Owner: Anne Rasmussen
Startup Date: Sept. 2008
Last September, after years of planning countless events for family and friends — along with her own wedding last spring — Anne Rasmussen decided to make event planning her official line of work.
“It made sense,” she said. “A lot of people find planning special events scary. But when you’ve done it, it’s not so scary.”
Rasmussen, along with her partner Lynne Baron of Lynne Baron Designs, offers her services for everything from weddings to dinner parties to corporate events and local benefits. Both Baron and Rasmussen worked on the Whatcom Hospice Gala Auction last fall and are currently working on their first wedding together.
“Now that the new year is here, brides and grooms are getting ready for their summer weddings,” Rasmussen said, adding that recently many couples have been switching to off-season weddings to get better deals.
While True Bliss Events doesn’t have a designated office for the two to work from, they each have space at their homes where they can work on events. Baron has a studio behind her house filled with paintings, candles, furniture, mirrors and decorative flowers. Often times the two will invite clients up to the studio to pick out decorations or to brainstorm theme ideas.
Rasmussen and Baron also meet clients at the client’s house in order to get a better sense of their own personal style.
Rasmussen said they like to think out of the box and get creative, especially with a struggling economy where people aren’t able to spend as much on events as in the past. For one recent event, they used twigs from Baron’s backyard as centerpieces instead of buying them.
By combining Baron’s design expertise with Rasmussen’s organization and planning skills, the two hope to create events where people can relax and enjoy themselves.
“When I think of a wonderful event, it’s blissful,” Rasmussen said, indicating her company name. “It’s pure happiness. It’s a smile on your face.”
— Amanda Winters
Cat Country Resort
Owner: Carol Tribe
Address: 6912 Mecklem Road, Everson
Startup Date: Nov. 15
Square Footage: 1,100
Photo by Amanda Winters
Carol Tribe grew up on a farm in England caring for sick, orphaned animals and working at her family’s cat-boarding facility, which they have owned for 25 years. Later, she spent five years working as a veterinary technician. In November, she opened her own luxury cat-boarding facility, Cat Country Resort.
The facility has 15 suites as well as extra room to add 10 more. Each suite has a peek-a-boo bed for shy cats, several shelves lined with no-slip pads, full-length glass doors, and a cushioned window seat looking out at bird-feeders. The suites are cleaned twice a day and provided with fresh litter, food and water each time.
“What I wanted to do was create somewhere the cats could go where the owners wouldn’t worry and would know they’d have the best care,” Tribe said. “I wanted to create something exceptional, something different.”
A play area with a large climbing post, two cardboard boxes fashioned as city buildings, and lots of toys is toward the center of the facility. Twice a day the cats, one family at a time, get to play while Tribe cleans their suites.
“I wanted a play area because with long-term cats, they need to stretch their legs,” Tribe said. “They all get a lot of attention and a lot of loving.”
One cat, Charlie, has been at the facility for 45 days. While he was only scheduled to be staying for 40 days, his owner changed her mind when Tribe sent her a picture.
“I sent her photos of Charlie having a good time so she asked if he could stay for another 10 days,” Tribe said.
Cat Country Resort is located near Everson and has a three-day minimum stay rule. With her residence next door to the facility, Tribe is able to keep an eye on the cats at all times. A shop on her property was converted into the facility, which sits on 2.5 acres of land.
“It’s a nice, quiet setting with no dogs so the cats are really relaxed,” she said.
Back Porch Alley
Owners: Ted Williams and Layne Southcott
Address: 1212 N. State St.
Startup Date: Jan. 16
Square Footage: 3,500
Last November Layne Southcott had his work cut out for him when he began renovating the former Callaloo Caribbean Kitchen to transform it into the Back Porch Alley Restaurant. When removing posters, he found holes punched in the wall. When talking to neighboring businesses, he was told stories of people being “Callalooed,” meaning passed-out drunk, in their business parking lots.
“The Callaloo was a pretty balls-to-the-wall puking-drunk place,” he said.
As co-owner of a new restaurant in a location with a reputation for being rowdy, he had to work to convince local authorities, including police and the state Liquor Control Board, that the Back Porch Alley would be quite the opposite. After 10 weeks of negotiation and renovation, the Alley opened up in January.
To match the name, the restaurant is set-up to look like an alley with a solid brick wall and house-like siding lining the hallway and stairs up to the velvet rope room. The upstairs room is the “back porch,” with an old-porch-style railing and a view of the “alley” below. Where Southcott’s father’s art currently hangs on the wall will soon be a mural of the Gulf of Mexico. All this is designed to give customers a feel of the South.
Southcott’s business partner, Ted Williams, originally from Mississippi, had owned a Southern-style restaurant before and wanted to open one up in Bellingham. The head chef, Brandon Stiers, was raised in St. Louis and asked if he could get on board after learning they wanted to serve Southern-style food. Some of the menu items include ribs, sweet potato fries, collard greens and hush puppies. Though they haven’t been open long, Southcott said people have already come back two or three times for the food.
With a stage on the main floor surrounded by tables, live music is featured nightly starting at 6 p.m., and is open to all ages until 10 p.m. when it switches to a 21-and-older crowd. While blues and jazz are the main focus, reggae and rock will also be showcased. Beginning March 12, the Bellingham Circus Guild will begin a monthly performance at the Back Porch Alley. The show begins at 7 p.m. and tickets are $10.
Blending Southern-style food, music and hospitality, Southcott looks to provide a place for people to get not only great food and entertainment, but also a place for people to just hang out.
“I’m trying to make it easy for people to hang out, be friends and be comfortable,” he said.