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Tacos Chava cooking again at mall

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East Wenatchee

Tacos Chava cooking again at mall

Hopes and dreams of a life with creamy guacamole sauce can now officially come true.

Last month, Tacos Chava reopened.

The Wenatchee Valley Mall’s Mexican restaurant — considered by some to be one of the Wenatchee Valley’s best kept secrets — reopened after being closed for two months. It relocated in the mall to make way for the gift store Spencers.

Tacos Chava owners Salvador and Oralia Tobar say the new spot is even better than the old one. It’s on an entryway corner near Sears, so the restaurant is much more visible to strolling shoppers. It’s also completely redesigned with a more open and inviting entrance, brighter colors and, coming soon, sidewalk-cafe-style tables just outside the eatery.

And the menu’s basically the same. Handmade enchiladas, seasoned lecheros, stacked-high tortas along with burritos and tacos and more. Much of the food, including salsas and sauces, are prepared from scratch using recipes from the Tobars’ home region of Aguascalientes, located in the center of Mexico northeast of Guadalajara.

It’s the seasonings that make our food different,” said Salvador. “All from Mexico and used with just the right touch.”

Details: Tacos Chava, in the Wenatchee Valley Mall, 511 Valley Mall Parkway. Phone: 886-5838.

East Wenatchee

Highlander’s back nine reshaped for new homes

Golfing regulars might need to change up their game to accommodate Highlander Golf Club’s new configuration of 18 holes and — coming soon — 32 houses.

The Scottish-style course here on a bluff overlooking the Columbia River has opened Highlander Estates, a 32-lot development with river and mountain views to the west and challenging golf to the east.

This new development has been in the works for four or five years,” said Joe Gordon, the club’s head golf pro. “It’ll be a great addition to our facilities.” Eight of the home lots have already sold, he said.

When completed, homes in Highlander Estates will run in a double row along the bluff’s edge where views are best, said Gordon. Construction has forced closure of the course’s back nine with relocation of portions of the 17th and 18th holes, along with greens on the 14th and 16th holes.

Last month, nearly 60 trees along the original fairways were transplanted in new locations and an additional 40 trees could be added as newly-configured fairways take shape, said Gordon. With the help of sod, the back nine should be ready to play by May 2, when the club’s annual Apple Blossom tournament begins.

For more golf info, call the Highlander at 884-4653 or visit highlandergolfclub.com. For details on Highlander Estates, call real estate agent Lorre Stimac at 670-7653 or visit premierone.biz.

East Wenatchee

A fresh look at development near Odabashian Bridge

Stalled for decades, development of properties at the east end of the Odabashian Bridge took a major step forward March 4 with the Port of Douglas County’s announcement to take a fresh look at what could be built there.

A new study on possible commercial and residential development on 124 acres immediately south of the bridge and bordering the Columbia River will help “boost job growth, economic development and tourism,” said Port Executive Director Lisa Parks.

No definite construction plans have yet been announced, stressed Parks, but ideas discussed for years have included retail stores, hotels and restaurants, medical facilities and even a sports complex.

Property in this area has been zoned for some type of general commercial, tourist commercial or waterfront mixed-use for more than 15 years,” said Parks. But development has been held up due to inadequate utilities, streets and the lack of a cost-effective plan agreed upon by the city, county and state, she said.

The 124 acres under study is one of the last underdeveloped areas in the greater Wenatchee area, said Parks. “It features amazing views of the Columbia and Wenatchee Rivers, the upper valley and the North Cascades.”

The area is located within the East Wenatchee urban growth area and bounded on the north by Highway 2/97, on the south by Goldcrest Street, on the west by the Columbia River and on the east by Highway 28. In the 1990s, the same area was the site of a proposed shopping mall that never materialized, said the Port press release.

The new study — called the North End Master Plan and Feasibility Study — will help develop plans for utilities and streets that will help foster private investment, Parks said. The project will study ways to improve traffic circulation and utility services, identify ideal industries for the area, help rank public needs and creative ways to stimulate private investment. It’s also an early step towards a new master plan for the area that complies with land-use and environmental regulations.

The study will also develop commercial and residential concepts, said Parks, and test them against the existing market. “Essentially, see if they’re feasible ideas for that particular area,” she said.


Visitors bureau saying goodbye

Start saying your goodbyes. The Wenatchee Valley Visitors Bureau is packing up for a final departure.

The 12-year-old promotion office held its last scheduled board meeting March 13 and vacated its downtown office March 29 — two visible steps towards absorbtion by the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce on April 1.

We’re definitely in the winding down process,” said Bryan Campbell, president of the WVVB board. “We’re entering the final phase and doing the work that will neatly close up shop.”

In the last days of March, final tasks included an inventory of the bureau’s assets and a review of finances. An audit by the state will wrap up the bureau’s final accounting “just to make sure we did everything right,” said Campbell.

The WVVB has gotten most of the revenue in its approximately $475,000 annual budget from its state-allocated percentage of the hotel/motel room tax collected in Wenatchee and East Wenatchee.

Much of that money, channeled through the city, will now go to the Chamber to pay for two of the WVVB’s largest tasks, tourism promotion and welcome center operations.

The Chamber and WVVB approved joining forces on Aug. 15 after months of discussion and agreement that the bureau would dissolve.

This is less of a merger,” said Chamber Executive Director Shiloh Schauer, “and more of an expansion of the chamber to include destination marketing and visitor services. Those duties and a few others will now be the chamber’s responsibility.”

The current visitor center space at 5 S. Wenatchee Ave. will remain open and be run by Chamber staff, including receptionist Sandy Appel, the only WVVB staffer to make the transition from the bureau to the Chamber. Four WVVB board members will also join the Chamber board.

Plus, the Chamber will likely move its offices one block east from 2 S. Mission St. to 1 S. Wenatchee Ave., the now vacant space next to the visitors bureau. “The goal is to have everything clustered together in a central location,” said Schauer.


New marketing chief will pitch the Wenatchee Valley

Jerri Barkley wants to tell you where to go. And what to do. And how to get there.

That’s why she’s the perfect choice as new marketing and communications coordinator for the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, said Chamber Executive Director Shiloh Schauer.

Barkley was hired for the job March 6 from a handful of applicants and started her new duties March 18. She’s in charge of creating marketing campaigns, guiding marketing strategies and tracking the results of tourism promotions.

For 10 years, Barkley was marketing director for Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort and resigned last year in a management shakeup at the ski facility.

A new tourism campaign is one of the Chamber’s top priorities for 2013.


Business as a game is topic of seminar

A seminar using the analogy of games to overcome business challenges will be held here this month.

Gamify Your Business,” hosted by local business advisors of SCORE, will be held from 4 to 6:30 p.m. April 5 at the Confluence Technology Center, 285 Technology Center Way.

The session will be taught by Seattle-based business coach Michael Stratford, who has 20 years experience coaching executives at General Motors, Ford, Wells Fargo and Cisco Systems. He has written four books on approaching business as a game.

The seminar will include personal instruction, videos and team exercises to explore the seven elements of any well-played game, said a SCORE press release.

Registration by phone and online is $35 and $50 at the door. For more info and to preregister, call (206) 999-4228 or visit http://ow.ly/iXaxk.


National accounting firm opens office here

One of the nation’s largest accounting and consulting firms opened a new branch office here in February.

Moss Adams LLP opened its three-employee branch at 123 Easy St.

We are thrilled to be opening our office in Wenatchee,” said Randy Fenich, partner in charge of the firm’s Yakima office. “Our agribusiness practice already works with 75 percent of all apple growers, packing houses, shippers, and exporters in the state and 46 percent nationwide—more than any other accounting firm.”

He said the firm has also specialized in several regional industries, including wine production, construction, real estate, health care and nonprofits.

Staff for the new branch will include Fenich, an agribusiness expert and native of Ephrata; Val Perry, who specializes in estate planning and ownership transitions; and Brian Etzkorn, a Cashmere native whose specialties include agribusiness and tax research.


Barry’s revved on local dealership

After 34 years of selling cars in Ephrata, the Barry Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealership has zoomed to Wenatchee.

Last month, owner Denver Morford opened Barry Hassle-Free Used Cars at 881 North Mission St., which is right across the street from Hastings Books, Music & Video.

I’ve always had an affinity for the Wenatchee area,” said Morford. “We sometimes shop there, ski there, play there. The city’s laid-back attitude fits in with our laid-back way of selling cars.”

The used car dealership had about 60 vehicles on the lot for its grand opening March 15-16. For every test drive that weekend, the business donated $10 to school athletics programs in the Eastmont and Wenatchee school districts. His original dealership has contributed about $50,000 in recent years to school athletics programs in Grant County, “and I want to continue that tradition in our new location,” Morford said.

For more info, call the lot at 888-6699.


Former princess becomes masseuse

When a pregnant Emily Zukle had a car accident a few years ago, a massage therapist not only helped set her on the path to recovery, but also helped set her on a new life’s course.

I realized massage was a truly nurturing profession that could really help people,” said Zukle, 31, a former Disney World princess now with a business degree and family. “I wanted to be part of it.”

On Feb. 1, Zukle opened Ladyfingers Massage, a two-location practice with an all-female clientele that specializes in hot stone and Swedish massage to promote relaxation and healing. She’s leased treatment space at Snowcreek Health Center in Peshastin and upstairs at Wenatchee Natural Foods.

Zukle, who grew up in Wenatchee, helped finance her college education in Florida by performing as a variety of princess characters at Disney World. With degree in hand, she went to work in sales and human resource departments for several major companies, including Trader Joe’s, before earning certification in December at Wenatchee’s Columbia River Institute of Massage Therapy after 200 hours of instruction.

Swedish massage uses long flowing strokes to relax patients. Hot stone massage uses smooth, heated river rocks of different sizes (and placed strategically) to radiate warmth into muscle tissues.

The heat lengthens muscles and multiplies the relaxing effects,” said Zukle. “An hour of this type of massage can make a client feel like they’ve had eight hours of good sleep. It’s really amazing.”

Zukle plans to expand her practice to include perinatal massage for expecting mothers and, perhaps, add ashiatsu massage, which includes walking gently (and barefoot) on a client’s back to work the muscles.

Details: Ladyfingers Massage, 669-5239, or visit ladyfingersmassage.com. Locations are Snowcreek Health Center, 10090 Main St., Peshastin, and Wenatchee Natural Foods, 222 N. Wenatchee Ave. Women clients only.


Cold Train expands with Chicago office

The outfit here that hauls fresh fruit and frozen fish in refrigerated rail cars to Midwest and East Coast markets wants more cargo in those cars for the return trip.

The Cold Train Express, which in the last year tripled the size of its refrigerated fleet rolling out of Quincy, announced March 5 it would soon open a Chicago office to focus on putting more eastern-made products in rail cars headed west.

We’re excited about our new downtown Chicago office and the increased westbound capacity for products headed back to the Pacific Northwest,” said Steve Lawson, president of Cold Train.

Cold Train delivers Washington products — including fruit from North Central Washington and fish from Seattle — to markets in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, New York, New England, Illinois, Wisconsin and others. The company uses 53-foot refrigerated rail cars — 300 total — to transport the products from the Port of Quincy’s Intermodal Terminal.

Cold Train began operations in 2010 with 100 rail cars.


Libke Insurance, LocalTel and YWCA claim honors

A local insurance agency, a leading communications company and a nonprofit dedicated to empowering women claimed top honors March 7 at the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet.

Honorees were:

• Libke Insurance as Chelan County’s Business of the Year. Owners Jeff and Jill Rounds accepted the award.

• LocalTel as Douglas County Business of the Year. Paul Probst, a partner in the company, accepted the award.

YWCA Wenatchee Valley as Nonprofit of the Year in Chelan and Douglas County. Executive Director Jenny Pratt and Cafe Program Manager Kristina Fry accepted the award.


Downtown gives its ‘Best’ at awards banquet

Shoppers here honored stores offering jewelry, yoga, stationery, Japanese food, and home decor as the top downtown businesses of 2012.

Winners of the Downtown Best Awards, an annual survey by the Wenatchee Downtown Association, were announced at the group’s 2013 Annual Appreciation Dinner held Feb. 28 at the Wenatchee Convention Center.

These are great stores that help make our downtown the interesting and fun place it is,” said WDA Executive Director Linda Haglund.

Steve King, the city of Wenatchee’s community and economic development director, received the Spirit of Downtown Award for his work in planning and presenting an upcoming street overlay project for Wenatchee Avenue.

He’s done wonders to help educate our downtown business community on what’s happening with that project,” Haglund said.

The 2012 Downtown Best Awards went to:

• Best of Downtown — Gilded Lily (home decor)

• Best Bite — Iwa Sushi & Grill (Japanese and Asian food)

• Best Customer Service — Peggy Nichols at Pickle Papers (cards and paper products)

• Best Downtown Renovation — iLa Yoga (classes and gear)

• Best New Business — Tumbleweeds (jewelry and accessories)

• Steve King, the city of Wenatchee’s community and economic development director

More than 100 people attended the banquet. The event’s theme of “Mainstreet Market” tied together the downtown commercial core with the new Pybus Market and other riverfront development.

East Wenatchee

LocalTel expands into home, business security

The region’s largest privately-held communications and media company has continued its expansion into new technologies with the purchase of a local security company that specializes in electronic alarm and monitoring systems.

LocalTel Communications, which provides phone, Internet, television and wireless service across North Central Washington, began in February to offer services of Wenatchee-based Corban Security — now renamed Guardian Services Division — to commercial and residential clients.

LocalTel purchased the seven-year-old security company in December and has been incorporating its four employees — including Corban owner Michael Blakly — and equipment into the LocalTel mix, said the communication company’s president Dimitri Mandelis. He did not disclose the purchase price.

It’s a good fit for us,” said Mandelis. “The systems are already in place — well, mostly in place — for us to offer burglar alarms, fire alarms, home monitoring and other security services to our customers.”

The security services will become part of bundled packages of phone, TV and Internet offered by LocalTel, he said. “Which can mean lower costs for some customers, depending on how they bundle our services.”

The new Guardian Services will offer monitoring, surveillance and alarm systems — both on-site and remote — to LocalTel’s 16,000 customers in Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan and Grant counties.

The technology for these services is pretty amazing — linked to smartphones and laptops — so home and business owners really can keep an eye on their property from a distance,” said Mandelis. “And best of all, the equipment gets better and prices get lower for these technologies all the time.”