One of the comments that we hear a lot from I Heart Yakima-ers is that Yakima is at a tipping point – "that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire." For Yakima, the idea of a tipping point generally translates into the belief that we are on the brink of becoming a city that lives up to its potential. We agree.
So what, you may be wondering, is going to be THE "magic" to make Yakima tip? With all of the activity in our city right now, including the Yakima Maker Space, new distilleries (Glacier Basin), new wineries (welcome, Owen Roe!), a resurgence in our beer history (Bale Breaker Brewery, the Yakima Hop Shop, The Beer Shoppe and always Yakima Craft), new industry (Liberty Bottle Works), the Downtown Master Plan, and a medical school to boot (Pacific Northwest University)…it could truly be many things. But we have a feeling that what is currently a hole in the ground may in fact be it: Cowiche Canyon Kitchen + Icehouse Bar.
Why? Because it's going to be amazing. And we don't say that lightly. Smack-dab downtown, in the once-vacant lot on Yakima Avenue and Second Street, Cowiche Canyon Kitchen + Icehouse Bar is designed to be a modern take on an apple warehouse. The architecture alone will be the first of its kind in downtown Yakima. Architects Graham Baba quite simply "get" what makes Yakima special (Yakima natives Brett Baba and Andy Brown are the two lead architects on the project). Their success with restaurants and retail spaces – like The Walrus and the Carpenter and Melrose Market amongst many others – translates into a space like nothing else in our town. Multiple outdoor rooms, simple yet beautiful interiors. And the entire kitchen – even the prep area – will be open, which owner Graham Snyder hopes will promote a respect for the entire process of food preparation and artistry.
And then, there's the food. When we had the pleasure of talking with Snyder about his vision, there was no mistaking his love for our valley, for great food, and his intention to tap into it in an authentic way. Local – yes – and elevated. As Snyder puts it, "A polished American tavern." For instance, there will be an amazing burger, fresh-baked breads (a nod to his Snyder's Bakery heritage in town), and homemade pot pies all using as many local ingredients as they can get their hands on.
Cowiche Canyon Kitchen is the family-friendly side, connected to the Icehouse Bar for the 21+ crowd. Snyder has recruited star mixologist Vincenzo Marianella to set the tone for the hand-crafted, scratch cocktails that Icehouse will be known for. "Lots of fresh Yakima ingredients," says Snyder. "But this is by no means a 'fancy drink place.'" Get ready for a limited late-night menu, and eventually breakfast in the bar with house-made Bloody Marys.
We are so excited about Cowiche Canyon Kitchen and Icehouse – from it's simple logo that includes the propellers of a de havilland Beaver ("If you've ever flown in one, you know that it's not a luxury experience, but it's a special one," says Snyder), to the thoughtful, authentic celebration of Yakima throughout – we feel strongly that this could be the change that tips us over. Couple this incredible restaurant experience with the changing downtown landscape, and wow! Transformation. Get excited, friends. You are going to love this place. But you're going to have to wait until summer 2014 (don't worry – we'll keep you posted on progress).
Bravo, Graham Snyder. Thank you for seeing the beauty our town has, the potential that exists, and that Yakima deserves first-class. All it takes is one visionary to show that it can be done. Let the tipping begin!