With the final construction details at last checked off the punch list, the Edmonds Waterfront Center is now officially complete. This week, staff are scurrying about the shiny new facility setting up chairs, making the kitchens ready for food service, and taking care of the final deep cleaning and detailing in preparation to welcome the public.
But unfortunately, due to COVID, much of the hoped-for glamour of a festive opening will be muted.
“We’d love to have a gala grand opening,” said Waterfront Center Executive Director and CEO Daniel Johnson, “but with the pandemic still very much with us, we will be strictly complying with all state reopening guidelines. This means the opening will be gradual, with some activities and programs starting up right away, others going virtual, and some remaining on hold.” (Check the Waterfront Center website for complete details.)
The new Waterfront Center has been built on the same site as the former Edmonds Senior Center building, and will operate as a multi-generational activity center, serving a much larger demographic in an expanded timeframe. The Edmonds Senior Center will offer programs focused on seniors during the day and the City of Edmonds Department of Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services will offer multigenerational programs in the late afternoon and evening.
Among the first to gear up will be the Potlatch Bistro, located in the first-floor Waterfront Center banquet room, which will begin offering meals in mid-March.
Because the center’s food service operations fall under the reopening guidelines for restaurants, it is subject to a different set of criteria than apply to classes and other activities. While this means keeping to 25% capacity and spacing tables to provide the required social distancing, it will allow the community to get its “first taste” of the new center.
According to Shubert Ho, whose company Feed Me Hospitality and Restaurant Group will operate the restaurant, the Potlatch will offer afternoon high tea, and the lunch menu will be adapted from the present offerings at his Salt & Iron location. “We’re looking to phase out lunch service at Salt & Iron in favor of the new Potlatch Bistro,” Ho added.
And what better way to fulfil the Waterfront Center’s goal of bringing the community together than doing so over food.
“The restaurant will operate as a community café,” explained Daniel Johnson. “This means our seniors and others who qualify for subsidized food service will pay a lower rate, others will pay market rate. Everyone will be eating the same food, sitting at the same tables, and sharing the same space equally in a community setting.”
Check out the menu here.
Another food option that won’t even require entering the building is Shore Pine Coffee and Gelato, which will begin operating from the walk-up window on the south side of the building in early March.
“Initially we’ll be offering your favorite espresso drinks, pastry and gelato,” said Ho. “Our specialty will be an Italian-style Affogoto, where a serving of your favorite gelato is ‘drowned’ in espresso. Really delicious, and the perfect accompaniment to watching the sunset from a Waterfront Center outdoor bench!”
Other services at the center include an array of classes (many held online), wellness programs, and more. See complete details here.
In addition, the center is holding targeted specialty offerings to meet the immediate needs of the community.
These include drive-up lunch pickups and an innovative tax preparation service operated in partnership with AARP to assist seniors and low-income taxpayers with their IRS submittal.
“Because of COVID we’re operating tax preparation as a drive-up service,” explained Johnson. “It requires two appointments and is a great no-hassle way to get your taxes done.”
Customers first call the Waterfront Center at 425-774-5555 to set up a tax appointment. At the first appointment, customers park outside where a tax preparer comes to their car and picks up their paperwork. The preparer then does all the work completing the IRS forms, and on the second appointment again meets the customer in the parking lot to drop them off.
“Taxes done!” quipped Johnson. “How much easier can it get?”
With the new sign prominently displayed above the main entrance, the Waterfront Center is ready to go.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel