Downtown Everett adds a classy touch

  • By Jeff Wicklund / Herald Columnist
  • Saturday, July 10, 2004 9:00pm
  • Local News

These are very interesting times here in our little big town on the shores of Port Gardner Bay. We can all revel in Everett’s downtown revival as we witness this long overdue and much-appreciated metamorphosis.

Many of you share in the memories of a bustling, vibrant downtown core that was the heart of Everett. Large anchor retailers such as the Bon Marche and J.C. Penney shared the streets with mom-and-pop specialty clothiers and other interesting businesses to form a backbone for an all-American main street. As they say, it’s easier to tear something down than to rebuild it, which certainly has been the case with downtown Everett.

And now here we are, a couple of decades after we got “malled” and life was sucked south, with the realization that we have a gift in our old-fashioned, prototypical downtown. Our fair city has invested a boatload in revitalizing its streets to be more pedestrian friendly. We have a very cool new event center where a bunch of kids got together, laced up some skates and became rock stars. The stunning success of the expansion Silvertips hockey team is the very embodiment of this mill town’s direction.

At this point you may be asking yourself, “Where’s he going with this and what’s it got to do with wine?” What if we added something truly special to the city’s core? Imagine a place where folks can gather in an upscale, relaxed environment, drink a beverage of choice and indulge in eclectic, interesting cuisine. That place has become a reality with the opening of Bistro Vino, Everett’s newest restaurant.

Bistro Vino, 1801 Hewitt Ave., is the brainchild of owner Nick Webster, who moved to Everett three years ago to be closer to his family and quickly realized the potential of Everett for both pursuing a business dream and growing roots. “It’s a great place for someone my age to start a business and buy a first house,” Webster said.

At 28, Webster has taken a path through life that has shaped him into a person experienced beyond his years. He was born in England, and his family moved to California when he was a baby. He returned as a teenager to work at his great-uncle’s restaurant in London, where he attained a wealth of knowledge about the practical aspects of running that type of business. His father, who still lives in England, runs a pub and brewery in Putney.

“We’re going for the ambience of a European bistro where people can gather to talk, eat and drink, all in a pleasant environment,” Webster said. “It’s a tradition in my family. In fact, the name Bistro Vino is in honor of my grandmother, who operated seven Bistro Vino locations in London over 20 years ago.”

Webster also was greatly influenced by working in Spain at different restaurants where small plates, or “tapas,” were the tradition. The blending of flavors with fresh, seasonal ingredients will be the job of Chef Paco who, as Webster says, “is a culinary maestro and a wizard with food!

“If I had two words to describe Chef Paco’s creations,” Webster said, “it would be ‘fresh’ and ‘fantastic.’”

You would think that with the name Bistro Vino there would be a wine list of by the bottle and by the glass selections that would be interesting if not fantastic. And right you’d be, for Webster has compiled a globally good list that, as he puts it, “is adventuresome.” It may entice people to stray a bit out of their comfort zone and spice things up. “That’s what makes life so interesting,” Webster said. “We want to be a place where folks can relax and feel comfortable with all we have to offer. We know that we can earn their confidence in our selections, so that swaying away from a safe merlot and into an interesting Rioja won’t be a scary thing.”

Webster’s venture is exactly the right thing for Everett at the right time. This community’s growth and revitalization of our downtown is going to require leaps of faith like this to meet our goals for success. And success is very contagious.

A favorite returns

For those of us who openly wept when our beloved Passport Restaurant closed its doors at the Monte Cristo all those years ago, boy, do I have good news: It’s back! Not in downtown Everett, but in downtown Snohomish at City Deli and Wine.

Nan Wilkinson and Lil Miller, owners of Pave Specialty Bakery and previous owners of Passport Restaurant, also run the deli in Snohomish and will open for dinner Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. This is great news for those of us who’ve dreamed of the resurrection of our once-favorite dining establishment.

Many of the same menu items are back and tasting great. Here’s the really cool part of this equation: Because the deli shares space with a wine shop, you can select a bottle from the fantastic array of wines from all over the world, pay retail and have it opened with your meal for no extra cost. This just might be too much good news for one column.

City Deli and Wine is at 102 Ave. D in Snohomish. You can reach it at 360-568-0369.

Jeff Wicklund, wine consultant and writer, is the proprietor of Colby Hospitality in Everett. He can be reached at 425-317-9858, or wick@colbyhospitality.com.

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