The Anker Cafe
Owners: Bill and Katy Anker
Address: 1324 Cornwall Ave.
Startup date: Aug. 4
Square footage: 2,200
Simple logic might state that if a previous business failed in a certain location, then opening a similar business in the same spot might not work.
But in the case of the Anker Cafe, located in the former Fantasia Coffee House space on Cornwall Avenue, a lot has changed since Fantasia closed in early July.
First, construction that had blocked off sections of the street is now finished and foot traffic has returned, said Katy Anker, who co-owns the business with her husband, Bill.
“It’s a new leaf for all the businesses down here,” she said.
The young couple also made several aesthetic changes to the space to make it appeal to a larger clientele, from adding table cloths to hanging paintings by local artists.
For those who remember the coffee shop as a haven for all-ages music, don’t worry — that hasn’t changed. The Anker Cafe has open-mic night every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and hosts acoustic bands on Friday and Saturday evenings.
“This place has amazing acoustics for acoustic shows,” Bill said. “But as soon as you amplify it, it just bounces off the walls and gets too loud.”
To drive home the “acoustic only” principle, they won’t even let their own bands play shows at the cafe. Both Bill and Katy are drummers in rockabilly bands — Katy plays for Hot Roddin’ Romeos and Bill plays in The Whiskey Wailers — and both can get a bit loud, Bill admits.
“Music is a big part of our lives,” he said. “Between the two of us, we have a pretty eclectic taste in music.”
Although they are changing some things, others will stay the same. Besides providing a space for music, the Anker Cafe will also host poetry night every Monday, which was a long-standing event at Fantasia.
On top of music and caffeine, the Ankers are also slowly expanding the menu and hope to soon offer a wide selection of soups and specialty sandwiches.
“I would love to have a big deli cooler with tons of cheeses from around the world,” Bill said, adding that he has plans to start offering his family-secret Dutch meatball soup.
Owning a coffee shop is a new career direction for both Bill and Katy. Previously, Bill spent three years as a long-haul trucker and was away from home for days at a time. And Katy already has a full-time job — she works mornings at the cafe and then puts in an eight-hour day at T-Mobile.
This means long days with little rest. Both Bill and Katy open the shop just before 8 a.m. and Bill closes the shop at 10 p.m., about the time that Katy gets off work at T-Mobile.
“We’re awake all the time,” Katy said. “But I think it’s fun coming to work together. Our relationship has gotten stronger.”
Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen
Owners: Will and Mari Kemper
Address: 601 W. Holly St.
Startup date: July 10
Square footage: 5,900
Web site: www.chuckanutbreweryandkitchen.com
After spending years away from the Pacific Northwest, Will and Mari Kemper are glad to be back doing what they love: serving up tasty beer and food.
Since founding the Thomas Kemper Brewery on Bainbridge Island in 1984, the couple has helped launch several other breweries around the country and as far away as Mexico and Turkey. In that time, they have tasted and developed recipes for hundreds of beers.
The 19 varieties that you will find at Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen represent the best of those recipes, from a Kolsch to a brown ale to a porter. Though only six beers are on tap at a single time, the Kempers are quickly moving down the list.
“Tell us what beers you like and we’ll rotate them back through,” Mari said.
Most of the beers on the menu are lagers, something Bellingham beer lovers may not be used to.
“Most brewpubs do ales because they’re easy and popular,” Mari said. “Our beers are all about the nuances and the delicacies. Someone expecting a big, loud taste won’t find that. Instead you’ll find a complicated taste.”
And if you are unsure what would go best with a Rauch — a dark lager with a smoky flavor — the menu recommends certain dishes for certain beers. (For the Rauch, it suggests either the Oy Vey reuben or the marinated barbecue beef.)
In remodeling the former Hertz rental equipment center earlier this year, the Kempers decided to go for an industrial but intimate feel, a blend of commercial brewery and social dining atmosphere. For example, a metal kayak frame hangs from the ceiling and bright paintings by local artists hang on the walls.
For those interested in getting a closer look at the brewery, Will hosts tours every Saturday around noon and explains the beer-making process.
“A lot of beer-making is in the process, not just the recipe,” Mari said.
Similarly, a large part of opening a new business is in the process. Right now, the brewery is in full production and the Kempers have plans to start bottling soon. Plus, the business now has all the necessary brewery swag: pint glasses, growlers, hoodies, etc.
Though the Kempers have been involved in establishing several breweries and then moving on, that will not be the case for Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen.
“We’re tired of moving,” Mari said.
The Take-a-Class Teach-a-Class Workshop
Owner: Cary M. Christensen
Address: 1220 N. State St.
Startup date: June 1
Square footage: 1,700 square feet
Web site: www.theworkshop-tac.com
The Take-a-Class Teach-a-Class Workshop is a blank canvas. Even though every canvas in sight might be splashed with the latest masterpiece, the walls that shelter that creative experience are essentially a blank canvas.
In 2005, Cary Christensen arrived in Bellingham to find what she described as “a community steeped in the arts,” so it was here that she decided to unveil a new approach to art instruction and the creative experience.
“I wanted to create an open space defined by the people who use it,” Christensen said.
Recently, Christensen opened The Take-a-Class Teach-a-Class Workshop, which is a unique art classroom designed to encourage creativity in a fun and nonjudgmental environment.
The Workshop hosts group and individual classes for a wide variety of arts and crafts for any age group. It also hosts monthly events such as Brush and Boogie, where art lovers gather around crafts and music, and the Junk Club, which teaches participants how to reuse, recycle and recreate.
Toward the front of the space, patrons are greeted with the rotating two-month calendar of classes and the Card Bar, where people can come in to make custom cards for loved ones anytime.
The Workshop can also be rented out and decorated for any occasion, including office and holiday parties or bridal and baby showers. The venue has a full kitchen, and Christensen will help decorate and clean up. The space’s concrete floors could also be perfect for a child’s birthday party.
“Most parents just want a place to go be messy with children because they don’t want it on their carpets,” Christensen said.
Pooling together all of her past professional lives, Christensen said The Workshop is a compilation of everything she has done. Christensen has been a lifelong artist and designer who worked in corporate sales and marketing for five years and also spent time as a teacher. Christensen said her ultimate goal with The Workshop was to create a space that lifted and nurtured the spirit through art.
“I want The Workshop to be a place where people come to feel good about their lives; to feel good about their friends; and to forget about how much they are paying for gas at the gas pump,” she said.
Christensen said many people shy away from art because they think they have no talent.
“Basically, it’s that they were never placed in an environment where they felt comfortable and could just have fun,” she said.
Christensen said the classes will teach techniques, but participants will also be encouraged to make their own choices.
“You get to take something home that you created. It’s not made in China. It’s not made by someone else’s hands,” she said. “You actually have an opportunity to refresh yourself in a creative way.”
Christensen said those interested can come in to apply to teach a class, take a class or just meet with Christensen to chat over a homemade cookie and a cup of coffee.
“It’s a very personal kind of environment that I am trying to create where people want to come back,” she said.