Category Archives: Business

Kitsap Chambers of Commerce Respond (or Not) to Possible Mason Chamber Name Change

I wrote a story today about the North Mason Chamber of Commerce and its board of trustee’s proposal to change the name to Mason-Kitsap Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber has grown since April from 210 members to 398 members at present, with a significant number from Kitsap County.
“It’s hard to ignore the 246,000 people who live north of the Mason County line,” said Mike Boyle, chairman of the board.
Boyle also said the name reflects the chamber’s increasingly regional focus.

The chamber’s membership still has to vote on the name change, but I wanted to know what Kitsap County chamber representatives thought of the idea. I didn’t hear back from Bainbridge Island’s Kevin Dwyer. Here’s what the rest had to say.

The proposed name change has given Coreen Haydock Johnson, executive director of the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce, a mild case of angst over potential confusion it could create.
“It affects relocation, tourism and membership,” she said. “They’ve been very successful recently, and we applaud that, but we were all really surprised.”
Haddock Johnson doesn’t see the chamber’s claiming of “Kitsap” as being about “turf per se,” because membership in multiple chambers is a common practice.
“Maybe it will be all unfounded. It was just a surprising move, and we’ll see where it goes,” she said.

The Silverdale Chamber of Commerce is reserving comment on the name change until after its Sept. 17 meeting, according to spokeswoman Darci McGuire.

The Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce has taken no official position, said executive director Silvia Klatman.

Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce executive director Adele Heinrich said North Mason is geographically distant enough that the name change makes no difference to her. She praised North Mason’s growth in membership and innovative use of social networking, and she lauded chamber president and CEO Frank Kenny, in the saddle these past three years.
“Frank does such a good job of spreading the wealth. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem at all,” Heinrich said.

Kenny was surprised at the idea some people might not be totally comfortable with North Mason’s claiming “Kitsap” in its name.
“We’re somewhat taken aback that some people feel threatened by this,” said Kenny. “If someone thinks we did this to target their area of influence, that’s just not the case. That never came up in any of the discussions.”

Follow-up On South Kitsap Montessori School

In case you were wondering the outcome of of the situation with Farmhouse Montessori School on Bethel- Burley Road — made famous by the Kitsap County hearing examiner’s quote that neighbors of the school might be disturbed by the “noise generated by laughter and screaming of young children” — here’s the story in summary, from reporter Chris Dunagan’s article of Aug. 11:

“Based on new plans — including a maximum of 34 students instead of 40, as well as reduced operating hours — Hearing Examiner Ted Hunter approved the proposal with 22 conditions. The school’s hours will be 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, as opposed to the previous proposal of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.”

It’s Bob Geiger Trivia Time

Bob Geiger, owner of Geiger’s Rexall Family Pharmacy, is hanging up his mortar and pestle after 52 years in business. The economy, competition with chain stores and a stroke in May led to the decision, Geiger said today. Wearing a Hawaiian shirt under his lab coat, Geiger – now largely recovered from his ailment – is sizing up retirement with mixed feelings.
“It’s kind of a shock,” he said. “The big shock will be getting up in the
morning and deciding if I want to go out and weed the flowers or go for a walk.”

Geiger’s will hold a liquidation sale on Thursday. The pharmacy will remain open until customers have been able to transfer their prescriptions. The post office boxes will be moved to the main Port Orchard branch of the U.S. Postal Service

How well do you know Bob Geiger and his wife Ursula? Find out by playing the Bob Geiger Trivia game. Answers in tomorrow’s Kitsap Sun and on this blog.

1. Where was Geiger’s formerly located?

2. How long has the business now known as Geiger’s operated as a family-run pharmacy? (Hint: Bob is the fifth owner)

3. In what branch of the service did Bob Geiger serve?

4. Name the Geiger’s three children.

5. What year was the post office added to the store?

6. Where were Bob Geiger’s parents from?

7. A. How many years did Bob Geiger serve on the Port Orchard City Council?
B. How many council meetings did that amount to?
C. How many absences did he have?

8. Bob Geiger and other business owners banded together in the 1980s with the intention of buying and renovating the old movie theater on Bay Street, now the Historic Orchard Theatre. Bob and Ursula ended up buying the building themselves and operating a theater there until 2003.
A. What was the name of the business owners’ group?
B. What was the name of the theater under the Geigers?

9. Bob Geiger is known for his civic contributions in Port Orchard. What seasonal charitable effort did he head up for a number of years?

10. What color was Bob Geiger’s hair until it turned white?

Yo, Bremerton – It’s a Dog Gone Shame

Fans of Uptown Mike’s hot dog stand – formerly located on the Bremerton Boardwalk — take note. Mike Lipson, a.k.a. Uptown Mike, has relocated his business to Port Orchard, specifically the front terrace of the Kitsap County Administration Building at 619 Division Street.
Hot dogs and government? Well you know what they say about making sausage.

Uptown Mikes 1
Uptown Mikes 1

“It’s something I always thought would be a natural,” said Lipson. “In other cities, street vending by government buildings is like peanut butter and jelly.”
Lipson said on his first day, “I was slammed.”
Apparently Kitsap legislators have a greater appetite for hot dogs than Bremerton boaters.
“There was not enough traffic there to support the business,” said Lipson, explaining his move from the boardwalk.
Lipson, a Port Orchard resident five years and counting, formerly operated his stand on the Port Orchard waterfront and added the Bremerton location about two years ago. Now, he’s open at the courthouse 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and at Ace Hardware in Port Orchard’s Towne Center Mall Thursday through Sunday.
Getting a hot dog at Uptown Mike’s is as much about the experience as it is the food.
Lipson, born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, slathers on the accent – only slightly diluted by 30 years away from the Big Apple – like an extra serving of grilled onions. He sings the praises of his product with characteristic NYC hyperbole.
“You go from baby food to hot dogs. It’s on every street corner,” he said.
Lipson serves genuine Sabrett frankfurters, “the official hot dog of New York City.” That may not mean much to the general public. But to former New Yorkers like Steve Krecker, it’s the gold standard.
“Sabrett hot dogs, as far as I’m concerned, are the best hot dogs on the planet. It’s nice to be able to get them,” said Krecker, his own accent thickening with every bite.
Uptown Mike's 2
Uptown Mike's 2

Krecker has dogged Updown Mike from one location to another.
“Steve’s one of the anchors of the business. He grew up back east. He knows the food,” said Lipson.
OK, so what’s the big deal about Sabrett? As someone who also grew up back east, I can say from experience, there are hot dogs and then there’s Sabrett.
As I remember them, “real” New York hot dogs are plump but not spongy, with a slightly crunchy skin. Smother them with sauerkraut or tangy grilled onions in red sauce, inhale the spicy aroma (mixed with the damp cellar smell wafting out of the subway) and chomp down. Ahhh.
Theoretically all that would be missing here is the subway.
Alas, when I arrived for my meeting with the county commissioners this week, I had just eaten lunch, so I have yet to find out if Uptown Mike’s lives up to my memories.
Bremerton Beat blogger Steve Gardner, who sampled Lipson’s wares in 2007 in Port Orchard, declined to pick a favorite out of Uptown’s — then planning to locate in Bremerton — and two other Bremerton hot dog stands. Gardner recently drove out of his way to see what Snap Dogs Diner, open this year on Lund Avenue in Port Orchard, had to offer. Gardner’s obviously never met a dog he didn’t like.
So, Steve (and Bremerton) eat your heart out. At least you’ll have a good reason to look forward to those commissioners’ meetings.

Port Orchard’s Grey Chevrolet Hanging in There

Over on the Kitsap Business and Economy blog, Rachel Pritchett has reported that Grey Chevrolet remains afloat despite GM’s declaration of bankruptcy. No one’s been laid off and the dealership sold 88 cars last month, said owner Kevin Grey. Grey is on the alert for fallout from the company’s reorganization, however.
“It’s how it unwinds,” he said.

Friday Afternoon Club: A&W Turns the Big 5-0

Buck’s A&W will hold a 50th anniversary celebration from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday.

The restaurant, founded in 1959 by the late Buck Gehring with his wife Glennys, was originally located across from the bowling alley. In 1978, the Buck’s moved to its current location across the street from South Kitsap High School.

The restaurant faced closure late last year as a result of legal debts related to a lawsuit (see link above), but an 11th hour settlement allowed it to remain open. “We’re having this birthday celebration to thank the community for supporting us,” said Lauren Gehring, Glennys’ granddaughter.

The event will feature door prizes and drawings.

Slip 45 Slips Away

As reported on the Kitsap Entertainment blog, Slip 45 on Bay Street is closed for business. A one-line entry on their MySpace page confirms that the folks who were running the place have called it quits and “gone back to Cali.”

Slip 45 follows in the wake of  J.A. Michael’s and Mako’s as has-beens at that location.

The establishment’s owners opened just over a year ago, having poured more than $80,000 into rennovations and vowing to distance themselves from Mako’s unsavory reputation for bar brawls.

In March, a bar fight at Slip 45 sent a 40-year-old man to Harborview, but Port Orchard Police Sgt. Dale Schuster said over-serving did not appear to be a factor.

Darryl Baldwin, owner of Moondogs Too across the street, said he understood Slip 45 had changed hands in the course of the year. The new owner told him that the recession had taken its toll. April was an especially brutal month.

Cmdr. Geoffrey Marti of the POPD said he also believed but could not confirm that finances were the cause of the closure.

“They really tried to keep a good reputation,” said Baldwin.

Moondogs has struggled with the economy but is hanging in there, he said. “We’re doing actually pretty good,” he said.

How Much Would You Pay for Local Meat?

Local farmers are excited about the prospect of being able to sell more of their beef, pork, lamb and poultry to Kitsap residents, thanks to a U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved mobile meat processing facility. The 45-foot trailer, custom-designed for that purpose, will swing into action in mid-June and make the rounds of six counties, including Kitsap.

Farmers and small-scale meat-producers in Kitsap County list a number of advantages to locally grown meat.

1. What you see it what you get. Joe Keehn, owner of Farmer George Meats in South Kitsap, raises his own cattle. He says, “The thing about buying from a local farmer, you can see what they’ve got. You can see where the calves have been born. You can see where they’ve been fed. Pork and lamb the same thing.”

2. According to Keehn, the animals are raised and slaughtered in a more humane way that animals raised in large, corporate feed lots or poultry farms. “The way we do our farm butchering, the animals are pretty much in their own environment,” said Keehn, who uses a gun to kill the animal out in the field before it’s bled and butchered. “They’re not crowded. They’re not pushed. It’s very humane.”

2. It’s healthier, they say. Much of the meat is organically grown, without the use of hormones.

3. It’s easier on the environment, advocates say. Currently USDA-approved meat must be trucked into the county, typically from Eastern Washington or the Midwest. That represents a lot of fuel consumption, said Jim Carlson of Minder Meats, who processes USDA meat for local restaurants and who has seen a jump in retail customers looking for custom-cut meats. Carlson is excited about being able to distribute locally grown meats. “It’s a smaller carbon footprint, that’s for sure,” said Carlson. “(Currently) an animal has a lot of miles on it by the time it gets here.”

4. Local meats taste better, say sustainable agriculture advocates. “Our quality is superb,” said Keehn, a plainspoken man, not given to hyperbole.

5. Although Keehn and Carlson admit they can’t compare price-wise to volume distributors like Costco and Walmart, both say their cost is comparable to high end products in grocery stores. Keehn, for example, sells sides of meat for about $2.79 per pound. After butchering, the cost for a variety of cuts, from hamburger to filet mignon, comes in at about $4.50 a pound.

Keehn and Carlson report an increasing appetite in Kitsap for local meat. While Arno Bergstrom, director of the Washington State University Kitsap County Extension office, reports an increase in the number of small farmers producing meat products.

Could it be a trend? Jim Freeman of the Kitsap Community & Agricultural Alliance thinks so, although he notes that some people hesitate to buy local meat simply because they can’t afford to pony up for a whole side of beef or a quarter of a pig all at once. With the new mobile meat facility in action, consumers will have greater access to smaller cuts of local USDA-certified meats through CSAs and farmer’s markets.

Regardless, local meat will probably still seem expensive to people who are used to buying meat with an eye to whatever is on sale, Freeman said. In fact, at least for now, locally grown products will remain more costly than grocery store goods simply because they are more labor intensive to produce. Freeman says that shouldn’t stop consumers from “making an investment” in local agriculture. As more people make local food a regular part of their diet, local farmers will have more incentive to produce more. With greater supply, the price will drop somewhat, and better yet, said Freeman, the farmers will actually be able to stay in business.

How much are you willing to pay to “eat local?” Take the poll on this blog.

A Sonic in Port Orchard Someday?

7:25 p.m. Friday: See addendum* below.

Currently unemployed in South Kitsap? You may want to break out the roller skates and get your balance. A Sonic Drive-in could be coming to town, according to an article in today’s Tacoma News Tribune.

The wildly popular fast food chain, featuring car-hops on roller skates is opening in Puyallup Monday.

I’m not sure what the big deal about Sonic is, as I’ve never eaten there, but apparently in California, the Midwest and probably other places the collective wisdom of the newsroom doesn’t know about, it carries the cachet of Krispy Kreme donuts.

According to the article:

“Other mayors should start warming up their ceremonial scissors. Sonic franchise owner David Orem filed a building permit application this week for his second Sonic – in the Lowe’s parking lot on Highway 410 in Bonney Lake. And he expects to sign lease deals soon on two sites in Tacoma.

After that? Orem has started scouting Aberdeen, Shelton, Olympia, Bremerton, Port Orchard, Silverdale and Maple Valley.”

Sounds like there could be some competition in Kitsap County over this. So PO, let’s get rolling. I’m guessing, however, the folks at Buck’s A&W may not be so thrilled. Is South Kitsap’s appetite big enough to handle two old-school burger joints?

While we’re on the subject, who do you think makes the best burgers anywhere? For me, nothing could top The Hamburger Choo Choo in Huntington, Long Island, where I grew up. The food was delivered on a scale model train to diners, who sat at a large horseshoe-shaped counter. I have no recollection of whether the burgers were good, bad or indifferent; all I know is any meal delivered by toy train was my idea of haute cuisine.

P.S. Looks like A&W already has some competition.