Cheers! Downtown Issaquah wine celebration returns

January 29, 2013

Revelers can sip, snack and shop as the Downtown Issaquah Wine Walk series returns.

The popular winter and springtime event launched last February to attract people to downtown merchants even as the weather turns gray and soggy. Organized by the Downtown Issaquah Association, merchants host musicians, and offer sips from Washington vintners and hors d’oeuvres, during the monthly event that launches Feb. 1.

Though the event is designed to appeal to oenophiles — the 1-ounce wine pours remain limited to the 21-and-older crowd — creativity is showcased in arts-focused downtown, too. Highlights at the opening event include demonstrations by master glass blower Lenoard Whitfield at artbyfire and artEAST’s latest exhibit, “Stitch,” at UP Front Gallery.

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Garage bands need not apply for Amante’s popular Tribute Tuesdays

September 18, 2012

Styx tribute band Borrowed Time performs during the first run through the Tribute Tuesday schedule at Amante. Contributed

Many venues in Issaquah offer live entertainment. Few, however, host standing-room-only events, and on a Tuesday night at that.

The second go-around for Tribute Tuesdays kicked off Sept. 11 at Amante Pizza & Pasta in downtown Issaquah.

The brainchild of Seattle musician Arny Bailey, Tribute Tuesdays features a weekly lineup of bands whose playlist is exclusive to one classic rock act. For Bailey, it began with Wings N Things, a tribute to the music of Paul McCartney and the Wings.

“We started in Issaquah at Field of Champions with Wings N Things Wednesdays,” Bailey said. “The pitch had the house offering a sale on wings.”

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Off the Press

April 17, 2012

Kathleen Merrill Press managing editor

It seems to me that fewer people on the planet have learned anything about manners these days. Or maybe they just aren’t using them.

I was at Amante restaurant downtown recently to catch the awesome band Creme Tangerine. There was a group of people who were having a private party and they would not sit down. Now this wouldn’t have been a problem except they made up a huge wall between the band and the rest of the people in the restaurant, who came to see the band.

In fact, they were so rude that they wouldn’t even sit down after the lead singer of the band politely asked them to. (And I won’t repeat what some of them shouted back. This is a family newspaper, after all.)

And no, for the most part, until right near the end, these people weren’t dancing and having a good time. They were talking, drinking and sometimes swearing. Loudly.

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ArtWalk returns for 10th season

May 3, 2011

Pedestrians pause to admire art displayed at the former UP Front Gallery during ArtWalk last year. The gallery has since relocated down the street. File

The DownTown Issaquah Association’s 10th annual ArtWalk season kicks off May 6. The popular event, the first Friday of every month through September, invites visitors to meet local business owners, enjoy free music, watch artists in action, and shop and dine in downtown Issaquah after normal business hours.

ArtWalk draws hundreds of visitors to traditional art destinations such as artEAST’s Art Center and the newly expanded Museo Art and Design School on Front Street. In addition, nontraditional locations open their doors to the event throughout downtown Issaquah and Gilman Village.

Typically, the event ran from 5-9 p.m. in the past. But by popular request, that has changed.

“The event now runs from 5-8 p.m. with a soft close at 8,” said Annique Bennett, cultural events coordinator for the DownTown Issaquah Association. “Those with signs out front of their businesses can now pull them in and go home at 8, or they can choose to stay open as long as they want to.”

For May, artEAST opens a new exhibit, “150 Feet of Art,” at Up Front Art. More than 100 pieces of art on one-square-foot canvases will be displayed and available for purchase during the monthlong auction.

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Fundraiser is rockin’ and rollin’ for barber’s colon

April 26, 2011

Mark Ashbaugh has cut, trimmed, curled, straightened and styled hair in Issaquah for almost two decades.

Mark Ashbaugh chats with client Allison Smith during her hair-styling appointment. Several businesses and friends are hosting a benefit for Ashbaugh, who just had two surgeries on his colon. By Laura Geggel

After two surgeries in the hospital, his family and friends are asking the community to give back by helping him at a benefit called Rockin’ and Rollin’ for Mark’s Colon.

Since they started the Front Street Salon in 2000, Ashbaugh and his business partner Danielle Abker have amassed more than 600 clients.

Customers call his humor “edgy” and “very funny.”

“People who know him love him,” friend and customer Clinton Fink said. “There will be a family of four and they’ll all be waiting to get their hair cut.”

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For bountiful Italian options, that’s Amante

January 18, 2011

Since Amante Pizza and Pasta moved from its old location on Locust Street to its newer digs in downtown Issaquah, we felt it was an opportune time to revisit this Italian eatery.

Those who were fond of Amante’s quaint, Italian villa vibe may be disappointed in the new mix of faux-industrial Tuscan décor.

A dining companion astutely noted the sparse interior could have done with booths lining the walls. And individual lamps extending over the tables would add some much-needed intimacy. Read more

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Subway coming to downtown Issaquah; cupcake shop opens

June 29, 2010

The chain famous for $5 foot-longs plans to expand to downtown Issaquah next month.

Subway should open at 98 Front St. N. by mid-July, franchisee Karim Karmali said last week. The city issued a permit for the restaurant June 23 and, by the next afternoon, green “Coming Soon” banners hung in the windows.

Karmali also operates the Subway along Northwest Gilman Boulevard.

Upcoming additions to downtown also include dessert. The nationwide cupcake craze reached Issaquah last week.

The other addition, at the opposite end in the same building as the planned Subway — the storefront at 94 Front St. N. — opened June 28 as Confetti Cupcakes. Employees took to Twitter on June 23 to announce the opening.

Subway and Confetti Cupcakes join other businesses relocating downtown from other storefronts and from elsewhere in the city.

Bicycle Center of Issaquah moved from a downtown space into half of the former Allen’s Furniture this spring. Amante Pizza & Pasta plans to open in the renovated space next door within the next few weeks.

El Abuelo, a downtown Mexican grocery damaged in a January fire, did not reopen, and the owners did not renew the lease for the 147 Front St. N. space. Troy Salon — the adjacent business damaged in the blaze — plans to reopen in the space next door after the space has been renovated.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or Comment at

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Furniture store relocates, new businesses open

May 11, 2010

Leathers Home Furnishings & Accessories, the longtime Northwest Gilman Boulevard furniture store, will soon relocate to the former Linens-N-Things storefront in Pickering Place.

Owner Mitch Setlow said he plans to open the new Leathers by May 15 and, for the next several weeks, run a closeout sale from both the Pickering Place and Gilman Square locations. Setlow plans to close the original Leathers in June.

“We’re not going, we’re growing,” he said.

The store will depart the 8,000-square-foot Gilman Square location after 14 years for the 37,500-square-foot Linens-N-Things space. Linens-N-Things closed after liquidators shut down the bankrupt chain in late 2008.

Leathers, as the name implies, offers high-end leather furniture. Setlow said the store also plans to offer mattresses and bedroom furniture, dining room pieces and additional accessories in the larger space.

The store planted a red-and-black balloon on the store roof to announce the closure. Expect to see the balloon on the roof at Pickering Place, too, as the relocated Leathers welcomes shoppers.

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New, relocated businesses boost Issaquah economy

May 4, 2010

The local economy has improved since last year, but increased retail offerings and high-profile construction projects could help the city rebound in the months ahead.

Economic Development Manager Dan Trimble said the city had progressed beyond the economic doldrums of last year. Joe’s — the longtime sporting goods retailer — closed as the city grappled with dual real estate and building construction slowdowns brought on by the recession.

“In 2010, we started to see the economic recovery start to take hold,” Trimble told City Council members April 27. “We’ve had some new retail moving in, both big and small. Construction activity has been returning.”

Swedish Medical Center started construction on a campus in the Issaquah Highlands late last year, and Best Buy and Sports Authority will open Issaquah stores in the months ahead. Sports Authority will occupy the old Joe’s space, and Best Buy will fill vacant space in the bustling East Lake Center shopping complex anchored by Fred Meyer and The Home Depot.

Sports Authority should generate $85,000 to $100,000 annually in sales tax revenue for the city; Best Buy should pull in $100,000 to $200,000, city Finance Director Jim Blake said in a May 1 conference call with council members.

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High school dance at Pickering Barn will benefit food bank

June 9, 2009

Area high school students can contribute to a good cause while they dance the night away June 18. The dance, for sophomores, juniors and seniors only, is from 6-11 p.m. at Pickering Barn, 1730 10th Ave NW. Read more

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