Behind the Scenes at The Village at Totem Lake

TotemVillage2019 (13) TotemVillage2019 (10) <-me & Anne  (Kirkland Living Mag) rolling rugged chic

Who doesn’t love a hard hat tour?! It sure feels official, which is why I jumped at the chance to take one and hear what’s coming in the next phase of The Village at Totem Lake.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

There are two apartment communities, "Aura Totem Lake" from Trinsic Residential Group and Fairfield Residential "North" and "Aspect" that will be operating as one and bringing Kirkland 850 new 931+ sf homes.  Apartment pricing and leasing details will be available in Nov and completion is targeted for Q4 2019 thru Q4 2020.  There are multiple courtyards and shared spaces for working and recreating, a golf simulator, pool, bike and kayak storage and doggie facilities.  The apartments we walked through are nicely appointed with crisp modern white/gray/navy color palettes, stainless steel appliances and washer/dryer. I was standing with our mayor, Penny Sweet, who shared, “that was even better than I was expecting!” about our apartment tour.  When I was wondering about nearby green space, she also reminded me that Totem Lake Park that is nearby and getting ready to undergo a transformation.

TotemVillage2019 (18)  <-City Mgr, Kurt Triplett 
TotemVillage2019 (5)<- Where's Waldo?

The Cinemark theater, scheduled for completion in Q2 2020, will have 8 auditoriums and 900 reserved seats with electric-powered over-sized luxury  loungers. No more driving to Bellevue or Woodinville for a movie- score!  The theater will be flanked with restaurants and a perhaps a beer hall and ‘plenty of wine’ they tell us (now you're talking). On Oct 25th an Australian branded store called Anko,  located betweeen Nordstrom Rack and Trader Joe's, will open its doors to the public.  They started out with pop-up stores in the US that people went bonkers for, and so they started opening stores in the Seattle area.  Their goods include home decor, kitchen and bath essentials, dining, clothing, pet and more all in a boutique style.   The Village store will be their 5th, where they plan to offer us “warm colorful inviting great-styled products at amazing prices, “ said Morgan from Anko.  They strive to foster creativity and inspiration and partner on a local level, also offering different DIY classes to the community. I'm really curious to check this one out! I have some friends that tell me Anko is awesome.

Anko (3)      Anko (3) <--major transformation happening in Anko's 7000 sf by 10/25


Joe’s Burgers is also opening later this month.  You know your burgers  by now, Kirkland, but also expect to find shakes, hot dogs and alternative beef options here.  Galo’s Flame Grilled Chicken will be cooking up some grilled chicken with  Portugese piri-piri sauce and spice, along with salads, wraps, burgers and bowls.  Both Galo's and  Sephora , that has 25,000 beauty products from 400 carefully curate brands, are slated for  Q2 2020. And in case you (and your skateboarder/teenager) missed it, Zumiez has already opened right next to Anthony Vince Nail Spa, where nails and champagne go hand in hand. You can look forward to 211 retail parking spaces in the new parking deck.....that’s always good news. 

It’s amazing to think of the transformation that has occurred in what used to be a tired crusty shopping center of yesteryear.  I love the renewed vibrancy that The Village at Totem Lake has brought to this northeast corner of Kirkland.  What else would you love to see at The Village?  I thought maybe a Warby Parker.  Soul Cycle. True Foods Kitchen. Bubble Tea.   More restaurants-- but not big chains. Sports store? Furniture store? Share your wish list in the comments! There are still a few retail spaces to fill.



Dr. Seuss Comes to Kirkland

GunnarWindow decal 20 by 28     GunnarLifes great balancing acts framed1  

TM & (c) Dr. Seuss Enterprises LP 2019

Gunnar Nordstrom has been a loyal Kirklander for 30+ years so it seems only natural that he would bring his business back home to our downtown after 11 years in Bellevue.   Gunnar Nordstrom, Dealers in Contemporary Fine Art, will be arriving the first weekend in November at 92 Kirkland Ave (previously Bikini Beach and then
Holodeck Studio)..  Great things often come in small packages, and even though this space is small, the rotating featured artists are sure to be some of our faves.  One of the biggest draws is always the Art of Dr. Seuss (yes, THE Dr. Seuss), which are limited editions produced by Chase Art and the estate of Theodor Seuss Geisel. Gunnar is one of twenty galleries in the country lucky enough to sell these works. 

GunnarParallel Lives  48 x 72
To kick things off, Svetlana Shalygina, an abstract/figurative artist from CA, will be the first to have her work featured in the Kirkland location from Nov 2-20th with Parallel Lives.

Day and hours are Tues-Sat 11-6, Sun 12-5 and closed on Monday.  Gunnar is always there to answer questions (and pour some wine?) and help you explore your art interests.  Be sure to pop in!

Kirkland Urban Honors Eric Shields

Many Kirklanders knew and loved Eric Shields, our former Planning Director for the city, who sadly passed away late last year from cancer. He was instrumental in contributing to the vision for Kirkland Urban, and therefore it has been decided to dedicate the Great Hall in the Urban North building to Eric.  An honor well deserved. This space will be available to the community for scheduled events soon.  The bleacher-style space can accommodate 35-50 people and will be available on a first-come first-serve basis through the on-site management office. 


My Son Ate Chicken Nuggets at Shake Shack

  ShakeShack2019 (3)   ShakeShack2019 (1)

I cannot understand it. My son has never walked away from an opportunity to down a burger in his life. I was running some errands and called him right after school let out to see if he wanted me to pick him up and go to Shake Shack together (300 Peter Kirk Lane).  He was excited, not to see me, but because I have money to buy food,  but I was still pretty proud of myself for scoring some cool mom points.

ShakeShack2019 (5)  <--self-ordering.....chicken......

  ShakeShack2019 (11)       ShakeShack2019 (13)

There were only one or two people in line ahead of us for the kiosks where you order for yourself.  We were relieved not to encounter a huge line. There are usually 5 kiosk stations but only 3 of them were functioning on that day.  Great simple screens and menu to order up and pay electronically.  I got a Shack Burger ($5.79) since that sounded like a classic that I was supposed to order having never been there before.  I ordered up a strawberry shake and B got a chocolate one ($5.29) and some crinkle fries to share.  Then he ordered Chick'n Bites-- What the what? I was so surprised I just said nothing to my usual burger monster and paid for our $26 lunch.  When you order, you enter your cell phone and they text you when it's ready. There were lots of employees behind the counter and our  food took less than 10 minutes to be ready to go.  I was surprised how much seating was inside that little free-standing building at Kirkland Urban, but even so we opted to take our food home. 

Logically, the crinkle fries were half gone by the time we got out of the parking garage. They were perfectly browned and had a nice little flavor to them. My strawberry shake was delish- tasted just like real strawberry ice cream and Brady's chocolate shake was just 'alright' he said.  But this is how teenagers answer every question.  B then opens his 6 pieces of chicken box and laughs out loud, "Mom! They're the size of my thumbnail!"  He was definitely second-guessing his decision, so I shared my burger which was good and fresh albeit a bit salty to me, but B was very pleased with.  A rule of thumb for going to a burger place is ordering a burger.  

Shake Shack is an east coast chain and Kirkland this is their second location in the Seattle area.  They are featuring some local exclusives such as "Pie oh My Concrete" vanilla custard with pieces of A la Mode Pie's seasonal pie.  5% of sales from this product go to YouthCare. Hours are 11am-10pm Sun-Thurs and 11am-11pm Fri- Sat.  Great new addition, especially with the park right next door and a cult following.  425-250-8318


Crossing Kirkland 2019

Crossing Kirkland
is a citywide festival along the Cross Kirkland Corridor on Saturday Sept 7th. The for-neighbors-by-neighbors event debuted in 2017 and draws thousands of visitors with a mix of food trucks, games, craft projects, dance, music, community organizations, and other activities. Three neighborhood-sponsored stations stretch from Feriton Spur in the south up to 7th Ave in the north. Participants bike, walk, and take advantage of city-provided shuttles to see the whole event. 

This year the Selfie Hunt Contest encourages neighbors to take selfies with each other and redeem them for prizes donated by local businesses. The 2019 event will occur on Saturday, Sept 7 from 11a-3p. Crossing Kirkland is powered by volunteer neighbors and financial support from the Google, SRM Development. McLeod Autobody, Kirkland Parks Foundation, and PCC.



For a bit more detail, here’s a list of activities across 3 stations (here’s a map of the event):

  • Meet your neighbors and win a prize in the Selfie Hunt Contest (every neighborhood is assigned different colored bead necklaces. Take a selfie with someone from every different Kirkland neighborhood to qualify for a prize)
  • Make pots out of newspaper and plant a seed with Seattle Tilth
  • Create Sun Catchers with Kirkland Art Center
  • Identify birds with Eastside Audubon
  • Learn how to hula dance with Halau Hula O Makanaokalani
  • Get a native plant tattoo from Green Kirkland
  • Tune up your bike with Kirkland Bicycle
  • Make a bracelet with Houghton Neighborhood Association
  • Watch a K-Pop performance by ICS Dancers
  • Play in a bouncy house
  • Tune in with the Kirkland Ham Radio Group
  • Enjoy your favorite animal in balloon form

There are a bunch of exciting new food trucks this year:

  • Dreamy Drinks
  • Yummy 8 Lunchbox
  • Stacks Burgers
  • Chicago West
  • Tabassum (central Asian, written up in Seattle Times)
  • 314 Pie (sweet and savory)
  • Main St. Gyro
  • Zaytoona
  • Bees Mellows (smores!)

What's Shakin' at Kirkland Urban?

UrbanAug2019 (3)          UrbanAug2019 (2) <--lobby of Urban North 

Well, Shake Shack for one!  In fact, Urban is already working on a plan for traffic and crowd management in anticipation of the phenom burger chain's opening on 9/9.  Kirklanders seem to really like their burgers and gyms, in some sort of torturous ironic twist.

Are you wondering what else is coming our way? Checklist! Right here w/time estimates. Boom...

  • Dough Zone Express Q4
  • Mosaic Salon + Spa  Q4
  • Restore Hyperwellness and Cryotherapy Northwest  Q4
  • Power Hour 360 Q4
  • AT&T Q4
  • Homestreet Bank TBD
  • Caffe Ladro Q3
  • Levue Nails Q4
  • QFC Open!
  • Mud Bay Q3
  • Top Golf Q1 2020 
  • Heavy Restaurant Group (Purple) Q2 2020 
  • Bright Horizons Children's Center Q4
  • Evergreens Salad Q3-- 
  • Soi Q4
  • Shake Shack Q3

All of the office space is accounted for and there are just 3 retail vacancies left. In the next 60 days you will see the old QFC and the ParkPlace Building come down as they forge forward into the next phase. Yes, that's the iPic phase, which is forecasted for spring 2022 and along with a new 7 story building.

UrbanAug2019 (5)   UrbanAug2019 (1) <--lobby area

    UrbanAug2019 (6)<--pretty sweet shared space to hangout 

I also had the opportunity to tour through Kirkland Urban's new Uptown Apartments which are located on the east end of the property, right up the stairway in the center of Urban.  There's a cool patio as you approach the entry, where music or small events could be held.  You'll also find an amenity space and shared workspaces in the lobby which nestle below 185 apartment units (priced at roughly $3.50/sf), along with BBQ's and sweeping views on the shared patios above. A/C for everybody.   Approximately 40 units are already leased and an occupancy permit is ready any day now, so better hurry if you want to live there!

It's fun watching this project unfold! Seems like a good lineup of entertainment, services and restaurants.  Let us know what else you'd like to see in Kirkland Urban.




Fast Fish and a Killer View at Ivar's

Ivars (1)
at 5910 Lake Washington Blvd is open just in time to enjoy a casual bite on the patio while summer is still here.  Previously Kidd Valley (which is owned by Ivar's), the layout is reminiscent of its former self, with a clean new interior and extra outdoor seating.  I was pleasantly surprised, for a fast-food fish spot the kids working in there went out of their way to be helpful and accommodating and the food was all really good. I'm pretty sure nothing on the menu was over $12.   We all especially loved the salmon chowder and my kids were over-the-moon that the cornbread muffin that came with the salmon tasted just like a cupcake. Here are a few snapshots of our food:

Ivars (4)   Ivars (4)  Ivars (5)

I also love that Ivar's has their own parking because you know it's not always easy in Kirkland, especially when the weather is nice. There were plenty of spots when we rolled in at 8:45pm. Hours there are 10:30am to 10pm.  The views were amazing, and what a nice way to spend under $60 for our family's dinner that was delish ready in less than 10 minutes. I asked my new friend, Rachel, to write up her review for me, since she's already a regular at this new location. 

Here's her summary (thanks Rachel!):

My family has always been HUGE fans of Ivars restaurants.  So when we heard a new Ivars Seafood Bar was coming to Kirkland we couldn’t wait to check it out.  We all ordered something different including, Ivars famous fish ‘n chips and mouth-watering clam chowder, Caesar salad with a hefty serving of Dungeness crab, fish tacos and a side of corn bread! It was all very delicious.  The restaurant was packed with smiling faces – not to mention very clean, the staff was friendly and our food was brought out relatively quickly considering we were there opening weekend.  We opted to take our food to go and picnic across the street at the very convenient Houghton Beach Park.  However, they have plenty of indoor and outdoor seating and soon to come beer and wine.  We will definitely be return customers.

Ivars (6)Ivars (6)


Athina Flora- She's Back!

  IMG_5873 <--Athina w/her giant work table that's been w/her for 26 yrs

Everyone knows Athina.  At least anyone that's been in Kirkland for a little while and has been paying attention. This local gal is always a smiling familiar face with a personality that is so kind and down-to-Earth that you can't help but feel magnetized to her.  She was in floral/events for 15 years, and then went to help her brother with George's after her Dad, George, passed away.  She also does real estate part-time.  It wasn't until her friend asked her, "Athina, what do you actually want to do?" that she realized it was flowers and real estate.  Coming back to the floral business just felt right.  Once this declaration was made, she quickly sprung into action to bring Athina Flora to life.  Two blinks later, she had secured the space at 42 Lakeshore Plaza where the tattoo shop used to be, and celebrated with a ribbon cutting on July 11th.  Hello go-getter.


      IMG_6080   IMG_6084  A stunningly unique bouquet, just love her style!   

In true Athina fashion, she's going to kick this business off by partnering with the KDA and throwing an event called the "Athina Flora Wedding Wine Walk" on Friday August 16th.  This wine walk will allow you to taste Washington wines, check out Athina Flora designs as well as other wedding vendors in downtown Kirkland.  Proceeds will support beautification efforts in the downtown core. If you'd like to help by volunteering (for free drink tickets, of course!) there's a sign up here. 

Athina Flora focuses on the details and creating over-the-top arrangements for your special occasions.   She is so creative. This is not the florist where you browse a wall of flowers in a case.  She will not be housing flowers in the shop, but you can pre-order.  There will always be plants for sale and olive trees, a fave that she says always do well here. Athina also does weddings and special events.  And (tell my husband to read this), you can also choose a frequency to have flowers delivered to a special someone throughout the year.  Birthday, Mother's Day, Anniversary- bam! Sign up for the annual program and you don't have to remember and are sure to impress.   Designing pots for private homes is also an ongoing service she provides for each season. 

AThinatabletopflowers photo cred:
And then- lucky us! Flower classes will start happening on a monthly basis too.  They will be free of charge  in the evenings and hold aout 12 people.  You are just asked to bring a food donation that will be brought to the Kirkland Seahawkers monthly meeting and delivered to The Free Little Pantry. Athina will teach everyone how to make a particular arrangement from start to finish that she puts together, and then does a drawing to see who will get to take it home.   The first class will be Sept 19th at 6:30pm.

Hours are Tues-Fri 11-4 and Sat & Mon by appt only.  Questions you can email Athina at  Also check her out on FB and Insta

QFC Kickstarts Kirkland Urban

IMG_6061 <--bust friends drinking a mid-day beer      IMG_6060

Wow.  Just wow. Crazy crowds are piling in to check out the new QFC at Kirkland Urban.  This should be a nail biter for Whole Foods because QFC has just upped their game big time.  There's an indoor/outdoor bar anchoring the corner, so.... mic drop right there.  But wait..there's more? 

IMG_6064 <--that's my cart of groceries riding down the escalator

Parking is underground and free (for the moment) - eventually it will be a 90 min limit complimentary park once we are all trained on the process.  Nobody seems to know an exact date. You'll find an uber-cool escalator  for your grocery cart (photo) in addition to the usual human version.  Ready-made food abounds- from Tutta Bella and Starbucks to cases and cases of grab-and-go food.  And LOTS more local, natural, organic food choices.  The old reliables are still there, but so many more unique options designed with the local Kirkland shopper in mind.    I promise you will turn into a zombie after walking about 15 feet into the store.  Leave yourself time, the exploring is rich, and I'm already looking forward to the day that I know where to find things in there.  Take note that the milk and eggs are strategically in the very back of the store so you'll have to walk past 64 enticing items to fill your cart with before arriving to the mundane. 

IMG_6051    IMG_6051 IMG_6052

Compostable bags make me happy.  Produce looks amazing- there's even a live local mushroom display! (photo)   Of course there are lots of self check-out stations one each end of the store, peppered with familiar employee faces from the little ole QFC we all remember.  I grabbed some hummus and was chased down by this nice fellow, Walid Joudi, who owns Dreamland Foods, the company that provides many of the fresh locally prepared foods.  "Why did you choose this hummus?" he inquired. "Because I liked the packaging?" I explained sheepishly (got it home, it tastes good too!).  I appreciate that the vendors are here for the launch and talking to customers first hand.  Samples can be found throughout the store.  

IMG_6053  <-Walid Joudi of Dreamland Foods-->      IMG_6049     

Hours are 5am-1am everyday.  Kids are already frolicking in the splash pad out front on these hot days.  Be ready- this is not the subtle QFC experience you are accustomed to-- it is loud and entertains all the senses.   Sneaking in with your pajama pants and a ponytail may be less likely You will see at least 4 people that you know and they will be a bit shell-shocked at what has just landed in Kirkland front/center.  Amazing for some.  Overwhelming for others. You decide.   ~j

Sam Choy's Poke to the Max

IMG_5865 (1) <--patio chillin' at Sam Choy

About a month ago, Sam Choy's Poke to the Max (adjacent to WowWow Lemonade) opened at Marina Plaza.  I finally had the chance to stroll in with my teenage girls on a warm sunny evening.  It has a totally casual Hawaiian vibe- doors flung open to an outdoor patio area and a comfortable minimalist set-up inside.  Locals with flip flops and tee shirts abound. For me, something was intuitively strange about walking into a poke restaurant that was about 80 degrees inside.  But I'm sure their refrigerators work great!

IMG_5865 (1) <-pretty!    IMG_5865 (1)<--getting saucy

The format is completely different from the build-your- own process you may be accustomed to at Just Poke up the street.  Step 1 at Sam Choy's is choosing your dish: rice plate, salad, wrap or tacos. Then you select your poke from their list of 6 or so options.  I went for the customer favorite of  'Mo'Betta Shoyu' (photo, on a salad) which is ahi tuna or salmon, shoyu, sesame oil, unago sauce and wasabi aioli.  I don't know what shoyu or unago sauce are,  so I was rolling the dice and trusting the public's fave.  My daughter also selected a salmon dish w/rice. Both of us with the salmon felt like the fresh light nature of the poke got smothered in sauce, turning a summer meal into a gooey rich encounter.  We couldn't come near finishing our plates we were so full.  But it didn't matter because sitting on the patio there was a great perch for Kirkland prime-time people watching and summer rays.  

IMG_5865 (1)    IMG_5865 (1)<-this kid needs veggies

Sam Choy also has handcrafted sandwiches and some island favorite plates such as garlic fried chicken  that was pretty darn yummy (photo, $11.99), firecracker shrimp, short ribs or a beef patty. My 16 year old daughter that still eats like a 4 year old went for the least risky beige foods- garlic fried chicken with rice and macaroni salad. She was happy with that.  Friends that went recently said they LOVED the fried chicken sandwich which came with light slaw and cilantro and a side of hand-cut fries (but had the same poke feedback w/the tuna)

The service was great. Helpful local teens can talk you through the menu and the food comes out pretty quickly and all on compostable materials which makes me happy.  Bonus- the Kirkland location serves to Halal standards too.  And there's a food truck and catering available.  

Hours are Monday 11-3, Tues- Sat 11-9 and Sun 11-7.