Treat yourself right

June 29, 2010

On hot days, reach for the coolest treats Issaquah has to offer

Judy Sanchez, Gina Fernandez and Mari McCann (from left) serve up a famous Triple XXX super-sized root beer float. By Greg Farrar

Summer, glorious summer, means fat ice cream bars at Boehm’s Candies, enough Triple XXX Root Beer to float a battleship and ample pints at the Issaquah Brewhouse.

Summertime makes for a great excuse to sample quintessential delights from the classic Issaquah joints. Bonus: On blistering days, the treats offer respite from the heat.

Forget the drizzle and damp. Forget calorie counts. Indulge in something cool — and a little nostalgic. Hey, it’s summer.

Float on

Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in stands as a monument to the era before interstates and drive-thrus. Behind the barrel-shaped façade, the Enciso family serves big burgers portioned for Fred Flintstone, canoe-sized sundaes and enough flavors of shakes to put Baskin-Robbins to shame.

The titular attraction reigns supreme: root beer served in a frosted mug as big as a medieval tankard. Upgrade to a root-beer float and the potion comes crowned with whipped cream and a scoop of vanilla ice cream as big as a baseball.

Read more

XXX unveils biggest car show schedule yet

February 9, 2010

If you have a car club and missed out getting on the 2010 calendar of shows at the XXX Rootbeer Drive-In, you’ll have to be quicker next year. This year’s list is filled. Read more

Did Buddy Holly’s ‘tour from hell’ ended in Issaquah?

August 18, 2009

José Enciso reaches out to a friend while standing in front of his newly acquired Kenworth coach, decorated as a 1958 rock ‘n’ roll band’s tour bus, on display at the XXX Rootbeer Drive-in. By Greg Farrar

José Enciso reaches out to a friend while standing in front of his newly acquired Kenworth coach, decorated as a 1958 rock ‘n’ roll band’s tour bus, on display at the XXX Rootbeer Drive-in. By Greg Farrar

Many people have private collections featuring a piece of rock ’n’ roll history. Jose Enciso jumped at the chance to acquire a huge chunk.

As the owner of the XXX Rootbeer Drive-in, Enciso said he’s always searching to bring something else into Issaquah that gives it a signature attraction. The interior of his restaurant already features a museum’s worth of kitsch. Now, his parking lot features the biggest item yet — Buddy Holly’s tour bus.

Maybe.

Enciso cannot confirm the chain of ownership of the 1950s Kenworth. He can only share what he’s been told. But the mystique, whether true or not, of possibly owning something out of rock infamy is what he hopes draws in customers. Read more

New car club launches school supplies drive

August 11, 2009

There was a time when Brian Turney didn’t have the spiffiest car on the block. So, in looking at today’s economy, he empathizes with families who are finding it hard to make ends meet. Read more

Keeping cool in record heat

August 4, 2009

Melise Woodward gets set to catch her son Brady as he jumps into Pine Lake to get relief from the record temperatures July 29. By Adam Eschbach

Melise Woodward gets set to catch her son Brady as he jumps into Pine Lake to get relief from the record temperatures July 29. By Adam Eschbach

Scoopers at Cold Stone Creamery ratcheted production of chilly creations during a record-breaking heat wave last week. Then, the air conditioning unit broke.

Customers continued to stream to the East Lake Sammamish Parkway store, eager for relief from triple-digit temperatures.

At XXX Rootbeer Drive-in, dozens of customers lined up in 100-degree heat for signature root beer floats.

“Some are even going from the small to the large,” employee Jose Enciso Jr. said.

At ice cream shops, movie theaters, pools and beaches around Issaquah, residents sought refuge as the mercury climbed beyond 100 and residents slogged through days of high temperatures — including record temperatures.

Temperatures at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport — where the official readings for Seattle are taken — reached 103 degrees July 29.

Read more

Motorcycle show expands to two-day event

July 14, 2009

By David Hayes
Renowned for its car shows, the XXX Rootbeer Drive-in Restaurant has tried to host motorcycle rallies in the past with mixed results. This year, with a local motorcycle club organizing the proceedings, plans to host one of the biggest rallies west of Sturgis look more realistic.
David Harris, president of Issaquah’s Thundering Angels Motorcycle Club, has expanded the program to a two-day event July 18-19.
Day one is a charity ride to raise funds for Issaquah’s Life Enrichment Options and the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank. Harris said the club is not your stereotypical, hide-the-women-and-children motorcycle gang.
“We’re just a fun bike club for those interested in biking,” he said. “We’re also a social club with a nonprofit status.”
For a $20 donation for the charity ride, bikers go on a three-hour tour of the countryside, with several stops along the way. At each stop, riders are given an envelope with three poker cards. By the end of the ride, the riders who can make the best hands from their combined cards win prizes.
Harris said that to improve their odds, bikers could purchase an extra envelope for $10. He hopes, weather permitting, as many as 100 riders participate, raising more than $2,000.
He said he also hopes the good weather spills over into the day-two events. That’s when he’s eyeing breaking attendance records.
“This could be huge,” he said. “We’re estimating 1,000 bikers could show up.”
The day kicks off with a free danish breakfast at the XXX at 8 a.m. Live music rocks the crowd throughout the day, including:
4Kaleidoscope School of Music’s Divide by Zero’s from 9-10 a.m.
4The Offenders from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
4The Astro Cats from noon – 1 p.m.
4Who Cares from 1:30-2:30 p.m.
To keep bikers entertained when they’re not gawking at one another’s rides, Harris invited stunt riders Team LoJic, from Los Angeles. They perform from 10:45–11 a.m. and from noon – 12:15 p.m.
“You usually can’t find stunt teams anywhere up here,” Harris said. “We’re lucky to have them come up from L.A.”
Other events include:
4A slow bike race, demonstrating who’s got the best control to go slow over a 100-foot course.
4A messy burger contest. XXX owner Jose Enciso transforms his infamously huge XXX burger from the biggest burger in town to the messiest.
4A $5 raffle for an autographed Ventures guitar, signed by members Nokie Edwards, Sammamish resident Don Nelson and Bob Bogle.
Harris said bass guitarist Bogle signed the original six-string two weeks before he died.
“It’s a very rare guitar,” he added.
There will also be vendors, and appearances by The Venturettes, Miss Issaquah Bike Show Laura Keri and Seattle radio personality Mark Christopher.
Harris said even if you don’t like motorcycles, this should still be a fun event for the whole family.
“At other rallies, like the one Snohomish used to have, they usually shut down the whole town,” he said. “Gilman Boulevard, in front of the XXX, is a great place to have it, because it won’t bother anyone else.
“The Thundering Angels are committed to work with the community, keeping the city happy and getting the public out here for a fun time,” he added.
ou never know what type of souped up ride will show up at the annual Burgers, Bikers & Babes Motorcycle Rally July 19 at the XXX Rootbeer Drive-in restaurant. By Greg Farrar

ou never know what type of souped up ride will show up at the annual Burgers, Bikers & Babes Motorcycle Rally July 19 at the XXX Rootbeer Drive-in restaurant. By Greg Farrar

Renowned for its car shows, the XXX Rootbeer Drive-in Restaurant has tried to host motorcycle rallies in the past with mixed results. This year, with a local motorcycle club organizing the proceedings, plans to host one of the biggest rallies west of Sturgis look more realistic.

David Harris, president of Issaquah’s Thundering Angels Motorcycle Club, has expanded the program to a two-day event July 18-19.

Day one is a charity ride to raise funds for Issaquah’s Life Enrichment Options and the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank. Harris said the club is not your stereotypical, hide-the-women-and-children motorcycle gang.

“We’re just a fun bike club for those interested in biking,” he said. “We’re also a social club with a nonprofit status.”

For a $20 donation for the charity ride, bikers go on a three-hour tour of the countryside, with several stops along the way. At each stop, riders are given an envelope with three poker cards. By the end of the ride, the riders who can make the best hands from their combined cards win prizes. Read more

City considers ban on Styrofoam

June 23, 2009

By Warren Kagarise
Stop by XXX Rootbeer Drive-in for a to-go root beer, and the signature drink will be served in a plastic foam cup — for now. Employees at the drive-in and many other Issaquah restaurants could be forced to swap Styrofoam and other polystyrene containers for eco-friendly materials.
Drive-in owner Jose Enciso said his restaurant uses polystyrene products because they cost less than alternatives. As the City Council considers a ban on Styrofoam to-go boxes and other food containers made from eco-unfriendly polystyrene, Enciso and other business leaders said the ban could mean higher prices on the menu.
But Enciso said he was comfortable with the switch for environmental reasons.
“Whatever it takes to help out the environment,” he said. “We’re ready.”
A proposed ban would outlaw polystyrene food packaging — a measure that would impact restaurants like XXX, grocers and other food sellers. Critics said the material lingers in landfills long after Styrofoam trays and cups are tossed into the trash. Polystyrene is expensive to recycle, too.
Councilman Joshua Schaer modeled the legislation on polystyrene bans in Seattle, Portland and several California cities.
“There may be a little resistance now, but I’m sure — given the success of this in much, much larger cities than Issaquah — it seems to me that we can move in the right direction,” he said.
Schaer and other Council Sustainability Committee members met June 16 to discuss the proposed ban.
Officials have questions about safe alternatives to polystyrene and how the ban would impact restaurants already grappling with consumers dining out less in the down economy.
“You know, these packages are used to serve takeout or in restaurants, and they typically last for a few minutes in terms of any use,” Schaer said. “The reality is, while we may only see them for a few minutes, the landfill and the environment sees them for tens of thousands of years.”
Even Schaer acknowledged not all compostable and recyclable alternatives are as durable as polystyrene. Schaer, a lawyer, works at a firm in downtown Seattle. He recalled buying lunch at a Pakistani restaurant near his office soon after the Seattle ban went into effect.
“They were using a corn-based container that was extremely hot and the curry was starting to melt through the bottom of it,” Schaer said. “That went on for a few weeks and I think people started complaining to the owner, because he’s at the counter all the time. You know, they made a switch.”
Schaer said the new container type survived the several-block walk to his office.
Though the draft ordinance declared the ban would be effective Jan. 1, officials said a ban — if approved — would go into effect much later. Sustainability Committee members will review the measure again next month.
Josh McDonald, government affairs coordinator for the Washington Restaurant Association, said restaurateurs would need time to prepare. He said they are also reluctant to use compostable and recyclable alternatives, because polystyrene is cheaper. In turn, restaurateurs would pass the cost along to diners.
“Anytime you take steps to increase costs, it has a negative effect on us,” McDonald said. “That said, a lot of our restaurants, a lot of our folks, are voluntarily moving in this direction and doing what they can and doing their part to move toward more sustainable [practices].”
City Resource Conservation Office Manager David Fujimoto said his staff planned for education and outreach efforts if the City Council bans polystyrene packaging. Fujimoto said 131 of the 800 or so businesses in Issaquah serve or sell food — 42 fast food outlets, 61 full-service restaurants and 28 stores.
Holly Chisa, Washington lobbyist for the Northwest Grocery Association, said her organization was working with more than 100 stores impacted by the Seattle ban to find products to meet the criteria outlined in the city’s ordinance.
Seattle officials outlawed polystyrene food containers last year. The ban took effect in January; next year, it will expand to include plastic containers and utensils.
Chisa said her No. 1 concern was the polystyrene trays used to package raw meat. Trays made from cardboard, and sugar and corn derivatives pose challenges. For instance, blood and other liquids seep through cardboard, while sugar and corn products could provide food sources for harmful bacteria.
“For a grocery store, the single most paramount concern we have is food safety,” Chisa said.
Products like prepackaged soups would already be exempt from the proposed ban. Schaer and other committee members did not rule out additional exemptions to the ordinance.
“For instance, if you said, ‘Hey, we own this business in Issaquah and there are simply no compostable or recyclable lids that we can use that are safe for our customers,’ then the city would take a look at that,” Schaer said.
Greater Issaquah Chamber of Commerce CEO Matt Bott talked with Issaquah restaurateurs before the meeting. Bott said reactions to the proposed ban were mixed. He said officials should seek input from business and restaurant owners as they rework the ordinance.
“We would just ask for some time to get the word out, to get input and then come back with something that would hopefully be of value to this community,” Bott said.
Besides food safety, industry lobbyists raised concerns about whether alternative materials could hold up to hot food. Chisa echoed Schaer when she said some compostable and recyclable containers are not as tough as the real deal.
“Soup will break down that container faster than anything I’ve ever seen,” she said.
Reach Reporter Warren Kagarise at 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.
Jose Enciso Jr. fills Styrofoam cups at XXX Rootbeer in Issaquah. By Adam Eschbach

Jose Enciso Jr. fills Styrofoam cups at XXX Rootbeer in Issaquah. By Adam Eschbach

Stop by XXX Rootbeer Drive-in for a to-go root beer, and the signature drink will be served in a plastic foam cup — for now. Employees at the drive-in and many other Issaquah restaurants could be forced to swap Styrofoam and other polystyrene containers for eco-friendly materials.

Drive-in owner Jose Enciso said his restaurant uses polystyrene products because they cost less than alternatives. As the City Council considers a ban on Styrofoam to-go boxes and other food containers made from eco-unfriendly polystyrene, Enciso and other business leaders said the ban could mean higher prices on the menu.

But Enciso said he was comfortable with the switch for environmental reasons. Read more

Fenders go bumper to bumper on Front Street

June 16, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink     and David Hayes
Souped-up hot rods and classics go bumper to bumper at Issaquah’s Fenders on Front Street on June 21.
DownTown Issaquah Association organizers said they are hoping for good weather and plenty of patrons to help them celebrate the best of all things automotive on Father’s Day.
“I think fathers and cars always go together, and sharing it with their kids makes it that much better,” said Joe Forkner, an organizer for the event. “There is no restrictions on cars, so there will be new ones, old ones and all sorts of stuff.
“Besides, you’re not going to get through downtown very fast, so why not stick around?” he asked.
Fenders on Front Street debuted in 2005 with overwhelming participation. Nearly 800 cars lined the street and filled parking lots at XXX Rootbeer Drive-in and other restaurants, according to Forkner.
Unfortunately, it rained the second year and only about 200 cars showed. Last year, extreme heat brought only 400 participants to the show.
“But even with 400 cars, we still had 1,000 people attend,” Forkner said.
Crazy weather hasn’t stopped organizers, though, and they’re more determined than ever to put on a great show.
And this year, there are more attractions than ever.
Live music by Kaleidoscope School of Music bands Zero Side Effects, Trace, Don’t Call Me Ben, Electric Foot, Divide by Zeroes and Area 52 will provide smooth tunes to cruise to beginning at 9:20 a.m. and continuing throughout the day.
The bands will play on the Kaleidoscope stage just north of Alder and Front streets, near the Bicycle Center.
“This is the fourth year and we will feature live music all day long on our own stage,” said Charles McCrone, director for Kaleidoscope. “These student bands range in age from sixth-graders to adults, and they play a huge variety of music. It is a very great opportunity for them to show what they can do, especially since they have been practicing all winter.”
If music isn’t enough to entice you to come down for the event, how about food? The Eagles Lodge will cook breakfast and Front Street restaurants like Stan’s Bar-B-Q, Fischer Meats, Flying Pie Pizza and Front Street Café will be open to serve.
You can also cruise on through the street’s plethora of art galleries.
Jose Enciso Sr., the owner of XXX, will offer the restaurant’s classic Ford bus to shuttle weary walkers from the restaurant, Gilman Village, Dogwood and Sunset streets.
“It worked really well last year,” Forkner said. “So, we decided to bring it back as a centerpiece this year.”
For classic car owners, Forkner said the first 500 will each get commemorative dash plaques, and 10 to 12 trophies will be awarded in various categories, like top five best vehicles.
The day culminates with a parade of cars at 3 p.m., down Front Street, west on Sunset, north on Newport to state Route 900, and then back down Gilman Boulevard, when the drivers are then free to go their separate ways.
“I’m ready to see the whole of Front Street filled up with cars and not having room enough to walk down the street, because so many people came to look at them,” Forkner said. “This will really give people a chance who have never been down to Issaquah to get a chance to experience a lot of different pieces of it at one time.”
Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Reach Reporter David Hayes at 392-6434, ext. 237, or dhayes@isspress.com.  Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.
File Issaquah’s main drag is closed to modern-day traffic and devoted to restored and classic cars and pedestrians during the Fenders on Front Street Car Show and Cruise. File

File Issaquah’s main drag is closed to modern-day traffic and devoted to restored and classic cars and pedestrians during the Fenders on Front Street Car Show and Cruise. File

Souped-up hot rods and classics go bumper to bumper at Issaquah’s Fenders on Front Street on June 21.

DownTown Issaquah Association organizers said they are hoping for good weather and plenty of patrons to help them celebrate the best of all things automotive on Father’s Day.

“I think fathers and cars always go together, and sharing it with their kids makes it that much better,” said Joe Forkner, an organizer for the event. “There is no restrictions on cars, so there will be new ones, old ones and all sorts of stuff.

“Besides, you’re not going to get through downtown very fast, so why not stick around?” he asked.

Fenders on Front Street debuted in 2005 with overwhelming participation. Nearly 800 cars lined the street and filled parking lots at XXX Rootbeer Drive-in and other restaurants, according to Forkner.

Unfortunately, it rained the second year and only about 200 cars showed. Last year, extreme heat brought only 400 participants to the show. Read more

Fenders on Front Street Car Show highlights Greenway Days Festival

June 9, 2009

For two days in June, more than Interstate 90 will connect Seattle and Eastside residents.

The open trunk of a classic 1950 Ford features original roadside emergency accessories on Front Street with other cars during the Fenders on Front Street Car Show and Cruise.By Greg Farrar

The open trunk of a classic 1950 Ford features original roadside emergency accessories on Front Street with other cars during the Fenders on Front Street Car Show and Cruise.By Greg Farrar

The 1.4 million acres of natural land that make up the Mountains to Sound Greenway and stretch along I-90 will be part of the sixth annual Greenway Days.

Hosted by the Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, the festival will have more than 25 events June 20-21 in 10 communities over 100 miles along I-90. Participants will get a chance to learn more about the culture and history of the area, as well as the outdoor recreation available. The various activities include hikes, relays, bike rides, a car show and guided tours of local historical hot spots. Read more

Even flash mobs welcome at XXX car shows

February 16, 2009

A gorgeous Sunday morning at the XXX Rootbeer Drive-in is photographed for The Issaquah Press' amateur photo contest by Andrea S. Blustein. By Andrea S. Blustein

A gorgeous Sunday morning at the XXX Rootbeer Drive-in is photographed for The Issaquah Press' amateur photo contest by Andrea S. Blustein. By Andrea S. Blustein

Traditionally, classic car group leaders meet with XXX Rootbeer Restaurant owner Jose Enciso to schedule a show at his iconic landmark for the upcoming year. 

Lately, Enciso said he’s seeing a new trend — the flash mob. 

As defined by Wikipedia, a flash mob is a large group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual action for a brief time and then quickly disperse. In this case, assemble on a whim at the XXX, compare cars, eat a quick burger and then hit the road.

“They’re using this new technology to e-mail each other and suddenly 200 car owners — Civics, Preludes, whatever — will show up without any notice,” Enciso said.

He said his staff has no problem accommodating so many car nuts on short notice. But he said he hopes this trend isn’t the wave of the future for organizing car shows.

“A lot of us classic car owners are old-timers. We’re pretty set in our ways. We like to have a set schedule to go by,” he said. Read more

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