Sidewalk cafes trigger a romanticized urban yearning in Americans; stick a couple of metal tables and chairs in front of your shop, and we get all excited. Reality may trump romance when the weather's not ideal, but here in Spokane, we enjoying indulging our little quasi-European fantasies during the summer.
In the changing neighborhood just north of the Monroe Street bridge (would that be NoMo?), residents, antique hunters and county worker-bees alike have been able to do just that since late June at THE DISTRICT, on Broadway west of Monroe. Owner Jana Adams throws open the big garage door next to Bella Design Group's salon and day spa, creating an open flow between outdoors and in.
"When it's nice outside, there's a lot of walk-in traffic," she says. "We're on the south side of the street, so our sidewalk has been in the shade all summer long, and people just loved it."
And what about the coming months, when the weather will be less beautiful? "For the winter, we're going to put in Plexiglas panels and a door, behind the garage door, so we can still get lots of light inside, and people will still be able to come in directly off the street."
Another innovation that Adams plans for the future is something she's calling curb service. Think of a drive-thru without the little window.
"We'll keep the customer's prepaid gift card here," Adams explains. "They can call in an order and there will be a designated area in front of the shop for them to pull up. They'll call us and we'll take it out there."
The District serves the standard array of coffee drinks, all made with Doma coffee, and several varieties of Mighty Leaf tea. Adams also serves white coffee, a beverage made from lightly roasted coffee beans. (White coffee produces a golden brew with little similarity to coffee, she says, while still delivering coffee's caffeinated boost.) She has smoothies (fruit or Jet Tea), pastries, cookies, salads and sandwiches. For winter, she plans to bring in a soup a day.
"People are welcome to call and find out what we have that day," she says.
Adams may adjust her hours during the winter, as foot traffic lessens, and she's considering opening on Saturdays in the future, but for now The District serves those weekday, workday caffeinated needs.
-- ANN M. COLFORD
The District, 917 W. Broadway, is open Mon-Fri, 7 am-6 pm. Call 328-0105.
& r & Hellenic Feast & r & EVENTS
Sun-kissed isles amid sparkling azure seas, bright blue skies and tawny hillsides: The allure of Greece extends to its cuisine -- fresh, fragrant and well-seasoned. This weekend, you can experience all things Greek at the GREEK DINNER FESTIVAL at Spokane's Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. The 71st annual event features an authentic Greek dinner, outdoor grill, tavern, coffee shop, folk dancing, deli and boutique.
The dinner menu, served from 4:30-8 pm Thursday through Saturday, offers a sampling of traditional Greek food served with an unmistakable zest for life. It includes kapama (marinated, braised beef in an authentic Greek spiced tomato sauce), imported orzo pasta tossed with browned butter and myzithra cheese, green beans with garlic and herbs, Greek salad, dessert and coffee.
New this year is lunch on Thursday and Friday, featuring gyro sandwiches, orzo soup and choice of three salads (Greek, bean or orzo pasta). On Saturday, the grill opens for lunch at 11 am, serving souvlakia (pork or chicken shish kebab) with pita bread and tzatziki (yogurt and cucumber sauce). The deli, open at 11 am all three days, features Greek cheeses, olives, appetizers and dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves). There are also frozen foods to take home and bake -- pastitsio (Greek lasagna) and cabbage rolls -- and incredible baked goods, including baklava.
The festival's taverna is a popular meeting place, as they are in Greece. It's open at 11 am Thursday-Saturday, serving Greek and domestic wines and microbrews as well as Greek appetizers, like dolmathes, olives and feta. The kafenion (coffee shop) offers thick Greek coffee as well as paximadia (Greek biscotti) Thursday-Saturday late afternoons and evenings.
"About 30 people started in May making pastries and freezing them for this festival," says Eleni Schumacher, festival chairwoman. "They helped on a daily basis, and most of them are more than 70 years old."
Enjoy your meal in tents on the church grounds, in the open air or take it to go. Those who stay will be steeped in the sights and sounds of Greece, with the "Opa" Greek folk dancers performing each evening. Kali orexi! (Good appetite!)
-- SUSAN HAMILTON
The Greek Dinner Festival is Sept. 28-30 at the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, 1703 N. Washington St. Dinner is $12 for adults, $6 for children under age 12. Call 328-9310.