Food review: Yuzen restaurant serves fresh Japanese food

This past week, April 21-29, the Spokane community hosted Japan Week, a Japanese cultural event. The event has been put on in April since 1992 and has a wide variety of sponsors  such as The Spokesman-Review and Spokane Falls Community College. The goal of the event is to allow the Spokane community to participate in various Japanese cultural activities and to raise awareness of  the deeply-rooted culture through traditional fine arts performances, food, lectures and festivals.

“It’s a great opportunity for people in Spokane to know Japanese culture,” said Yuko Taniguchi, who teaches Japanese at Whitworth. “Only a limited number of people know of the event and I hope that more people will come to know more about it.”

Not only has Japan Week Spokane 2012 interested the Spokane community, but it has also brought awareness to the Whitworth campus through Taniguchi. This year she assigned her students to go and participate in one of the activities from the event. She recommended the opening ceremony to students because it had a lot of  different  activities going on, such as a dynamic Japanese drumming performance and a martial arts demonstration.

In light of Japan Week, I decided to try out a Japanese restaurant: Yuzen Sushi Restaurant at 5204 North Division St.

The restaurant serves a wide variety, from sushi to hot food. Because sushi is such a staple food of Japan, and I think it’s delicious, I got a lunch platter called Bara-Sushi and Tempura Lunch for $6.95. The lunch platter was large enough to feed two people.

The meal consisted of a salmon cake harumaki, bara-sushi and mixed tempura. The salmon cake harumaki was a type of Japanese spring roll with spicy salmon. It was simple, not too greasy and had a subtle kick to it.

I had never heard of bara-sushi before I came to Yuzen. I was a bit nervous about it because it was out of my comfort zone, but I enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who likes sushi. It did not look like your typical sushi roll. In a sense, it was a large cube of a rice mixture that consisted of chopped seaweed salad, albacore tuna, tuna, salmon, mackerel and tamago, which is an egg cake.

The fish tasted fresh and was not overpowering. The seaweed salad did not take over the sushi, but rather complemented the fish, and the tamago added a subtle sweetness to the whole dish. The mixed tempura included green beans, mushrooms, zucchini slices, carrot slices, broccoli and shrimp. Like the salmon cake harumaki, the tempura was hot, fresh and was not greasy with a nice crunch to it.

I am glad that I tried something new. I got a taste of fresh Japanese food and I would recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for something fresh, easy and inexpensive.

Story and photography by Elise Van Dam Staff Writer

Contact Elise Van Dam at evandam13@my.whitworth.edu.

Rusty Roof’s: Not an ordinary burger joint

When I am having a bad day I crave a good cheeseburger, fries and a coke. This meal is my comfort food; it makes my day a little brighter.

In my hometown of San Diego, In-N-Out is the restaurant where I find my comfort meal, but unfortunately it is not in Spokane. I have been searching high and low for three years, have gone to multiple restaurants to find the best burger and now I feel I have found it at Rusty Roof’s Burger and Shake Shack on 101 East Hastings Road.

Frank and Shanna Haney opened Rusty Roofs Burger and Shake Shack on Oct. 18, 2010. The couple wanted to create a restaurant that had the environment of a sit-down restaurant with a fast food twist. The restaurant uses all fresh ingredients, from all-beef patties to homemade sauces.

“We wanted to offer something a little different with better quality and worth your money,” Frank Haney said.

Currently they are planning on opening a second location on Hamilton Street by Gonzaga University in about six weeks.

All the burgers on the menu were tempting. If you are a meat lover, I would recommend the Rusty Signature: season beef patty, house sauce, shredded pork, apple wood smoked bacon, pastrami, cheddar cheese, grilled onions, sautéed mushrooms, tomato and lettuce. If you are not a burger fan then I would recommend trying the Grilled Chicken Sandwich or the Garden Patch Burger.

The menu also consists of frozen custard milkshakes, from the traditional chocolate to fresh huckleberry. The restaurant uses top quality ingredients and the custard is made in the restaurant.

“Their huckleberry milkshake is delicious,” Whitworth alumna and customer Robyn Louis said. “It is perfect for sharing.”

I tried the Rusty Cheeseburger. I loved every aspect of the burger. It tasted fresh and had a lot of flavor. The patty was juicy. It was nice to see dark leaf lettuce instead of the traditional Iceberg lettuce. The burger also had tomatoes, onions and pickles with the restaurant’s house sauce. The bun was soft and fresh and came from Alpine Bistro and Bakery on Monroe Street.

The only downfall to this fabulous meal was I did not realize garlic Parmesan fries were included in the meal and if I wanted salted fries, I had to ask. Do not get me wrong, the fries were good, but I am not a huge fan of garlic Parmesan fries. I eat a few and then I am done with them. Besides the confusion of the fries, I thought this was a great meal that was worth every penny.

 

Story by Elise Van Dam Staff Writer

Photography by Ashley Minster

 

Contact Elise Van Dam at evandam13@my.whitworth.edu.

Food review: White House mobile serves garlic on the go

Everyone knows garlic keeps the vampires away, but at the White House Garlic Mobile on Division Street, the savory taste of garlic is what keeps the customers coming back for more.

Owner Raleigh Johnston’s original plan was to take the mobile and travel around to cater various events and parties, but after a positive turnout from the Pig Out in the Park event downtown, he decided to move the mobile to a more permanent place on 6022 North Division St. around Thanksgiving of 2011. Johnston said he believes that the mobile has had a positive impact on the other White House restaurants located on the South Hill and in Post Falls, Idaho.

“The mobile is a great marketing tool,” Johnston said. “It gets people to go to the South Hill location.”

While the restaurants have a wider variety of Mediterranean food options, the mobile still serves favorites like the Spicy Garlic Chicken Spring Bowl and the Chicken Fettuccine. Johnston said  everything is made fresh to-go and has the same quality as the food at other restaurants.

Fresh garlic is included in every dish in some way from garlic sautéed vegetables to meat seasoned with garlic. The item that Johnston likes new customers to try is the Spicy Garlic Chicken Spring Bowl.

“It’s perfect for newbies,” Johnston said. “If I get them to try it, they always come back for more.”

Another popular item on the menu is the Chicken Fettuccine, which customer and Whitworth junior Colby Davis tried at the Post Falls location.

“It’s so good,” junior Colby Davis said. “It’s the perfect mix of garlic and creamy. It’s something you would want to eat when you are having a bad day.”

Even though the Chicken Fettuccine looked tasty, I decided because I am a “newbie” to the mobile and it is now officially spring I should try the Spicy Garlic Chicken Spring Bowl. Originally this savory bowl consists of sautéed vegetables, chicken, garbanzo beans, feta and rice, but because I am not a huge fan of garbanzo beans I substituted in green beans. Despite the substitution, the dish was amazing. It was hot and fresh. The garlic was not overpowering, the vegetables were not overcooked, the chicken was tender and juicy and the rice was rich with flavor. An added bonus was garlic bread on the side, which I loved.

The meal cost was around $11, which might seem a little expensive to some people, but the meal was worth the price. The serving size was huge in my opinion; I could have shared it with someone or made two meals out of it.

So my advice is that if you are a vampire, stay away from the White House Garlic Mobile. But if you are in need of some fresh Mediterranean cuisine with a garlic twist, then head on over and indulge in some great food.

Story by Elise Van Dam Staff Writer

Photography by Cathy Bronson

Contact Elise Van Dam at evandam13@my.whitworth.edu.

Food Review: Downtown bakeshop has cupcakes galore

Rumor has it Marie Antoinette once said to her poor subjects, “Let them eat cake.” But at Sweet Frostings Blissful Bakeshop on Washington Street downtown, “Let them eat cupcakes” is scrawled above the entrance to the kitchen, so customers and employees alike may remember the reason why the bakeshop is in business.

It all started with Judy Rozier who had a bad day at work and decided to buy a cupcake to cheer herself up. Unfortunately she was not satisfied with her purchase, so she started to think of ways to make a better cupcake. She started baking the treats at home and soon found that people loved them: they started ordering dozens.

Then Rozier got the idea to open a bakeshop. She asked her friend Sally Winfrey, a baker of more than 30 years, to be her partner. On Nov. 6, 2011 they opened Sweet Frostings Blissful Bakeshop.

“I love not working for someone else,” Winfrey said. “Judy and I complement each other in our work styles and our personalities.”

The bakeshop has a wide variety of cupcakes for around $3 such as: red velvet, salted caramel, confetti and chocolate peanut butter. The shop also offers cookies, whoopie pies, cake truffles and other treats. In around six weeks, espresso and gelato will be added to the menu, as well. They use only all-natural ingredients and flavors such as vanilla from Madagascar and real strawberries for strawberry flavoring.

“We try to use the highest quality ingredients,” Winfrey said. “People will pay the price if it’s worth the value.”

Wide variety, high quality, customer service and presentation keep customers coming back for more.

“My chocolate coconut cupcake was rich and well-made,” customer and Whitworth junior Maria Louis said. “The presentation was adorable. It didn’t just taste good; it looked good.”

I agree with Winfrey; if something is good people will pay to have it. I have never been a huge fan of cupcakes — I will have one at birthday parties or a special function — but I never crave a cupcake. But now that I have had one from Sweet Frostings Blissful Bakeshop, all I want is to go back and try another cupcake.

I tried the chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake, which had chocolate frosting, vanilla cake and cookie dough on the bottom. I could taste the all-natural ingredients. The frosting was rich and did not leave a film on the roof of my mouth, and the cake was rich and moist. I was hesitant at first about the cookie dough on the bottom but once I took a bit that hesitation faded from my mind. It tasted just like the dough my mom makes.

Not only are the cupcakes delicious but there is great customer service. The employees and owners were happy to chat with me and served me with a smile on their faces. I would recommend this to anyone who is craving a cupcake and a smile.

 

Story by Elise Van Dam Staff Writer

Photography by Melissa Barringer

Contact Elise Van Dam at evandam13@my.whitworth.edu.

Food review: Food trailer serves gourmet grilled cheese

I grew up eating a variation of grilled cheese sandwiches and soups. Still to this day I have a reminiscent craving of that meal on chilly winter days. After searching places like college dinning halls and various restaurants I finally found the place that serves a home-style meal of grilled cheese and tomato basil soup with a gourmet twist: Mommy G’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese.

In June 2011 Jessica Rapp and her mother had an idea of opening up a small business as a family investment. After looking at various options, Rapp saw a food trailer for sale, bought it and transformed it into Mommy G’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese.

“I love being able to make food people really like,” Rapp said regarding her passion for starting a food cart.

Mother and daughter started selling their sandwiches in a parking lot at the corner of East Sprague Avenue and North Washington Street in downtown Spokane. After five months at that location they decided it was time to move a little farther north and ended up in the Staples parking lot at the corner of East North Foothills Drive and North Division Street. Now Mommy G’s is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Throughout the lunchtime rush Rapp serves both regular and new customers, but her primary customers are people on their lunch breaks. She feels that could be because of the stamp cards that gives customers a free sandwich on the 10th visit or because her customers just love the sandwiches, Rapp said.

Presently Rapp is the sole owner of the business and said she hopes to one day open another Mommy G’s food trailer.

“I think what is cool about this food trailer is it has taken some fear out of food trucks for people,” Rapp said.

The menu consists of 10 sandwiches that cost around $7. The Turkey Bacon Melt consists of smoked turkey, bacon crumbles, havarti cheese and ranch dressing.

Mommy G’s also serves three vegetarian options such as the French Onion Melt that includes gruyère cheese, caramelized onion and sautéed mushrooms on white bread. While there are not many vegetarian options, Rapp said she hopes to add more vegetarian sandwiches to the menu in the future.

Along with the sandwiches, customers can also purchase sides such as chips, drinks and tomato basil soup. The soup is sold in two different sizes: an 8-ounce cup for $3 and a 2-ounce “dunk” cup for $1.

“It tasted like being home with your mom,” customer and Whitworth junior Jourdyn McClain said about her experience of eating a classic grilled cheese and tomato basil soup.

Conrad’s Favorite is the sandwich I ate on my visit to Mommy G’s. It was filled with turkey, havarti cheese, roasted red pepper aioli and spinach on wheat bread. It was a wonderful combination of crunchy, cheesy and savory all at the same time. The bread was not too grilled or greasy; it had the right amount of butter. The arrangement of turkey, cheese, spinach and aioli was just right; nothing was overpowering.

Not only are the sandwiches good but the customer service is also great. Rapp took my order with a smile and seemed genuinely excited that it was my first time trying one of her sandwiches. She also was quick to deliver the sandwich to my car. I would recommend this to anyone who wants a meal that is fast, convenient, less than $10, but also has a classic home-style feel.

Story by Elise Van Dam Staff Writer

Photo by David Rurik

Contact Elise Van Dam at evandam13@my.whitworth.edu.

Adjunct faculty member also shop owner

It all started with one couple who wanted a new challenge in life and then that challenge turned into two successful stores. In 1993, Whitworth University alumni Kris Dinnison and her husband opened Boo Radley’s, a gift and toy shop. The Dinnisons then took on a new task by purchasing a coffee shop from Four Seasons Coffee, one of the original Spokane roasters, and turning it into their own shop called Atticus Coffee and Gifts.

Dinnison has been a part of the Whitworth adjunct faculty on and off for more than 20 years. During that time, she has taught a children’s literature course and worked with the Gifted and Talented Program through the education department.

Dinnison also worked in the Mead School District for 17 years. In 2008, she decided to take a semester leave from teaching.

“I thought I would go back, but I never did,” Dinnison said.

Now Dinnison has three careers. She is a writer working on a young adult realistic contemporary novel and co-owns and manages both Boo Radley’s and Atticus with her husband. She also currently teaches an adolescent literature class for the English department at Whitworth.

“I don’t really have much contact with the other faculty since I am at Whitworth only one night a week, but I have felt very supported by the English department,” Dinnison said.

Not only does she feel support from the English department, but her students also feel supported by her. Rachel Yaun, senior and English major at Whitworth, is a student in Dinnison’s class.

“She encourages us to think about education in a different way by using brain-compatible strategies that keep us engaged,” Yaun said. “I know that every week she’s helping me to become a better teacher.”

Dinnison said that life gets busy and difficult with three different careers, but she keeps a positive outlook on it all.

“I feel lucky that I have the kind of life where there is more stuff I want to do and learn than I have time for,” Dinnison said.

Even though her life is busy, Dinnison said that she would never to go back to teaching full-time again.

“I chose to leave K-12 teaching,”Dinnison said. “I resigned after two years of leave away from the classroom, so I had time to really consider my decision. There are other things I want to do and learn and experience in my life.”

She said some things she would like to experience are to travel, visit friends and family, go back to school to get another degree and write more young adult novels.

Dinnison said she enjoys being a co-owner of two stores, and her favorite aspects of the job are the strong base of regular customers that visit the stores and the employees she works with.

“I feel so lucky to work with the people I do,” Dinnison said.

 

Atticus Coffee and Gifts

Along with the customers and employees at her shops, Dinnison also said she enjoys using products from local companies. Atticus uses local roasters such as Doma, Roast House, Anvil and Four Seasons for its coffee.

“When you have that many good roasters in town, why go elsewhere?” Dinnison said.

Not only does Atticus use coffee beans from local roasters to make its drinks, it also sells baked goods from a local bakery called Cake.

Dinnison recommends a pairing of an 8-ounce cappuccino and a croissant called a “buttercup” to her customers.

Because it is located in downtown near to the mall, Riverfront Park and Lewis and Clark High School, a wide range of customers come in several times a week for a coffee or pastry.

“It tends to attract a friendly crowd,” said Annie Stillar, customer and program assistant for the English department at Whitworth.

The distinct pictures on the walls and the wide variety of gifts such as dishware, books, wine and coffee beans attract customers to the store section of Atticus.

“The first thing I saw was the [book] pages on the wall,” said customer Sarah Kenney, a junior at Whitworth. “I liked that it was part store and part coffee shop.”

Along with the distinct gift section, the atmosphere of the coffee shop with its different-size tables and variety of drinks and pastries gives Atticus its own personality.

“Atticus’ personality is the best part about it,” Stillar said. “And it’s tempting to think they try too hard to be the ‘it’ place, but it lives up to the title just by being itself: good coffee, good atmosphere and fun stuff everywhere.”

Story by Elise Van Dam Staff Writer

Photo by Michael Locatell

Contact Elise Van Dam at evandam13@my.whitworth.edu.

Bistro, bakery offers diverse menu

Scents of fresh baked bread, coffee and smiling employees greet customers as they enter Alpine Bistro and Bakery Company. Ten years ago owners Carl and Nicole Burgi opened Nifty Fifties Donut and Espresso on Highway 2 where they sold donuts, coffee and small lunches. Soon they outgrew their one-room drive-through and opened up a much larger food service called Alpine Bistro and Bakery on 810 N. Monroe St. They employ an average of 20 employees.

“I absolutely love working at Alpine,” employee Allie Sand said. “It’s great working for a family business.”

The restaurant and bakery also provides bread to over 100 restaurants and coffee shops around Spokane including the Davenport, Twigs, Didier’s, Rusty Roof’s, Fat Daddy’s and Java Hut. Some of the types of bread they sell are french, sourdough, rye, wheat, artisan style, rolls and hamburger buns. While Alpine is still too small to sell their bread in grocery stores, they would like to expand, Nicole Burgi said.

“Not a lot of people make homemade bread anymore,” Burgi said. “In a sense it’s a lost art, which is really sad.”

While Alpine is a bread provider for restaurants and businesses all over Spokane, it also serves breakfast and lunch every day of the week, and dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

“I really loved it,” junior Diana Cater said. “It reminded me of a place your grandparents would take you to.”

The menu has a variety of options from pastries to complete meals.

“I love the cinnamon rolls,” Sand said. “I take one home almost every day.”

For breakfast a customer can order items such as breakfast burritos, french toast or biscuits and gravy. Both hot and cold sandwiches, salads, soup, hamburgers and other options such as lasagna are offered for lunch. Dinner options depend on the specials.

Along with the different food items, Alpine also has an atmosphere that feels like being home. Customers can sit down on the couches, enjoy the scenes of everyday life through the large storefront windows, and have a pastry and coffee. Or they can sit at a table and have more of a restaurant experience while the enjoy their meal.

“I love how Alpine wasn’t trying to be hip or new,” Cater said. “It was just trying to serve good food and be comfortable.”

Story by Elise Van Dam Staff Writer

Contact Elise Van Dam at evandam13@my.whitworth.edu.

Tea room provides ministry

Taste and See Tea is a home-away-from-home get- away. The tea room, located at 521 E. Holland, greets guests with its warm, contemporary-yet-vintage feel. Soft, classical music plays in the background as you choose your own china ware to drink your hot tea from. Sheer linens on the enormous windows separate you from the hustle-and-bustle of the busy street outside, providing a relaxing shelter from everyday life. Not only does Taste and See Tea provide an escape, but it also provides a ministry to homeless women who currently live in transition centers. Specifically working with Anna Ogden Hall, which is associated with the Union Gospel Mission, the tea room helps these women transition into a working environment.

“I volunteered down at the [Union Gospel] Mission and saw a need to give these ladies a chance,” owner Thada Ziegler said.

Ziegler started Taste and See Tea in 2006 by inviting friends into her home to have tea, and donated the money she raised to Anna Ogden Hall. In 2008, Ziegler opened a facility on the South Hill after she received non-profit status for Taste and See Tea. However, be- cause of the small facility and Ziegler’s desire to expand, Taste and See Tea recently moved to the north side of Spokane.

Taste and See Tea offers a business practicum to the women they work with, providing these women with internships. The internships consist of 240 hours of one-on-one training with Ziegler on business etiquette — conflict resolution, building up self-esteem, taking direction and working as a team.

“It’s an honor and a privilege to work with these women. This is an amazingly fulfilling job,” employee Barb Cressey said. “They expose us to many of the trials and hardships they have experienced in their lives and as we train them, we often times are the ones receiving the blessings.”

Interns start out washing dishes, then start serving food and waiting on tables, but continue at their own comfort level.

“They need to branch out because being in the real world is different,” Ziegler said. “We’re helping them ease in for what lies ahead. They have lots of hurts and a past they have to work through.”

Overall, Taste and See Tea has had six interns, who are paid by tips and gratuities.

“We have the most gracious and lovely customers,” Cressey said. “They’re here to support the ministry. We know they’re here for a reason, not just to be self- indulgent.”

When Ziegler was deciding what kind of business to open, she wanted to create a relaxing environment.

“I don’t have Wi-Fi in here,” Ziegler said.“I want people to come in and have a place to talk to each other.”

Ziegler also saw an opportunity to bring something new to the Spokane area.

“Over the years I collected a bunch of tea things — linens, cups,” Ziegler said. “I got really interested in tea, and since there isn’t much around here for tea, I wanted to bring a new market.”

Sophomore Rebecca Southwick’s first experience at Taste and See Tea was a birthday party.

“There were five of us total and we ordered more than 17 pots of tea,” Southwick said. “Each kind of tea is unique, but delicious, which made us want to keep ordering more. I think we tried more than half the teas on the menu.”

Taste and See Tea serves 27 different kinds of tea, ranging from black tea to fruit blends. It also provides fresh goods made in-house, such as scones, cookies and sandwiches.

Not only serving delicious treats, Taste and See Tea helps homeless women overcome their hardships in order to prepare for a work environment.

“We want our customers to know they’re partnering with us to keep us open,” Ziegler said.

Story by Chrissy Roach Photo Editor

Contact Chrissy Roach at croach14@my.whitworth.edu.

Photographer: Hope Barnes

Trader Joe’s sets up shop in Spokane

Since Oct. 8 of 2011 Trader Joe’s has been open for business on Spokane’s South Hill at 2975 East 29th Ave. Murals of scenic places in Spokane, such as the gardens in Manito Park, decorate the walls  and the employees wear the trademark Hawaiian shirts. Pronto Markets started as a convenience store in 1958 in California.  It changed its name to Trader Joe’s in 1967 along with the style of the store, according to the website.  Trader Joe’s grocery store has expanded along the West coast and parts of the East coast.

Trader Joe’s is also known for the quality of the grocery.

“Our shelves are stocked full of delicious foods and beverages from the basics like milk, bread and butter to more exotic fare like imported cheeses, organic produce and hand-tossed pizza from Italy,” according to Trader Joe’s Spokane Facebook page.

Not only is its goal to provide high quality food items, but to provide customers with low prices. The store’s website states “that's important because ‘value’ is a concept we take very seriously.”

Senior Renae Jennings is a California native who frequents Trader Joe’s back home.  She said she shops there back home because of the type of products.

“It offers a lot of organic products and a lot of their products are fairly reasonably priced,” Jennings said. “I feel like when you buy from Trader Joe’s you’re getting higher quality products.”

According to Trader Joe’s website, the reason for the bargains is many of the products are bought directly from suppliers who don’t have fees to put their goods in the store.  TJ’s also provides its name brand products instead of only carrying other name brands.

Even though the Trader Joe’s in Spokane is a long way from the state it started in, Jennings said the atmosphere is the same as ones in California because the store still has the same beach vibe and customer service.

Jennings compared the selection to a location closer to Whitworth and said that Huckleberry’s Natural Market in Rosauers has a smaller variety when it comes to organic foods.  Jennings recommends taking a trip up to Trader Joe’s  if people are looking for an organic selection.

“If you have the means to get down there, check it out,” Jennings said.

Junior Chelsie Hadden also agreed that even though the store is on the South Hill, it is worth the trip.  Hadden also said what sets Trader Joe’s apart from other grocery stores is that the products carry the Trader Joe’s label and a store policy that if a customer is not satisfied with a purchase it can be returned. When Hadden goes shopping she has a favorite.

“My all time favorite thing is the green tea flavored mochi with ice cream in it,” Hadden said.

On the Trader Joe’s website there is a list of special holiday products, from drinks to cake mix. Candy Cane Green Tea, Egg Nog and Candy Cane Coal, a dark chocolate mint covered candy, are just a few.  Lists of other products can also be found on the website along with recipes and ideas for different meals and creative ways to put together desserts.

 

Story by Melissa Barringer

Photo by Peter Landgren

Lasagna’s made for ya

Classic, Red Vegetarian and Tuscan are just three of the dishes listed on the menu above the counter at Lasagna's-On-Ya. Lasagna’s-On-Ya has made lasagnas from scratch for customers since it first opened in October 2010.  All of the main dishes are homemade and are original recipes created by the owners.  Along with the lasagna, tiramisu and cheesecake toppings are prepared in the shop.

Lasagna’s-On-Ya also provides customers with homemade meals that reviews from the shop’s website consider to be convenient and easy to accommodate for many people.  A new drive-through has also been put in so customers do not even have to leave their car to get a full meal.

Jennifer  Shorts and her husband have lived in the Spokane area for many years. Their shop is based on the successful  lasagnas after years of cooking meals for their kids’ athletic teams.  After cooking for the different teams, many people were interested in getting lasagna from Shorts.  After that, the word spread about their lasagnas.

Lasagna’s-On-Ya is a take-and-bake shop which opened its doors at 521 E. Holland Ave. on the north side of Spokane.  There are plans in the works for opening more shops around Spokane.  The food is made with local meats that are cooked in the shop, and the Italian sausage is hand-tossed.

Shorts does not have a background in cooking beyond what she has experimented with in her own kitchen.  The dishes she has come up with were invented with her family as they combined different ingredients together.

“I have been cooking since I was 4 years old,” Shorts said. “It’s a passion. It’s one of my hobbies.”

There are four different sizes for the lasagna dishes.  Unpoco,the smallest dish size, feeding one to two people.  After that the sizes increase to the Coppia, Piccoli and the Grande is the biggest dish, serving eight to 12 people.

The best seller is the Classic lasagna, which is layered with pasta, cheese, beef, homemade Italian sausage and a red sauce.  Unpoco is about $10 for the Classic lasagna.  Shorts said she  believes it is the most requested because it is the most familiar to customers.

“I think that’s what people are used to,” Shorts said. “It’s traditional.”

Made with pesto sauce, the Tuscan Chicken lasagna is Shorts’ favorite and the second best seller.  An Unpoco dish of this lasagna is $11.99. It has chicken, bacon, artichoke and olives in a Lasagna’s-On-Ya pesto sauce.

“It’s just the flavor,” Shorts said. “It’s rich. It’s comfort food. There’s something about the creamy pesto.”

If a customer is lactose intolerant, wants a gluten free dish or just wants a variation to a lasagna, they can have a dish customized to fit their needs.

“Because we build them fresh we can do that,” Shorts said. “People love them.” “It’s a quality healthy meal, because it’s fresh,” Murphy said.Lasagna’s-On-Ya has a loyal following of frequent customers, including Patty Murphy, the assistant aquatics director at Whitworth’s aquatic center.  Murphy said she likes that the meals are already prepared which makes them ideal to bring to the elderly people she knows within the community.

Murphy goes about once a month and said she likes it because it is take-out food without being stereotypical fast food.  Murphy also said she likes how Shorts can customize it for customers’ needs.

Murphy’s favorite lasagna is the Mushroom and Meat dish, which is filled with mushrooms, Italian sausage, beef and a homemade Alfredo sauce.

“It’s fun to support a unique business,” Murphy said. “It’s nice we have a unique faster food place.”

Murphy said it is more expensive than a fast food restaurant like McDonald’s.  She said she likes how she can make a full meal or two out of a healthy dish.

Sophomore Allyn Kalaiwaa has had the Tuscan lasagna both at an at-home dinner and at Spokane’s Pig Out in the Park festival in the fall.  Kalaiwaa said her favorite part was the cheesiness of the lasagna.

“I would eat it again,” Kalwaiwaa said. “I think it’s convenient and a tasty meal.”

Customers can also choose to have the lasagna meal which comes with a salad kit, artisan bread and a choice of soda.

When looking for Lasagna’s-On-Ya, just keep an eye out for the chef standing outside the shop doors.

 

Story By Melissa Barringer

Photo ByRebekah Daniels

A pleasant blend of coffee, at-home feeling

“It’s like going to your grandma’s house,” sophomore Lindsay Culver said about Pleasant Blends. Pleasant Blends coffee shop is filled with couches and tables and the room is sprinkled with seasonal decorations. A variety of coffee beans used in the shop decorate the back wall while the food and drinks are prepared right in front of the customer.

Pleasant Blends has been located at 9417 N. Newport Highway for 20 years. Louise Ramos owns the coffee shop and, similar to Culver, the right-at-home atmosphere was one of the reasons Ramos bought it.

“I just felt at home here when I walked in,” Ramos said.

To Culver, the thing that sets Pleasant Blends apart from chain coffee shops is the environment that comes with the place. Culver likes the comfortable and cozy atmosphere that the coffee shop creates, enough to go there about once every week.  Unlike a chain shop, Pleasant Blends has a more personal and friendly ambiance.

“When you go to Starbucks, it has a corporate feel,” Culver said.

Junior Abby Pavelko thinks Pleasant Blends has a better feel than Starbucks because of the slower pace. Pavelko also appreciates the fact that it is a local establishment and likes to support Ramos’ business.  She said the shop is special because of the personable customer experience.  Once an order is finished, Ramos brings it to the customer, unlike Starbucks where the person has to retrieve his drink.

“I like that she knows whose coffee it is and she brings it to you,” Pavelko said.

Pavelko said service may not be as fast as at Starbucks, but it is worth the wait.  The slower pace gives people a chance to socialize unlike a corporate chain where the idea is getting in and getting out, Pavelko said.  She also said she believes the type of atmosphere created by chain coffee shops is not the same compared to Pleasant Blends.

“Starbucks does not have that homey feeling,” Pavelko said. “I feel like I don’t want to socialize there because it’s not as homey.”

The service Ramos provides for her customers is also something Culver mentioned in recalling her experience at Pleasant Blends.  Culver said Ramos gets to know her customers on a personal level; when she goes in Ramos always asks how school is going.  Culver recalled how Ramos cares about her clients.

“She was really genuine in how she treats her customers,” Culver said.

Before Ramos bought Pleasant Blends, she ran a daycare out of her home and decided she needed a change of pace once her husband fell ill. Ramos has owned Pleasant Blends for the past six years, and said she appreciates that her shop is not upscale but is a down-to-earth place for people to come.

Ramos said she continues to have a steady flow of customers year-round. The Whitworth crowd is always consistent clientele. Ramos notices a lot of Whitworth students who frequent her shop and even come around a lot in the summer.

For summer and winter, Pleasant Blends has a variety of specialty drinks to match the season. A long list of flavors decorates the front counter and the winter specials are already out. Drinks such as the Whitewash have white chocolate, coconut, vanilla and hazelnut flavors. The Santa’s Little Helper drink  is a mix of orange and white chocolate, and the Snowflake is vanilla and mint.

Pleasant Blends barista Chris Verwer said one of the most popular fall flavors is the pumpkin pie latte that has real pumpkin pie filling to flavor the drink. Other popular drinks include huckleberry chai and Vicki’s Special.  Vicki’s Special is named after Ramos’ daughter and is filled with English toffee, mocha and white coffee.

With all the flavors that cover the menu boards, Ramos is still able to remember which customers order what drinks.  If a regular customer doesn’t remember their order, Ramos has no trouble making it for them since she knows what they are going to order as soon as they walk through the front door.

“Some of them don’t remember what they order. I know what they’re drinking,” Ramos said. “Just ask Louise.”

Ramos’ favorite part about working at Pleasant Blends is all of the people who come to her shop.  It is not uncommon for Pleasant Blends to have many regular customers, and Ramos enjoys seeing a wide range of clientele walk through her door.

 

By Melissa Barringer

Photo By Jeff Ferguson

New Geno’s Restaurant redefines its predecessor

Imagine a low-lit restaurant and lounge, with walls and booths covered in quirky, colorful decorations, and the smell of homemade Italian classics wafting through the air as a mix of young students and local families laugh and socialize. Geno’s restaurant has created a hybrid restaurant experience by mashing up traditional Italian recipes with live music, all resulting in a great new place to check out. The new Geno’s held its grand opening on Oct. 14 to introduce the spiced-up decor, new menu and nightlife scene.

The original Geno’s restaurant closed down on March 26 of this year because the owner, Gina Orlando, received a real estate deal she could not pass up, according to The Spokesman Review. Though she closed the popular Italian place, Orlando said she hoped there could be a new Geno’s restaurant in the future. It was only a few months and William Webster, the owner of Zola in downtown Spokane, opened his take on Geno’s.

Lindsay Jones, a Whitworth senior, got a job at Geno’s as a waitress in a unique way. She met the owner, William Webster, at O’Doherty’s earlier in the year, and asked him if he was interested in participating in a group project for her marketing class. After agreeing, Jones worked with Webster to prepare the restaurant for its grand opening. Once the project was completed and Geno’s opened, he asked Jones if she would like to work as a waitress.

Jones said that Webster revamped the entire restaurant by making drastic changes to most aspects of Geno’s.

Designer Dan Spalding created the interior of the restaurant, using decorations such as old trailers and circus tents to give the restaurant a 1950s circus theme.

Geno’s is located near Gonzaga University on 1414 N. Hamilton St., and consequently has become a popular place for students to hang out. So far the majority has been mainly Gonzaga students, a result of its convenient location to their campus. Though the Whitworth student population has not had the same reaction, Jones said the staff hopes word of mouth will bring other college students to the new venue.

Geno’s has a late-night happy hour, which caters toward a lively crowd on weeknights. It takes place Mondays through Thursdays, from 10 p.m. to closing. Unlike many other restaurants and lounges in the area, it is open to all ages until 11 p.m., which allows underage locals and students to enjoy the night life as well.

Seven days per week the lounge and bar is crowded with customers who come listen to live bands, including jazz and acoustic styles, and other local musicians. Some bands even give customers a chance to request songs, which gives them a more interactive restaurant experience.

“The band was really good because they interacted with the customers well,” senior Phillip Inouye said about the music and atmosphere on the opening night.

The full menu and bar menu at Geno’s gives customers an affordable, traditional Italian food experience. It offers old favorites such as lasagnas and pizzas, and new spins on Italian favorites, such as their eggplant rollatinis. Also, it imports all their pizza dough from New York Lamonica’s Pizza Dough Co, Inc.

It offers fresh ingredients presented in traditional and innovative Italian styles of cooking. A crowd favorite is their margherita pizza, while Jones said her favorite dish on the menu is the wild mushroom pizza.

The daily happy hour is from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m. and all day Sunday, during which all pizzas and appetizers are buy one, get the second half off. Also, bottled beers are only $2 and well drinks are $3.

Jones said Geno’s offers the community a friendly and unique experience.

“I love everyone I work with,” Jones said. “It’s a cool environment to work in.”

Though many locals were sad to see the old Geno’s leave the restaurant scene, the new Geno’s is offering something familiar for locals and something exciting and eclectic for newcomers.

 

By Rachel O’Kelley

Photo By Kari Johnson

Montana restaurant opens location in Spokane

“Growing like mad” is the term General Manager Kaci Pratt of the new Mackenzie River Pizza Co. used to describe the restaurant’s expansion.  Mackenzie River opened  its first Washington location in Spokane on the north end of Nevada street this past June. The restaurant has been developing since 1993 when the first restaurant opened in Bozeman, Mont. Since then, 13 restaurants have opened within its original state as well as four outside Montana. The expansion does not only pertain to the growth of the company, but to the menu as well.  Soon the name of the restaurant will reflect the changes in the menu and have two new additions to its title: Grill and pub.

“People just walk in the door and think it is just pizza,” assistant manager Kellen Munden said.

Beyond a menu of pizzas, there are sandwiches, burgers, chicken and fish entrees, pastas and more.  Munden said the most popular items off of the menu are the meatloaf along with the fish and chips.  When it comes to the fish and chips, beyond the “sweet”, “spicy” and “unique” breading, Pratt described it has one secret ingredient that adds to the experience.

“A little Mackenzie love,” Pratt said.

The secret ingredient may be one thing that sets this restaurant apart from others, but Munden said there are three aspects that make Mackenzie stand out from all the rest: Mackenzie’s own crust recipe, the fresh toppings that are cut daily and the creativity of the menu .

“You’re getting fresh toppings and a unique pizza,” Munden said.

One favorite of Pratt’s is the Flathead pizza which is made with an Alfredo sauce, fajita chicken, bacon, mozzarella and veggies.  Other Mackenzie River toppings include a signature ranch dressing, spicy buffalo sauce, sweet and smokey barbecue sauce and fresh pesto.

A favorite of Whitworth senior Kellen Pacheco is a Mackenzie River original appetizer called Pesto Lodgepoles.  The Lodgepoles, according to the menu, are sourdough sticks that are covered with basil pesto and melted cheese. Pacheco encourages people to try them out.

“They are a must have,” Pacheco said.

Unique combinations like the Flathead pizza are often a product of employee creations. Cooks are encouraged to experiment with new combinations. It is one of Munden’s favorite things to do in the kitchen. It also fits in with the company’s motto: Work hard, play hard.

“ The Mackenzie River mission is to provide a distinctive dining experience in an atmosphere unique to Montana,” according to the mission statement. “ We do it by offering delicious food, creatively prepared, served by an energetic staff.  We are passionate about exceeding expectations.”

Whitworth senior Bryce Griffiths has gone through the employee orientation where being friendly was stressed.  Griffiths has worked at Mackenzie River since its opening and agrees that the atmosphere is relaxed as well as stressful.

“It’s a very competitive work place, but is is also very friendly,” Griffiths said.

The kitchen was designed to have a large open window to allow customers to see the employees working. Sometimes a customer can even see the chefs singing.

“That is my favorite part, the employees and the atmosphere,” Munden said.

Mackenzie River is offering Whitworth students who come with their ID cards a 10 percent discount. There will also be a new restaurant opening up in early November on the South Hill in order to spread more “Mackenzie love” to their first locations in Washington.

 

By Melissa Barringer

Irish pub, O’Doherty’s, serves up hospitality

O’Doherty’s became Whitworth’s newest neighbor when they opened a new location at the intersection of Hawthorne Road and Division Street in July. Owner of the north Spokane O’Doherty’s, Shannon O’Doherty, considered the location’s proximity to Whitworth a desirable characteristic. The pub hosted a night for Whitworth seniors Thursday, Sept. 15 and said they hope to continue a similar tradition.

O’Doherty’s original location in downtown Spokane got its start in May of 1992 when O’Doherty’s brother opened up the Irish pub in downtown Spokane. Keeping with his Irish identity he dubbed it with his last name.

“Inspiration to open O’Doherty’s was our lives,” O’Doherty said. “We’re Irish-Americans.”

With locations already downtown and in Spokane Valley, the establishment felt the need to expand the business.

“We needed to grow,” O’Doherty said.

Something O’Doherty’s has come to find is the warm reception from residents it has received since establishing the pub on the north side.

The pub has a goal of returning the hospitality to its customers as well. Irish hospitality is a high aspiration in the eyes of the employees.

“That’s what we try to sell,” O’Doherty said. “We try to sell hospitality.”

Night manager Jeph Barlow and other employees agree that hospitality is important for the establishment.

“First thing we say is come on in and make yourself at home,” Barlow said.

Irish heritage is infused into the pub. There are three Irish beers on tap: Guinness, Harp and Smithwick. O’Doherty receives comments about the quality of the beer they serve. The popularity contributes to the fast pace in which they go through their supplies.

The pub also serves traditional dishes including shepherd’s pie and a pastie recipe from an Irish friend from Butte, Montana. These pasties were the food of choice for Irish miners working at the copper mines of Butte. A pastie is a pie crust pocket filled with beef, vegetables and topped off with a layer of gravy.

“It’s a real pastie,” customer Dave Mischaud said.

Mischaud has had authentic pasties from Montana restaurants and says he is not the only one who agrees on the quality of O’Doherty’s Irish dish.

Along with the authentic Irish dishes, O’Doherty’s also serves a variety of other meals, from burgers to sandwiches and salads.

“We play the Irish music, we serve the Irish beer and we serve the Irish-American food,” O’Doherty said.

To create the Irish environment, O’Doherty’s downtown is full of artwork. O’Doherty said the north side pub is a blank slate allowing customers to add to the character. A Notre Dame flag draped from the ceiling and a picture of a customer in front of the Guinness brewery are the first customer pieces to decorate the pub.

Along with welcoming customer decor, O’Doherty has more plans for the future. Whitworth student discounts are in the works along with plans for St. Patrick’s Day. One goal is to make the north side O’Doherty’s as well-known as the pub downtown for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and O’Doherty said he has big plans as he pointed to the St. Patrick’s Day countdown clock.

For a listing of what O’Doherty’s serves, visit the website at odohertyspub.com and keep an eye out for Whitworth specials.

 

By Melissa Barringer

 

Dishing up at Froyo Earth’s new location

Froyo Earth is the self-serve frozen yogurt shop that allows every person to fill their yogurt cups to their heart’s desire. Now Whitworth students do not have to travel downtown to dish up the buffet style of flavors and toppings.  Since June, Froyo Earth has been serving at a new location at 12519 N. Division St. in the Wandermere shopping center.

Stephen Kraft, the owner of Froyo Earth, wanted another location in addition to the downtown shop in order to be closer to Whitworth and north- side residents.

Froyo Earth is a family-owned business that originated in Spokane.  Kraft came up with the name in order to incorporate their environmental values through the use of earth-friendly cooling systems and compostable dishes.

Being able to provide a healthy snack was one of Kraft’s goals when he first opened Froyo Earth.  The health benefits associated with yogurt were the appealing factor for his business.

Kraft said there are three grams of protein within every four ounces of frozen yogurt and half the calories of some ice creams. Yogurt flavors with the highest fat content still have about one-tenth the amount of some ice creams.

“There is a reason health-conscious people eat yogurt daily,” Kraft said.

Froyo Earth sells National Yogurt Association Live & Active Culture sealed yogurt that certifies the healthy bacteria cultures that aid in maintaining a healthy digestive system are not removed from the product during production. The yogurt is also low in sodium and provides calcium.

Yogurt at Froyo Earth also carries the YoCream brand.  YoCream yogurt has a list of its own benefits at yocream.com, including Kosher certification and 100- calories-or-less flavors.

Froyo Earth supplies non-dairy sorbet, no-sugar-added, low-fat and nonfat yogurts to provide customers with options to fit their lifestyle. Being able to self-serve gives customers the ability to control his or her portion and allows multiple flavors and toppings to fit their cravings.

“I like the self-serve,” senior Jenna Hansen said. “You make it what you want it to be.”

Hansen has noticed other Whitworth students eating there during her visits and likes the closer location.

Another novelty of this frozen yogurt eatery is the ever-changing variety of flavors and the fresh fruit toppings that are cut daily.  Every few weeks 10 flavors rotate through the machines with more than 20 toppings to choose from at each Froyo Earth location. Red velvet cake, raspberry, cable car chocolate and one of Froyo Earth’s most popular flavors, cake batter, are just a few on rotation this week.  Customers can top off the flavors with a variety of candies, fresh fruit, cookie dough bites and much more.

If an interesting flavor catches a customer’s eye, they don’t have to put it into their dish in order to try it.  Being able to grab a sampling cup to test out a flavor is junior Kaylee Beltz’s favorite part about Froyo Earth.

Froyo Earth is not just a place to test out different combinations of flavors and toppings.  If you are looking for a place to be with friends this may be the place you want to go.   There are no clocks on the walls or televisions to be found throughout the shop which is a part of Kraft’s design.

“I wanted a place for people to come and talk to each other,” Kraft said.

Kraft likes the idea of Froyo Earth being a place for students to come who not only want to eat frozen yogurt, but want a place to hang out and relax.

Beginning this fall Froyo Earth will have “Tuesday Stuesday” where Whitworth students can bring in their ID cards for a discount on frozen yogurt.  Two new flavors have just been put into rotation and as fall sneaks around the corner be ready for seasonal flavors such as peppermint stick and eggnog.

If you are interested in the nutritional facts of Froyo Earth’s yogurt, check out the website While you’re there, also check out the list of flavors and specials to keep up to date in order to be prepared for any future sweet tooth craving.

 

By Melissa Barringer

Photo By Rebekah Daniels