Geo’s opens a new restaurant in Greenwood

The owners of Geo’s Cuban & Creole in Ballard have opened a second location, Geo’s Bar and Grill, near the corner of Holman Rd. and Greenwood Ave. N.

“When customers walk in for the first time, they are immediately transported in time to an era when Havana was the playground for the world,” explains Kim Gianotti, who owns the business along with her husband and chef Geo Rodriguez.

Geo’s Bar and Grill is much larger than the Ballard cafe, and it features a full bar, original Cuban art and a stage to feature local latin jazz musicians on the weekends. In the bar, “high ceilings, black-and-white checked floors, palm trees, art filled walls and fabulous upholstered furniture fill the room,” Gianotti explains.

The new restaurant features many favorites from Geo’s in Ballard — Cubano Sandwich, Puerco Asado, Palomilla Steak, and El Caribe Sandwich — but there are new additions, as well.

“Chef Geo added several new appetizers such as Hush-Puppies, Ham Croquettes, Fish Croquettes, Medianoche Sliders and and spicy prawns with Yuca Frita,” she said. “Also new are the Smoked Chicken and Garbanzo Bean Salad, Pan Con Bistec Sliders, and Pastelitos de Guayaba for dessert.”

Geo’s Bar and Grill is located at 10515 Greenwood Ave N, and it opens at 4 p.m. on weekdays (closed on Monday) and at 11 a.m. on the weekends.

Briefs: Banned from the gym, Night Out, no parking, Gather Kitchen and more

A few quick news updates from Ballard and Fremont…

BANNED FROM THE GYM – The NW Fitness Project (pictured above at the corner of N 36th St. and Greenwood Ave. in Fremont) has banned a known white nationalist leader from attending the gym. The owner says he’s received some threatening messages — as well as lots of 5-star reviews — after the Stranger ran the story.

BALLARD NIGHT OUT – The monthly neighborhood art event is tonight (Thursday) from 6-9 p.m. Here’s a list of participating venues and artists.

DROP-IN TOWN HALL – Rep. Noel Frame and Rep. Gael Tarleton will hold a “drop-in town hall” this Sunday at Flying Bike Coop (8570 Greenwood Ave N) from 4 to 7 p.m. “We’ll keep it informal and in small-group conversation,” Frame said. “Drop by anytime in the 3 hour window that works for you! We look forward to hearing from you!”

PHINNEY NO PARKING – A new 57-unit development on Greenwood Ave. N does not plan to offer parking, which prompted an appeal from Phinney residents who said it doesn’t meet the “frequent transit” rule because buses didn’t arrive as often as scheduled. The city does not agree.

HOP IDOL – Attention homebrewers: the deadline to enter Reuben’s Brews’ annual “Hop Idol” contest is tomorrow (Friday). Good luck!

GATHER KITCHEN – The Seattle Times reviews Gather Kitchen in Ballard and gives it “hits and misses” — after the reviewer visited three times.

BALLARD HIGH MUSIC – The choral director of Ballard High, Courtney Rowley, will receive the prestigious “Outstanding Educator” award from the Elliott Bay Music Educator Association at the Washington Music Educators Association conference on Saturday. Congrats Courtney!

BALLARD CIVIC ORCHESTRASeattle Weekly profiles Paula Madrigal, who leads the Ballard Civic Orchestra and the Young String Project.

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Ballard gymnastics team competing in state championship in Tacoma

Update: Ballard came in fourth place in the team score, and Ballard freshman Lianne Kistler finished fourth in the all-around competition. Here’s a Seattle Times story on the event.

Earlier: At the district meet at Sammamish High School last weekend, the Ballard High gymnastics team put up its highest score in school history and the third highest in the state. That performance qualified the team for a trip to the state championship.

Today they headed down to the Tacoma Dome for two days of team and individual competition at the WIAA state tournament.

Well done BHS, and best of luck!

(Photo from @BallardGymnastics on Instagram)

Outreach worker assigned to Ballard to work with the homeless

Most agree that homelessness is a big problem in Ballard, but the debate rages over what to do about it. The removal of “unsanctioned campers” from Ballard Commons Park and the new fencing under the Ballard Bridge are two recent examples that have sparked heated conversations both on My Ballard and off.

Now there’s a new effort to help. Through a partnership with REACH and the Ballard Alliance, Ballard now has a dedicated “outreach case manager” working with the homeless community. Her name is Paige Killinger.

“Homelessness is a multifaceted issue and it can happen to anyone,” Killinger told the Ballard Alliance, which published a story in its newsletter. “I have met with people who grew up in Ballard and had professions, but different circumstances, such as a heart attack and mounting medical bills, led them to a life of homelessness. All of my client’s needs are different, so my job begins with reaching out to them, having a conversation and building trust.”

Killinger says her top priority is connecting the homeless with services that can help. She’ll also interface with local businesses and neighbors. She works for REACH, which is a program from Evergreen Treatment Services, a local non-profit that “provides street-based, case management and outreach services.”

“During our initial planning, it was our hope to fund a half-time outreach worker focused on the Ballard area,” said Ballard Alliance Executive Director Mike Stewart in the newsletter. “Through our partnership with REACH, we were able to leverage our funding to secure a match from the King County Department of Health. We’ve essentially doubled our anticipated service levels and are creating a model program that we hope will be emulated by other neighborhood improvement districts across the city.”

You may see Killinger out in the neighborhood, and she’s set up office hours at the Ballard Library every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to noon. All are welcome to stop in, say hello and ask questions.

Ballard High jazz band to play in prestigious competition on Broadway

One of only 15 schools to make the cut, Ballard High School’s jazz band has been selected to compete in the Essentially Ellington Festival at Lincoln Center on Broadway in New York City.

The finalists were selected from a pool of over 109 high school bands that submitted a recording to the judges. The BHS band will receive an in-school workshop “led by a professional musician” before heading to NYC on May 10-12 to perform before Wynton Marsalis and a panel of judges.

But that’s not all the BHS jazz band is doing — and they need your help.

On March 30th, they’ll be performing at the 23rd Annual Hot Java Cool Jazz event at the Paramount. It’s a fundraiser for the Ballard High music program, and the Starbucks at the corner of 22nd and Market starts selling tickets tomorrow (Friday).

Then in April, the band is headed to the Monterey “Next Generation” Jazz Festival.

“To participate in both of these festivals (in NYC and Monterey) is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity, but we can’t do it without your help!” said Evan Fekete, a sophomore who plays trumpet in the band.

Besides the tickets at the Central Ballard Starbucks, the band is working on other fundraising efforts to come.

Police arrest suspect in Ballard fire assault

Police say they’ve arrested Christopher Burrus, the suspect wanted for attempted murder in Ballard on November 7th.

Burrus was picked up by the Mountlake Terrace Police Department in a traffic stop just before midnight yesterday, SPD said. He was turned over to Seattle Police.

Police say Burrus doused a man with a flammable liquid and set him on fire in the 4500 block of Leary Way. Kasey Busch barely survived the attack, and he’s make steady progress in a long recovery.

Busch told KOMO TV he had a heated argument over stolen tools with Burrus’ ex-girlfriend.

Detectives believed Burrus was still in the area. They had received several possible sightings over the last few months.

Heritage Distilling to open Ballard location

Ballard isn’t just about beer. The most awarded craft distillery in the country, Gig Harbor-based Heritage Distilling is planning to open a space in Ballard.

“It’s true, we are opening a production facility, tasting room and retail space in Ballard in late spring 2018,” said Hannah Hanley, Heritage’s chief marketing officer when we spotted the company’s application for a liquor license.

They’ll be opening at 1836 NW Market St., right next to Ballard Blossom.

Heritage sells hand-crafted, small batch spirits — vodka, whiskey, gin and bourbon. It’s Brown Sugar Bourbon (BSB) is especially popular.

“We manage the entire process of making our spirits by hand – from identifying and working directly with the farmers growing our grains, to ensuring the purity of our water source, to milling the grain, making our own mash and wort and running our own custom made stills,” explains the Heritage website.

The company already has locations in Gig Harbor, Roslyn and Eugene, and it also plans to open a Capitol Hill location this spring.

Should Ballard light rail take a bridge over Salmon Bay? Or tunnel underneath it?

Reading some of the early feedback on the Ballard light rail project, one of the early points of contention is how the trains will cross Salmon Bay from Interbay into Ballard and back.

The early plan is to build a movable bridge that runs parallel to the Ballard Bridge, opening and closing for marine traffic. But most commenters on Sound Transit’s new online map aren’t big fans of the idea. Here’s a sampling:

“Please make this a tunnel to avoid having the train blocked by boat traffic or mechanical issues with a drawbridge. We run into problems with this *far* too often already.”

“A movable bridge that is at the mercy of unpredictable boat traffic will defeat some of the greatest benefits of light rail.”

“Please make this crossing a tunnel! If it absolutely cannot be done, please include pedestrian and bike lanes in the crossing. It can be Seattle’s version of the Tilikum crossing in Portland.”

Several comments echo the need for passenger and bike access, regardless of form. “Ballard Bridge is terrifying to cross!” explains one commenter. Another suggested a static bridge that was high enough for marine traffic to pass underneath without opening.

Digging a tunnel under the Ship Canal isn’t unprecedented. A couple miles to the east, the University Link of light rail travels under the Montlake Cut — the boring machine dug just 15 feet under the water’s floor.

But a tunnel also has its complications: for example, how and where would the elevated line transition to the tunnel on both the Interbay and Ballard sides?

Under the “risks and issues” section of the Sound Transit planning deck for Ballard light rail, the movable bridge was #1 on the list. It looks like we can expect much more debate to come.

The first Ballard open house will be held this Thursday, Feb. 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Leif Erikson Lodge. We’ll be there.

Home remodeled by Melrose Place star Josie Bissett goes on the market

Longtime Seattle-area resident Josie Bissett — who you may remember as Jane from Melrose Place — bought a house in Ballard last fall as part of a remodeling project with her husband.

The cottage at 910 NW 80th St. NW is now on the market, priced at $799,000.

“It’s so much fun!” Bissett told Seattle Refined in an interview last November. “The demo part is the best, just letting loose.”

She works with her husband, Tom Doig of TRD Construction. The Ballard house is their first project together, reports Curbed Seattle.

“Josie swings a great hammer,” Doig said. “I’ve been in construction all my life so I’m trying to deliver on Josie’s ideas. We complement each other well.”

You may not be surprised to learn that Bissett is also developing a home improvement show.

Skål Beer Hall is coming to Old Ballard

Over the years, Ballard has slowly lost Scandinavian mainstays like Olsen’s Scandinavian Foods, the Scandinavian Bakery and the Viking. New apartment complexes appear with Scandinavian names, slogans and design flourishes — which the city’s design review board likes to see – but it has little to do with our neighborhood’s Scandinavian roots.

That’s why we, the Geeky Swedes, are happy to hear about a new Scandinavian establishment called the Skål Beer Hall that’s coming to the old People’s Pub space in Old Ballard.

“I’m a veteran of the craft beer industry and my Nordic heritage is of great importance to me,” explains Ballard resident and Skål founder Adam McQueen. “We aim to honor the Nordic roots of our neighborhood through a relaxed, communal beer hall experience – what we envision a Viking mead hall would be like today.”

In ancient Scandinavia, a Viking mead hall was the center of the community and a welcoming spot to gather or to host visitors from afar, McQueen explains.

Skål (which rhymes with “bowl” and means “cheers” in Norwegian) will feature an open hall with a “huge central fireplace to gather around on dreary Seattle nights,” he says. “We’ll have large ale horn mugs and Norse mythology inspired touches.”

The front will be getting a makeover, including a “heavy wood door fit for a Viking.”

Not only will Skål feature local craft beer, cider and regional wine, but also mead (fermented with honey) and specialty cocktails – including the Scandinavian favorite, aquavit.

“We’re looking forward to featuring some of our terrific but hard-to-find local products as well as some Scandinavian imports,” he says.

The open kitchen is inspired by the idea of a Viking butcher shop. McQueen explains: “Imagine (if you will) gathering near a roaring fire at the edge of a fjord. Here is where you’d find our food. There will be Nordic influences, traditional bar snacks, and a whole lot of meat (but meatballs are unlikely, sorry Grandma)!”

McQueen says he’s collaborating with Lexi, the chef/owner of the Old Ballard Liquor Company, to create the food concept. With a Swedish family heritage, she has “a wealth of experience with contemporary Scandinavian cuisine and aquavit,” he said.

And if it can’t get any more Scandinavian than that, long-time Ballard residents may remember a Scandinavian restaurant called Vasa Grill that occupied the same space in Old Ballard before People’s Pub (5429 Ballard Ave NW.) “We’ll pay homage to both the Vasa Grill and People’s Pub through details that recognize their former presence in our space,” McQueen says.

Skål Beer Hall will be opening in “early summer.” In the meantime, you can sign up for updates on Skål’s new website and social accounts.