Category Archives: Business

Once-dying Wheaton Way ‘a lot better than it was,’ councilwoman says

Leslie Daugs in front of the new, 160-unit apartment development along Wheaton Way.
Leslie Daugs in front of the new, 160-unit apartment development along Wheaton Way.

Five years ago, Bremerton City Councilwoman Leslie Daugs took on a 16-year incumbent with a central issue in mind: stopping Wheaton Way’s “slow death.”

I watched her debate Cecil McConnell, the late longtime councilman, at the Cloverleaf off Hollis Street. The bar and grill overlooked a vacant former Kmart, an empty Albertson’s — which moved down the road — and a recently vacated Lowe’s, which headed north outside city limits. Daugs felt passionate about doing something about it.

“It was dying,” Daugs told me in an interview a few weeks ago, “And I wanted to make sure we weren’t going to continue to die.”

Last one to leave, please turn the lights out.
Last one to leave, please turn the lights out.

Daugs won the seat in fall of 2011. She believes the beleaguered corridor has indeed improved since she’s been in office.

“Baby steps,” she said. “It’s a lot better than it was.”

The biggest change on her watch was the repeal of the Wheaton-Riddell subarea plan, which mandated that developers make pedestrian-friendly streetscapes along the road. That proved a turnoff to almost all business. After the plan fell, Fitness Evolution moved into one of those empty buildings.

The city’s planning commission and City Council also loosened rules on drive thrus, and within a year or so, McDonald’s, Kitsap Bank and a new Starbucks opened. Shari’s was also remodeled.

She’s applauded other changes as well — the Boys and Girls Club opening at the site of the Old East High School, the new roof for the old gym there and the school district’s plans to tear down the dilapidated school. She’s a fan of the new Super Saver grocery store and Henery Hardware, too.

She was not pleased that her fellow council members would not allow a used car dealership on a lot near Wheaton’s intersection with Sylvan Way. Daugs believes that city hall should not pretend Wheaton Way is something other than auto-centric. “It’s a big highway,” and should be treated as such, she told me.

A stronger economy has no doubt benefited Wheaton Way in the years she’s been on Council. I interviewed Daugs at the site of a 160-unit apartment complex, where a Kitsap Transit transfer station and park and ride will also be built, too. Nearby, a new day care is about to open as well.

She’s hoping the pendulum continues to swing in a positive direction.

“Wheaton Way is an area that’s definitely in need in new growth,” she said. “And whether it be apartments or businesses, we can always use that.”

What’s your take? Do you believe that the economic climate along Wheaton Way has improved?

New roof on the old gym.
New roof on the old gym.

First look: East Bremerton grocer wraps $10.2 million renovation


Those passing by Fred Meyer on Highway 303 might not notice that a $10.2 million overhaul is wrapping up. The store’s exterior hides a transformation on the inside that includes new departments and products, has made the 204,000 square-foot location much greener and gives the grocer a contemporary look.

Sushi now has its place in the East Bremerton store.

Since March, construction crews have been gutting the store section by section. Aside from some finishing touches to the jewelry department and children’s play area, the work is done. Kroger, which owns the store, wanted a renovation that revolved around the customer experience, and store manager Axel Strakeljahn is confident they succeeded.

“We believe that this community is committed to growing,” he said. “And we’re committed to being part of that.”

One need only look up or down upon entering to find the most obvious changes. The store now has 63 skylights and new lighting, to go with brighter color schemes. On the ground, all the original tiles were stripped off, exposing a concrete floor. It was ground down, sealed and polished, giving the floor a darker, more contemporary look.

The goal was sustainability, Strakeljahn said. Natural light will lower the building’s carbon footprint and its new floor needs none of the chemicals — just water — that the old one required.

Here’s a brief look at many of the changes:


  • A new Starbucks cafe now greets visitors near the store’s northern entrance, replacing what was a (Starbucks-owned) Seattle’s Best Coffee location.
  • Also near the northern entrance is a floral department and, for the first time, the store has hired a full-time florist.
  • Near that is a brand new sushi bar. (Your Bremerton Beat correspondent, who is quite fond of sushi, sampled a California roll and found it delectable.)
  • The wine section doubled in size, and is now more than 100 feet longer than it was before (And the store already has a full-time wine steward). For local beer connoisseurs, there’s also more room for microbrews, too.
  • New product lines have been introduced, to include Seattle’s Top Pot doughnuts (which are delivered daily), Boar’s Head Premium Deli meats and cheeses and a create-your-own pizza section in the deli.
  • For the first time, there’s a dedicated section for Washington sports teams.
  • A new, larger pharmacy replaces the electronics department, which moved east to the back of the store and is also larger.
  • The nutritional food section, which includes organics and bulk foods, is also about twice the size it used to be.

The store is celebrating its “Grand Re-opening” starting at 7 a.m. Friday. Doughnuts and coffee will be served, specials will run through the end of the month and the first 2,000 customers will get Fred Meyer reusable grocery bags.

Check back to the Bremerton Beat Tuesday for a video of the remodeled store and an interview with Strakeljahn.

Strakeljahn (right) at the store Monday, as more Top Pot doughnuts are loaded onto the shelves.

What’s in store at the new East Bremerton grocer

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Fully stocked and ready to go in East Bremerton.

Don’t expect the musical chairs of grocery stores at 2900 Wheaton Way to continue, Kyle Saar says. The general manager of Saars Super Saver Foods believes the family-owned chain of stores will be a permanent fixture in the Bremerton community.

“We look at our stores as long term locations,” said Saar, whose father, Greg, established their first in Oak Harbor in 1988. “We’re fully stocked in Bremerton and ready to go.”

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 4.16.27 PMThe East Bremerton location, which Albertson’s began, Haggen floundered at and now, is fully owned by the Saars, is once again buzzing with retail life. On Wednesday, it will open for the first time. On Saturday, it will hold a grand opening celebration.

The Bremerton location is the seventh store for the family-owned business. Saars said their formula is simple: keep the prices low and appeal to a diverse cross-section of consumers. There are large sections of the store devoted to Asian and Hispanic foods; but don’t count on an abundant selection of organics.

The store’s hours will be from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

In celebration of their opening, the first 200 customers will receive free paper towels at 8 a.m. Wednesday, a tradition that will continue through the first weekend. And they’ll do the same promotion next week, also Wednesday to Sunday.

“We’re looking forward to being a a part of this community,” Saar said.

To see more of the inside of the store, check out this week’s Bremerton Beat Blast.

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Bremerton ‘fly-in’ eclipses expectations

Photo by Pilot Scott Kuznicki.
A packed Bremerton National Airport Saturday. Photo by Pilot Scott Kuznicki. 

History was made this weekend at Bremerton National Airport this weekend. Almost 700 aircraft were joined by 1,000 cars and 4,000 people for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association‘s Bremerton fly-in Friday and Saturday.

“I thought it was awesome,” Fred Salisbury, the airport’s director, was quoted as saying on AOPA’s web site. “That back runway probably hasn’t seen aircraft for fifty years and it was packed with parked airplanes all the way down.”


I spent some time Saturday morning just perusing the planes. It was like a massive vintage car show except all the vehicles had wings and took to the skies with great frequency. I found aircraft made all over the world, to include everything from classic biplanes to modern private jets.

Sun Reporter Tad Sooter wrote recently of the economic impacts the fly-in, one of four the AOPA holds each year around the nation, would have on Bremerton and Kitsap County. Seems likely those expectations were eclipsed.

Here’s some additional photos I took:






Sheridan Village in a ‘rebirth cycle’

The village that may become a crossing.

Let’s face it: it’s not terribly difficult in Bremerton to find a barren parking lot abutting a shuttered strip mall. If you’ve taken a drive down Wheaton Way anytime in the last decade, you know what I’m talking about.

But look closer, and you might find signs of life.

Take, for example, Sheridan Village, at the corner of Lower Wheaton Way and Lebo Boulevard. The once-bustling commercial mall, anchored by Red Apple Market, was pretty much a thriving marketplace in the decades following World War II.

But in the 1980s, as the baton of retail hub was passed from Bremerton to Silverdale, places like Sheridan Village suffered. Despite its proximity to Harrison Medical Center, downtown and Highway 303, the place has nearly been a ghost town in recent decades.

But this year, the complex has been filling up. In the last six months, five new businesses have opened, leading to new hopes for growth in the area, said Ken Malmborg, the property manager for Sheridan Village.

Lanette Duchesneau

“It’s in a rebirth cycle,” he said.

The complex’s owners are looking at re-branding the village into “Sheridan Crossing.” And two businesses are holding grand openings there this Saturday. The Salad Shack, at 722 Lebo Boulevard, and H&J’s Natural Beauty Supply next door, are owned and operated by longtime Bremerton residents.

“It’s starting to boom here,” said Lanette Duchesneau, owner of the Salad Shack.

The mall’s tenants point to several factors to explain the growth spurt: the increasing popularity of other neighborhoods, including Manette, downtown and Kitsap Way areas, the reconstructed Lower Wheaton Way (and soon, Lebo Boulevard) and the efforts to create a “bridge to bridge” walking trail between Manette and Warren Avenue bridges.

It can’t hurt to have a hospital nearby, the owners acknowledge. And that hospital is leaving. But many of the businesses remain optimistic that they’ll remain without it. In Duchesneau’s case, she’s hopeful word of her restaurant will spread. “If it’s good, they’ll come,” she said.

“There’s still a community here, even if the hospital leaves,” she said. “The hospital doesn’t make a community. People make a community.”

New bakery’s headquarters up and running

Kate Giuggio of Saboteur Bakery on the first day.
Kate Giuggio of Saboteur Bakery on the first day.

The smells of fresh baked goods have begun emanating down East 11th Street. Saboteur Bakery, whose Fourth Street had already developed an abundant following, opened Thursday in downtown Manette.

Fresh croissants, brioches and quiche were going fast on the first day. The opening is a milestone for Matt Tinder — a baker at California Michelin-starred restaurants who came north looking for new opportunity — and Kate Giuggio, his business partner, as they continue to build a local bakery empire.


Giuggio said there’s more to come, too. An espresso machine and additional baking equipment will come online in the coming days. They were able to purchase baking equipment, including ovens and mixers, from  Whidbey Island’s Tree-Top Baking, whose owners recently retired.

They moved to Seattle last October, then came to Bremerton — and they liked what they saw. An initial plan for the Quonset Hut near Evergreen-Rotary Park fell through, but the Manette location offered a quicker chance to get up and running. Meanwhile, Tinder baked at Evergreen Kitchen on Fourth Street to keep their location up the street running.

Outside the E. 11th bakery, a picnic table full of people was enjoying Stumptown Coffee and goods Thursday morning. I’m going to guess that the table will become a popular community spot from here on out, on each sunny day.

Saboteur is open Wednesday to Sunday until 1 p.m., and closed Mondays and Tuesdays. But beware: they do sell out frequently.

Hale’s plans July opening in Bremerton









There’s a special place in Mike Hale’s heart for English culture. As the longtime Washington brewer prepares to open his newest location in Bremerton, a cherry red London-style double decker bus sits in its driveway; inside a tasting room in the English pub tradition is taking shape at 15th Street and North Wycoff Avenue.

Mike Hale.

He calls the location of his brand new barrelhouse one nestled in a “middle class, beer drinking neighborhood,” that he’s proud to join. “Nothing but good vibes here,” he said.

Hale was looking for a warehouse space in Kitsap that would make it easier to get beer to market. His company self-distributes. What would cost millions in Seattle can be bought for a fraction in Bremerton. The barrelhouse is a way to go “deeper” within the local market, rather than expanding wider. He’ll become the fifth brewery doing business in Bremerton.

The location is another move west for Hale and his wife Kathleen, whose brewery churns out about 10,000 barrels each year. What started in North Spokane about 33 years ago moved to Kirkland in 1987, then to Seattle in 1995. There was a brief stint at the Kitsap Mall that didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. “My hubris caught up to me,” he joked Monday.

The barrels are in.
The barrels are in.

With brews like Supergoose IPA gaining a huge following, I asked him if he’d ever want to go bigger.  Absolutely not, he told me. He loves being locally owned and made — the beer is fresher, the company happier, and that includes himself, he said.

The city told him its zoning code would require a retail element; Hale gladly obliged. His tasting room is just under 750 square-feet — any more would’ve required a massive overhaul to bring the building into modern standards.

Hale plans a soft opening to coincide with the annual Volkswagen van fest at nearby Hi-Lo Cafe July 9.

15th and Wycoff.

There will be 23 beers on tap to choose from, including — you guessed it — English style hand pumps and three nitro taps. Many of the beers will be barrel-aged. Hale envisions hours from 3-10 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays as a start.

He invites customers to bring food in from other venues to eat and share; there won’t be food service outside of maybe some pretzels, he said.

Oh, and if you want to have a ride in his English bus — which he rebuilt with an American engine — check out the Hale’s bus crawl coming up July 23. Hale will be driving it himself.


Strawtroversy: Bremerton woman told not to drink beer from straw


During a social gathering at the Bremerton Bar & Grill March 14, Bremerton resident Tonya Deline asked to have a beer, and a straw to go with it. 

She said she got a puzzled look from her waiter, who gave a warning to her once providing the straw.

“He says, ‘I hope you’re not trying to drink that beer with your straw,'” Deline recalled. “We all thought he was joking.”

He wasn’t. (And, for the record, this is not an April Fool’s joke, either.)

That led to the illumination of a table-full of cell phones, each of its owners googling and searching for state laws that might ban straw-drunk beer. Deline decided she’d had enough and consulted the manager.

The manager backed up the waiter, she said.

“The whole situation made me very uncomfortable,” she said.

A friend called the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board to seek clarification. The friend was told no such law existed. I confirmed that as well.

“I don’t know of any reason why you couldn’t drink beer through a straw,” said Brian Smith, spokesman for the state’s liquor and cannabis board. 

I reached out to the new Bremerton Bar & Grill general manager, Jeffrey Kaune, who told me he was not authorized to speak to the media on the subject. But he did respond to a Facebook post addressing the issue, apologizing that it happened and noting he’d given a $100 voucher to the friend who’d contacted the liquor board.

He also wondered on Facebook about how the straw “myth” was perpetuated.

As LoveCraft Brewer Jesse Wilson joked: “There is no chance that drinking beer from a straw is illegal,” he said. “Immoral? Perhaps. Bizarre? Certainly.”

I say to each, his or her own. Deline, for her part, said she won’t be going back to the bar and grill. She said she likes to drink beer out of a straw to prevent spills. There’s no state law banning her from doing so.

The evolution of the Evergreen Park neighborhood

Photo by Patrick Kerber.
Photo by Patrick Kerber.

Despite a relentless rain shower, we had one heck of a turnout for Saturday’s Story Walk of Evergreen-Rotary Park. The park — and the neighborhood around it — is changing rapidly. Here’s a rundown of all the things we learned Saturday:

The park — back then just the 11.5 acres closest to Park Avenue — was leased to the city by Warren Smith in 1901, and formally became a park in 1908 or 1909.

The old pavilion at Evergreen.
The old pavilion at Evergreen.

An early pavilion constructed there was known as a “blind pig” and “bawdy house” due to the drinking and other debauchery that took place there.

The city’s first power plant was a lumber mill that existed near Smith Cove. The lumber mill’s operators would burn refuse that would operate a primitive turbine that generated power.

The park had campgrounds following World War I; during the war years, it was taken over by the federal government for training and housing military personnel.

The Bremerton Memorial Swimming Pool was constructed there (outdoors) in 1953, thanks to an $80,000 donation from the Lions Club. It would remain open until an indoor pool was built in East Bremerton in 1979.

Photo by Patrick Kerber. Thanks, Patrick!
Photo by Patrick Kerber. Thanks, Patrick!

The “other side” of the park — where the 9/11 Memorial exists now — was once an industrial zone. Steam laundries, coal and gravel bunkers, and bulk oil storage abounded. One of the oil tanks was actually an old submarine torpedo boat once known as the USS Fox. It would take years, and hundreds of thousands of dollars, to cleanup the area, to include the Chevron site.

In recent years, the park has seen a number of improvements. The 9/11 memorial was completed in 2013 with private funding. The All-Accessible Playground was completed in 2014 with a combined $523,000 in grants and private funding. This year, close to a half-million dollars is going to revamp the boat ramp and launch, a combined project by the state, Port of Bremerton and city.

Trish Williams, developer of the Evergreen-Pointe Apartments near the park on Sheldon Boulevard, was on hand Saturday to answer questions. Her project, which she says will start “going vertical” in the late spring, will have a 95 unit complex and a smaller 14 unit one off Sheldon Boulevard. Williams said she’s working with the city to establish a public walking path through the middle of the project.

Evergreen Pointe apartments rendering.

Williams also touched on some retail possibilities in those spaces she’s constructing, to include a wine bar, bike store and donut shop.

The Quonset Hut on 13th Street near the park continues to develop as Saboteur Bakery (which also just opened a location downtown).

The city’s Washington Avenue reconstruction contractor, RV Associates, continues to mend the two sides of what will now be a larger park together. Thanks to shutting down a beach sewer line, crews have been able to remove a sewer pump station, roadway and power lines. In their place will be more grassland, walking pathways and a way to relax and enjoy the waterfront.

Photo by Patrick Kerber.
Photo by Patrick Kerber.

Inside Honor Bar, where we warmed up following the rainy walk, Chef and Owner Alan Davis explained why he and his wife Jodi opened the restaurant in Bremerton — and also gave an overview of Paella (as he makes a crazy good version of it).

Also, a special thanks to CJ’s Evergreen General Store for giving us a starting point for the walk.

And as for that rock with the face on it? We couldn’t find it Saturday, but here’s the story about it.

Thanks to all who attended!


Saboteur Bakery to open Fourth Street location

The new home of Saboteur Bakery.

We won’t have to wait for Bremerton’s newest bakery to open in its destined space near Evergreen-Rotary Park. Matt Tinder, the acclaimed baker behind Saboteur, confirmed to me this week that he’s opening up a retail space at 245 Fourth Street, in the heart of downtown.

Tinder said he’s excited to open as soon as Feb. 1 in his first permanent space in Bremerton.

“I can’t just be doing popups,” Tinder told me. “I want to start doing something more than that.”

Tinder and his fiancee Kate Giuggo will share a space with Envy-Fit, the pole dancing studio run by Adrienne McLaughlin. Classes will still be held there toward the back of the building, with Saboteur occupying the front. Patrons can look forward to “a nice mixture of pastries” and bread, to include bagels and croissants. The product will be mostly “savory and healthy,” he said. They’ll also serve up coffee.

The couple really likes Fourth Street, to include new brewery Wobbly Hopps and the iconic Roxy Theater. Tinder, who grew up on Kauai, recalls fondly a Roxy theater there too, that has sadly since been demolished.

The couple’s longterm plans are to move in to the Quonset hut off 13th Street near Evergreen-Rotary Park. But it will take some time to remodel the steel drum-shaped structure and, as Tinder said, they’re eager to get going. Currently, he’s baking at a facility in Redmond for the pop-ups he’s been hosting — a daunting commute.


It’s going to get a lot shorter. Tinder plans to bake at Evergreen Kitchen just down the street.

And even when the Quonset hut has been transformed into a commercial bakery, Saboteur would like to stay downtown. He sees an emergence of nightlife on the street and is contemplating cooking up pizzas to satisfy nighttime appetites.

If you can’t wait ’til February you’ll want to be at LoveCraft Brewing Company, 275 Fifth Street, at 4 p.m. Saturday. Saboteur will open a pop-up there at that time. I’ll be near downtown for my monthly Story Walk and plan to stop by. Hope to see you there.