Sue and Nate Sabari take a break behind their specially made bar. Photos by Lisa Woolwock.
One of Nate and Sue Sabari’s favorite ways to spend a Saturday is to load up young sons Harper, 6, and Fritz, 3, and explore the Yakima Valley, collecting reclaimed wood from barns, fences and even old gymnasium floors. From this reclaimed wood, Nate makes custom tables, cabinets, bed frames and art installations for his business, Nate Sabari Woodworks.
“It’s our own personal scavenger hunt,” said Sue Sabari, 38. “The wood almost always comes with a story and we meet lots of interesting characters.”
What began as a basic pine furniture store has evolved through a lot of hard work, a few tears and focused creativity into a full-service artisan woodshop. If you can dream it up, chances are Nate Sabari can build it for you.
“I love custom work because it pushes the envelope, it forces me to try new things and get that creative side going,” said Nate, who’s 37.
Nate’s father, Ron Sabari, started The Pine Shop in the late 1980s, building and distributing pine furniture, including bookshelves, bed frames and cabinets. With the shop always in his peripheral, Nate spent stints working for his father through high school and college at Central Washington University, where he graduated with a degree in biology. During this time he built furniture and tried his hand at custom work; he was often raising funds for travel and adventure.
After several years, a few jobs and many travels, Nate and Sue returned to Yakima in 2003 to work alongside his father in the business. In 2005, Nate and Sue officially bought The Pine Shop. “I think it’s a really unique thing to be able to do this together,” said Sue. “But it works really well for us.”
The couple also unknowingly stepped on a rollercoaster ride.
Not long after purchasing the business, a fire in 2006 nearly destroyed everything at the South First Street building, including all of their inventory, raw lumber and most of the equipment. Not long after recovering from the fire, the recession hit. The Pine Shop’s targeted demographic was holding off on making purchases or going to discount retailers to buy furniture.
“We really had to ask ourselves: Do we get out or do we switch gears?” Nate said. “We knew we didn’t want out.”
The Sabaris reached out to Linda Johnson, a trusted adviser at the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC), who helped them after the fire. She encouraged them to take some business courses and dream big.
“When we bought the business, about 75 percent of our business was the basic pine and 25 percent was custom work,” Nate said. “Over time that’s switched, where 75 percent of what we do now is custom work.”
For the last two years that’s meant concentrating on the custom, handmade projects they are passionate about and changing the name to Nate Sabari Woodworks to better reflect their products and capabilities.
Stepping into the shop, located in a nearly 100-year-old brick building at 302 S. First Street, Nate and Sue, along with Ron and sometimes their sons, have created a business that relies on building relationships with customers.
Customers can slide up to a bar, designed and built by Nate out of patchwork wood (slats of wood in different sizes and colors or shades, pieced together to form a cohesive look), enjoy a local brew from Yakima Craft Brewery and talk design. The showroom is outfitted with various pieces of furniture and looks into the woodshop where Nate can be seen working away.
Local interior designer Tanna Barnecut, of Tanna By Design, loves working with Nate on projects for her clients. Barnecut and Nate have worked together to design and build live-edge (features a raw section or edge of wood) coffee tables, desks and book shelves as well as dining tables, custom bar tops and even a wood wall for a man cave.
“Furniture and design that is live edge, organic or industrial is very popular right now,” Barnecut said. “There’s a big movement to find and use sustainable goods and even more to buy local. Nate has been able to capture all of this.”
“Anything I can come up with, he can make happen,” Barnecut said. “Nate is also an awesome resource for wood and materials.”
As their business continues to grow and evolve, the Sabaris continue dreaming big. They dabble in commercial projects, undertaking major projects in downtown Yakima’s Liberty building, and continue to build relationships with return customers. Every day is an opportunity for creativity and ingenuity.
“We just really strive to be a business that we would want to visit,” Sue said. “A great little artisan woodshop.”
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Ron and Nate in the woodshop.
Nate puts the finishing touches on furniture.
The showroom at Nate Sabari Woodworks.
A barn door in the showroom.
Nate Sabari Woodworks
Sue and Nate Sabari pose for the camera.
A side table made from various pieces of wood.
A stack of unfinished wood waits to be transformed.
Sue, Nate, Fritz and Harper in the South First Street Showroom.
An interior door in the shop proclaims Nate's motto.
Nate's son rides one of his handcrafted skateboards.
A dining table is nestled among other inventory in the store's showroom.
Tortilla and Red keep an eye on other dogs taking part in the Winedoggies Mutt Mixer Tweet-Up. YHR Files by TJ Mullinax.
Wine enthusiasts aren’t the only ones who love the fragrant orchards and lush vineyards of Yakima Valley’s wine country. Dogs happen to love it, too.
That’s why the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau launched winedoggies.com, a website for visitors and locals alike to connect with dog-friendly attractions and services available throughout the Yakima Valley.
Winedoggies.com includes an interactive map of dog-friendly businesses with open pet policies, plus a section where guests can add pictures and stories of their dogs enjoying Washington wine country as well as a blog highlighting stories and events from the pet owner’s — and pet’s — perspective.
“We noticed many people enjoying to travel with their pets, namely dogs, and wanted to accommodate them by creating a site where they could get all the information they need,” said John Cooper, president and CEO of the Yakima Valley Visitors & Convention Bureau. The site is designed “to assist travelers and their dogs with their visit to wine country, giving them a tour guide for pet-friendly, must-see stops in the Yakima Valley,” he said.
Last September was the first time the Visitors & Convention Bureau hosted its “Winedoggies Mutt Mixer and Tweetup,” an event where both pooches and their pals can mingle, sip some wine — and tweet about the experience. A mixer is planned for this fall, too, although a date hasn’t been determined.
The Yakima Valley boasts more than 50 pet-friendly businesses and retailers. Hotels, restaurants and especially wineries welcome socialized pets onto their property, making special accommodations including water bowls, “hitching posts” and friendly four-legged greeters for everyone who comes to swirl and sip.
For a fun dog-centric activity, join Yakima Valley Pet Rescue at Cherrywood Bed, Breakfast and Barn in Zillah for the fifth annual Canine and Wine Walk, starting at 11 a.m. May 11. Walk your dog through wine country on a 3- to 5-mile loop, stopping for tastings at selected wineries and enjoying a lunch by Cultura Winery. Yakima Valley Pet Rescue is a volunteer-led, nonprofit organization that rescues dogs and cats, preparing them for adoption. The organization also provides assistance to families who can no longer care for their pet, or who find a stray they can’t keep.
Cherrywood owner Pepper Fewel started the Canine Walk; an animal enthusiast, Fewel is no stranger to abandoned animals.
“Living in the country, we constantly find dogs that have been dropped off,” she said. “I wanted to put together a fun event that would bring together dog lovers but also support an organization that helps homeless animals.”
Cherrywood also hosts wine tours on horseback. A working farm in addition to the bed and breakfast, Fewel and her daughter, Tiffany, started the wine tours as a fundraiser for horse rescue.
“Helping and protecting animals has always been my passion,” Fewel said. “It runs in the family — my daughter helps me; we are big animal lovers.”
Last year more than 150 pet owners and families participated in the Canine and Wine Walk. Families from all around the Yakima Valley and as far away as Portland and Seattle came to participate.
“It’s such a fun event and grows a little bit every year,” Cindy O’Halloran, Yakima Valley Pet Rescue volunteer coordinator, said. “It’s a great time of year to be out walking in the vineyards. Oftentimes there are still a few apple blossoms on the trees and the temperature is perfect. Everyone really enjoys socializing with their animals, and the wineries love it.”
With a suggested donation of $10 for the Canine and Wine Walk, all proceeds benefit Yakima Valley Pet Rescue. Dogs available for adoption are also at the event, and volunteers can walk them along the loop.
“People love to socialize with their dogs. They also love to drink wine; it’s perfect for everyone,” O’Halloran said.
Bung, an Australian Shepherd, begs for some doggie treats from his owner, Gail Puryear at the first Winedoggies Mutt Mixer Tweet-Up last year, at the Yakima Valley Visitors Center.
Yakima Craft Brewing's Jeff Winn. Photos by Keith Caffery Effler.
After years in the fast-paced world of high technology, beer enthusiast and avid home brewer Jeff Winn turned his passion into a business. Winn started Yakima Craft Brewing Company in 2007, partnering with Yakima’s Chris Swedin and several family members to launch his dream.
On the tails of his 40th birthday, Winn and his family moved to Yakima from Portland to embark on the grand adventure of small business ownership. The craft brewing industry is on the rise around the nation, growing every year in part due to an interest in natural, sustainable and local goods.
Yakima was perfect for starting a brewery, located in the center of the nation’s hop growing region and vastly underserved when it comes to craft beer. Although several microbreweries are now within an easy drive, among them Ellensburg’s Iron Horse, Sunnyside’s Snipes Mountain and Prosser’s Whistran and Horse Heaven Hills, six years ago Yakima didn’t have a single microbrewery in the city limits.
“When you say ‘Yakima’ in beer circles, it means hops,” Winn said. “Yakima is perfectly poised for craft beer. It wasn’t a coincidence we named our brewery Yakima Craft.”
Through a connection at New Vision/Yakima County Development Association, Winn was introduced to local brewer Chris Swedin, the former Grant’s Brew Pub brewer, who learned from Bert Grant himself.
Winn and Swedin hit it off and formed a partnership. “Things gelled right away,” Swedin said. Swedin had access to Bert’s original all-copper brew kettle, which they still use today, crafting just 3.5 barrels of beer per batch in a small facility located in a Northwest Yakima industrial park.
“A brewery doesn’t need a fancy location — the more industrial the better for beer culture,” Winn said.
And industrial it was. Upon leasing space at 2920 River Road in early 2008, Winn spent the better part of two weeks standing on scaffolding to scrub the ceiling clean in preparation to move in brewing equipment.
Methodical and intensely detail-oriented, Winn was committed to starting off small: a small space, small batches of beer and a small tap room. As with most small-business owners, Winn wears multiple hats. He not only brews the beer, he also does the graphic design for labeling and signage, manages the financials and does the marketing. He also hits the streets selling his beer to restaurants and retail establishments. Yakima Craft can be found locally at a variety of locations including Rosauers, The Beer Shoppe, Red Robin, Gilbert Cellars and Birchfield Manor.
His dedication has paid off. In 2009, just one year into full operation, Beer Advocate magazine awarded Yakima Craft Brewing a rare A+ for its IPA.
“We like beer with body and character,” said Winn. “We think that every beer should be phenomenal and each one should represent you. We brew what we like and if people follow us and like it, that’s a good thing. At the end of the day, the beer is what’s important.”
With growing regional recognition and a loyal local following, the Yakima Craft team has grown to three full-time employees and two part-timers. They brew five days a week just to keep up with demand, and the tiny tap room serves up beer six days a week.
“Brewing is science and art,” Winn said. “Science is very important but the art is essential. I think it’s important to find what you’re good at and stick with it.”
Winn and Swedin are fanatical about the details. Each recipe is developed with precision and care. “It helps we have similar taste. Most of our beers tend toward a Northwest style, nice and hoppy,” said Swedin. And, he adds, they follow their recipes to a T.
With growth comes expansion, which is under way now. Slated to be finished in May 2013, Yakima Craft Brewing will go from brewing just 3.5 barrels (108 gallons) to 20 barrels (620 gallons) per batch — a 471 percent increase. The increase in production will allow the brewery to expand its reach over the Cascades and tap into the Seattle market.
Winn’s long-term hope is that Yakima will become a focal point regionally for beer tourism. And his dream might not be that far off. With the newly opened Bale Breaker Brewing Company in Moxee and Hop Central Brewing Company in the works for downtown Yakima, craft beer is making a name for itself in Yakima.
New Vision President and CEO Dave McFadden agrees; a thriving small business is good for the entire community.
“Jeff is a great guy who had a great idea that made a lot of sense,” McFadden said. “When I met him back in 2007, it was easy to see how he was going to get off the ground and be successful. It’s a great story for our community: Winn brought the microbrewery back.”
And beer culture, as Winn calls it, is an open collaborative community. Brewers often trade industry secrets, helping each other whenever possible. When Winn heard fellow home brewing enthusiasts were getting ready to make the plunge into the microbrew industry, he was quick to offer encouragement and insight.
“Yakima is a mecca for hops, yet why don’t we have more breweries?” said Carol Vanevenhoven, owner of Hop Central Brewing Company.
With encouragement from Winn and a second-place finish in New Vision’s new business competition, the Enterprise Challenge, Carol and her husband Karl have embarked on opening their own brewery. Planning to be up and running by the Fresh Hop Ale Festival this fall, the Vanevenhovens have long been committed to being a part of Yakima’s downtown revitalization.
“You don’t get into craft beer business unless you have a passion for it,” Winn said. “Every day I think to myself, ‘I love it; I wouldn’t want to do anything else.’”
Yakima Craft uses Grant's original copper brew kettle.
Winn describes the brewery's expansion, which is in the works.
Jeff Winn (left), Chris Swedin and A.J. Keagle, who's a shift brewer.
Swedin and Keagle measure the "gravity" of a finished beer. The gravity tells how much sugar and alcohol is in the beer.
The lineup of beers inside Yakima Craft's Taproom.
A glass of beer is reward for a full day of work inside the brewery.
Sweding and A.J. Keagle clean the facility at the end of the day.
One wall of the Taproom is entirely chalkboard, which announces what's on special.
Kegs are stacked inside the brewery.
Taproom at the Brewery
2920 River Road, No. 6, Yakima
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 4-8 p.m.
Fri., 3-10 p.m.
Sat., 1-10 p.m.
A view from the road that took the Yakima group to the building site. Photos by Jake Jundt.
It was the trip of a lifetime for a group of 21 local travelers when they spent a month traveling, sight-seeing and building a home with Habitat for Humanity International in Nepal this fall.
Organized by Ann and Bruce Willis, seasoned travelers and experienced Habitat for Humanity builders, the trip was broken into three parts; a week-long tour in India, two weeks in Pokhara, Nepal building a Habitat for Humanity home and an additional week sight-seeing the countryside.
“We’ve found this is a very engaging way to travel and a wonderful way to experience a new culture,” Ann Willis said.
Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, Christian housing ministry that has helped to build over 500,000 affordable houses. With a vision to create a world where everyone has a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity has served over 2.5 million people worldwide.
Partnering with Habitat for Humanity, this was the Willis’s tenth international trip to build a home. They previously built homes in El Salvador and Columbia, organizing adventures and inviting friends and fellow community members to join them.
When the Willis’s decided to organize a build in Nepal, they knew others from Yakima would want to join them. As the team was assembled over several months, often times through word of mouth, a diverse group emerged with varying professional, personal, religious and political backgrounds.
“The tone, perspective, and mission of Habitat groups are often a reflection of the team’s leaders,” Peggy Ludwick, one of the trip participants said. “One of the reasons I was interested in going to Nepal with Bruce and Ann Willis as our leaders, is that they just wanted to travel with a purpose, to do good work in a part of the world they were interested in seeing and learning from. This fit perfectly with my goals as well.”
The group embarked on their journey in late October, arriving first in India on October 21st. The entire group participated in the Habitat build, but different parts of the group participated in the additional tours and travel opportunities. After a whirlwind guided tour of Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, and Varanasi, India, the group arrived in Pokhara, Nepal on October 28th.
“We decided that if you’re going to travel across the world, you had better make the most of it,” Willis said.
Pokhara is the second largest city of Nepal with approximately 300,000 inhabitants and is situated about 200 kilometers west of the capital Kathmandu. The group spent two weeks constructing a bamboo post and beam structure that was approximately 200 square feet. The family, a husband and wife with three young children, worked alongside the group every day. After the concrete slab foundation was laid, the group worked to assemble the exterior walls. The construction, a very green model of building, was made by slicing the bamboo by hand into thin slats and weaving them together.
The work was physically exhausting and tedious because each slat had to be sliced by hand using a traditional Nepalese knife and then woven to the other slats. All of the concrete was hauled, mixed and poured by hand.
“I think learning to be with what was, without trying to fix or change it, was a really powerful experience,” trip participant Carole Folsom-Hill said. “It would have been easier to have power tools or other machinery to help us on the job site, but then we wouldn’t have truly gotten to experience the culture.”
Each day started with an early breakfast at the hotel. The group would take a Nepalese bus to the job site, picking up a foreman and a few site helpers along the way, quickly learning the complex code of banging and tapping on the walls of the bus to signal a stop or a change in direction. The team would work until late afternoon with a short break for lunch, a traditional meal, prepared for them on site and then back to work. At the end of the day, the group would ride the bus back to their hotel to rest up for the next day.
“The build was significant for a number of reasons,” trip attender Caroline Sundquist said. “The details of the experience are layered as we all experienced discomfort and fatigue at different times, not to mention how physically and mentally grueling the work was. It required us to work well together as a team, helping and encouraging each other every step of the way.”
In preparing for the trip, group members approached local Rotary organizations to fundraise for an additional three homes to be built in Nepal. Members from all three local Rotary organizations including Downtown, Southwest and Sunrise were represented on the trip.
For Ralph Berthon, it was his first international trip, and he found adventure everywhere he could. Whether it was riding on the back of a small motorcycle taxi, ziplining the world’s largest zipline through the jungle or hiking a 50 mile trek through the Himalaya Mountains, he took advantage of every moment.
“I would do a trip like this again in a heartbeat, the trip impacted me quite a bit,” Berthon said. “This was a wonderful group to travel with and the experience overall was incredible.”
At the conclusion of the Habitat build, a portion of the group traveled to the outskirts of the Himalaya Mountains to do a 50 mile trek through mountain villages. The entire trek was a series of stone steps and pathways making climbing to an altitude of over 10,000 feet at some points challenging.
From the trek, the group concluded their adventure at the Royal Chitwan National Park for a five day safari. The group rode elephants and did several walking and jeep tours to see wildlife and lush jungle flora.
A view of the corrugated roof.
These homemade swings can be found everywhere in the area.
The family who will inhabit the home. The woman in blue is the local Habitat for Humanity coordinator, and she designed the home.
The structure begins to take shape.
Clockwise from above: Back Row: Bruce Willis, Jim Fitch, Craig Sundquist, Larry Stevens, Buzz Rowan. Third Row: Pam Cleaver, Priti Streich, Sylvia Severn, Trish Meyer, Connie Stevens, Jerry Simons Second Row: Ann Willis, Kathy Stevens, Linda ?, Sally Fitch, Peggy Ludwig, Carole Folsom-Hill Front Row: Ralph Berthu, Martin Streich, Jake Jundt, a local dignitary, Carolyn Sundquist.
Caroline Sundquist pours gravel and sand into the home, which was then mixed with water, eventually forming the home's floor.
The group makes its way to the building site.
Farmers create terraces for growing rice, setting up their homes on steep terrain.
Peggy Ludwick gets a bath from an elephant in the Chitwan Jungle.
A child offers a flower to Jake.
A home that's almost finished. You can see the cement along the bottom, which acts like stucco.
The builders formed a "bucket brigade" to hand bowls of sand and gravel up the hill to the site.
Some of the tools used to build the home. Electricity is spotty, so there were only two electric drills.
Bert's fills up fast during trivia, with many tables full by 5:30 or 6 p.m. Photos by Jennifer Dagdagan.
If you’ve ever found yourself hollering the answers at a Jeopardy rerun while making dinner, it might be time to call up a few friends and head out to one of two wildly popular trivia nights around town. Hosted on Wednesday nights at Bert’s Pub and Thursday nights at Bill’s Place, pub trivia nights have grown over the last several years.
Whether you possess a wealth of history facts or have a little known gift of unscrambling movie titles, there’s a category for everyone. But be warned, it’s best to show up early if you plan to play. The game starts at 7 p.m. at Bill’s and 7:30 p.m. at Bert’s, but regulars often start staking a claim on their preferred tables around 5:30 p.m.
Trivia night started at Bert’s in 1999, when it was still called Grant’s Brewery Pub and located in the train depot on Front Street. Thirteen years later, the restaurant fills to capacity every Wednesday night with eager teams vying for a chance to secure a winning prize. In fact, two of the teams started at Grant’s and still get together every week for play. One of Bert’s trivia hosts, Karissa Craig, credits trivia night with helping her get connected in Yakima after moving to town in 2006.
“It’s always a great night,” Craig said. “Trivia brings out a great group of people, some who maybe wouldn’t come out on their own.”
Sometimes the restaurant gets so crowded that teams hang out in the hallway, shouting out answers and heckling the host from back by the bathrooms. Newcomers and individual players are welcome to pony up to the bar, often forming a team, sometimes with a little help from the bartender.
Matt Ruybal and wife Deb host Bill’s Place trivia night each week, putting together a full-blown interactive PowerPoint presentation. “I like making the game really visual,” Ruybal said. “And I think the players get a kick out of it.”
Bill’s Place has its own set of regulars on Thursday nights.
“We have a blast,” Ruybal said. “It’s awesome to have a night dedicated solely for the purpose of people using their brains. It’s a great vibe in the bar.”
Trivia is played in rounds. Each round features a category such as geography, current events, history or pop culture. Each category has an average of 10 questions. Teams of two to six people (and sometimes more or fewer) work together to answer the questions correctly. At the end of the night, a first, second and third prize are handed to the winning teams in the form of gift certificates for food or drink to the restaurants.
But the highlight of the evening is the “bonus” round. Players individually buy in for $1 and the winning team gets the pot. If no one wins that week, the pot rolls over to the next week. Sometimes it grows to several hundred dollars.
And where do those obscure, sometimes tricky questions come from? That’s up to the trivia host. The host researches categories and develops questions. It’s up to them to verify answers. Ruybal spends Sundays watching football and scouring the Internet for trivia in preparation for the upcoming week.
“Some people shy away from playing because they are worried they won’t know any of the answers,” Ruybal said. “But it’s a game and meant to be fun. We put a lot of effort into making sure it’s a fun night for everyone.”
A customer at Bert's eats one of the restaurant's signature - and much loved - dishes: pepperjack macaroni and cheese.
A trivia host asks the next question during Bert's trivia night, which is every Wednesday.Bert's patrons toast their brews.
The menu readerboard at Bill's Place.
Happy customers - and contestants - at Bill's Place.
Awaiting a response from the crowd at Bill's.
A player at Bill's shows off her laminated scorecard.
A Bert's Pub trivia sheet being filled out over a salad and a cold beer.
Sailor Jerry has become a popular spiced rum among the trivia crowds.
Bert's serves tacos and beer during trivia night...
...as well as prime rib and potatoes. Yum!