Friday, February 29, 2008

Hope for the Sunset?

We learned from our pals at My Ballard that there is new hope for the Sunset Bowl. Avid bowler Jim Bristow has started a web site called Save Sunset Bowl! They are looking to keep it open as long as possible and require the new owners to incorporate a bowling alley in the new design. We are so excited about this grass roots effort and encourage you all to help out. Really, take a stand before it's too late.

One other issue that may help the effort is the pending approval by the City of Seattle of the developer's plans. A good first step would be to talk to our Design Review Board member, Elizabeta Stacishin-Moura. Her term is actually up on April 4th if you want to apply. A Pro-Sunset board member sounds like a good idea if you know anyone who would be qualified. The Sunset Bowl project is not yet on the calendar for review, but you can sign up to be notified when review meetings are scheduled.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ballard Participants - Dine for Darfur, March 4th

Who doesn't love a good excuse to eat out? Dine for Darfur is back for a second year and several Ballard establishments are participating. Eat and drink at the following spots on Tuesday and 25% of your money goes towards aid for Darfur.
Of course, you could always just donate money, but that wouldn't be as fun, would it? (Or you could do both so as to maximize your donation and take advantage of the drinking you're already doing.) I was a little curious about the Ballard spots that are participating. Both Dine for Darfur and The Hi-Life are Chow Foods enterprises, so that one was a given, but I'm not sure what the connection is to the others, or why there aren't more restaurants in the neighborhood getting in on the action. Personally, I might head over to Wallingford for pizza at Tutta Bella...but I have to confess that I haven't yet tried the wood fired pizzas at the Hi-Life.
Learn more about where the money is going or check out a region wide list of restaurants that are taking part at their website.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Rant of the Week - Sourpuss

Universally, not enough attention is paid to the fruit accompanying a drink. It's pretty common to get a slimy lemon or a browning lime but even we have our limits. This week we reached an all time low at the Copper Gate when my second drink was returned with the same mangled fruit from my first drink. Yuck. Can'you you afford a new glass or fresh fruit?! I pointed this out to my pal and she showed me the lemon in her drink that came with the Sunkist sticker still attached. Boooo! Maybe you should spend more time thinking about making good drinks instead of thinking about boobies - which now seem to adorn every wall in the place.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Springlike Saturday at Shilshole!

Beavers Can't Be Beat!

The Ballard Beavers are in it to win it! Hooray to the Ballard HS girls basketball team for defeating Inglemoor HS last night and setting themselves up as number 1 seed in the state tournament. The beavers swam though the play-offs, cutting up and chewing out the competition along the way creating in their wake a massive defensive dam. A dam to be reckoned with at the State tournament in Tacoma. Don't mess with the Beavers!

Check out the highlights:

Those teases at Monkey Bridge

Despite the appearance of several spiffy signs, including a fairly tasteful neon number, there is still no opening date listed for Monkey Bridge Vietnamese restaurant on Market Street. A peek through the brown papers reveals a distinct lack of tables, seeming to refute earlier rumors that they planned to be open well before March.
The only notes we've heard on the menu so far are that there is more than
just Phở. Some noodle dishes are supposedly on the way and some other items to distinguish them from the specialists at Than Brothers a few blocks down.

We're dying for more info...opening dates, a menu!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Just Stop Calling them Affordable

There are lots of valid arguments why condo development is not necessarily a bad thing. Affordability is not one of them. Sure, a 400,000 condo is less expensive than a 600,000 house (at least before you add in the monthly fees). That does not mean that building more of them allows more people with lower incomes to move to the area. I'm sick of hearing that argument. People with lower incomes are being forced out. Buying a condo is still not affordable for a large number of people, especially as the no down-payment model falls out of favor. It also isn't the guaranteed good investment that real estate has always been touted as. Those who talk about how the demolition and building will stop when it ceases to be profitable for the developers have a great point, but the developers will have a much easier time of recovering from that than the people who bought the condos they could barely afford and find themselves unable to sell them.
The bottom line? Some people really do have to rent, and the 1 bedroom apartments that were $545-$625 less than 5 years ago are now starting at $925 (without any updates to the 50s buildings they're housed in).
It's a great time to be a landlord. I would encourage developers to consider getting into the apartment business.
Supposedly the plans for the old/new QFC building actually call for just that. Apartments. Maybe soul-less, new construction apartments, but there's a chance that they might go for under $1000/month. Construction is set to begin any day now on a 268 unit, mixed use building. Interestingly enough, most discussion I've heard around that has involved some skepticism about whether or not they're actually planning on keeping them as rentals. Knowing three different people who were kicked out of three different apartment buildings to prepare for conversions within a one-month period last year, it's easy to see where a certain level of paranoia comes from.
Speaking of mixed use, can we start seeing some more creativity with that than just smoothie places and tanning salons? Maybe like this last ditch effort for the Sunset?

Suck It, Condo Dwellers! This is My Ballard.

We like industrial Ballard. Too bad it's not going to stay that way.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Design for the New Denny's

A vote declared the old Denny's a landmark. Here's an architect's idea for the design of the condos that will incorporate the landmark building.

Underground Movement to Save Sunset?

I was walking by Smitty's Barbershop on 15th during the eclipse last night and saw a flyer posted on the inside of their door. Other than "Save the Sunset", the only content was an email Is this a movement? Is there other information and perhaps a master plan yet to be revealed to those who email? Or are they like us, wondering if someone else has a clear idea for action?
Tell us Ballard, have you heard any rumblings?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Rock and Roll Weekend in Ballard

This Friday The Cops are playing at the Tractor Tavern. Hot Hot Hot. You should check it out. I guess there are other bands that night too.

THE LOWE BEATS - Nick Lowe cover bands featuring membbers of Young Fresh Fellows, REM, and Tripwires.

The show is at 9 and costs $7.

Monday, February 18, 2008

President's Day Pub Crawl

Ballard is a pretty good spot for impromptu pub crawls. I dare you to do one today. If you're wondering which Ballard bars have decks or patios for a sunny day like today (or if you're preparing for summer), here's a quick list. Let us know if we've forgotten any.

La Isla - 2320 NW Market St
Hazlewood - 2311 NW Market St
Ray's Cafe - 6049 Seaview Ave NW
Anthony's Homeport - 6135 Seaview Ave NW
King's Hardware - 5225 Ballard Ave
Ballard Loft - 5105 Ballard Ave
Maritime - 1514 NW Leary Way
Mike's Chili - 1447 NW Ballard Way
BalMar - 5449 Ballard Ave NW
La Carta de Oaxaca - 5431 Ballard Ave
Matador - 2221 NW Market St
Molly Maguire's - NW 65th and 6th

Friday, February 1, 2008

Where in Ballard is Tammy?

Longtime bartending favorite of the Waterwheel; Tammy is no longer working at our favorite watering hole. This Gossip Girl is on a mission to find her heavy pours...a Vodka-Soda reward is in your future if you provide me with her location.

Under The Needle: Working-class tavern goes upscale

This is from today's PI. Ballard is a-changin', and I hate change. :)

With the shift change came the steelworkers, regular as clockwork: The 6 a.m. crowd fresh from the graveyard; the 3 p.m. day shifters; the post-midnight swingers who drank faster than the rest because a 12:30 a.m. arrival meant last call was staged at the back of a bartender's throat.
These waves of workers, mostly from nearby Northwest Steel Rolling Mills, for decades floated Harvey's Tavern in Ballard and helped put John Grant and seven brother and sisters through Seattle Catholic schools.
The Leary Way Northwest tavern had one tap -- it poured Rainier -- four pizza ovens, a dozen-seat horseshoe bar, a handful of wooden benches bracketing tables, a balky, often silent jukebox, a flock of more than 100 Tweety Birds gathered over decades and a no-profanity edict.
In all, 782 square feet and 73 years of inertia.
No moules in the house. No frites to be found. Not yet, anyway.
"We did good," said John Grant, now 42. He was 10 when his parents bought Harvey's in 1974, then began working there as an adult. "It was a good living. Not rich, but we did OK."
But the mill went to two shifts, changed owners, then one shift, then none, then closed -- torn down and replaced by a Fred Meyer.
And Harvey's, which opened in 1934 and hung on as Ballard seesawed through fishing booms and busts, the rise and decline of heavy industry and the cultural shift from labor to white-collar condo-professionals, finally shut its taps in October.
And those moules? They're musseling in.
"We're pretty excited about the place," said Scott Laney, 31, of Seattle. "We think we'll do well."
Laney, a Honolulu native and University of Washington graduate with a degree in political science, has put his degree to "its best use" as a bartender in town for most of the past 10 years at upscale places such as Serafina and midscale spots such as The Great Nabob.
Laney, riding around town on a borrowed motorcycle a few months ago, saw the for-rent sign in the window of the closed Harvey's. For a year, he'd been thinking about opening his own bar, so he stopped to look.
Two partners and a lease later, he's begun work on "The Traveler." He sees the same 782 square feet as a potential "gastropub," though he hesitates to use the term, thinking it both overly foodie for a cocktail joint and a bit pretentious.
"We want to have good food, mussels, different styles of frites. We'll have a TV on showing the game. We want it to be a neighborhood place, but with a more contemporary feel," he said.
Laney knows he's an agent of change in Seattle, even as he admits to internal conflict over it. "I did go in Harvey's a long time ago. I remember it had a dive-bar character -- something I enjoy -- but that's not going to be my style of bar."
Laney, who hopes to have The Traveler open in April, said he knows how some people lament Seattle's upward mobility, its new pretense. But just as his bar might have failed 30 years ago, staying with a downscale tavern might not be what people want anymore.
"Look around," he said. "What do you see in Ballard?"
Which is a fair point. But for John Grant, that hardly takes the sting away.
Harvey's, he said, still made money and had regulars, but the new landlord wouldn't renew the lease under the old terms. The rent was going up; the town is changing. It took his mom -- who regularly tossed people from the place for swearing -- more than a year for the bitterness to fade.
Sure, Grant said, progress is fine, but what is lost on the march? "The community," he said, "loses a bit of itself."
Harvey's tables, made from fishing-boat hatch covers, now cradle drinks at Jules Maes Saloon in Georgetown. The Harvey's Tavern sign sits in the garage of one of the members of the former house band, John Henry's Hammer -- its namesake, as legend goes, also lost to progress.

The Ballard Loft

Last night a fellow Gossiper and I went to check out the Ballard Loft. Neither of us had been there and it was their grand opening. The food was good, and the drinks were decent, but we decided this is King's Junior, and definately a "new" ballard spot. So, I think I will let the influx of eastside-type-new-ballard people have it. I dont mind, the more cheesy places for them, the less they will interfere with the real ballard.