Investors to buy Hotel Bellwether

   A group of investors led by local developer Andre Molnar have agreed to purchase the Hotel Bellwether and the Paulsen Office Building from Peter Paulsen.
   The Port of Bellingham’s Board of Commissioners voted on May 1 to allow the investors to take over the property’s lease when the purchase becomes final. Molnar said he expects the deal to close in mid-May and did not wish to disclose the price. The new ownership and management plan to be in place by June 2007.
   Other investors include Troy Muljat, who will be in charge of leasing office space in the Paulsen Building, and Fahri Ugurlu, who will continue to operate the hotel’s Harborside Bistro.
   Michael Herzog, another investor, will serve as manager of the hotel. Herzog has more than 35 years’ experience in hotel management in the United States, Canada, Africa and Europe.
   Molnar said the new hotel management would reach out to the local business community by communicating more with local chambers of commerce and by offering a corporate rate structure. Otherwise, no changes are planned for either the hotel or the office building. For more information, call Molnar at 223-0406.

Columbus, Ohio, here we come
   The Port of Bellingham’s Board of Commissioners approved a lease with Skybus Airlines this month that will allow the national startup to begin operations in Bellingham on May 29.
   Skybus will offer nonstop, once-daily service on full-size jets from Bellingham to its base in Columbus, Ohio, and offers $10 fares for 10 seats on every flight.
   Port commissioners approved a one-year renewable lease with Skybus that will allow the airline to operate in a portion of the module located just south of the baggage claim area at the airport.
   At that same meeting, the commission also approved a lease with Slattery Ground Services, Inc., for the remainder of the 1,700-square-foot module. Skybus has contracted with Slattery for its ticketing, ground handling and security coordination.
   Based upon a full year of once-daily flights with about 36,000 Skybus passengers, the Port anticipates its operating revenues will increase by $351,000, according to airport director Art Choat. This amount includes leases, parking revenue and other revenue from increased airport passengers.
   For more information, visit

Tourism bureau president resigns
   John Cooper, president and CEO of Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism, has decided to leave his position at the bureau to lead the Yakima Valley Visitors and Convention Bureau. Cooper’s last day will be May 31, he said.
   “I have really enjoyed my time here in Bellingham, but this opportunity came up and there are great things happening in Yakima Valley and I wanted to be a part of it,” he said. “I will say it’s not easy to leave, but the time has come.”
   From here, the bureau’s board will form a selection committee to search for new candidates for Cooper’s position, he said. While the board has no timeframe for hiring at this point, Cooper said it is not uncommon for the selection process to take four to six months.
   A 25-year veteran of the tourism industry, Cooper has spent the past 14 years leading the Bellingham tourism bureau, according to a press release. During that period, annual visitor spending in Whatcom County grew 62 percent to $396 million and the organization’s budget grew from $280,000 to $670,000.
   Cooper was named Washington State Tourism Professional of the Year in 2003 and the Washington Society of Association Executives recognized him as Executive of the Year in 2001. Prior to Bellingham, he was executive director of the Southern Oregon Visitors Association and the Corvallis, Ore., Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Got junk?
   James Titus and Jeremy Tunnell recently opened a 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchise in Bellingham.
   1-800-GOT-JUNK? is a full-service junk removal company that hauls away anything that is not environmentally hazardous, according to a press release. Bulk items, such as old furniture, renovation debris, and backyard messes are typical examples.
   The franchise started in Vancouver, B.C. eight years ago and now operates in more than 300 locations throughout North America.
   “Growing up in Bellingham, I’ve always appreciated the environmental friendliness of the city,” Titus said. “1-800-GOT-JUNK? is committed to recycling and a very good fit for this area.”
   The junk removal business strives to avoid dumping what it collects from people’s homes in the landfill by recycling or donating to charity whenever possible, according to the press release. For more information, call 312-6538.

New coffeehouse to bring strudel to Fairhaven
   A new coffeehouse is coming to Fairhaven. Pat Scheidegger will open Opa G’s in the Young Building, which is currently under construction, at 1100 McKenzie Ave., Suite 5.
   Scheidegger said she wants the 1,475- square-foot shop to replicate a historic Fairhaven coffee house, with bistro tables, Tiffany lamps and turn-of-the-century decor.
   The shop, named after her father, who was originally from Austria, will specialize in European coffee and variations of her grandmother’s German strudel recipe, as well as a variety of German tortes, coffee cakes, soups, sandwiches and salads. Scheidegger said she would like to sell her pastries to other restaurants in the area.
   After moving to Bellingham from Temple City, Calif., in 2001, Scheidegger’s mother inspired her to open the coffee shop, and her brother, Richard Villanueva, will be the shop’s head chef. Villanueva, who graduated from the California School of Culinary Arts in Pasadena, Calif., has 25 years of experience as a master chef and moved to Bellingham to run the shop with his sister.
   Scheidegger said she hopes to open the store in July, as soon as the Young Building is completed. For more information, call (360) 888-7240.

Locust clothing swarms Cornwall
   A new clothing store has opened on Cornwall Avenue.
   Locust, located at 1210 Cornwall Ave., sells street clothes, art prints and books in a gallery setting, owner Ivan Barrow said. All of the clothing lines are exclusive to Bellingham, he said.
   Barrow and his wife, Jessica, decided to open the 631-square-foot store because they felt there was a lack of “street culture” in Bellingham.
   “The goal is to bridge the gap between a gallery and a clothing store,” Barrow said, adding he hopes to begin showing local artists’ art installations in the space in June.
   In addition to the storefront, Barrow also operates a Web site,, selling the store’s merchandise.
   Barrow has lived in Bellingham for eight years, working as a glass blower and running a glass distribution center. For more information, call 527-2757.

WECU Banker Buys the World Cup
   Jim Langei, a business loan officer for Whatcom Educational Credit Union, has purchased America’s Cup espresso stand.
   The stand is located next to the Bellingham Yacht Club and the Northwest Explorations Charter Fleet, at 627 S. Harbor Loop Drive, #102. Langei said he will expand the menu to include local biscotti, breakfast goods, pizza, hot dogs and chips, and other types of “snack and go” food, as well as espresso. For more information, call 319-0803.

Project BHAM coming to Depot Market
   A group of local stores and regional independent designers will showcase their spring lines during the second semi-annual Project BHAM event.
   Local salons will also participate in the event, which includes a runway show, live music and shopping.
   The nonprofit event will take place May 18 in the Depot Market Square on the corner of Railroad Avenue and East Chestnut Street. The event will begin at 7 p.m. Sponsors of the event include Red Bull Energy Drink, Talking Rain, and What’s Up! magazine.
   VIP tickets will be on sale at Four Starrs Boutique, The PaperDoll or Mi Shoes. General admission tickets will be available at the door.
   For more information on tickets, volunteering, modeling and the participating vendors, visit

Simplot site under contract again
   A local developer and general contractor, Marc Walker, is under contract to purchase the former 11-acre Simplot site in Ferndale from James and Rebecca Willson, who purchased the property in November from J.R. Simplot Co.
   Walker is under contract to purchase the site, which abuts the southbound I-5 off ramp along Portal Way, in two pieces, said Rodger Spero, the real estate agent handling the sale. Walker said he expects the sale of the first — a two-acre parcel that includes several metal buildings — to close in two to three months. He plans to remodel the site’s buildings to create a storage and warehouse facility.
   Walker said he expects the sale of the second, nine-acre portion of the property, to close at the beginning of January. He said he would eventually take the land through a planned urban development (PUD) process with the City of Ferndale to turn it into a mixed-use development, although he currently has no firm plans for what the project might look like.
   Walker has developed residential and commercial property in Whatcom County with his company, Walker Corp., since 1989. He did not wish to disclose the property’s purchase price at this time.
   The J.R. Simplot Co., based in Boise, Idaho, operated a vegetable-processing plant at the site until 1989 and sold the property to the Willsons last year for $1.6 million. For more information, call Walker at 738-8836.

PriOrganize helps to get clients in order
   Art teacher Cathy Gersich originally had no idea her organizing and artistic skills would merge into a company until a friend asked her to help her with a disorganized space. After that, she was hooked.
   Gersich is now a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers and owner of PriOrganize, a company geared toward helping busy people organize their space, according to a press release.
   Gersich assists with both residences and businesses, including living rooms, waiting rooms, garages, closets, home offices, bedrooms, memorabilia organization and display. She also assists with staging homes for sale.
   “Getting a space in order provides structure, systems, and solutions that can increase your productivity, reduce stress, and lead to more control over time, space, and activities,” Gersich said. “Often we need another point of view to help us get our lives back in order.”
   Some of Gersich’s recent jobs have included helping seniors downsize, reorganizing a nonprofit office and reorganizing a home library space.
   For more information, call Gersich at (360) 305-5879 or visit

Church on the Street finds a new home
   Church on the Street, formerly located at 1213 1/2 Cornwall Ave., has moved to a new location next to the Lighthouse Mission at 901 W. Holly. The organization had been at its previous location for two years, but moved due to neighborhood relations, said Senior Pastor Charles Sargent.
   The organization, which began in October 2003, ministers to the homeless, giving them clothes and shower passes and helping admit some into treatment centers to make positive changes in their lives, Sargent said. Church on the Street serves all of Whatcom County.
   The move to a larger building has not changed the organization at all, Sargent said. They have 8 to 10 regular volunteers.
   The Web site for Church on the Street is still under construction. For more information, call 398-9435.

New boutique to open on Cornwall
   True Blue, a new clothing boutique at 1306 Cornwall Ave., is set to open this month.
   Owner Marci Witt said the 1,200-square-foot store, in the former Juice It space, will offer “hip and sexy” clothing for men and women. Her merchandise will include designer jeans, T-shirts, jewelry and accessories, as well as items for babies and toddlers.
   She decided to open True Blue after moving to Mount Vernon from Los Angeles and found there were not enough stores offering the kinds of clothes she loved in her new home. Witt likened her new shop to Nordstrom, but said her wares will be more affordable.
   In Los Angeles, Witt worked as a registered nurse and in the music and fashion industries. She said owning her own store there was out of reach because of the expense and competition, but it has always been her dream.
   Along with her husband, Morgan Witt, she has spent the last several months renovating the space and will open on May 15.
   For more information, call 542-4084 or visit

Malt Shop under new ownership
   The Malt Shop, located at 1135 Railroad Ave., is under new ownership and will be undergoing a renovation. Mark Franklin from Southern California purchased The Malt Shop from Guy Fryday on April 9.
   Franklin has renamed The Malt Shop to Bay City Creamery. The new Bay City Creamery will be closed for renovation for five to six days within the next month, and the grand opening date is still to be determined.
   Franklin said he did not want to reveal too much about the new design of the business, but said it will feature more modern decor and more splash.
   Franklin previously worked for Mattel, Inc., in California for 26 years and owned and operated an orchard in central Washington for 10 years.
   “I retired from Mattel,” Franklin said. “And I decided to look for a business that would be fun.”
   For more information, call 676-5156.

Limited Too focuses on ‘tween fashion
   Limited Too, known for its ’tween-focused fashion, plans to open at Bellis Fair this summer in the main wing of the mall, next to Hollister.
   The 4,319-square-foot store will sell apparel, lifestyle and personal care products geared toward girls aged 7 to 14, according to a press release.
   Limited Too is one of three brands operated by Tween Brands, Inc., which became a fully independent public company in August 1999 as a spin-off to shareholders of The Limited, according to the press release. The company operates more than 560 stores in 46 states and Puerto Rico, according to its Web site. For more information, visit

New owners of Aloha Motel plan remodel
   San and Mi Sun Yi have purchased the Aloha Motel on Samish Way and plan to remodel and expand the building.
   The Yis purchased the motel at 315 N. Samish Way from San and Soon Ahn for $1.4 million in April. Manager Brian Lee, San Yi’s cousin, said the new owners plan to upgrade the motel and add a second story. They will apply for building permits soon, and hope to begin the remodel in August, he said. For more information, call 733-4900.

Fairhaven Sub Shop gets new owners
   What was once the Great Northern Subs and Espresso in Fairhaven has received a face lift and new name. The Great Northern Train Cafe is now owned and operated by Alethea Fournier and her father, David Fournier. The Fourniers also purchased a mobile catering trailer tentatively named Great Northern Catering.
   Aside from fresh flowers and a new paint job, the cafe now features local and organic options from Mallard Ice Cream to Hemplers meat products and Agri-Bay Organic coffee.
   The Great Northern Catering trailer will serve coffee, sausages, French fries and more, Monday through Friday at the corner of Bakerview and Hannegan, and will cater to events on the weekends.
   Alethea Fournier graduated from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma with her MBA and worked at The Puget Sound Business Journal as an advertising representative. She said she waited tables in college, so she has been in the restaurant industry for a long time. She decided to come to Bellingham because she has family in the area.
   For more information about the new Great Northern Train Cafe, call 734-7827.



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