When Stadium Bistro waved good-bye in April, comments were a mixed bag. My favorite memory of the place didn't even involve real food. Virtual food, yes. The guys kicked my butt in a round of Cooking Mama for the Wii.
Unfortunately there are no wine tasting, coffee brewing or sauce simmering games for the Wii. Yet. (There should be!) When they make those games, perhaps I'll challenge some of the folks at the new businesses going into the old Bistro space.
I stopped by Monday afternoon to see what was going on in the place and chanced upon Stephen McConkey, one half of the team that started Sound Bites Sauce & Spread Co. a few months ago. Maybe you've sampled their wares at one of the 14 farmers markets they participate in. In Pierce County they do Sixth Ave., Gig Harbor, Puyallup and the Tacoma Farmers Market. And they're subletting kitchen space in the old Bistro spot. Sound Bites will prepare their sauces and spreads there and sell them in the wine bar. Stephen also confirmed that the building will retain its events room and that the small space next door will be a coffee shop.
Here's the description Sound Bites uses at its site, a bare bones page at the moment:
Never miss a local story.
Sound Bites makes hand-crafted sauces and spreads from around the world, prepared with ingredients sourced from right here in the Pacific Northwest.
Visit us at a Puget Sound farmers market for delicious dips and sauces including hummus, pesto and chimichurri.
All of our products are made with varietal grapeseed oils from the Yakima Valley. Try our buttery Chardonnay Pesto, refreshing Garbanzo Hummus with Riesling Oil, and Chimichurri made with the rich flavor of Cabernet Sauvignon Oil.
I called Rich Hines, the other half of Sound Bites (and the president of the board for the Tacoma Farmers Market) to get his take on the neighborhood and the sauce-making biz.
"We don't know the opening timeline, but just last week they put in a door and window for the coffee shop," he said. He added that the building could be buzzing again in as little as two months.
He said he and Stephen are impressed with the hip "all-hours" activity of the neighborhood and are "excited about being part of that little food and beverage community that's forming in that building."
They're in talks with other wine bars and a Kent martini bar as well as local wholesalers, Rich said, adding that one goal is to put their sauces and spreads into local grocery stores.
"We've been getting calls from restaurants that feature hummus on their menus," he said. "They want to offer a locally made hummus, and we believe we're the only craft hummus makers in the Seattle-Tacoma area. Plus virtually every item in the container except the lemon juice is from the Northwest."
Company catch phrase: "Fiercely Local."