George Fischer, former co-owner of Fischer Meats, dies at age 82

April 3, 2012

George Fischer visits Fischer Meats as a guest of honor to help his former business celebrate its 100th anniversary during an open house celebration Nov. 21, 2010. Contributed

George Fischer, 82, best known for decades of tending the counter at Fischer Meats on Issaquah’s Front Street, died March 26 at the Aegis of Issaquah assisted living facility.

Advertised as one of Issaquah’s oldest businesses, Fischer Meats celebrated its 100th birthday in 2010. George and brother Nick took over the business from their father in the 1950s. They sold the shop to current owners Chris and Jacque Chiechi in 1981. Chris Chiechi said George Fischer stayed with the shop and helped run the meat counter for about another 15 years.

“He was a big man, but he had a very kind heart,” Chiechi said.

The original Fischer Meats was started by his grandfather and sat outside of downtown, said Geoff Fischer, one of George’s two sons. Geoff said the store quickly relocated to its current spot on Front Street. For a time, the family also owned a slaughterhouse in the area.

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Longtime Issaquah chef Lynn Rehn rolls out food truck

March 27, 2012

Lynn Rehn stands beside her My Chef Lynn food truck, advertising its ‘fast, fresh, fabulous’ sliders, soups and salads, featuring items from Issaquah businesses Fischer Meats and Boehm’s Candies. By Greg Farrar

Lynn Rehn is poised to turn the phrase “fast food” inside out.

The popular caterer and longtime local chef is ready to roll out a food truck to serve sliders, chili and a side of sass. Double D Clam Chowder, anyone?

The mobile operation for Rehn’s My Chef Lynn outfit is the latest endeavor for the former Sweet Addition head chef. Rehn plans to join the food trucks each summer Saturday at the Issaquah Farmers Market. The truck could also stop at the Fremont Sunday Street Market.

The idea for a food truck started to coalesce after Rehn and husband Tony, general manager at Evergreen Ford in Issaquah, caught episodes of “The Great Food Truck Race” — a Food Network cross-country competition among mobile kitchens.

“I looked at Tony and said, ‘That would be a cool gig,’” Rehn recalled.

(“The Great Food Truck Race” debuted in August 2010 at about the same time the national fervor for food trucks accelerated into gear.)

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Experience life in Issaquah 100 years ago — outhouses, saloons and all

February 21, 2012

Forget the buttoned-up suburb, circa 2012, to envision Issaquah from a century ago.

Issaquah in 1912 included more saloons than churches. The coalmines and logging camps attracted a tough-as-nails crowd. The era required a little more steel in the backbone.

Townsfolk eked out a hardscrabble life, but still managed to loosen up at the Stockholm Hotel & Saloon or Clark’s Place. In homes, simple conveniences — indoor plumbing, for instance — ranked as unheard-of luxuries.

Imagine a typical day from 1912.

The chill February air is a bracing alarm, almost as difficult to ignore as the crowing rooster outside.

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First Friday Wine Walks offer a new taste of downtown

January 17, 2012

The artEAST Art Center and UP Front Gallery, which always participates in ArtWalk in the summer, will be one of six locations on Front Street to take part Feb. 3 in the inaugural First Friday Wine Walk. File

Adding to its list of events to draw more visitors to downtown, the DownTown Issaquah Association announces First Friday Wine Walk from 5-8 p.m. Feb. 3.

Wine Walk, following other popular events such as ArtWalk and a zombie invasion, will feature boutique wine tasting at six locations up and down Front Street.

“It should be fun,” said Karen Donovan, the association’s executive director. “I’m excited.”

Wineries will include Lodmell Winery in Walla Walla; Woodinville’s Smasne Cellars; and, Castillo de Feliciana. Several Wine Walk locations will feature live entertainment to include acoustic guitarist “Uncle Phil” Hansen; guitarist and composer Angelo Pizarro; vocal group Bodacious Ladyhood; and, pianist Meg Mann.

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Gunman dies in shootout near Issaquah High School

September 24, 2011

Guardian One, the King County Sheriff's Office helicopter, takes off from the Issaquah Community Center lawn during the search for a gunman. By Christina Lords

UPDATED — 8:45 a.m. Sept. 26, 2011

Issaquah police shot and killed a gunman Saturday after police said the man opened fire near downtown Issaquah schools as children and spectators gathered for sporting events.

The man parked a car on Front Street South at Newport Way Southwest and then headed on foot, carrying two rifles — including a bolt-action hunting rifle — to the area near Clark Elementary and Issaquah High schools at about 11:15 a.m. on a muggy fall day.

Police said the man menacingly pointed firearms at passers-by as he headed about a half-mile to Clark Elementary School.

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Elks’ lodge poker league rolls out the felt

August 16, 2011

Players of all skill levels invited to series of charity tournaments

ESPN’s live coverage of the 2011 World Series of Poker main event has the side effect of getting people’s blood pumping to join in on the action.

Participants of the Elks Lodge poker league get ready to shuffle up and deal at a recent tournament’s final table. By Tina Eggers

Whether you’re in search of some poker action outside the home game or somewhere closer than a card room or casino, then look no further than Issaquah’s Lake Sammamish Elks Lodge No. 1843.

The 2011 fall Texas Hold ’Em Poker League starts Aug. 27 and organizers are looking for more players to fill out the roster.

The league, now in its sixth year, has attracted players of varying skill levels. Sharyn Solum, 65, recently retired, was looking for a hobby to fill her free time when a former city co-worker and Elks member introduced her to the action.

“Tina Eggers brought me in to try it out,” Solum said regarding Issaquah’s city clerk. “I’d been playing for a couple of years but learned a lot more from the more experienced players.”

The league follows the same format as any other tournament, with only a few differences. Played each month the first and third Saturday (the league kicks off early Aug. 27 because of the holiday weekend Sept. 3), players buy in for $35 and may re-buy as many times as they want when they go broke for the first three rounds of action.

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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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Off The Press

May 4, 2010

Elks poker players help raise funds for charities

David Hayes Press reporter

I’ve been playing poker now long enough and well enough that I could theoretically take the next step — go pro.

One problem is I never set aside my winnings in a separate poker bankroll account to fund entering other poker events. I usually end up spending it on regular activities, so I’m always starting over from square one.

The other problem is I enjoy where I’m playing now — the Elks Lodge. However, based on the declining numbers showing up at our poker leagues, fewer players are doing likewise. The biggest exodus of players is due quite literally to them moving out of town. We’ve lost others — one who decided to concentrate on family, one to natural causes and three because when one broke up with another, all three stopped showing.

I could take my money elsewhere and play in bigger events with bigger payouts. But casinos have a rake of all the action that they get to keep.

I prefer the Elks’ procedure — the rake they keep ends up going to charity.

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Think community, shop locally

February 23, 2010

When the winter snowstorms of December 2008 blanketed the Issaquah area, local shops and businesses experienced a spike in revenue. Shoppers stayed nearby, rather than brave snow and ice on the roadways to Bellevue or Seattle.

But once the weather cleared up, things were back to normal, said Matthew Bott, CEO of the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber and its member business owners want “normal” to be as it was when it snowed. That’s why they recently launched a “Shop Issaquah” campaign to bring awareness of the benefits of spending your money locally.

“When you shop locally … it develops the character of the community,” said Darlene Cohen, manager of the Gilman Antique Gallery, located in Gilman Square on Gilman Boulevard.

Her 17,000-square-foot antique mall is the largest antique mall on the Eastside, and offers one-of-a-kind arts, collectibles and gifts from vendors who have sold in Issaquah for 20 years or more. Each vendor is another entrepreneur, keeping commerce alive and well in Issaquah.

Other local businesses strive to be unique while filling a niche for their customers. Some local shops make room for youngsters to play in the corner while adults shop. Other businesses lead the way in community service. And almost all prefer to hire local employees whenever possible.

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