Going from a restaurant employee to an owner is a big decision, but Leonardo Valerio is happy to have made the leap.
Valerio and his brother, Ysrael, recently converted the Tadeo’s restaurant at 3040 Northwest Ave. into Los Cantaritos Mexican Restaurant. The eatery is near Yeager’s Sporting Goods. The restaurant will keep some of the previous offerings on the menu, but Leonardo Valerio said they will steadily bring on new dishes for customers to try out. The restaurant will also make its sauces such as mole from scratch.
Leonardo Valerio has worked in the industry for 12 years, with much of that time at Jalapenos. When the opportunity to operate his own restaurant came up, he said he had a long talk with his family and decided to go for it after many of them said they would like to be involved.
“I’m blessed to have my family involved in this,” Valerio said.
The restaurant offers catering services and Valerio said they are pondering the idea of adding a delivery service. He said the nearby neighborhoods have supported the restaurant during the conversion and is listening to them when it comes to requests.
“I like to ask customers what they want and have been able to come up with things that are not on the menu,” Valerio said.
PITA PIT OPENING NEAR TRADER JOE’S AUG. 22
Dave Savage is opening a restaurant near Trader Joe’s that will be easily recognizable to both locals and cross-border shoppers.
Pita Pit at 2426 James St. is scheduled to open on Monday, Aug. 22, serving made-to-order pita sandwiches that offer a variety of grilled meats, vegetables, cheeses and sauces. On opening day customers can enter to win door prizes, including trips on San Juan Cruises.
The Pita Pit restaurant chain is well-known in town, having first entered the market in 2003 when it opened its downtown space on Railroad Avenue (Savage does not have franchise ownership of the downtown Pita Pit). As for Canadians, Pita Pit originally started in Ontario in 1995 and has 12 restaurants in British Columbia, Savage said.
That was part of the thinking that led to opening near Trader Joe’s, which is popular with Canadians and locals.
While the menu will look similar to the downtown Bellingham Pita Pit, the decor of the restaurant on James Street will have a different look with big screen televisions and booth seating. Savage has also decided to add a one-mile radius delivery service, which he hopes will be a hit in the area, particularly the nearby businesses where people may have trouble getting out for lunch.
The new business has also become a family affair – his wife, Kim, is handling the books while his daughter, Jennifer, is the assistant manager. In total the James Street restaurant has 24 employees.
Once open, hours will be 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For details, visit BellinghamPitaPit.com or call 360-933-1115.
ENGLUND MARINE PLANNING PURCHASE OF REDDEN MARINE
A longtime fixture on the Bellingham waterfront may be under new ownership in the coming weeks.
Englund Marine Supply is in the process of buying the assets of Redden Marine, which is currently in a court receivership. If the deal receives court approval, Englund would take over operations on Thursday, Sept. 1, said Jeremy Davis, chief financial officer at Englund Marine Group.
Englund plans very few immediate changes for the Redden stores, including the 1411 Roeder Ave. in Bellingham, Davis said. The Redden name will remain in Bellingham and all the current employees here are being offered their positions. One thing the company plans to do right away is boost inventory at the Bellingham store, eventually leading to hiring more staff.
“The core of Redden products is similar to Englund’s, so customers won’t see too many changes in brands,” Davis said. “We want to get the inventory back up to healthy levels.”
In the longer term, Englund is looking at updating the building design.
Redden Marine has three stores in Alaska to go along with the one in Bellingham, focusing on marine supplies for the commercial fishing industry. It employs around 35 people in Bellingham. Englund Marine opened its first store in Astoria, Oregon 72 years ago and currently has seven stores in the Pacific Northwest.
HUGE TSAWWASSEN MALL SLATED FOR OCT. 5 OPENING
Things are moving along with the huge Tsawwassen Mills shopping center, with developers aiming for a Wednesday, Oct. 5 opening.
The shopping mall, which is just north of the border, recently had two job fairs: One in June was to fill 1,000 jobs and another on Thursday, Aug. 18 had the goal of hiring another 3,000 employees, according to a recent article in The Province. For perspective, about 11,000 people work in retail trade in all of Whatcom County.
With 16 anchor stores and more than 100 other shops and restaurants, this will mean a major change in the retail landscape for this region. With the Canadian dollar remaining low, it could mean further declines in Canadians traveling into Whatcom County to shop.
JOHN KOLE RETIRES FROM VEHICLE REPAIR
A Bellingham business owner has decided to retire after 45 years in the vehicle repair business.
John Kole closed John Kole Vehicle Repair at 2114 Humboldt St. earlier this month, letting his customers know in person and on the company’s Facebook page. Kole said the toughest part has been saying goodbye to customers, but is looking forward to retirement. He graduated from Western Washington University in 1969 with a degree in economics but decided he was more of a wrench person and has enjoyed working with customers over the years.
He is currently liquidating his equipment. For those who might be interested in buying the tools, swing by the shop.
Diego’s Mexican Grill and Take Out at 300 Samish Way quietly shut down operations earlier this month; no indication was given on whether there are plans to reopen it. ... Hundred North, a fine-dining restaurant next to the Mount Baker Theatre at 100 N. Commercial St., opened earlier this month. ... According to its Facebook page, Gruff Brewing at 104 E. Maple St. near the Depot Market Square is now open, with hours being 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday through Sunday.