With Dashi Noodle Bar, the Dahlquist could emerge as local-food hub

During the final weeks of November, a blue tarp has covered the front windows of Dashi Noodle Bar’s future location.

The Asian-style noodle restaurant has kept details of its new home under wraps—literally.

In December, Dashi owner Josh Silverman plans to open the new spot, which is located on the ground floor of the Dahlquist Building on State Street in downtown Bellingham.

Silverman said he had wanted to move the restaurant to a more permanent venue since he opened its original space last fall on Unity Street a few blocks away.

“The space on Unity Street was always meant to be a temporary location for us,” Silverman said. “That was where we tested the concept of the restaurant and fine tuned recipes.”

Dashi would be the second tenant inside an old downtown building undergoing slow transformation—one that Silverman said he would like to see develop into a new local-food hub.

The restaurant would join ACME Farms and Kitchen, a local-food delivery company that moved into a 5,400-square-foot space in the rear of the building over the summer. A third tenant space, with about 1,300 square feet, is available in front.

Silverman said Dashi’s menu and overall concept would see few changes with the move. But he expects to hire additional employees, have more seating space and include several additions that could surprise both newcomers and regulars, he said.

“There’s going to be some unique features to the restaurant that people will be excited about,” Silverman said.

Emily Worthey of Chuckanut Builders, the project’s site supervisor, said the renovation of the Dashi space has made use of reclaimed and repurposed materials wherever possible.

That includes saving some of the building’s original flooring and constructing dining tables made out of wood from the lanes of a now-closed bowling alley in Portland, Ore.

On the hunt for developers 

The Dahlquist Building was named after its builder, Thomas Dahlquist, who ran a grocery company and automobile dealership there after its construction in the early 1900s.

After a fire in the 1970s, the Dahlquist has been mostly empty, except for a few taverns and restaurants that have come and gone on its ground floor.

The upper portions of the building have been untouched for decades.

But leasing agent Joe Hoppis, an independent broker with The Muljat Group who runs Hoppis Real Estate, wants to change that. For the past several years, Hoppis has sought investors to develop the long-neglected property.

Hoppis said development on the top two floors of the building could include 12-14 high-end, loft-style condos or apartments.

So far, investors have been timid to come on board, possibly due to the lack of similar development projects in the downtown area, he said.

“It’s kind of a chicken and the egg situation,” Hoppis said. “Someone’s got to be first, but no one wants to be first to test the market.”

Also challenging is the cost of the project, which Hoppis estimated would likely require an investment of between $2-3 million.

Yet he has one idea he hopes could make the property more enticing, and could cut the required investment in half, he said.

Rather than a traditional apartment project where units are built uniformly, a developer could instead complete shell spaces. Then, buyers would be able to come in and build individualized units, similar to way some commercial retail spaces are completed.

That way, Hoppis said, some of the pressure and obligation that comes with building and managing a housing project could be taken off the developer.

Hoppis admits the idea presents challenges, and could be difficult to sell to investors.

But with new restaurants and shops on the ground floor, he said a revitalized and fully redeveloped Dahlquist Building could be an exciting downtown addition.

“The buyers are there, they want this product,” Hoppis said. “We just want to get the investors in there to make this happen.”

Contact Evan Marczynski at evan@bbjtoday.com or call 360-647-8805. 

Evan Marczynski photos | BBJ Today


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