I’M A PRETTY BUSY GIRL, so nights out for me are few and far between. But in the name of research, I recently had the opportunity to hit up one of downtown Yakima’s First Fridays — a monthly event that has become so popular it’s spread to some establishments on Yakima’s west side.
The first Friday of every month, many downtown businesses are often full to overflowing, with restaurants, wineries and shops offering specials and entertainment for customers who can walk from hangout to hangout. So I grabbed my notepad and my good friend Andrea, and we hit the town for a girls’ night out.
STUDIO 16 SALON & SPA
I heard that Studio 16 Salon and Spa offers a special “primp” package on First Fridays, so Andrea and I decided to get glammed up before we set out. Stylists Andi Plughoff and Kelsey Wentz worked their 15 minutes of magic, styling our hair, glossing our lips and finishing with a relaxing Aveda “hand ritual.” All for only $15 — not bad.
Studio 16 moved to its new location on North First Street three months ago, when it began participating in the monthly event. “Our first of the First Fridays was a smash hit,” says Plughoff, who owns the salon. We learned a thing or two, too — like ribbon curling and how to master the oh-so-popular hair poof.
Studio 16 Salon and Spa
26 N. First St. • Yakima
The Little Soapmaker
Before indulging in an end-of-week cocktail, we made the short jaunt to The Little Soapmaker, a shop in the beautifully restored Bridmar Building on Third and Yakima avenues that’s full of little indulgences. Shop owner Julie Brown makes handcrafted candles, soap and skin-care products using all-natural ingredients and essential oils. “It smells amazing in here,” said Andrea as we walked through the door. During First Fridays, The Little Soapmaker offers a 20 percent discount from 6-8 p.m. With more than 70 scents to choose from, picking one can be a challenge, but we both decided on our longtime favorites — vanilla buttercream and apple cinnamon.
The Little Soapmaker
302 W. Yakima Ave., Suite 103 • Yakima
At the end of Track 29 in an old boxcar sits Tequila’s Family Mexican Restaurant — a First Friday favorite because of its outdoor seating and $2 margaritas. When we arrived, the Spanish music was lively and the mood was fun. It was busy, too. With the patio packed, Andrea and I opted for the outdoor bar, where we instantly joined the party.
Tequila’s is owned by five siblings, who keep it stirring year-round. “In the summer we use umbrellas, [in] winter we use heaters, and if it’s snowing, we clear out the snow,” explains co-owner Elizabeth Escobar. Lucky for us, it was a beautiful evening.
The only regret I have is not arriving earlier. Happy hour runs from 2-6 p.m., when they serve $3 quesadillas, taquitos and super nachos.
1 W. Yakima Ave., Suite 29
[NOTE: Tequila’s is currently closed. As of March 2013, the restaurant was planning a reopening at 16 S. First St., at the Pacific Hotel building.]
I’ve always wondered what all the hoopla was about at Kana Winery’s First Friday, which is why we made sure to include it on our itinerary. Eight years ago, Kana made itself at home in the historic Larson building on South Second Street. It’s been part of First Fridays for the past six years. “Even when only three or four people came in, we still had John Akin playing,” said Katherine Goodson, Kana’s general manager. “Now we have 150 to 200 people.”
After we got there, it all began to make sense. Music by Big Bossman and The Warlocks entertained a huge crowd that spilled out into the courtyard. But of course the wine is what really keeps folks coming back. Who can resist a blend named Scarlet Fire, after a Grateful Dead song? Not us.
10 S. Second St. • Yakima
2nd Street Grill
As Andrea and I strolled down Second Street, we met Paul Beard, a visitor from England, who told us that there’s nothing like First Fridays in the U.K. Thoroughly impressed with downtown Yakima, Beard’s favorite spot was the Second Street Grill, where he suggested tasty Georgia Peach martinis. Oh, and a delicious Greek pizza with chicken and artichoke. (note to self: Leave the calorie counter home on First Fridays.)
Second Street Grill is definitely a First Friday hot spot. At 10 p.m. a corner of the bar is transformed into a dance floor, where co-owner Pete Blue turns club DJ and plays popular dance songs to a typically big crowd of revelers. Although we didn’t spend much time on the dance floor, it was great running into some old friends, while meeting a few new ones as well.
Second Street Grill
28 N. Second St. • Yakima
509-469-1486 • secondstreetgrill.com