Monthly Archives: December 2015

Kingston’s Grub Hut rolls food truck into Bremerton

grub.hutrNorth Kitsap’s popular Grub Hut restaurant just rolled into Bremerton.

The Kingston eatery began stationing a food truck near Fourth and Pacific earlier this month. The mobile “Grub Hutr” will be parked in the area each Tuesday.

The Grub Hutr offers several grass-fed burger varieties, along with hot dogs and sides. There’s no fryer on board, so the menu is slimmer than what you’d find in the restaurant.

f26624c7-8e0f-48f1-be5b-7b9c42bfbda7The Grub Hut’s truck joins a very modest fleet of Bremerton-area food trucks.

An Island Tiki Truck can usually be found by Uptown Mercantile. The Taqueria Los Cazadores‘ mobile kitchen is frequently stationed on Sixth Street.

Grub Hut owners say they would consider keeping the truck in Bremerton more days each week if near the shipyard are strong.

The Grub Hutr arrived in town as Poulsbo’s Liberty Bay Books announced plans to keep its Pacific Avenue pop-up store into the New Year.

Could this be the beginning of a trend of North Kitsap businesses venturing into Bremerton? As a Poulsbo resident, I’m all for it.

For updates on the Grub Hut food truck, see the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Liberty Bay Books is staying in Bremerton

books3_26076674_ver1.0_640_480 A Poulsbo bookseller is giving Bremerton readers the best gift they could hope for.

Liberty Bay Books, which operated a pop-up bookstore on Pacific Avenue for the last three months, has decided to stick around town.

books1_26076676_ver1.0_640_480Owner Suzanne Droppert said the response from Bremerton shoppers during the holiday season was encouraging.

“We received a really warm welcome for everyone who stopped in,” Droppert said in an email Monday. 

Liberty Bay Books will remain at 409 Pacific Ave. at least through January, while looking for a permanent home downtown.

Droppert said the landlord is looking for a tenant to lease the Liberty Bay Books space and an adjacent suite together, which is more room than the bookstore needs. When a new tenant is found, Liberty Bay Books will move to another location.

The Bremerton Liberty Bay Books store will begin hosting events and clubs early in the New Year.

You can find updates on the Liberty Bay Books Facebook page. 

Larry Steagall photos

Kitsap sees first drop in legal marijuana sales


Kitsap County’s first recreational marijuana store opened in August of 2014 and sales soared for the next 14 months.

That trend changed abruptly in November, when the county saw its first month-to-month decline in retail marijuana sales.

Gross sales dipped by nearly 9 percent between October to November, according to numbers posted by the state Liquor and Cannabis Board:

The decline in sales wasn’t limited to Kitsap. Washington recorded its first statewide drop in retail marijuana revenue back in July, following a restructuring of the excise tax, and sales slipped again in November:


A one-month falloff in sales is far from a trend, but the decline does come at an interesting time for the industry.

The Liquor and Cannabis Board announced plans last week to lift the cap on retail licenses, as the state prepares to roll the marginally-regulated medical marijuana system into the tightly-controlled recreational marijuana system. The number of stores allowed in Kitsap would increase from 10 to 20.

Some legal marijuana sellers believe the market is already becoming saturated in Bremerton and Port Orchard, pointing to a plateau in per-store sales this fall.

The chart below shows gross sales for each of the seven active marijuana stores in Kitsap (an eighth store, called The Reef, just opened in Bremerton, and a tribally-owned store opened in Suquamish).

You can wave your mouse over the store names to highlight their sales:

Click here for more Kitsap marijuana industry coverage.

Silverdale Blazing Onion set for Dec. 21 opening

blazing.onion.barUpdate: Blazing Onion opened a day early on Sunday, according to a Facebook post. 

A Blazing Onion burger grill and whiskey bar will become the first restaurant to open in The Trails at Silverdale development next week.

Blazing Onion is set to open Monday near the Greaves Way entrance.

3a1c5e55-de3e-4b1c-bfda-cf459a4e575a_mSilverdale will be the seventh location for the fast-casual chain, which launched in Mill Creek in 2007 (the Everett Herald has a nice company history here). Some Kitsap diners may already be familiar with the Blazing Onion in Gig Harbor.

Co-founder David Jones said Blazing Onion had been looking for a Central Kitsap location and jumped on the chance to move into The Trails.

“We’d been watching Silverdale for a while,” he said.

Jones said the Silverdale restaurant stands out from its predecessors in a couple of ways.

The Trails restaurant is the first franchised Blazing Onion location — it’s owned by a small group of partners. Jones said the company will probably franchise more stores if the model proves successful in Silverdale.

The Trails Blazing Onion will also be the first to incorporate a whiskey lounge. The bar touts more than 200 varieties of whiskey, bourbon and Scotch.

“I was trying to change things up a little bit,” Jones said.

Blazing Onion emphasizes Northwest ingredients and makes its food from scratch. Jones said the chain uses 100 percent natural ground chuck in its burgers. Salads, soups and sandwiches round out the menu.

Technology has also become a hallmark for the chain. Jones said Blazing Onion is currently testing an iPad ordering system, which could be rolled out in Silverdale in early 2016.

Blazing Onion will be one of several restaurants in The Trails development. So far a Chipotle, Corner Bakery Café and MOD Pizza have been announced. (See the latest on Trails tenants here).

Check the Blazing Onion Facebook page for updates on the Silverdale restaurant.

Courtesy images

Zabinksi bids farewell to port commission

Roger Zabinski

Port of Bremerton Commissioner Roger Zabinski was on business in Japan last week and missed the final commission meeting of the year.

The District 1 commissioner, who chose not to run for reelection this year, still took a moment to reflect on his time with the port in a statement read by CEO Jim Rothlin:

“I want to thank all the port staff, commissioners and the public for the opportunity that I’ve had to serve the public as a port commissioner these past six years. I’ve really enjoyed this time and found the experience very rewarding…

“I think the port is doing a good job serving the public, maintaining public amenities and trying to further develop the industrial park and the airport. I think the port commission and staff are focused and committed to the port’s mission of economic development and I encourage you all to keep at it…”

Zabinski was elected to the commission in 2009. He decided not to seek another term because of work demands.

Former port CEO Cary Bozeman will replace Zabinski on the commission, after winning election in November. 

Bozeman joins Larry Stokes and Axel Strakeljahn on the three-member board. 

The next Port of Bremerton commission meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 12 at Bremerton National Airport. 

Strong job numbers continued through October

Kitsap entered the holiday hiring season with more jobs than in previous years.

About 88,700 people were working for Kitsap companies in October, according to preliminary numbers from the state Employment Security Office. That was about 1,700 more than were employed in October 2014.

Numbers were up in the private sector, but the public sector posted a bigger gain, with an increase of about 1,200 jobs.

Here’s a graphical look at October job numbers:


Kitsap’s labor force (the total number of residents working or seeking work) remained lower than previous years, but began to climb in October, as is typical for the season.

About 1,250 people entered the workforce between September and October.

Overall employment among Kitsap residents still fell slightly in October, and remains lower than in recent years.

The county’s unemployment rate remained steady at 5 percent.

Here’s a graphical look at employment trends:

Suquamish Tribe opens marijuana store

UPDATE: Here’s our story on the opening.

The Suquamish Tribe’s marijuana store, called Agate Dreams, opened for business this week, according to a Facebook post:


The tribe recently entered into a compact with the state creating guidelines for regulating legalized marijuana on tribal land.

The Squaxin Island Tribe in Shelton signed a similar compact and opened a marijuana store in November.

The Suquamish store is located at 15915 Highway 305, next to the Texaco station. The enterprise is being operated as a subsidiary of Port Madison Enterprises, the tribe’s business arm.

We’ll have more on this story soon.

Real estate update: Inventory remains very thin in Kitsap

real estate

The number of homes for sale in Kitsap County continued to drop in November, as sales activity remained relatively healthy.

According to Northwest Multiple Listing Service, there were 768 homes available in the county last month. That was 29 percent fewer than in November 2014, and 43 percent fewer than in November 2013. 

Meanwhile, 367 sales were pending in November, a 7.3 percent improvement from November 2014. The 299 closed sales recorded in November were on par with 2014.

The median price for homes sold in November, including condominiums, rested at $259,000.

Here’s a visual look at Kitsap real estate trends:

And as a new feature this month, here are county-by-county breakdowns for median prices and the months supply of homes. Wave your mouse over the maps to see exact values:

The Port Orchard Haggen is also closed


Haggen has left the county.

The grocery chain’s store in the Port Orchard Bethel Junction shopping center was closed and cleaned out last week. Haggen shuttered its stores in East Bremerton and Silverdale at the end of November.

PO.haggen.2I haven’t heard exactly when the Port Orchard location shut down. If you happen to know, please drop a comment below.

Unlike the Bremerton and Silverdale Haggens, the Port Orchard store already has a new owner in place.

Albertsons LLC. bought the location in a bankruptcy auction last month and plans to return it to the Safeway brand. A timeline for the reopening has not been announced.

The three Kitsap County stores were among 146 Haggen acquired from Albertsons and Safeway early this year, as the two mega-grocers completed a merger.

The East Bremerton and Silverdale stores were previously operated by Albertsons. The Port Orchard store was a Safeway.

Haggen’s bold expansion ultimately flopped. The company filed for bankruptcy reorganization in September and held auctions to begin selling off assets.

The Bellingham Herald reports Haggen will try to sell the remainder of its stores, including its original Whatcom County locations, at an auction scheduled for February.

Haggen was in business in Kitsap for less than 9 months: