Willows Lodge, located in the heart of Woodinville Wine Country, announced results from the fourth annual Iron Vintner Challenge, which took place throughout the month of June 2013.
The event raised more than $29,000 for Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center to support its mission to improve the bodies, minds and spirits of children and adults with disabilities through equine-assisted therapy.
Lisa Baer of Baer Winery ultimately won the competition, beating out her fellow winemakers Tyson Schiffner of Betz Family Winery, Tracey LaPierre of DiStefano Winery and Chris Peterson of Avennia.
"We would like to thank our partners, attendees and Woodinville winemakers for committing their time, talent and passion to supporting a cause that is near to our hearts," said Bobby Moore, Barking Frog’s executive chef at Willows Lodge. "As we launch into our fifth and final year of Iron Vintner Challenge in 2014, we plan to showcase an all-star lineup of past IVC winners — Darby English of Darby Winery, Chris Gorman of Gorman Winery, Morgan Lee of Covington Cellars and Lisa Baer of Baer Winery — in an ultimate championship competition."
The month-long culinary competition was emceed by Moore, who presented the winemakers with a different secret ingredient each week and 60 minutes in which to prepare an appetizer and entrée for a panel of celebrity judges.
Each competition featured a live auction led by auctioneer David Silverman to benefit Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center.
Auction items included signed magnums from local winemakers, hotel packages at Willows Lodge and one-of-a-kind culinary experiences donated by the chef judges.
The Iron Vintner Challenge concluded on June 26 with a special Championship Winemaker Dinner on the Fireside Cellars patio.
"Willows Lodge has become a vital partner in Little Bit’s ability to deliver life changing opportunities to children and adults with disabilities," said Kathy Alm, executive director, Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center. "Iron Vintner Challenge has become a high point in our year, expanding our community, raising awareness and funds, all to support our riders and their families. Chef Bobby Moore and the entire crew at Willows have our heartfelt appreciation."
Ananya Garg’s quest to turn ordinary mailboxes into public works of art has turned the Reinwood I neighborhood on Hollywood Hill into an outdoor art gallery. Garg, who will be a junior at Woodinville High School this fall, has painted over 20 mailboxes so far and created a website to feature the finished works of art. Courtesy photo.When you drive through most neighborhoods, chances are you don’t even notice the mailboxes. After all, they look pretty much the same from one neighborhood to the next. That is, until you enter the Reinwood I neighborhood on Hollywood Hill where all of a sudden there are mailboxes scattered throughout covered in images of rainbows, butterflies, music notes and trees.
It’s the spark of an idea that started when 16-year-old Ananya Garg, who will be a junior at Woodinville High School this fall, remembered how her mom had painted their family’s own mailbox when she was younger. The mailbox art had faded away, so one day Garg decided to paint it again.
"I remembered how lovely the mailbox had been," she wrote in an email interview.
Soon, the neighbors noticed the newly painted mailbox and how it stood out in the long row of them. When Garg asked if they’d like their mailboxes painted, they said yes.
She chose mailboxes as her canvas because she felt she could make the neighborhood cheery. She’s painted over 20 mailboxes in the Woodinville neighborhood now.
"It’s like an outdoor art gallery," Garg said, explaining that the painted mailboxes are always on display.
Garg would like to see the painted mailbox project expand as far as it could go.
She’s created a website that offers advice on what materials to use and how to prepare a mailbox for painting. The website also provides a photo gallery of some of the completed works of art.
"Imagine a world in which every single mailbox is a piece of art. Wouldn’t that be amazing?" asked Garg, suggesting that streets could have themes and scavenger hunts could be created to find certain mailboxes.
She is excited to watch her project grow bigger, beyond the mailboxes of Woodinville. "I’m looking forward to posting pictures of mailboxes from Woodinville and around the world," she said. The website encourages people to submit photos and addresses of their own painted mailboxes.
To read Garg’s suggestions for painting a mailbox and see a list of addresses where some of the painted mailboxes are located in Woodinville, visit Garg’s website: paintedmail.org
Photo by Gary Hilsie. Maltby Café employees and their families gathered recently to celebrate the cafe’s 25th anniversary. Twenty-five years ago, a small group of young women who’d met and become friends when they joined a soccer league, liked stopping in at the Maltby Café for breakfast after playing soccer.
Tana Baumler mentioned to her friends that the restaurant was a gold mine in terms of location and ambience, but it lacked a good layout and had poor customer service.
Then, one day in February 1988, Sandra Albright was having lunch there when she noticed a newly placed “for sale” sign. After several discussions and with no business plan in place, the group of friends bought the restaurant on June 15, 1988.
Fast forward 25 years, and that small gold mine of a restaurant tucked into the basement of an old school gymnasium has firmly become one of the best restaurants in America, as evidenced by the slew of awards and accolades that adorn the wall just inside the entrance and the steady flow of customers.
What had been a restaurant with a turnover of five owners and five different names the preceding five years became a national treasure for foodies from all over the world in search of the perfect home-style breakfast, brunch or lunch.
Of the Maltby Café’s many awards, three stand out to co-owner Baumler: the American Egg Board’s awards for best in Washington and best in the U.S.A.; making the list for USA Today’s ranking of Top Five Breakfasts in America; and being honored with Best Breakfast by Evening Magazine’s Best of Western Washington for 16 of the last 18 years. When so many restaurants fail, it is worth noting what has made the café a success for a quarter of a century. It began with the perfect collaboration of three friends, each with unique strengths they brought to the business.
While Baumler had previous restaurant and cooking experience – she’d owned a pie making business in Montana before moving to Washington, Sandra Albright brought strong retail management experience, and a love of gourmet cooking and entertaining. Barbara Peter, who worked for the Northshore School District’s payroll department at the time, had accounting and bookkeeping experience.
“It worked because we’re each different personalities with different strengths,” said Baumler, adding, “We had totally different backgrounds that all came together. The three of us have done a great job of working together and maintaining our friendships.”
Next were not only assembling an outstanding team of employees but also learning how to be good bosses. Baumler explained that they make a point of providing some of the highest wages in the industry in the state, coupled with good benefits.
“We found that the more we offer, the happier employees we have,” she said. Happy employees love their job, and that’s reflected in the way they treat their customers, she explained. In turn, the café’s employees have remained steadfastly loyal, with many of them working for Baumler and her partners since they opened in 1988.
Then came the menu. When the café first opened, customers had 10 menu items to choose from for breakfast and lunch that had been served by the previous owner. Within a month, Albright and Baumler began evolving the menu to tailor it more for a Northwest style of cuisine. Now, the menu has well over 100 options for ravenous breakfast, brunch or lunch eaters. Still served, though, from that original list of 10 choices are the almost salad-plate-sized cinnamon rolls created by baker Scott Berry, an original employee when they first opened. While Berry is no longer with the café, his cinnamon rolls remain his legacy.
“We quickly realized we had to create menu items you can’t get anywhere else. For example, our bread pudding is made from our cinnamon rolls,” said Baumler.
Customers will also say it’s the Maltby-style Swedish pancakes, the Maltby bar cookies, the cinnamon rolls, plus several other menu items that make the café unique.
Baumler also takes pride in her staff’s unwavering commitment to customer service. “The wait staff love their customers! They get worried when one of their regulars doesn’t show up,” she said. She also taught them the importance of anticipating a customer’s needs so that a customer hopefully never leaves feeling unsatisfied.
Because of that level of customer service accompanied with outstanding food, the café has had the luxury of customer word-of-mouth to promote the business. “Our customers are our best advertising,” Baumler said, adding, “We don’t advertise except locally to support local weekly newspapers.”
Customer raves led the Maltby Café to enjoy increased sales every single day of the first five years it was open. It wasn’t just the good customer service that made customers talk. It was the food.
While certain aspects of the restaurant have changed over the years, key elements have remained the same. Most of the items on the menu are homemade in the restaurant, including the biscuits, cinnamon rolls and homemade hamburger buns, the freezer jam and salad dressings, all the pies and desserts, and the meats that are roasted to perfection and the soup stock that is made from scratch daily. And while they don’t classify themselves as a true farm-to-table restaurant, Baumler said they try to buy as much of their ingredients as locally as they can.
Baumler loves to travel, and so several menu items reflect experiences she’s had in her journeys. Order tea at Maltby Café and one finds a shallow, rectangular basket brought to the table with a teapot, cup and saucer, accompanied by a lemon drop candy, just like she experienced when she was 19 years old and traveling with a girlfriend in England. At the time, she told her girlfriend, “If I ever have a restaurant, I’m going to have these tea baskets.” She kept her word.
While consistency of food fare has remained the same, some things have changed. When Baumler first opened the restaurant she often had her daughter riding in a backpack while she worked. That daughter, Keesha Laws, who was two and a half years old at the time, now helps with waitressing, managing, and the books.
Baumler’s daughter, Tessa Curtis, who was five when the café opened, became the chief financial officer when co-owner Peter retired.
To celebrate the café’s milestone anniversary, the co-owners held a celebration for all their guests, employees, suppliers, vendors and the local community on June 30. Five hundred people attended the event, Baumler said.
“We had Maltby Pizza serving pizza, Snoqualmie Ice Cream served gelato, and Canon del Sol, the first Hispanic winery in Washington, served two wines,” she said.
It was a nice way to give back to the community that has supported the three friends who took a chance on a “for sale” sign all those years ago and began what has become one of the best restaurants in America right in our own backyard.
Sandy Laurence wishes more people felt as good as she does on a daily basis. She yearns to share what she knows.
As a track and field coach at Woodinville High, along with years of experience in competitive sports and studying nutrition, Laurence has stockpiled wisdom. Her wisdom centers on competing at a high level while getting the most out of one’s body.
"I love how I feel at the end of a good workout," she said. "And I love that I get to see things that I think other people don’t get to see on a long run — especially early in the morning or late in the evening. Sometimes in the evening I’ll get to see birds come home to roost. Maybe I’ll hear certain bird calls that I know I don’t hear during the day. You see the little creatures trying to find their ways home. If I see something interesting, I stop."
In the manic rush of modern day society, people often feel overwhelmed and stressed out. They feel they lack the time and willpower to commit to an exercise program. But Laurence urges patience and common sense.
"If I were to boil everything down to a bottom line sentence, anytime when you’re training over 10 seconds, you’re training your body to create more mitochondria," she said, referring to the membrane-enclosed structures that generate most of a cell’s energy supply in our bodies. "And you’re training to create more muscle fiber contraction proteins. Those don’t take very long to make.
"But people don’t have enough patience to do it," she said. "So they’ll go out and run 6-8 miles on the first day, and then they’re so sore they can’t sit down on the toilet. So they say, `See, this is horrible! Anything that hurts this bad has to be bad for you.’ But you wouldn’t eat a whole chocolate cake, or else you would be sick and probably wouldn’t do it again for a very, very long time. It’s the same principle at work here."
What advise does she give to out-of-shape people wishing to boost their health and vitality?
"You have to begin with one minute," she said. "If I train someone who is sedentary, I send them out the very first week to run just three minutes.
"The next week you get to go five, and then six. By the end of a month, you’re running thirty minutes a day. It’s really a very simple equation, but most people don’t know it.
"Every hour, no matter what you’re doing, stand up and get out of breath for 20 seconds. No matter what your fitness level, you can get out of breath for 20 seconds. I don’t mean horribly out of breath where you’re panting and wheezing. But walk up and down the stairs two times. Stand in place and move your arms very fast. If you can’t stand up and you’re handicapped, sit in your chair and wiggle your arms and legs very fast. Whatever you can do, whatever it takes, do it for 20-30 seconds 10 times a day.
"Boom! You’ve just moved," she said. "You’ve just started to change your cellular structure. And you will get more fit. You will feel better."
Photo by Derek Johnson. Play it Again Sports owner Rick Bauman (right) scrutinizes a bike brought in by a customer with the hopes of selling it.As I entered Play it Again Sports for the first time and waited while owner Rick Bauman handled a customer, I wandered toward the bicycle section. As I’m thinking of getting one sometime, my eyes feasted on a couple models. While kibitzing with one of the assistants, I realized the bikes were brand new and not used.
Suddenly, Bauman appeared and shook my hand. We walked to his office and I expressed surprise at seeing new products.
"Probably 30 percent of our sales are used," he said. "If we could get everything we wanted used, that would be great. But the reality is we can sell way more than we can (buy from the public). So we supplement our inventory with new products. Since we’ve been in business so long, we’ve developed relationships with a lot of different vendors, so we can be very competitive on the new items as well. It gives the customers choices; if we have what they want in used, great. If not, no reason to go to another store — hopefully we have what they want new."
Play it Again Sports is a national franchise, and Bauman owns two locations. He opened his Lynnwood store in 1990 and the Woodinville location in 1992. "We tend to be a community, family-oriented store," he said. "We try to cater to all the team sports, as well as bikes and scooters and whatever the community would like us to offer."
If one word sums up Bauman’s business philosophy, it seems to be "flexibility."
"We’re definitely very in tune with what’s going on and what sports are on the rise and what customers want," he said. "We tend to react pretty quickly. For example, lacrosse has grown tremendously in the last few years. We jumped on board right from the beginning. It’s been doubling for us every year for the last four or five years.
"Another example is scooters. It’s an area that’s growing like crazy. A lot of stores think scooters are what kids were doing 10 years ago and that it has gone away. But it’s totally changed. It’s high performance scooters now. And we’re right in the ground floor of that. We’re one of the biggest shops in the country for scooter work."
Having been in business for more than two decades, Bauman’s industry succeeds in booming economic times as well as painful recessions.
"We’ve had very consistent growth from the beginning," he said. "It seems the economy doesn’t affect us as much as maybe other types of shops. A good economy is always the best, of course. But even in a down economy, we seem to do well because we’re a value oriented store."
I referenced again my misconception that they sold nothing but used items.
"For people who have never been in our store before, sometimes they think it’s all old equipment, collector items and novelty or nostalgia type items. We’re usable equipment, current type models. You won’t see 30-year-old baseball bats here; you’ll see one-year- old baseball bats. We’re not going after the collectors, we’re going after people who will use the gear. We’re used, we’re new, we’re service as far as bike and ski tune-ups. We lease ski equipment and do bike rentals as well.
"We just keep expanding," he said. "Whatever it seems like the customers want, we think ‘oh we can do that,’ and we jump into it."