Savory, Italia Trattoria in Browne’s Addition, Ciao Mambo going into the Lincoln Plaza building downtown, and the Manito Brewing Co.  If you know of others, leave a comment here or offer more information.

One interesting new business is the planned Sushi Maru, moving this fall into downtown Spokane. It would be the fourth restaurant operated by Bellevue-based Sushi Maru group. All  those places use the kaiten approach to sushi.

Kaiten is the style of serving food in which conveyor belts (or water channels, in some instances) move plates of food past dining tables. Customers grab whatever plate strikes their fancy.

Sushi Maru owner Paul Choi is taking the spot in River Park Square occupied since 2000 by Sawtooth Grill. Disclosure: RPS is run by the Cowles Co., which also owns The Spokesman-Review.

We left a message for the Sawtooth Grill manager to call us with plans for that business, but haven’t heard yet. Choi said he intends to open Spokane’s first Sushi Maru by Black Friday this fall. Photo here is of Choi’s main restaurant in Bellevue.

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.


 

Downtown Eddie Bauer store closes

Outdoor clothing retailer Eddie Bauer closed its downtown Spokane retail store recently, leaving only an outlet store in the Spokane Valley, the Bellevue-based company said Friday.

Spokeswoman Sarah Redgrave said Eddie Bauer does not comment on store closures or openings. She declined to say if a new Spokane store is in the works.

“This is a normal course of business,” Redgrave said.

The store, at 710 W. Main, has been a tenant of River Park Square since 1997, after it closed another downtown store one year earlier.

Bob Smith, chief operating officer of River Park Square, said discussions were continuing with a tenant interested in the location. He said the decision to not renew the lease with Eddie Bauer was “a mutual decision.”

 

Apple still not saying anything about Spokane retail store

Buy iPadOn Feb. 22 this year The Spokesman-Review reported that Apple Inc. was interested in launching — and hiring for — a Spokane downtown Apple Store.

The retail community got very excited, the Apple fan base got very enthusiastic.

But Apple’s spokespeople never would say when the store would come to town. A Craigslist ad said it would go into River Park Square, a downtown mall owned by The Cowles Co., the same company that owns The Spokesman-Review.

Recently, Apple Spokeswoman Amy Barney said the tech company has nothing new to add, other than what was earlier reported.

Efforts to get more information on whether the first plan has changed, and when any store would arrive, have not been successful.

Eugster: A friend of the Cowles Co.?

My guess is that of all the labels that might stick on Steve Eugster, “Cowles sycophant” is not one of them, despite the accusation from David Elton mentioned in the previous post.

Still, I think it’s worth mentioning this nugget from an interview I had with Eugster last month. After talking for more than an hour on numerous issues, I asked him if he wanted to say anything about River Park Square. His response: “Oh, (deep belly laugh here) no, no. I thought that was done with when I went on the council. That’s history, Jon. Let’s forget about River Park Square.”

But anyone who thinks Eugster, who was elected to one term on the council in 1999, is a “Cowles sycophant” should be reminded: He was the first to suggest that an investigation into possible manslaughter charges should be opened into the 2006 death of a woman whose car fell from the River Park Square parking garage and tried unsuccessfully to get portions of the garage closed. When County Prosecutor Steve Tucker declined earlier this year to file any charges related to the case, Eugster’s opinion about possible charges hadn’t changed.

The Cowles Co. owns River Park Square and The Spokesman-Review.

RPS critics try to scuttle Ormsby nomination

A former Spokane mayor and other critics of the River Park Square project are opposing the nomination of a local lawyer to be the next U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington because of his involvement in the mall renovation some 10 years ago.

Former Mayor John Talbott and three others sent a five-page letter to President Barack Obama and key members of Congress asking that Mike Ormsby not be named to the district’s top federal law enforcement spot because of his role in helping to secure financing for the controversial project. They claim the project was rife with fraud, despite federal investigators’ determination last September that no fraud occurred in the mall’s financing.

Ormsby called the letter an “effort to demonize me as a part of this project” and said some of its statements were false or misleading.

“The letter far overstates my importance to and involvement in the project,” he said. “I very much look forward to defending my reputation, performance and ethics in the vetting process.”