Archive for April, 2010

   I pulled off the Highway 27 at the Freeman Convenience Store to receive a phone call last Saturday and discovered a brand new gift shop in the quaint building to the rear. It is called Bertha and Brambles and features the work of several of the shop owners’ work as well as large array of vintage collectables.

 The new owners, sisters Robin Foutch and Kari Patterson from the Fairfield area, come from an artistic family that has a lot to offer. Kari is a talented graphic designer with a line of children’s fabric called KP Kids and Co. that is popular around the world. Another sister, Lori Lynn,  is a popular a children’s photographer. Robin and a sister-in-law make jewelry, a niece makes pins and another makes magnets. Their mom makes those cute little topsy-turvy dolls that have a sleeping head on one end and bright eyed one on the other, with the dress in the middle hiding which ever end is held down.

    Additionally, they let some of their friends have some shelf space. Spokane soap maker, Sandy Tarbox, has her line of olive oil handmade Greencastle Soap on display. Another friend has a line of handcrafted scented candles called Bungalow Candleworks, Mary Joe from Montana has a display of photographs and another friend makes furniture.

    Beyond all these great gift ideas, there is Kari’s vast collection of vintage collectables, which Robin assured me only a small portion could be displayed and so it seems the inventory will  constantly be replenished as they empty her storage space and tap their friends and family for more and more of their hand crafted treasures.

The stores phone number is 291-3728

Let me define what I mean by best bar food by saying if I want to go out for a drink and I am hungry, Charlie P’s in the Spokane Valley at Sprague and Vista is my first choice. A lot of places have good food like O’ Doughtery’s and The Iron Horse, and Dianne’s lunch specials at the Sullivan Scoreboard are great, but nobody has the selection of Charlie P’s.

He has juicy barbecued ribs that only O’Doughtery’s can rival, and I know because ribs are my favorite meal. Elaine is a French Dip lover and she said the one she ate there was the best she has had since we closed the Rock Inn. She also loved their pizza. We normally sit at the bar next to the kitchen and I watch a ton of good-looking food go out like broasted chicken and steaks and fettucine and heaping hamburgers. He also has daily lunch and dinner specials, which few other bars take the time and effort to come up with each day.

Charlie spent a lot of money setting up a big kitchen at his new place and I think he put his money in the right place. Every bar has pretty much the same drinks and beer, but he was able to open ahead of the competition with his menu. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns into one of those local treasures that is packed all day long serving meal after meal. I have waited since Waffles and More closed years ago for someone to serve a good Seafood omelet in the Valley. Leave it to Charlie P’s to come up with one even better than the one that I had been dreaming about.

Charlie P's on Urbanspoon

I remember when I opened the Rock Inn nearly 8 years ago, people kept telling me I must have a lot of guts to attempt running a niteclub/restaurant/banquet facility. I think what they really meant was “what are you thinking?” Last night when Elaine and I were at the Luxury Box, Tina Bishop, the owner, came up and started chatting with us. I saw a bright, personable entrepenuer who had put herself and probably everything she has on the line. I know that people are thinking the same of her that they did of us.

I always got the feeling that many people were jealous or envious that we had gone for the brass ring, while they stayed in there comfort zones. Running your own place is a very common secret desire that few attempt but many wish could. That’s one reason everyone is a critic, most of us have a dream establishment in our head that is just perfect. The new place in town can’t live up to that.

Tina has broken ranks and made her dream a reality. It is a big and gutsy move.  Do I think the Valley will support the Luxury Box ? Without million dollar network ads or constant radio spots leading the herd by their noses, it may take some time. But let me go on record saying I will be ashamed and dissapointed if they are not supported.

I know firsthand how hard it is for an independent Valley owner to compete against Applebee’s or Outback or The Old Country Buffet for that matter. I’m sorry but I’ve always been ashamed of the way people around here wait in line for a burger and some highly researched atmosphere over at the Red Robin but turn their noses up to the little guys like Pinochio’s or the Two Sister’s Vietnamese Cuisine, which might as well have opened on a glacier in the Himalayas.

Tina has created a great place. She really did a great job remodelling. The only other place in the Valley that is in her league is Max at the Maribeau. We are lucky to now have another classy place to go. And then the food is great. It is so much better than what you get at any of the Valley mall parking lot pad corporate joints that it is not even funny. The crab cakes I had there yesterday were honestly the best that I have ever had and I thought the pizza great.

But shoot, Tina is just a girl from the Valley whose family has run a banquet facility down in Rockford for twenty years. What does she think she is doing trying to give us a wonderful place to gather at and be entertained 6 nights a week? It may just be another case of a local yokel with a lot of guts casting her precious pearls amongst the swine, but for her sake and the Valley’s I certainly hope not. I hope she does well, and rattles the chains like Applebees and Black Angus.

<a href=””><img alt=”The Luxury Box on Urbanspoon” src=”” style=”border:none;width:200px;height:146px” /></a>