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Google in downtown Kirkland

GoogleHave you heard about Google opening an office in Kirkland?  Ever wonder where they are located?  Guess what...they are in downtown Kirkland located here across the street from the Kirkland/US Post Office.   It's not really breaking news (I think they opened the office in late 2004), but while talking to several of my neighbors last week no one really knew about the new office or the fact that Google calls Kirkland home for up to 200 software engineers.  The Seattle PI's, Todd Bishop, wrote a nice article about the office opening in 2004 which you can read here

Martha Stewart escapes to Kirkland

Martha Stewart was in downtown Kirkland today to sign her new book:  Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook.   No, neither Janis and I bake much so we didn't stand in the long line.  For those who did they had to abide by a bunch of rules.   Click on this pic to see the restrictions...Marthbook

So where was Martha?  She was at Sur La Table on Central Way.   I actually had no idea that Martha would be in town today.  I was driving downtown to my haircut at Simplicity Salon and saw a huge line and police cars.  At first I thought it was the first day of registrations for cooking classes, but later found out we had a celebrity in our midst.   As I drove by I was able to snap a shot of the action for the blog. Marthstewart

After my cut, I rushed back to see if I could actually get inside and snap a pic of Martha herself.  The signing was suppose to go to 12:30...I got there at 12:20 but there was no Martha to be found.   Maybe next time.   Steve. 

Stop! Thieves in Kirkland

Steve got his car cleaned at the Rose Hill Car Wash/Texaco station recently.  We've often gone there for car washes- it's one of those where you pay $17 and get out of your car while they vacuum, then they send it through the washer (where the kids can ooh and aah by the glass), and then some guys rush out at the end and wipe it all down. 

Did I forget to mention the part where they swipe your Revo sunglasses from  your visor?  This service is covert and free of charge.  And after talking with the owner and manager today, they only keep their security tapes for 24 hrs. So basically, by the time you realize something is missing, all evidence of the Armor-All stinking culprit is gone.   We probably even tipped the little stinker.

So, no real help from these guys- teeny bit of sympathy, little bit of suspicion that we may have forgetfully left them somewhere else, and then they politely went through the motions of taking our name/number in case they miraculously appear.   No sorry.  Not even a coupon for a future car wash!   My poor husband has been banned from buying expensive sunglasses over this incident.  That's right- demoted to my level of buying $25 sunglasses that can't be lost or broken with even the best of efforts.


--->For the record, when your car needs a cleaning, make sure you drive right on past this one.     Shellon85th

-------> And into this Shell Station instead (also on 85th).  Many friends have said good things about it.  Touch-less on your car and same service as Texaco without the sticky fingers.


Coming this March: Lakeview Restaurant

Finally, the old eyesore where the Kirkland location of the Orexi used to be is transforming before our eyes.  I had the chance to meet with Andrew Im and Chul Lee, the joint owners of the new Lakeview Restaurant to find out some scoop of what we can expect.  Lakeviewrest

These guys met back in 1996 through  a friend and have been opening restaurants ever since, such as A Burger Place in Seattle.  They are really excited about the Lakeview Restaurant because it is their largest venture so far.  They bought the site in July of 2005 and started building in mid-September. 

Here is what you should be looking for--great sushi created by 2 sushi chefs with over 15 years of experience.  There will also be some hot items on the menu too (not available for preview yet).  Lunch and dinner will be served seven days a week.  And don't forget the beer and sake. :-)

When I toured the site, they have kept the same footprint of the building and opened up the kitchen area inside where there is also a sushi bar.  Seating capacity is 60-70.  Decor will be warm/dark/rich/candle-lit with a contemporary feel.  Much of the finish work has not been completed yet, but the bathrooms had some fun glass tiles and there were hardwoods, carpeting and tables yearning for some hungry people.

As for the exterior, there will be metal siding on the first floor and re-finished stucco up top for a modern feel.  The parking lot pavement will be re-surfaced and new lines painted. Outdoor lamposts will be  repainted and landscaping will complete the look.  Andrew and Chul are hopeful that eventually (with the city's ok) they can even have some outdoor seating.

Overall, they are striving to deliver excellent, artful and fused dishes created by experienced people with an emphasis on customer service.  Speaking of which,if you are looking for employment, they are hiring management and waitstaff now.  Feel free to forward a resume to ji802@hotmail.com .

Steve and I love sushi and we look forward to seeing how it will compare to some of our other local favorites.  Stay tuned for our review when Lakeview Restaurant opens in mid-March...  ~Janis

**UPDATE**-5/21/06- Looks like they named it Sushiya instead of Lakeview Restaurant.  We'll give it a try and get to the bottom of it, check back later this week. ~j

The Business Obituaries

Downtown Kirkland and its surrounding area continues to prove itself as a difficult environment for Goob_1 most young businesses to survive.  Just check out  this list of the latest casualties (some old some new):

  • Waimea Brewing Company (restaurant--Central  Way)--it's gone, coming soon: an Irish Pub.   
  • Sweet and Sassy (women's boutique--Central  Way)?  Going out of business sale on now! 
  • Kabloom (florist--Lake St.)--it's gone, space is for  lease.   
  • Leathers (furniture--Central Way)?  Gone--space is for lease.   
  • Mosswood (hand made gifts--Central Way)?  Moved away, space is for lease.   
  • Articles (furniture--by QFC)? Gone--space is up for grabs.
  • Orexi (Greek restaurant on 98th)--sold the spot...Lakeview Japanese Restaurant to open. 
  • Dave and Dan's Subs (pizzas/subs in Juanita Village)--gone, gone, gone!  Space available.
  • Blockbuster (video rentals on Central Way)--closed up!  A bank is moving in...
  • Red Door (furniture--Central  Way)--moving sale on now!  Leaseable space?

Now, this is  just the list we made during our daily activities here in Kirkland.   I know there are many other businesses that have closed in other parts of Kirkland as well.   In fact, I couldn't believe my eyes driving home from Amazon.com tonight...the little store on Central Way that sells  nothing but Christmas ornaments and other Christmas supplies has a for lease sign on it!  Say it ain't so!  That store has  been here ever since we moved into Kirkland in 98. We always wondered how it stayed in business, but we also bought ornaments there every year.  Anyone know the story behind any of these businesses and how/why they met their demise?   If so, please comment and share with us all....

Janis  and I will start putting business closure sightings on the blog as a regular type  of post.  As new businesses follow behind them we will do our best to keep up and let  you know about them.  Especially new restaurants we can review! 


Sex Offenders in Kirkland!

Dog Did you know we have seven sex offenders living inside the City of Kirkland?   Yup, it's true!  There is  a site called Family Watchdog (click here) that allows you plug in your address in order to get a visual map of where sex offenders are located in your neighborhood.   Once you bring up the map I would recommend clicking on the "List" tab on top of the page to get a text list of every sex offender in our area--you can also pull up additional details--including their picture so you can recognize them too.  The site also offers "notifications" so you be contacted via email when a sex offender moves into your neighborhood.   It's a great site for helping us all keep informed and to help us keep our children safe!   Share this post with your family and friends...Steve 

Lake Street's Homeless


Meet Paul.  You've probably seen him as you drive through downtown Kirkland.  He used to sit over by the Third Floor Fish Cafe, but has recently moved half a block north to the planters by the now vacant Kabloom.   I'm sure that compared to the national average, Kirkland's homeless population is slim, so we couldn't help but notice Paul sitting by himself and decided to go have a chat.

"Do you live in Kirkland?" I ask as he looks at his bags by his feet and says, "I guess you could say that."  DUH.  I'm an idiot.  Recover, recover.  "Did you grow up here?" He responds, " Is anybody really from here?"  Now I'm thinking this guy could make a great politician-- really vague and answering each question with another question. 

Turns out our friend Paul is a student at Bryman College and takes classes there during the day.  Not sure what for, that part got glossed over a bit.  He also says he's worked for many of the big companies in Seattle and around.  From the warehouse of  amazon.com to the floor of the stock exchange.  Sounds like the guy is just down on his luck.  He's a nice guy with a big smile.  And says that people and the police don't seem to bother him too much.  Let's hope he can stay warm during all these cold nights.



Santorini: One of my Favorites!

Stavros Santorini Greek Grill gets a gold star in my book.  This has been a favorite of ours since we moved here in '98- it is a casual little Greek spot with really great, fresh food and friendly service.   They have been right there at 106 Central Way for eleven years now, so I know there must be lots of people that agree with me. 

Stavros and his wife Elsa are the owners and put many hours in so you're likely to see at least one of them behind the counter and they make you feel right at home.   When we walk in you can hear Stavros roar with a smile, "Janis!  Steve!  How are you?"  I love that warm hometown feel.  One time my kids were doing something funny in there, so Stavros whips out his digital camera and snaps a pic of them for me.   A couple days later I'm driving by and he waves and flags me off of Central Way to hand me the 8x10 picture he's printed for us.  Hello?!  These are just super-nice people.  And I haven't even gotten to the food yet!

AMAZING Greek food.  Everything is really fresh and flavorful.  Some of our favorites are the Greek Salad w/gyro meat (the dressing is soooo good) or the chicken souvlaki plate (chicken skewer, rice, small salad, pita bread with tzaiki).  I see lots of people ordering gyros at lunch.  You pretty much can't go wrong in there.  Your average meal will run you about $10, and portions are generous.

It's very casual, you place your order at the counter and sit at one of the 12 or so tables.  They do take-out really quickly for you too, so we often pick up from there on weeknights when we don't have a dinner plan in place.  Secret: for take-out, just park right in front (yes, the curb is yellow, live on the edge).  Just hop out with your hazards on.  Works every time.  There are also 4-5 kind of unknown parking spots when you hang a right on 1st from his place, in case you're chicken.

If I have one minor complaint, it would be that Stavros and Elsa take off for a few weeks in the summer and around Christmas-time.  You'll usually see the place is dark and chairs are upside-down and there's a handwritten note on the door wishing us all well and hoping they will see us when they return (from their visits home, to Greece).   I can't go that long without them!  By the end of that last week away I am sitting on their porch and there are scratch-marks on their door b/c my body is going through Greek food withdrawals. 

Anyway, love this place.  When I asked Stavros how he has been so successful in Kirkland for all these years, he says, "It's the people.  Good people."  Bring your people there- he'll treat you right!


We have a new Dojo in Kirkland

Is Kirkland Parkplace becoming the "fitness" mall?   Well if you think about it there is a 24 Hour Fitness, Hot Yoga of Kirkland, General Nutrition Center, and the latest addition -- United Studios of Self Defense (USSD)!   Ussd The USSD bills itself as "Americas Self  Defense Leader" with over 160 studios nationwide and classes targeting fitness/self-defense for adults and children.  Chief Instructor Tim Chulak is the guy to talk to regarding special introductory deals as the Dojo is now taking enrollments.  So  if  you are interested in that black belt  you can get started by calling USSD/Kirkland at (425) 453-6699. They are located in the space previously occupied by the ceramic painting store (can't remember the exact name) that sits between Rikki Rikki Japanese Restaurant and the Kirkland Parkplace Cinema 6.   I have never taken Karate or Kung Fu lessons so don't expect an actual review of any self defense studios any time soon.  That being said, if you have an opinion about this studio or any others in Kirkland we welcome your comments.   

Miss King County:Right here in Kirkland

Jessithompson I didn't even realize that I knew Miss King County.  It's probably because she is so modest and funny, and must be hiding her tiara in a drawer somewhere.   Jessi Thompson is the kind of girl you can't help but like.  And so what if she's gorgeous too.

Jessi used to play soccer competitively until she was diagnosed with a bone disorder.  When she found out she couldn't play anymore, she wanted to find something with purpose to fill this void.  She started working at Children's Hospital, which is how she found out about pageants as being a way to help others by being a role model and raising money for causes she is passionate about.   She focuses on organizations such as Children's and the Sparrow Club, which is a charity that helps students/schools raise money for children in medical crisis through community service and fund raising. "It's amazing how many people will listen to your message when you have a title," says Jessi.

Right now, Jessi is getting prepared for the Miss Washington USA contest in November.  There is a personal interview, swimsuit, and evening gown competition.   She quips, "I said I would start  my stringent diet when the Seahawks are knocked out, which has really worked in my favor this year!"  She keeps busy with speaking engagements, parades, events, fund raising, not to mention her 'real' job in membership at the Juanita Bay Club in Kirkland.

I was curious to hear some of the eye-scratching stories of the contestants backstage.  She said she's seen some girls write messages with lipstick on the mirror and throw shoes.  But they must not have been directed at her, because Jessi was also given the special award for  'Miss Congeniality,' an honor bestowed upon a contestant by her peers.  And, yes, she has tripped on stage once and also lost her sarong in the swimsuit competition another time.  But she's very grounded and just laughs and decides to call herself  the 'Queen of Wardrobe Malfunctions.'

If you see Jessi around, give her a smile and a thanks for being such a great role model in our community.  If you'd like to help sponsor her, I know she is accepting both service and monetary donations to help get her ready for the Miss WA pageant. She is also available to you for public speaking events (free of charge) and can be contacted via email at misskingcountyusa@hotmail.com