Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

The Dirt: French eatery and speakeasy coming near Riverfront Park

Lorèn Bistro, a French-inspired restaurant is set to open on October 24, but doors to its underground-secret space will remain under wraps.

Located in the Papillion Building at 908 North Howard Street, the restaurant will feature a secret room capable of seating 22 people.

“It’s completely hidden,” Owner Juli Norris said. “You will have no idea where it is when you walk in.”

Called the Sophia Room, the space looks like a traditional speakeasy and will differ from the main dining room, which is bright and chic, Norris said.

But other aspects of the business allude to the restricted area.

“The craft cocktail list will highlight prohibition-era drinks but with a more modern style,” Norris said.

Other drink offerings feature French and local wines.

Food items will continuously change.

“It will be a small, very intentional menu,” she said, “and will be very seasonal based on the best ingredients we can procure locally.”

The bistro will feature a social club. For a yearly fee, members will have exclusive access to the Sophia Room.

Only 25 members every year will be able to hold events, enjoy a free bottle of sparkling French Champagne and dessert when they visit, and use the space when the main dining room is fully booked.

Memberships are already being sought after. Just inside a month from opening, only eight remain.

The unique project comes from a woman born and raised in Spokane with extensive experience in the industry.

She owns Kasa Restaurant & Taphouse in the same building. And two years ago she sold Downriver Grill after owning and operating it for 11 years.

“(Lorèn Bistro) will not be the last restaurant I’ll open in my hometown,” she said. “There will be more.”

North 40 Outfitters building new store

The Montana-based outdoors, farming and apparel shop submitted plans to Spokane County to build a new store larger than 113,000 square-feet.

At 0 North Newport Highway, the building will be about one mile north of its current Mead store which they outgrew, according to Denise Schnider, who is the marketing director for the company.

The retailer has been in operation at its current Mead location since 2006.

The applicants estimated the new project will cost about $22 million.

The 7.47 acre parcel where the building will be constructed is owned by NAI Black Enterprises.

“The North 40 Center will be the anchor for the continued development in North Spokane,” Chris Bell, managing broker for the real estate agency, said in a company release. “Especially when the North-South Freeway is completed.”

The firm is also planning for a grocery store, and outparcels for a bank or credit union, restaurants and other retailers in the area, the release said.

Construction for the new North 40 Outfitters building is scheduled to begin in 2024. The building will be similar to its West Spokane store, Schnider said.

Completed in October of 2021, that location spans just more than 90,000 square-feet and offers more products than any other of the retailer’s Spokane locations, Schnider said.

In addition to the 65 employees currently working at the Mead location, the company expects to hire hire an additional 30 employees.

Apartments on Grand Boulevard

Plans have been submitted to the City of Spokane to build the Grand Boulevard Six – a six unit apartment complex on a typical residential parcel.

The three story building will be erected at 1517 S. Grand Blvd. one block north of Manito Park in Spokane’s South Hill neighborhood.

Six units, each consisting of two bedrooms, two bathrooms and parking spaces will be constructed into the 0.19-acre parcel.

The project was designed by CAST architecture, a Seattle-based firm.

“This build directly springs from progressive legislation by the City,” said Matt Hutchins, principal architect for the firm. “It enables us to take any single-family lot and put at least four units on it.”

The Building Opportunity and Choices for All program, or BOCA as it is commonly referred, was launched last summer and relaxed building code restrictions to allow multifamily housing to be constructed on parcels previously only able to hold single-family homes.

“The BOCA program is really what attracted us to Spokane,” Hutchins said. “The building department has been really supportive so we are excited to do more projects there.”

The building will include two affordable housing units, in accordance with BOCA regulations. The other four units will be close to market price, Hutchins said.

Leases are expected to begin next summer.