Restaurant News & Reviews

Restaurant Update: Time for a busy holiday season

Owner Shirlee K. Jones  at the new Shirlee Bird Cafe in the ground floor of the Sycamore Square building in the Fairhaven district of Bellingham, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015.
Owner Shirlee K. Jones at the new Shirlee Bird Cafe in the ground floor of the Sycamore Square building in the Fairhaven district of Bellingham, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015. The Bellingham Herald

Now that fall has arrived, customers will start noticing restaurants shifting gears into what is an important season in terms of sales.

This is the time of year when the outdoor seating starts moving inside and restaurants start preparing for holiday events and catering. The catering business has traditionally been a strong one in Whatcom County, whether it is company parties or large holiday events. Restaurants can make some extra cash with the catered and holiday events, important revenue to carry them through the first quarter, which is usually the slowest time of year in terms of sales.

The fall season is usually a period of stability in terms of restaurant openings and closings. It’s one of the busier times of year, so even struggling restaurants try to stay open in hopes of turning a profit. New restaurants try to open before the final quarter to take advantage of the busy season.

Here’s a recap of recent restaurant happenings:

▪  Shirlee Jones has opened the Shirlee Bird Café in the Sycamore Square building at 1200 Harris Ave., in the former Fairhaven Smoke Shop space at the entrance.

The café serves coffee and breakfast pastries, sandwiches, a breakfast burrito and a “waffleini,” which is a grill-pressed waffle with cheese, chutney or peanut butter.

Many of the ingredients are locally grown or produced. Jones grew up on a farm in Idaho, where her family ate the things they grew. Sitting down to eat at the farm was a calming, almost communal event, she said, and that’s something she hopes to pass along to customers.

The place has seating, but it can also be a spot to grab items on the go, whether it’s for nearby workers and visitors or those who are traveling down Chuckanut Drive.

The café is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, closed Sunday. Details can be found on the cafe’s Facebook page or by calling 360-746-2288.

▪  A Fairhaven restaurant had its final day of business on Monday, Sept. 7.

AW Asian Bistro closed after nine years. In a post on its Facebook page, owner Andy Mei said that while it was a sad decision to make, they are leaving with many fond memories. The restaurant was at 1138 Finnegan Way.

“It has been a privilege to serve this great community and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your support over the years,” the Facebook post said.

▪ Replacing AW Asian Bistro will be The Filling Station. John and Wendy DeFreest have applied for a restaurant and bar liquor license in that spot.

▪  Mozza, the Italian restaurant at 410 W. Bakerview Road, has closed.

▪  A building permit application was recently filed for a restaurant called The Grill at 1155 E. Sunset Drive.

▪  The Gluten Free Angels Bakery & Café is now open at 4260 Cordata Parkway, near Whatcom Community College. The bakery has a retail section for gluten-free breads, rolls, buns and breadcrumbs. The cafe is also gluten free.

Restaurant Update runs monthly in Take Five. Have an update on a Whatcom County restaurant? Send questions or tips to dave.gallagher@bellinghamherald.com or call 360-715-2269.

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