Fresh & amp;amp; Tasty

COFFEE Two for the Road & r & & r & The coffee business in Spokane is, as they say, quite well developed, making a challenge for new business owners who want to break into the market and find a niche. So bonus points for creativity should go to Ryan Liesche of the newly opened MARBLE CREEK COFFEE: He took a former Jiffy Lube location on Northwest Boulevard, complete with four service bays, and turned it into a multi-lane drive-thru coffee outlet.

"It already had drive-thru ability," says Liesche. "And with four lanes of drive-thru, it will be a shorter wait than other places that always have a long line in the morning."

Marble Creek serves up Doma coffee -- "Fair trade organic shade grown coffee," Liesche says -- along with organic pastries from Petite Chat Bakery in north Spokane. He adds, "We also have a selection of gluten-free breads and pastries." He's also venturing into white coffee, made from lightly roasted coffee beans that deliver a high caffeine punch.

Drive into one of the bays and someone will come out to take your order then go back and prepare your drink. Eventually, Liesche plans to have both an order taker and a drinks maker. Before long, Marble Creek will also offer a selection of organic dry cereals and milk for kids (of all ages), plus organic panini sandwiches.

"We have a limited menu right now," he says, "but we're wanting to expand with more food."

On the other side of town, in the Lincoln Heights shopping plaza, FORZA COFFEE COMPANY opened its doors a few weeks ago, right next door to 2nd Look Books. The interior is spacious but made comfortable with golden-hued walls, several distinct seating areas and a three-sided glass fireplace near the front.

Forza is based in Gig Harbor, where the company works with coffee roaster Phil Beattie to create custom blends. The South Hill franchise, locally owned by Darrell and Donna Dotson, is the first foray into Eastern Washington for the rapidly growing chain.

Here in Spokane, Forza carries pastries and bagels from Sweetwater and biscotti from Nonni's to complement the usual array of caffeinated offerings. On a visit last week, the baristas passed my "short double Americano" test, delivering a bold cup just the way I like it on the first try. Just for that, I'll be back.


Marble Creek Coffee, 1505 W. Northwest Blvd., is open Mon-Sat 6 am-7 pm, Sun 6 am-6 pm. Call 325-4002.

Forza Coffee Company, 2829 E. 29th Ave., is open Mon-Thu 6 am-9 pm, Fri-Sat 6 am-10 pm, and Sun 6 am-8 pm. Call 535-7179.

WINE Quick to Quaff

Metamorphosing from cheerful chain sub shop to richly hued and romantic wine shop in a few short weeks is no easy task.

Nevertheless, owners Donna and Brent Poole's transformation of a longtime downtown Quiznos location into D & amp; B TRADING COMPANY INC. -- a wine bar with ambience to spare -- was so rapidly thorough and complete that unsuspecting regular customers seem to be endlessly arriving for a hoagie.

The Pooles' decision was as spur-of-the-moment as you can get in the restaurant business. The couple thought it was time for a change, and they saw a need in Spokane for sophisticated bar service that catered more toward casual elegance than blue martinis. One month later they shuttered the franchise and refitted the space with a copper-capped wine-barrel bar, slate tile and burgundy paint.

"We've built a nice mom-and-pop-type atmosphere, but still a big city feel," Brent says. Both he and Donna are running the bar daily, so chances are good for bumping into them any given afternoon.

D & amp; B offers a small food menu with grilled sandwiches like a roasted turkey club with apples, Swiss cheese and bacon ($9) and classic wine-bar fare like cheese-and-meat plates ($14) and baguettes of bread. Glasses of wine pour at prices ranging from $6 to $10, and a special five-wine tasting costs $5. Bottles are available for sale as well -- either take one home, or any wine can be served on the premises for a small corkage fee. The emphasis is on local and regional wines, from sources such as Mountain Dome, Grande Ronde Cellars and Robert Karl Winery.

"We're going to sell what we like," says Donna. "We have a really good array of winemakers right here in Spokane. I don't know if people know that. We do have a lot of eclectic wine from around the world, but we're featuring the Spokane market directly."


D & amp; B Trading Company Inc., 124 N. Wall St., is open Mon-Sat 11 am-close. Requests for private parties and business meetings are welcome. Call 838-9310.