The Buzz


Silver Reef breaks ground on expansion

The Silver Reef Casino broke ground on May 29 for its third expansion since it opened in April 2002.

The newest expansion will provide an additional 9,000 square feet for more than 200 additional slots and a new casino eatery: Pizzanini Restaurant. Also, the existing Gold Rush Deli will be converted to a specialty coffee bar.

“It’s amazing to know that in such a short amount of time, we’ve been fortunate to be able to expand for the third time,” said Harlan Oppenheim, the casino and spa’s general manager in a press release.

For more information, call 543-7108


Red Cedar Communications opens

Red Cedar Communications, a new communications resource for sustainable environmental and agricultural businesses in Whatcom County, opened in May with a 300-square-foot office at 909 Harris Ave. #201D.

The business offers a variety of communication services, including press releases, annual reports, and grant writing.

Owner Heather Lewis said the health and prosperity of lands in Whatcom County and the environment as a whole are vital to the future health of our society.

“Strong communication is so powerful and is essential in touching people, changing minds and producing action,” Lewis said.

For more information about Red Cedar Communications, call 752-3343.


Moss Adams donates to WWU’s accounting department

Moss Adams, the 11th-largest accounting and consulting firm in the United States, recently donated $32,000 to the Western Washington University accounting department, as part of the Moss Adams Faculty Fellow endowment program.

The program supports the faculty’s research activities and assists the department in retaining high-quality faculty. Past recipients include Mary Ann Reynolds and David Gilbertson, and this year’s recipient, Ron Singleton, will be awarded the endowment this summer.

“Moss Adams is a great friend of the College of Business and Economics, with a long history of supporting us,” said Brian Burton, dean of the College of Business and Economics, in a press release. “Its contributions to the college have enhanced our accounting and other programs in many ways, and we all are very grateful for its support.”

Several Western students have interned with Moss Adams and more than 50 Western alumni currently work for the company.

“Moss Adams is extremely happy with its ongoing relationship with WWU as we have hired more students from Western in recent years than any other college where we recruit,” said Moss Adams Chairman Rick Anderson in a press release. “And equally important, the Accounting Department has been very receptive to understanding the needs of the future employers of their students.”

This is the second endowment donated to Western’s accounting department. The first helped the department with operating needs, classroom materials and faculty travel to educational conferences.


Stanello’s closes June 5

Stanello’s Italian Restaurant, located at 1514 12th St., will close its doors Thursday, June 5, because longtime owner Stan Velis is retiring.

Velis, 55, said he’s just ready to retire after running the Fairhaven restaurant for 34 years.

“The ongoing support of so many customers has allowed me to enjoy such a wonderful life,” Velis said in a press release. “I have developed friendships with many of them and, most importantly, gained many, many fond memories.”

Velis had been leasing the property and building since its recent sale to the Uy Family Limited Partnership. The property sold for $2.4 million, according to the Whatcom County treasurer’s office.

Stanello’s will continue to open at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and at noon Saturdays and Sundays through June 5. Due to the large crowds expected, no reservations will be accepted during the restaurant’s final two weeks.

For more information, call 676-1304 or visit


Bellingham dentist moves to county

On April 14, Melissa Freeman, D.D.S., moved her practice to a 2500-square-foot office at 7000 Guide Meridian near Pole Road from its previous location at 4204 Meridian St. in the Bellingham Business Park.

Freeman, who practiced in Bellingham for 14 years, said the new location is a stand-alone building with its own parking lot.

“Parking tended to be a problem at the other location,” Freeman said.

Freeman also said her practice is not currently using the entire office space and it could be leased out to another practitioner or business.

Freeman specializes in general and cosmetic dentistry and works with all ages. She graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio’s School of Dentistry and worked in Texas for five years before moving her practice to Bellingham.

“I enjoy working with patients,” she said. “I get a lot of satisfaction helping someone achieve a healthy mouth and smile.”

For more information, call 671-8303 or visit


Our Kitchen Is Your Kitchen shows goods

Our Kitchen Is Your Kitchen Bakery and Studio held an open house May 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in its Barkley Village location at 3111 Newmarket St. Suite 106.

The business offered espresso, cupcakes, cookies and brownies to show off its 1,300-square-foot café and bakery studio, said co-owner Miykal Gates.

“We’re trying to give people a taste of what we’re doing here,” Gates said.

The business has not set a firm opening date because the owners are waiting on their point-of-sale equipment.

“It could be as early as next week or in two weeks,” Gates said.

Gates said eventually customers would be able to purchase ready-to-eat goodies, decorate treats on-site, host birthday parties at the studio, or create their own dessert decorating kits to enjoy at home.

A grand opening is planned for early June.

For more information, call 733-7700 or visit


Super Mario’s expands beyond taco truck

El Salvadoreño Super Mario’s, a taco truck located downtown at the corner of North Forest and East Champion streets, is planning to open a restaurant called Super Mario’s 2 at 1115 Iowa St.

The new location will give the business more kitchen space to prepare food for both the new drive-through restaurant and the lunch truck, which will continue to serve food at its current spot. With the new kitchen, the restaurant will have an expanded menu to include more traditional Salvadorian food, such as pork and veggie papusas, said employee Frances Cerecedes.

Cerecedes said she is unsure when the new restaurant will open. For more information, call 920-4330.


12th Street Shoes in Custer closes

The 12th Street Shoes store in Birch Bay Square closed at the end of last month, but for a happy reason: Owner Jody Finnegan is pregnant with her first child.

Though her baby girl isn’t due until September, Finnegan said that she wants to free up her time before the baby arrives and operating two stores would be too much.

“I’ve never been a mom before so I don’t know how it will go,” she said.

The Fairhaven shop — which Finnegan emphasized is not closing — has a full-time manager, so she said she is not worried about stepping away from the business for a while to raise a child.

Finnegan first opened the 1,300-square-foot location at 3400 Birch Bay- Lynden Road Suite B-1A more than two years ago. The store held a liquidation sale until it closed May 31.

For more information, call 733-2066 or visit


The Grotto Hair Studio moving to Fairhaven

The Grotto Hair Studio, located downtown at 113 W. Holly St., is planning to move to 1128 Finnegan Way Suite 101 in Fairhaven by mid-July.

The salon first opened five years ago in its current 800-square-foot location and has outgrown the space, said co-owner Karly Lane. The new 1,500-square-foot space has enough room to add two more salon stations and a treatment room for facials and body waxing.

It also has the amenities of Fairhaven: “A lot of our clients are excited about free parking,” Lane said.

To better reflect the new location and new services, the studio will change its name to The Grotto Hair and Skin Care Studio. The business currently employs four people and is looking to hire additional staff, Lane said. For more information, call 733-2723 or visit


Northwest Sleep Solutions opens

A new mattress store opened in Fairhaven last month. Northwest Sleep Solutions, located at 1440 10th St. Suite 103, carries three lines of mattresses, an assortment of linens, and a wide selection of specialty pillows.

“Pillows are a key part of sleeping better,” said co-owner Scott Caseria, who runs the 2,600-square-foot store with his wife.

Caseria said he is planning a grand opening event in the next few weeks. For more information, call 734-6977.


Zazen Salon Spa expands location

Beginning in May, Zazen doubled its spa and salon space at Bellwether on the Bay to 2,500 square feet by leasing the adjacent vacated storefront, formerly Blue Willie’s.

“We were definitely turning business away, especially larger parties, because we just didn’t have the room,” owner Shelly Martin said in a press release.

Zazen built a new treatment room to house couple’s massage, a popular request, and added three new pedicure chairs.

The salon originally opened in 2000 and was purchased in 2007 by Shelly and Ford Martin. The company currently employs 25 people. Zazen Salon Spa offers full service hair design, advanced massage and body therapies, esthetics and nail care.

For more information, call 715-1050 or visit


Shuksan Healthcare Center expands

Shuksan Healthcare Center, a nursing home located at 1530 James St., is planning to expand as soon as its city permits are in order.

The 38-bed facility is looking to add a single-story building that will house 14 new beds, said administrator Dave Kiefer. The new addition will also include a second dining room and a laundry facility, which the current facility lacks.

“It has been in the works for the last three years,” Kiefer said about the expansion. “I’m excited about it.”

For more information, call 733-9161.


All American Marine launches new vessel

Local boat manufacturer All American Marine recently launched a new vessel and hosted a round-trip demonstration cruise from Bellingham to Seattle last month to show off the vessel as the future of passenger ferry service in Puget Sound.

The River Gorge Explorer, a 65-foot catamaran, was built for the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, Tenn. and is designed to minimize wake. All American Marine, located at 200 Harris Ave., will be taking the vessel down to Seattle as part of the Puget Sound Ferry Coalition Meeting.

AAM is partnering with Pacific International Engineering to research low-wake boats for use along the passenger-only ferry route from Seattle to Bremerton, which was stopped in 2003 due to shoreline erosion. The River Gorge Explorer is a precursor to a new low-wake energy hull design currently under development.

For more information, call AAM at 647-7602 or visit


City approves downtown KeyBank design

The city of Bellingham has approved a design review application for a new two-story, 8,987-square-foot KeyBank building at 1235 N. State St.

In March, The Bellingham Business Journal reported that KeyBank submitted a new design for the downtown site on Feb. 12, which was reviewed by the planning office’s review board on March 18. However, this newly approved design was submitted later with only cosmetic, architectural changes.

The design was approved with the condition that it coincide the city’s downtown master plan, which designate the intersection of State and Holly streets as a “gateway entry into the downtown.”

The design reflects this consideration with an inlaid sidewalk pattern, landscaping, and a sculptural carved stone bench.

Anyone wishing to file an appeal regarding this design may do so no later than 5 p.m. on June 4 at the city Permit Center at 210 Lottie St.

For more information, call 676-6982.


Apple Yarns moves down the street

Apple Yarns moved recently from 2925 Newmarket St. Suite 104 to Suite 103, located a few doors down and on the corner across from Starbucks in the Barkley District.

“Knitting and coffee really mix well,” said owner Andrea Evans, adding that customers from her store often visit the coffee shop, too.

At 1,000 square feet, the new store is larger than the old one and allows for more teaching space. The store offers “sit and knit” classes most weekdays — the Wednesday class already has a consistent group of 15 attendees, Evans said.

For more information, call 756-9992 or visit


WECU opens new branch

Whatcom Educational Credit Union closed its Barkley District branch last month and then opened a new 9,700-square-foot branch soon after on April 22.

The new branch, located at 3061 Orleans St. near Lowe’s, is roughly four times larger than the old location in the Barkley District and it offers more parking, said marketing representative Kessa Volland. In keeping with the trend for the company’s new buildings, WECU is seeking LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the new branch.

For more information, call 756-7707 or visit


Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship to expand

A church in the Lettered Streets Neighborhood will expand with a brand new building as soon as June 2009.

The Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship located at 1708 I St. is permitted to construct an 11,500-square-foot addition to the existing church, which has been there since 1953 and has housed the Unitarian Fellowship since 1985.

The addition would extend the church building onto the adjacent property at 1207 Ellsworth St., where an existing single-family home will be removed.

The addition will have two stories and a basement and will house administrative offices, religious education classrooms and a social hall.

Erin Malone, the church’s administrator, said the church bought the property more than 20 years ago with plans to stay for only five years. She said the church’s current offices, social hall and classrooms are just not working.

“Our current classrooms are in our basement, which has a low ceiling and a musty smell,” Malone said. “These new facilities will be more exciting and more inviting.”

The church’s conditional-use permit states the building’s maximum potential size but the addition’s actual size will be determined by how much money the church can raise.

For more information, call 733-3837.


Lovers to move into old Izzy’s location

One of Bellingham’s naughtiest stores is on the move.

Lovers, a chain retailer specializing in adult toys and accessories, has plans to move into the old 5,338-square-foot Izzy’s Pizza location at 4179 Meridian St.

Peekay Incorporated, the store’s parent company, did not want to go on record about details of the move but did confirm that the Bellingham location, which currently sits in a 3,000-square-foot space at 193 Telegraph Road, would upgrade to the larger space. Company officials would not give a timeline for the move.

For more information about Lovers and other Peekay properties, call 1-800-447-2993 or visit


Festival Espresso closes downtown

Downtown Bellingham has lost one of its coffee retailers.

Festival Espresso, located at 1314 Railroad Ave., has officially closed. Since the end of last summer, the business has operated out of a brick-and-mortar shell facility, which had just enough room for an espresso cart, a radiant space heater and a few tables and chairs.

Owner Aaron Loffler said city rules and regulations for such a unique commercial site led to a lot of work for the business. For example, Loffler said he was ordered to remove the espresso cart from the building every night.

“It was just taking way too much energy on my part,” Loffler said.

However, Festival Espresso is not going away. Loffler still plans on working the Saturday Farmers Market and continuing to provide coffee catering in Bellingham.

For more information, call 201-3809.


Western to introduce plans for Buchanan Towers addition

Western Washington University will hold a meeting to introduce the proposed addition to Buchanan Towers at 7 p.m. on June 9 in the Viking Union room 567.

The plans for the five-story, 35,000-square-foot proposed addition, which will be located east of the existing dormitory building, will be unveiled in front of neighbors and community members to generate questions and comments about the project before the university applies to the city of Bellingham for a planned development permit.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to present the overall scope of the project,” said Bob Schmidt, Western’s architect and project manager.

Schmidt said the university has been working for several years on a dormitory addition to support increased enrollment and they are aiming high.

“One of the project goals is to achieve a LEED silver rating,” Schmidt said.

Christopher Koch, Bellingham city planner, said the project is set to go through a 120-day permitting process.

“If the project raises serious issues, it could be heard by the planning commission, which would forward a recommendation to the planning director,” Koch said.

Currently, the university hopes to occupy the building by September 2010.


FSE adds more office space

Fiberglass Structural Engineering, a consulting and inspection firm that specializes in composite materials, will undertake a large expansion this month.

The company is planning to add 3,000 square feet of space to its 10,000-square-foot office located at 316 E. McLeod Rd. The new space will include a conference room and much-needed offices for more than a dozen inspectors who come and go from different projects around the world.

“They’re off all over the world and when they come back here, they will have an area to sit and set up their laptops,” said senior design engineer Chris Renoud. “Right now they’re crammed into one little office.”

FSE specializes in fiberglass inspection and operates worldwide. In the last three years, the business has seen more than 200 percent growth due to the rising cost of steel, which in turn has made composites such as fiberglass a sought after alternative.

The business has been in Bellingham for 32 years. For more information, call 734-7040 or visit


City accepting applications for development
authority board

City of Bellingham officials are accepting applications for people to serve on the governing board for the Bellingham Public Development Authority. This newly created public corporation, approved by the Bellingham City Council last month, is expected to provide leadership and expertise to redevelopment of city-owned land on the waterfront.

“As we envision it, the Public Development Authority will facilitate the launch of early Waterfront District redevelopment projects as well as long-term management and oversight for redevelopment efforts on behalf of the City,” said Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike said in a press release.

Pike said that he is looking for board members with finance, legal and real estate project management expertise who represent the community’s vision for waterfront redevelopment.

The deadline to apply for a position on the seven-member board is June 2, 2008. Pike said he expects to forward his selection of members to the City Council for confirmation in late June or early July.

Information about the Bellingham Public Development Authority and an application for the board positions can be found on the city’s website at or by contacting the city’s Waterfront Redevelopment Office at 778-8103.


TAG starts new computer security interest group

The Technology Alliance Group (TAG) is starting a new special interest group focused on computer security.

The group had its first meeting at 1 p.m. on May 13 at the City of Bellingham Internet Technology Services’ Fireplace Room at 625 Halleck St. where it brought together Internet technology professionals and businesspeople interested in business security to further their technical knowledge and establish professional contacts.

At the group’s first meeting, its leader Bart Pestarino, presented “How to Prevent Laptop Data Breaches.” The presentation touched on several topics including: laptop interactions with networks and devices, encryption options and relationship between an organization’s information classification system and laptop data breaches.

Anna Ehnmark, executive director for TAG, said the laptop presentation had broad appeal and was a great way to get the meetings started.

“I think the first meeting is also a great opportunity to see what people are talking about and what their concerns are,” Ehnmark said.

Ehnmark said that in our age of technology everyone is using computers and businesspeople can’t afford to be careless.

“Security is always important,” she said.

For more information about this and other TAG special interest groups, call 647-4220.


The Chrysalis Inn remodeling spa

The Chrysalis Inn, located at 804 10th St. in Fairhaven, is planning a $200,000 remodel of its waterfront spa.

The 3,500-square-foot spa will not gain any additional space, but will be remodeled to include a new treatment room for mud therapy and an extra massage room, said owner Mike Keenan. The spa will also be repainted and receive new flooring.

Keenan said he expects to start the project at the beginning of June and finish by June 28. During that time, the spa will be closed, but facials and massages will still be offered in two of the hotel’s rooms. For more information, call 756-1005 or visit

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