Category Archives: Tacoma Places

5 Question Friday With The NEW Poison Apple’s Jooley Heaps

poisonappleThis week is a first. After three years of doing 5 Question Friday we have our first three-time participant. We’d stop asking her questions if she’d stop doing awesome stuff. Jooley Heaps once ran a wonderfully strange shop in downtown Tacoma called Poison Apple. Sadly, the location wasn’t very conducive to massive sales. Since then Jooley and Poison Apple has existed by vending at various local events. But now Jooley and Poison Apple have a new home. And their grand opening is TODAY. Here’s Jooley to tell you more about it.

1. Poison Apple is back. What can you tell us about the new location?

We are now located inside Freighthouse Square, across from Sasquatch Cinnamon Rolls. Our new neighbors at The Giving Place and Vapor Works have also been very kind to us. Past the food court is Justin Winter at American Ritual Tattoo and his girlfriend Michelle. And of course my old pal Pete Lira is moving in this summer. Everyone has been very welcoming and it is exciting to start our new retail adventure here.

 

2. What’s different about Poison Apple this time around?

What we did this time was fuse together what worked for us before- a mix of rock and roll, punk, horror, etc with pop culture and a throwback to the vintage culture I adore. We have a great selection of kitsch items, clothing, shoes and all sorts of colorful fun items that can only be found here

 

3. How can people help out Poison Apple?

Thanks to social networking sites like Facebook many people have shared our event. I believe this location will be a good fit for us because there is daily walk thru traffic which what was a major issue with Pacific Avenue.

 

4. What’s your favorite thing about running Poison Apple?

My favorite thing about Poison Apple is that it is a colorful vision that we made happen. I have a dedicated crew in Jason Emmett and Jennifer Walter, and we each bring something to the table and all complement each other. While wearing ‘handerpants’ of course. I’d definitely say that there is nothing out there in Tacoma like it, and it makes me smile because it’s hilarious and always evolving into more.

 

5. What do you hope for the future of Poison Apple?

As far as the future- aim high! We are about to also start our busy vending schedule so of course the more events the merrier:) and I’d love to have success with the shop and possibly open a second location. Like I said. Aim high:).

 

I’d like to thank Jooley Heaps for participating in 5 Question Friday and for bringing Poison Apple back to Tacoma. If you or someone you know is interested in joining me for 5 Question Friday, let me know at jackcameronis@gmail.com

-       Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Christina Wheeler of the Nearsighted Narwhal

logoI just released a new edition of my self-destruct book, Ruin Your Life. I wrote it, formatted it, created the cover, and published it. I’m a publisher as well as a writer. Later this year, I’m releasing an ebook about running Kickstarter campaigns and a Tacoma-based crime novel. When it comes to Tacoma and publishing, I’m very interested in the things going on in this town. So when I heard about the Nearsighted Narwhal I reached out to Christina Wheeler, the mastermind behind the Nearsighted Narwhal.

Here’s Christina:

1. What is The Nearsighted Narwhal?

The Nearsighted Narwhal is a storefront that is planning on opening in the summer of 2014. Spaceworks has accepted our application and will be helping to place us in a vacant storefront sometime this summer.

Our main focus is on self-publishing. We are a consignment store for anyone who has ever printed their own books, zines, music, comics, or made their own CDs . We will also have a zine/comic creation area in the store along with workshops on self-publishing and the myriad facets of putting your words or art out in the mainstream. We’ll also have a listening station set up to listen to-and buy-local music. We plan on having special events such as open mic nights, musical performances, 24 hour zine/comic making events in which the store will stay open for a full day to accommodate the creators, along with a lot of other fun stuff.

Though our main focus is publishing, we also want to lend a helping hand to people that create other tangible items. We will have a consignment area for these individuals and groups that make buttons, patches, stickers, jewelry, t-shirts, posters, or whatever else the lovely creative community of Tacoma has to offer us. We are open to it all as long as it is handmade.

Our store will also feature visual art from local artists that will be on consignment.

2. What makes this different than other publication companies? 

We are interested in the “little guy”, those individuals that get looked over even though their wares maybe be brilliant and amazing, in favor of more mainstream media. We believe that these underground publishers, these people that choose to take the path less traveled in order to pursue their passions…these are the people that need to be celebrated. They are an untapped creative resource and we’re here to shed some light on them. We want to show people that you don’t need a big publishing contract-though those are nice-to be successful and get your name out there.

Another thing that makes us different is that, as individuals, we are also self-publishers. My partner, Ossain, and I have been in the self-publishing business for years. We understand on an intrinsic level the difficulties that many of these people face on a day-to-day basis and we’re here to help. By opening this store and getting the word out to people who might skip right over the independent publishing shelf at the local bookstore full of mainstream authors, we’re bringing the focus on the people who aren’t censored by editors and publishing company politics. It’s pure unfiltered talent and we’re excited as hell to be able to help.

3. What can people do if they’re interested in participating? 

You can contact us through Facebook, through e-mail (thenearsightednarwhal@gmail.com), through Twitter #Narwhal253, or through our website www.thenearsightednarwhal.com. Once you contact us we will send you the consignment agreement to be completed and signed and given back along with whatever it is you’d like us to sell. That’s it. Super easy.

4. What other local independent artist causes interest you? 

We’re always interested in community building and drumming up interest in the vast well of artistic talent that resides in Tacoma. We’re especially fans of the Art Bus, Creative Colloquy, or any other business or venture that promotes community and focuses on the artist and not turning them into a machine that cranks out works like they’re in front of a conveyor belt.

5. What would you like to see for the future of The Nearsighted Narwhal?

We’d love to be one of the many agents of change in Tacoma for the self-publishers, artists, and other crafty folk. We’d love to spur Tacoma on its way to recognizing the many different talents that this city harbors.

We’d like to be fully established as the self-publisher’s landmark in Tacoma that can help with promoting the DIY community and be involved in the zine festival circuit at some point in the near future. Ideally we envision our store as a place a customer can come to and pick up a zine, a book, a comic, have a cup of coffee, listen to some local music talent, read from their works in front of a crowd of like-minded individuals, eat some locally made goodies, make a button, take a workshop on an area of self-publishing they need help on, and be filled with wonder at the thought of Tacoma being so amazing. Because, you know…it totally is.

I want to thank Christian for joining me for 5 Question Friday. For more information on the Nearsighted Narwhal, check out their website www.thenearsightednarwhal.com.

If you or someone you know wants to participate in 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

-       Jack Cameron

An Open Letter To Washington State Governor Jay Inslee

iceGovernor Inslee,

As you are no doubt aware we have an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention Center here in Tacoma. It currently houses 1,300 people. Most of these people are illegal immigrants. The vast majority of these individuals are not violent criminals. It is a facility to hold individuals until they can be processed and released or deported.

The Detention Center in Tacoma is run by a for-profit company called the GEO Group. The GEO Group is a global for-profit prison company. They are the second largest for-profit prison company in the United States and have more than 95 facilities.

A quick look into the GEO Group finds that when it comes to immigration, the GEO Group is at the forefront of funding anti-immigration legislation. The Associated Press found that the GEO Group is one of several for-profit prison companies that contributed tens of millions of dollars towards anti-immigration lobbyists and candidates.

It’s in their best interests that we lock up as many people as possible for as long as possible. That’s how they make their money. And so they are literally influencing new anti-immigration law in order to lock more people up in their facilities. That alone should be disturbing to anyone as it goes contrary to the basic concept of our rule of law.

However, that’s not all that’s wrong with the GEO Group. A woman in a Texas facility reported being raped by male inmates and shortly after that committed suicide. In March of 2007, her family won a settlement against the GEO Group.

The GEO Group-run Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility in Mississippi is a place where in 2010 the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center issued a legal complaint alleging that the juveniles there (67% of them there for non-violent offenses) were “kicked and punched while handcuffed, and others have been stripped naked and placed in solitary confinement for weeks;”

One need only put the words ‘GEO Group’ and ‘Abuse’ into a Google Search to quickly find a litany of abuse complaints including horrific conditions, inedible food, sexual assault, rape, physical abuse, and death.

Recently, as many as 750 of the inmates in the ICE facility in Tacoma began a hunger strike citing poor conditions. I fear Tacoma may soon be added to the growing list of cities where for-profit prison abuses have resulted in unwanted headlines. It’s clear that this company is not a company that should be making money in Washington State.

Governor Inslee, I recognize the need for a facility such as the detention center here in Tacoma. However, it should not be run by a for-profit company with a lengthy history of corruption and abuse.

Recently you put a stay on executions in this state because you found that the law might not have been applied fairly. I urge you to seek a solution to this situation that gets for-profit prisons out of our state. These companies thrive on taxpayer dollars by locking up our people for as long as possible.

-          Jack Cameron

UPDATE: Sign my petition to Governor Inslee to shut down for-profit prisons in this state.
http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/shut-down-for-profit-1.fb58?source=c.fb&r_by=2851726

5 Question Friday With Tony, Owner of Little Jerry’s

lj2Last December my girlfriend suggested we have breakfast at a place called Little Jerry’s. I knew nothing about it. I looked it up and found the address. It wasn’t too far from the South Tacoma neighborhood I grew up in, but even knowing where it was and what I was looking for, I must admit I initially drove by the place. Then I turned around and we walked into a classic diner with an outright obsession with the TV Show, Seinfeld.  It also turned out to be one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had.

Whenever I find an awesome place in Tacoma, I want to share it with the world. And so I asked the owner of Little Jerry’s, a guy named Tony, to join me for 5 Question Friday. Here’s Tony:

1. What is Little Jerry’s?

Little Jerry’s is a breakfast & lunch joint. We serve skillets, breakfast stackers, outrageous burgers and sandwiches. . . COME EAT!

2. What makes Little Jerry’s different?

Little Jerry’s is different because of our perspective. . . we don’t fit the standard restaurant or diner mold. We make food that we love to eat in an environment that we love. . . Seinfeld.

3. Why Seinfeld?

We chose Seinfeld because it is and has been our favorite show. Its content relates to so many people even today, 15 years after its final show. It also has so many correlations with food, and around eating, it all just fell into place.

4. What should someone order if it’s their first time at Little Jerry’s?

Someone should definitely try one of our breakfast stackers for breakfast which takes your home fries or hash browns, topped with an English muffin or biscuit, topped with breakfast meat, eggs, and topped with either country gravy or hollandaise. At lunchtime, “The Mimbo” is by far the most popular, a 1/3# burger, fried egg, bacon, nestled between two grilled cheese sandwiches. . . so good!

5. What would you like to see for the future of Little Jerry’s?

We would like to see continued growth and success within our neighborhood, and grow with our customers and their families. We want to serve generation after generation. I want to hear people say, “I came here as a kid too.”

I’d like to thank Tony for taking the time to participate in 5 Question Friday. If you’re a local or even if you’re just passing through town, you owe it to yourself to stop by. I highly recommend it. Little Jerry’s is located at 8233 South Park Ave. If you’re heading towards 84th Street from the direction of the Mall it’s on the left hand side.

littlejerrrys

You can also find Little Jerry’s online at http://www.littlejerrys.com/ 
on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LittleJerrys or on Twitter @LittleJerrys_

If you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

-          Jack Cameron

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date: Pacific Grill and Old Milwaukee Cafe

Chad and Pat, owners of the Old Milwaukee Cafe

Chad and Pat, owners of the Old Milwaukee Cafe

For the third installment of Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date, Mimi and I had decided to go to the Pacific Grill. I had heard they had a new menu and I wanted to go someplace nice. Not to mention, I’d been meaning to go to dinner at Pacific Grill ever since owner and chef, Gordon Naccarato was kind enough to join me for 5 Question Friday last year.

We arrived Friday night without a reservation and sat at the bar until there was a table ready for us. We looked over the menu which included many small plates that were intended to be shared family style. Mimi and I talked about how to work this into the rules of ‘Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date’ which are that we order the two cheapest entrees on the menu. And then something happened.

“I don’t care what we do next,” Mimi said, “but no matter what I’m ordering the Soy Whiskey Whiskey Chicken.”

This was not the cheapest thing on the menu but at $8.95 it was also not the most expensive.  The description said “chicken thighs marinated in soy, garlic, bourbon + ginger w/ smoky sweet potato salad.“  I entirely understood why Mimi wanted it.  However, since rules are rules, it was clear that we were no longer on a ‘Cheap Date’. And so I ordered a full plate of ‘Stan the Man’s Killer Clam Linguine’ for $24.

Mimi’s chicken was tender and juicy, but the real treat was the smoked potato salad. The clams in my clam linguine were crazy good and the full plate was indeed full. Luckily I had a big appetite. Later, Gordon stopped by our table and we finally met face to face. He told us how the dish I was eating was named for his father, Stan Naccarato who used to make that dish all the time when Gordon was younger.

Mimi and I had a great dinner at a great place, but we still had a column to write. We were too full of good food to go somewhere else. So Saturday morning we decided we’d fix this problem by having ‘Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Breakfast’.

And so we went to Tacoma’s Old Milwaukee Café on 6th Ave. Mimi had been telling me about this place for weeks and I’d never been there. Located at 3102 S. 6th Ave., the Old Milwaukee has been a local favorite for fourteen years. It’s run by a couple named Pat and Chad. She waits tables. He cooks. There are eight tables and the whole place probably couldn’t fit more than twenty people in it comfortably.

When we arrived around 9am on Saturday morning, all of the tables were taken and there were a couple of people already waiting. We needed a table for three as Mimi’s mother had chosen to join us for breakfast. While there was no list, Pat made it clear that we were to sit when and where she wanted us to sit. As she put it, “I’ve got you handled.”  We were seated after 15 minutes.

Mimi ordered two eggs sunny side up along with home fries and English muffins for $6.99. I ordered thick sliced bacon and scrambled eggs with hash browns and English muffins for $8.99. We also had coffee.

The atmosphere in the place was friendly though I noticed a few parties arrive and leave as they saw that the entire place was packed. Unfortunately Mimi had to work at ten and ended up leaving before our food had arrived. We let the waitress know that while Mimi was leaving, we’d still be bringing the food to her.

My bacon and eggs arrived. The first thing I noticed was that they weren’t kidding about the thick sliced bacon. It was good, thick, and tasty. The hash browns were just that right balance of crunchy but not burned.

When it came time to go, our waitress had the cook freshly make Mimi’s eggs. I asked Mimi later what she thought of the food to go. She said, “I liked it. It’s also the simplest thing I’ve eaten there.”

So there you have it. Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date didn’t go exactly as planned, but I think in this case that was mostly a good thing.

-          Jack Cameron

Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date by the numbers:

Pacific Grill
Address: 1502 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402
Soy Whiskey Chicken: $8.95
Stan The Man’s Killer Clam Linguine: $24

Old Milwaukee Cafe
3102 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98406
Two Eggs: $6.99
Thick Sliced Bacon and Eggs: $8.99

*Note: Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date does not include drinks, tax, or tip. I’m a bit of a drink snob, tips are very subjective, and sales tax is 9.5% for those who need exact numbers.

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date: MASA

masa_garage_doors_3Welcome to the second installment of Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date*. This is a weekly column where my girlfriend and I go somewhere in Tacoma and order the two cheapest entrees on the menu. Then we write about it. Last week we were in Hilltop checking out The Eleven Eleven. This week we’re on 6th Ave.

A couple of Sundays ago, 6th Avenue had their annual Art on the Ave festival, bringing in a couple of thousand people, a bunch of bands, vending booths of all shapes and sizes, and a lot of customers to the various local businesses on 6th Ave. Mimi happens to work at one such business.

Art On the Ave was practically a who’s who of previous 5 Question Friday participants. I saw Mark Lindquist, Sonics Guy, Tony Daniels from the Dignitaries, Jooley Heaps from Poison Apple, and others. It was nice to see such a cross section of Tacoma there.

As Art on the Ave wound down we decided to meet at the Red Hot, Tacoma’s famous hot dog and beer bar. They were offering a special menu thanks to Art on the Ave, but had run out of the least expensive thing on the menu (the Vegan Berliner). We ordered two of what was left. I drank my second beer and waited as I heard them announce last call. The Red Hot is usually quick with their orders so after a few minutes I asked what was going on. Unfortunately, my order had somehow gotten lost in the shuffle and their kitchen was closed. They apologized and refused to let me pay for my tab. Mimi and I left still hungry, but knowing we’d be back to the Red Hot soon.

We walked down the street to a place called Masa. I had actually never been to Masa. The extent of my knowledge of the place was that late one night while on a pub crawl, I saw a naked man try to fight three cops in front of it and lose.
As we walked in we noticed that there was no host to greet us but was soon told that we could simply find a table and they’d soon get our order. The place was busy but not crazy or anything. Our waiter put a couple of glasses of water on the table and got us some chips and salsa along with menus and then then scurried off to the next table.

I was still in the mood for a hotdog and luckily one of the cheapest things on the menu was a bacon wrapped hotdog for $7.99. Mimi chose the pulled pork sandwich for $8.99. Both came with fries. The waiter wrote down our order and then ran off again. The entire staff seemed to behave exactly like our waiter. They were all running around looking very busy and yet, there weren’t that many customers. To be fair, we were downstairs and there was an entire upstairs that may have been packed, but from our vantage point it seemed that they were all distracted. None of them were fully engaged with the customers as far as we could tell.

Our food arrived. The first thing I noticed was that my hotdog was significantly smaller than the bun. This isn’t something that really matters when it comes to taste but from a presentation standpoint, they should have gotten bigger dogs or smaller buns. The fries were seasoned, which is good because there was no salt or pepper on the table. The hotdog was alright though the bacon overpowered the flavor of the hotdog. Maybe it was the part where we had wanted to eat at the Red Hot, but I was a bit disappointed with the hotdog.

My solid two star bacon wrapped hotdog.

My solid two star bacon wrapped hotdog.

Mimi’s pulled pork sandwich was massive. Her pile of fries did not look as appetizing as mine. I asked her how her food was. “The fries are limp. The sandwich is dry and the bun is soggy which is too bad because it could be really good. It’s close to being good.”

She ate about half of her sandwich before she gave up. I tried a bite. It was indeed dry, but there was definitely some flavor to it. She was right. This sandwich was full of wasted potential.

“I’ve eaten here before.” Mimi said, “And I’d eat here again given the same circumstances.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean if for some reason I couldn’t eat at the Red Hot, was on foot, and was really hungry, I can see coming back here.”

Not exactly a ringing endorsement. But then again, not every cheap date can be a good one.

- Jack Cameron

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date By The Numbers:

Address: 2811 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98406 

Pulled Pork Sandwich: $7.99

Bacon Wrapped Hotdog: $8.99

Check: $16.98

*Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date does not include the price of drinks. This is mainly because I’m a bit of a craft beer freak and more often than not, I’m not willing to drink the cheapest beer on tap.

5 Question Friday With Tinkertopia’s R.R. Anderson

Tinkertopia has a bit of everything

Tinkertopia has a bit of everything

R.R. Anderson is one of Tacoma’s most outspoken and prolific artists. Last time him joined me for 5 Question Friday, he was talking about Tacomic. Now he’s part of a new artistic endeavor called Tinkertopia. I could try to explain what that means, but R.R. can do it a heck of a lot better than me. Here’s R.R.:


1. What is Tinkertopia?

Tinkertopia, LLC. is a creative reuse center specializing in alt. art supplies all rescued from the oblivion of our North American consumer culture way of life waste stream.  Our creative reuse center also maintains an onsite “Make and Take Tinkerspace” or open studio where you have freedom to tinker with access to our book and tool library.  Our network of Tinker Patrol Deputies are always on the lookout for perfectly good materials to rescue into a new life of creative pursuits.  Anyone can become a Tinker Patrol Deputy… we give you a badge and everything!


2. Where did Tinkertopia originate?

Tinkertopia manifested out of the twilight zone… Ms. Darcy and I would always joke about quitting my commercial, cubicle bound graphics design job and opening a Mr. Jones Glass/Burning Man style junk yard complete with Red Green style creeper delivery van.  We would imagine our store being much like the Creation Station up in Lynnwood, Washington or SCRAP USA down in Portland, Oregon or Urban Source up in Vancouver, BC.  These dreams quickly became PLAN B after the design firm I worked for plunged  into a violent death spiral.   From the lifeboat, my wife and I took stock of our ninja skills… I a graphic artist with web and marketing experience… Ms. Darcy a preschool Montessori teacher with theater and retail craft store experience.  We are fortunate to live in a city that encourages creative class entrepreneurship!  We packaged our crazy ideas into Tinkertopia applied for a Creative Endeavor storefront with the Tacoma Arts Commission’s Spaceworks Tacoma program.   Cosmic convergence!   I mean, I’ve been drawing hyper-local political cartoons since 2007… digging in politician’s trash cans looking for stuff to make beautiful drawings out of.  SKILLZ!!!


3. What are your hopes for Tinkertopia?

To survive, to become self-sustaining… maybe growing into a well worn community institution with that old book smell?  When customers enter into Tinkertopia, I want to conjure the same emotional response that I used to get walking into one of my grandparent’s basement/garage workshops that exist now only in haunting memories. We hope to create a place where things are taken apart… fixed and reassembled maybe not exactly looking the same, but looking better with that special patina of handyman ingenuity.  We want to change the relationship citizens have with ‘stuff’ which we believe is critical to planetary health awareness. We’re going to change the world or something! Maybe employee health benefits! Fun with a capital F! and capital U!


4. How can people help Tinkertopia?

We do pickups (click here for information on pick ups) in addition people can now Tinker Patrol Deputies can deliver donated materials for drop off at 1914 Pacific Ave!  Shoot us an email rerun@tinkertopia.com or give us a call (253) 778-6539  if you have questions !


5. What’s the one thing you want everyone to know about Tinkertopia?

We deliver 24 hr honest to god creative reuse customer support via Twitter & Facebook

Tinker1

I’d like to thank R.R. for joining me on 5 Question Friday. You can find Tinkertopia at 1914 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402. For more information, check out the links below.
links:

http://www.northwestmilitary.com/music-and-culture/walkie-talkie-blog/2013/02/Tacoma-RR-Anderson-to-turn-trash-into-treasure-at-Tinkertopia/

http://www.tacomaweekly.com/citylife/view/tinkertopia/

http://blog.thenewstribune.com/arts/2013/07/10/one-persons-junk-another-persons-tinkertopia-art-foraging-store-opening-mid-july-on-pacific-avenue/#more-5477

If you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, write to tacomastories@gmail.com.

-          Jack Cameron

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date: The Eleven Eleven

1111Welcome to a new ongoing column for TacomaStories.com. It’s called ‘Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date*’. My girlfriend, Mimi and I like to go out to eat. And so once a week, we’re going to go somewhere in Tacoma, order the two cheapest entrees on the menu. We’ll tell you the price, what we thought of the place, and what we thought of the food and service.

For the first installment, we went to Hilltop’s own, Eleven Eleven. Located at 1111 on South 11th Street, the Eleven Eleven opened almost exactly a year ago by bearded twins Justin and Robby Peterson. This was not my first time at the Eleven Eleven but it’s walking distance from Mimi’s place and I’ve never gone there and been disappointed. It seemed the perfect place to try this little experiment out.

We walked in on a Saturday night. It was a busy but not overly crowded. We found a table for two in the back and were almost immediately handed menus. We ordered our drinks and consulted the menu. The Eleven Eleven serves mostly sandwiches and their sandwiches are amazing. Going to the Eleven Eleven and not ordering a sandwich would be like going to the Red Hot and not ordering a hot dog. You could do it, but why?

Mimi noticed that the hot sandwiches are almost all cheaper than the cold sandwiches. We looked over the list.

Mimi immediately found the grilled cheese sandwich for $7.00. I kind of wanted the Club, but it was $8.75 and there were plenty of options that were $8.50. The more I thought about Mimi’s Grilled Cheese, the better it sounded, but one of the rules of Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date* is that we order two different things. This way we’re not just talking about one dish. Besides, how boring is it when your date orders the same thing you did?

I ultimately decided on the Ham & Cheese. Mimi’s Grilled Cheese came with tomato soup and chips. I also could have added soup but that would have cost more. Mimi chose the jalapeno chips. I chose original flavor.

We drank our drinks and from my vantage point I could see part of the kitchen where the sandwiches were being prepared. Each plate that went out looked delicious. I’m likely a bit biased. I’m a big fan of sandwiches in general. My first job was at the Antique Sandwich Company. I knew exactly what Warren Zevon meant when he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and on Letterman he said, “Enjoy every sandwich.”  This is a place that Warren Zevon would have loved.

Our sandwiches arrived. Each had a slice of pickle with it. I’m not a fan of pickles so I handed Mimi mine. The chips were small bags of Tim’s Cascade Chips. I opened my bag and ate a couple of chips. For those of you who have not had Tim’s Cascade Chips, they are among the crunchiest chips on the planet. They may very well be made out of potato flavored rocks from the Cascade Mountains. Mimi asked if I could eat them given some recent dental work I had done. I told her it was no problem and hoped I was telling the truth.

For two of the cheapest things on the menu, the Eleven Eleven didn’t skimp on substance. My sandwich was full of ham and hot melted cheese. I bit into the sandwich and tried not to smile. I’d never had the ham and cheese sandwich here, but like all the others I’ve tried, it was incredible. As I put the sandwich down, a tiny string of cheese caught in my beard. Mimi laughed.

Mimi’s first reaction to the tomato soup was to say, “This soup didn’t come from a can.”  She said it had hints of garlic and was definitely homemade. The fact that she ate almost all of it even after the grilled cheese sandwich was gone is impressive given that she doesn’t typically like tomato soup on its own. Mimi added, “The soup and sandwich aren’t pretentious and fussy. It’s simple food, done really well.”

Our check came as we finished. The price of the food was $16.97. So for a twenty dollar bill you can have two great sandwiches along with a 15% tip. Not bad at all.

-          Jack Cameron

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date By The Numbers:

Address: 1111 South 11th Street, Tacoma, WA 98405

Grilled Cheese Sandwich: $7.00

Ham & Cheese Sandwich: $8.50

Check: $16.97

*Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date does not include the price of drinks. This is mainly because I’m a bit of a craft beer freak and more often than not, I’m not willing to drink the cheapest beer on tap.

5 Question Friday With Tacoma Brewing’s Morgan Alexander

Morgan

I first encountered Tacoma Brewing Co.’s place while looking for somewhere to have a drink before I went to see a movie at the Grand. Morgan’s brother, Tristan was working. Lately, craft brewers have been popping up everywhere in and around Tacoma.

 Most of them make an IPA, a Stout, and maybe something slightly different. The choices at Tacoma Brewing were strange and exciting. I ordered a honey/strawberry beer. After that, Tristan let me taste a few others. Not one of these beers seemed like a safe bet to me. Each seemed to be pushing the envelope of craft brewing. Sure, they had a stout but it was a cherry/pomegranate stout.

As I talked to Tristan, he told me about his brother, Morgan. He said, “He’s been brewing stuff practically since high school when he learned you could turn sugar into alcohol.

A few weeks later I got a tour of Morgan’s operation and got to talk with Morgan. When I tried to describe the experience and the type of adventurous drinks that Morgan is making to a friend after the thing, I said, “When it comes to brewers, where others are professors, this guy is Indiana Jones.”

I’m happy and honored that Morgan agreed to join me this week for 5 Question Friday. Here’s Morgan:

1. How did Tacoma Brewing get started?

It got started out of an obsession to make flavor-forward beers for the masses… or at least Tacoma! It was some years in the making but after getting feedback from dropping samples off at my favorite watering holes, I decided to go for it and file for a commercial beer making permit.

2. What’s your favorite brew you’ve made so far?

My favorites are the Penalty Kick Double IPA (11%) – it drinks like a 7% and is very citrus hoppy – very juicy! On the darker side I like the Kentucky Bourbon Stout… because I love bourbon and it’s very bourbon-forward.

3. What’s the most misunderstood thing about craft brewing?

I’m not sure about that one!

4. Where can people get your beer?

People can get my beer at the taproom and as of this week at the Red Hot and Parkway – and soon other fine beer places.

5. What’s next for Tacoma Brewing?

Next is scaling up production and moving to a larger space. That’s the two year plan, at least. I am also one of the only breweries making a “pre-prohibition style ginger ale” line (contains alcohol) and I hope to start bottling them by this fall to get it out to local grocery stores and bottle shops.

I’d like to thank Morgan for participating in 5 Question Friday and I’ll say right now that his ginger ale is amazing. You can try his continuing changing selections yourself at Tacoma Brewing Co. at 625 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402. They’re open 5pm – 9pm Mon-Fri and 3pm – 9pm on Saturdays.

If you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at TacomaStories@gmail.com
– Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Steve Rich, Pacific Avenue Steetscape Project Manager


2013-02-08_10-09-52_84The Pacific Avenue construction project is in full swing right now. Businesses are doing what they can to stay open and profitable during the year long project. I reached out to Project Manager, Steve Rich and asked if he could participate in 5 Question Friday and give us a bit more information about this project from the construction side of things. He was nice enough to take time out of his day to join me.

Here’s Steve:

1. What is the purpose of the Pacific Ave construction? 

The Pacific Avenue Streetscape project’s primary goal and purpose is to attract and encourage visitors and new business to downtown Tacoma by renovating the City’s main street.  The project was envisioned and designed to create an active, attractive, and economically viable main street that encourages people to be downtown. Streetscape beautification and innovative stormwater enhancements will improve the aesthetics, functionality and livability of Downtown’s core street thereby improving business opportunities.  The project’s stormwater improvements (raingardens and silva cells) are designed to improve the water quality prior to discharge through the storm system into the sensitive Thea Foss Waterway.  Raingardens will effectively filter the stormwater pollutants while adding landscaping to Pacific      Avenue’s heavily urban landscape thus creating a more walkable and inviting urban streetscape.  New sidewalks, intersection bulb-outs, crosswalks, bike sharrows and transit stops are designed to improve accessibility, multimodal transportation opportunities and pedestrian safety.

2. What is the city doing to help business affected by the Pacific Ave Construction?

Our project team is dedicated to achieving the project’s goals while minimizing impacts to the local businesses during construction. The project schedule and work plan were designed with this in mind. Our phased work plan concentrates the work in specific areas, minimizing the schedule duration for individual blocks. Two way traffic on Pacific Avenue and pedestrian access to businesses will be maintained at all times during the project . Our general contractor, Tucci and Sons, Inc. is a local contractor who is diligently communicating and working with the local businesses to efficiently complete the project while proactively looking for the best way to meet the immediate needs of the businesses during construction. In addition, the project team holds monthly “Coffee Talk” public meetings at local businesses in the current construction zone.  These meetings are held to communicate project information and generate feedback from the community on how the project is going and suggestions on how or what we could do to help improve the process.

3. What can businesses do increase their businesses during this time?

This past Thursday we invited local businesses are to a Downtown Merchant’s Group (DMG) meeting where marketing and communications consultant Kurt Jacobson led a workshop to help businesses make money during the downtown construction work.  An excellent example is The Office Bar and Grill’s sign that advertises “DETOUR DEALS, Open During Construction”.

4. What are some of your favorite spots on Pacific Avenue?

I’m a big fan of the restaurants Vinum, Pita Pit, Hal of a Sub, and Matador just to name a few.  Dorky’s Arcade and Teaching Toys are also favorites to take my kids to.  We had a pinball tournament / birthday party at Dorky’s and the kids loved it and Caroline was an awesome host.

5. What do you see for the future of Pacific Avenue businesses?

Great things.  There’s a saying in real estate about “curb appeal” and the Pacific Avenue Streetscape project is all about making the sidewalks, landscaping, crosswalks (streetscape) the very best possible for looks, feel and safety for the customers of the Pacific Avenue businesses. In addition, the new catenary lighting system  between S. 7th and S. 9th Streets and the new cobblestone intersection at S.8th Street will create a new, yet historic, look and feel which should help create Tacoma’s new hot spot to be during the summer evenings of 2014.

I’d like to thank Steve Rich for participating in 5 Question Friday and look forward to the project being completed. As always, if you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.