Articles by Wendy Culverwell

Great Floors of Coeur d’Alene sold five stores, including the one in Kennewick, in a sale-leaseback deal worth nearly $33 million. The flooring retailer signed 10-year leases and will continue operating in the stores as a tenant., (TCAJOB file photo)

Great Floors sells real estate portfolio, including Kennewick store

Great Floors, the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho-based flooring chain, sold five locations in a $33 million sale-leaseback deal that includes its Kennewick location. The portfolio also included Great Floors stores in Coeur d’Alene, Spokane Valley, Lacey and Yakima. The buyers were mostly 1031-exchange investors from California and Western Washington – meaning they were reinvesting proceeds from…

Bookwalter Fable Fiction

Bookwalter launches Fable so Fiction restaurant can soar

Bookwalter Winery is expanding its dining business in service of a lofty goal. Owner John Bookwalter wants to transform the Richland winery’s Fiction restaurant into a top-drawer establishment worthy of the industry’s highest honor. To do it, he’s opening a new restaurant in the former R.F. McDougall’s Irish Pub & Eatery to serve as a…

Kelsey Bitton, project and property manager for The Public Market 
@ Columbia River Warehouse, has been meeting with interested vendors inside the former Welch’s-J. Lieb Foods plant in downtown Kennewick. (Photo by Wendy Culverwell )

Public market readies for its Kennewick debut

There have been plenty of efforts to bring a public market to the Tri-Cities. But after years of talk, an all-private effort with 70 vendors, including Ice Harbor Brewery and Columbia Industries’ Opportunity Kitchen, is about to open in Kennewick. The Public Market @ Columbia River Warehouse is set to debut its first phase in…

Vincent Laraiso prepares sandwiches at Opportunity Kitchen, a training program run by Columbia Industries. He graduated in February. (Courtesy Columbia Industries)

Columbia Industries sells records division, goes deep on service mission

Columbia Industries, a Kennewick nonprofit that funds its mission to serve people with special needs by operating a series of for-profit businesses, has sold its records business as it shifts to deepen its impact. Memphis, Tennessee-based Vital Records Control (VRC) purchased the records side of CI Information Management in a deal finalized on March 1.…

Frost Me Sweet Bistro & Bakery opens Cake & Shake at the former Folded Pizza Pie spot at 421 Wellsian Way in May. The new building supports the Richland eatery’s plan to offer nationwide shipping for its fans. (Courtesy Frost Me Sweet Bistro & Bakery)

Frost Me Sweet plans national deliveries, milkshake drive-thru

Richland’s Frost Me Sweet Bistro & Bakery is casting off the lingering effects of the pandemic by adding a new bakery, as well as a drive-thru cake-shake business on Wellsian Way. The new location will provide much-needed workspace for Frost Me Sweet’s bakers while allowing owners Megan and Jason Savely to make a business out…


Ex-husband of state senator sued over bankruptcy debt

A Tri-City executive is being sued in U.S. Bankruptcy Court by a creditor seeking more than $1 million for an outstanding loan balance, interest and legal fees. The case against Fraser S. Hawley, a developer and business leader who was married to state Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, is set to go to trial May 9…


Business community sighs with relief as Legislature wraps for 2022

The Tri-City business community is breathing easier as the 2022 Legislature concluded its work without passing bills some feared would add complexity and cost to operating in Washington. The regular session ended March 10 in a flurry of activity, including an agreement on a $64.1 billion supplemental budget. But it’s what didn’t happen that stands…

Courtesy Petersen Hastings

Petersen Hastings shifts to a new generation of leadership

Jeff Petersen retires on March 31 after more than 20 years as CEO of Petersen Hastings, the Tri-Cities wealth management firm established by his late father, Jim Petersen, in 1962. Scott Sarber a longtime member of the team and partner, steps up to the role of president and CEO. While Petersen said he intends to…


Hospitality industry is on the rebound, but how much is still unknown

Michael Novakovich, president and CEO of Visit Tri-Cities, is looking forward to May, which is when the tourism agency he leads expects to finalize the economic impact of tourism on the local economy in 2021. After a pandemic-battered showing in 2020, signs of revival will be welcome news to an industry that posted a record…


WSU Study: Workplace culture can hurt, or help, with staffing issues

A gaming lounge at Columbia Center is closed with a handwritten note in the window: Closed because of staffing issues. It’s one small sign that the Great Resignation is in full force in the Tri-Cities, disproportionately affecting the hospitality and visitor sector. As Michael Novakovich, CEO of Visit Tri-Cities reports, local hotels have struggled to…

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