Things are happening at the Flour Mill these days -- positive things, like nearly full retail spaces, the rapidly rising condos next door and more condo projects in the works for the neighborhood. One of the newcomers is POLO'S CAF & Eacute;, just inside the front door on the street level (which is actually the fourth floor, if you're keeping score). Open just about a month now, Polo's is the realization of a lifelong dream for owners Debbie and Eric Fugitt. They've both spent many years working in restaurants, but this is their first foray into ownership.
"About a year ago this month we started seriously thinking about it," says Eric. For advice, he turned to a friend in the local restaurant scene, Dave DuPree of Latah Bistro. "We did a lot of research. Dave was really my go-to guy when I had questions."
Fugitt, who worked as a schoolteacher for ten years before returning to the restaurant biz, says he originally thought of a lunch-and-dinner bistro kind of place, but was unable to find a location that would work. When he saw that the Flour Mill space was available, he switched to a breakfast-and-lunch theme and, as he says, "Then the real work began."
The caf & eacute; is named for Debbie's parents, whose honeymoon photo graces the bookshelf near the front windows overlooking Mallon Avenue. Debbie's baked goods are the highlight of the morning menu: fresh-baked scones, muffins, coffeecakes and fruit tarts make temptation easy and choosing difficult. There's also a breakfast croissant sandwich and a yogurt-fruit-granola parfait for those seeking more substantial fare. At lunchtime, Eric makes a full range of sandwiches, with the traditional Reuben and the BLAT (bacon-lettuce-avocado-tomato) croissant among the most popular. Soup, salads and a warm entr & eacute;e round out the menu choices.
And of course, there are more of Debbie's baked goodies for dessert -- cookies and raspberry bars and rocky road brownies, plus the incredible seven-layer bars. "One customer calls them the Seven-Sins bars," Eric quips.
He's thrilled to be part of the resurgence at the Flour Mill. "To see this place continue to prosper, it's exciting," he says. "It's been a blessing. I've never worked so hard in my life, but I'm loving it."
-- ANN M. COLFORD
Polo's Caf & eacute;, 621 W. Mallon Ave., Suite 426 (street level in the Flour Mill), is open Mon-Sat 6:30 am-3:30 pm. Call 327-3055.
Monkey Around DINING
Once the restaurant business gets into your blood, it's said, the bug is hard to shake. That's the case with Mike Ackermann, who recently opened SMACKY'S ON BROADWAY.
"I've always been in the restaurant business," he says. "My parents owned two restaurants in Spokane. I had a restaurant in California, then worked at the Red Lion and Shenanigan's here in town."
Ackermann has brought his restaurant experience together at Smacky's, offering breakfast, lunch, espresso and -- soon -- microbrews and wine. Ackermann calls the d & eacute;cor "New York hodgepodge," with mismatched tables and chairs, as well as vintage black and white photos, an antique bicycle and a railroad sign on the walls.
The menu is as eclectic as the d & eacute;cor. Breakfast items include a Smuffin, with ham, bacon, egg and jack cheese on English muffin. They're so popular, area businesses have been ordering them by the dozen, Ackerman says. Grilled ham, egg and Swiss on focaccia, a breakfast burrito and classic sourdough egg sandwich are other interesting breakfast fare at Smacky's.
"People say sandwich-making is an art, and we really work on that," Ackermann says.
Deli-style sandwiches are made to order, with choices of bread, cheese and veggies. The albacore tuna with minced carrots, celery and dill, and the chicken salad with Mandarin oranges, walnuts and celery are two of the more popular sandwiches. Wraps include a Californian with turkey, avocado, bacon, cheddar and veggies, and the Philly with roast beef, onions, bell peppers and provolone.
Some people can make a meal of a baked potato. At Smacky's, the potatoes come Cajun-style, with blackened chicken and tomato, or Skinny, with turkey, mushrooms, tomato and a light cream cheese sauce.
"Our toasted hoagies and panini sandwiches are unique in that they're heated throughout the sandwich, not just the bread," Ackerman explains. The cheese steak hoagie sports roast beef, provolone cheese and veggies, while the Aloha features ham, pineapple, Swiss cheese and marinara sauce. Panini sandwiches are made on rosemary focaccia bread, and include a pastrami Reuben and barbecue pulled pork. Soups and salads round out Smacky's menu.
If you're wondering where the name Smacky's came from, it's all in the family. Ackermann grew up in the Philippines, and Smacky was the name of his pet monkey.
-- SUSAN HAMILTON
Smacky's on Broadway, 6615 E. Broadway, is open Mon-Fri 7 am-3 pm. Call 535-4230.