Growing up in the Puyallup Valley, I can tell you where all the preteen hangouts were: Tiffany’s Skating Rink, Burger King and the skate park down by the river.
But as a college student and now as an adult, it’s been a struggle to hang out near home. The glorified relic of Bumpy’s was this hole-in-the-wall bar where you could get a drink or a 99-cent corn dog. The hot spot was always Tacoma.
But now, downtown Puyallup is finally seeing the light. Young people finally want to hang out in the city, and it’s not too awful running into your old high school classmates as long as you’re munching down the fish and chips at The Forum.
A myriad of small businesses have tried to leave their mark on the busy Meridian strip, but some of these hot spots may just be here to stay for once, because they are targeting the right demographic.
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The restaurants are taking a turn for the better, too.
For so long Casa Mia on Meridian was the best place for a romantic night out. Now, a margarita the size of your head at Mazatlan or spicy jerk chicken at Bourbon Street Bar & Grill can dramatically change your Saturday night.
Anthem may be where “the kids” hang out now, but The Twisted Kilt is where their older siblings reside. I can catch the Sounders game, drink a beer or have brunch without fighting a 17-year-old over a seat.
Don’t get me started on the nonexistent coffee scene in the valley. Starbucks was my only choice as a kid, I mean young adult, I mean no my mom did not let me drink coffee.
Now, big chain Starbucks, family-run Coffee Bean and hipster, young folk-centered Anthem are all viable choices. Depending on whether I am in a hurry or not, I can take my pick of java joints.
Walking distance, that’s all I wanted. I am not always looking to be able to walk home at 2 a.m. after a night of enjoying adult beverages. Sometimes I want a lovely restaurant to take my money, serve me appetizers and wine, and send me home at 9 p.m.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what I finally got. I may still love Bumpy’s but now I have options, lots and lots of options.
All in all, it is extremely warming to see the valley welcome us young adults home and keep us home. I may have threatened to spend my Friday night in Tacoma for the great bar scene. But now, the sleepy little farm town is a big contender for my time.
Alexandra Clark is a writer and longtime Puyallup resident.