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Business Roundup | Oneonta ships new JUICI apple variety

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A JUICI apple awaits harvest in a Chelan-area orchard.

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Oneonta ships new JUICI apple variety

WENATCHEE — The new JUICI could whet your apple appetite.

That’s what Oneonta Starr Ranch Growers is hoping with the introduction of its new JUICI apple variety, a cross between a Honeycrisp and a Braeburn.

The JUICI offers a wonderful balance of sweet and tart with amazing crunch,” said Bruce Turner, Oneonta’s international marketing rep. And, he said, as its name indicates, “it’s so juicy!”

Oneonta — a Wenatchee-based grower and shipper of apples, pears and cherries — launched the variety to rave reviews at the Produce Management Association’s convention held in October in Orlando, Florida, said a company press release.

The variety’s first commercial shipment in this inaugural season arrived at East Wenatchee’s Costco on Oct. 28. North American and worldwide distribution will broaden, said Turner, as production increases. Oneonta expects production to triple next year, and by the 2018-19 season to have increased packing enough for general distribution.

We are planting trees heavily over the next few years,” said Turner. “And we expect the JUICI to be the fastest ramp-up of a proprietary variety in Washington apple history.”

The JUICI, a thinner-skinned apple with a texture similar to Honeycrisp, was more than 10 years in development, said Oneonta marketing director Scott Marboe.

Because of its Honeycrisp parentage, the apple respirates slowly and has incredible shelf life,” said Marboe. “It’s a dense apple that holds its crunch at room temperature. Consumers will be very pleased with how well it holds up in their fruit bowls at home.”

Marboe said marketing for JUICI apples has also been stepped up. “The real test is to get them into the mouths of apple consumers so they can decide for themselves. That’s why our limited release this season is heavily supported with demos, ads, instant coupons and other tools to attract shoppers.”

For more info, visit oneonta.com or facebook.com/oneonta.


Cafe Rio makes its last tortilla

WENATCHEE — Cafe Rio, the Mexican restaurant that touted its fresh ingredients and handmade tortillas, closed Nov. 6 after three years in business.

Word of the store’s closure began spreading on social media that night, and by the next morning a company sign declaring the closure as permanent had been posted at the entrance. A phone call to the restaurant got a message that said it was closed for good.

No reasons for the closure were disclosed. The restaurant was a company-owned location.

Of course it’s a disappointment,” said Bryan Noyd, owner of the Cafe Rio building at 1121 N. Mission St. The structure was extensively remodeled three years ago to accommodate Cafe Rio after housing an Arby’s restaurant for years.

But in the Wenatchee Valley, the Mexican food category is a tough segment to compete in,” he added, noting the high number of restaurants that serve Latin food. In recent years, a number of Mexican restaurants in North Central Washington have shut their doors, including El Sol in North Wenatchee and three locations of Carlos 1800 in North Central Washington.

Based in Utah, the fast-casual restaurant chain has more than 100 locations in 11 states. The Wenatchee location was the company’s first in Washington. Five locations remain in business in the state.


Grocery Outlet to replace Food Pavilion at mall

EAST WENATCHEE — Food Pavilion is out. Grocery Outlet is in.

Discount supermarket chain Grocery Outlet will occupy a portion of Food Pavilion’s soon-to-be-vacated space at Wenatchee Valley Mall, owners of the retail hub announced last month.

The new company-owned Grocery Outlet is expected to be open by summer 2017 in about half the space currently occupied by Food Pavilion, said Priyanka Banerjee, spokeswoman for Los Angeles-based mall owners Vintage Real Estate.

Food Pavilion announced Oct. 30 that it will be closing sometime in early December. A close-out sale on food items and fixtures at the grocer is underway, Banerjee said.

The Grocery Outlet at the mall will be the second Wenatchee Valley location for the “extreme value grocery store chain,” said Banerjee. Neither Vintage nor Grocery Outlet has said who will own and operate the outlet, which are typically independently owned franchises.

Mall execs expect the store will be company-owned at first and later owned and operated “by local families.” As of last week, the store was not an expansion of the Wenatchee Grocery Outlet, which is owned by Mike and Michelle Martin.

The new Grocery Outlet will offer East Wenatchee residents a full range of brand-name products at up to 40 to 70 percent off,” said a Vintage press release.

We are excited to bring in a grocer that not only better understands the needs of our residents, but also resonates with their values and identity,” said Carla Sands, chairman of Vintage Real Estate.

With the addition of Grocery Outlet,” said Sands, “we are providing the residents of East Wenatchee a reasonably priced quality grocery store — making the (mall) a prime destination for shoppers to visit.”


Stevens Pass, Snoqualmie resorts sell to New York company

LEAVENWORTH — Two of the region’s most popular ski resorts were sold last month as part of a 15-mountain deal valued at $374 million.

Stevens Pass and The Summit at Snoqualmie were part of a deal that included ski facilities in nine states and Canada. Ski Resort Holdings LLC, a division of New York City-based Och-Ziff Real Estate, bought the resorts from CNL Lifestyle ski properties of Orlando, Florida.

Skiers likely won’t notice the change in ownership because the ski areas are leased and run by separate operating companies that will remain in place, resort managers said.

CNL had owned Stevens Pass since November 2011, when it bought the 10-chairlift resort (1,125 skiable acres) for $20,475,000, according to CNL’s 2015 annual report. The Summit at Snoqualmie had been owned by CNL since January 2007, when it paid $34,466,000 for the 24-lift facility (1,981 skiable acres).

In addition to Stevens Pass and The Summit at Snoqualmie, the sale also includes the Cypress Mountain Resort near Vancouver, B.C., three resorts in California, two in New Hampshire, two in Maine and others in Utah, Colorado, Tennessee, Vermont and Massachusetts.

The resort purchase is partially financed by EPR Properties of Kansas City, Missouri, as part of their expansion into the recreation industry. This year, the company has invested nearly $700 million in ski resorts, water parks, amusement parks and family entertainment centers, according to an EPR press release.


Counties see surge in taxable retail sales

Taxable retail sales in Chelan and Douglas counties surged in the second quarter of 2016, according to the state Department of Revenue.

Compared to 2015’s second quarter, taxable sales in Chelan County jumped 17.9 percent to $506.7 million and in Douglas County rose 13.3 percent to $220.1 million. The reason: The region’s ag and tourism economies are continuing strong.

Meanwhile, Okanogan County showed a modest 0.3 percent rise to $160.7 million, while Grant County’s taxable sales fell 0.5 percent to $455.5 million.