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Growth benefits both business and university

By Myra Waldher '05

Great food, scenic walks and an inviting community drew Aaron and Faith Stevens to Garfield Street so often they decided to move in.

They had been frequenting the local restaurants and bringing their 2-year-old son, Atticus, on walks around PLU when they noticed an available business space. Aaron opened a fair trade import store there in April, selling antiques, gifts and imports from all over the world at a shop called The Urge.

Stevens is excited to join the community, and the community is glad to have him. Other business owners remember him and his wife as patrons, and are looking forward to the character his store will add to the block.

“We are excited to have these new people,” said April Patterson, owner of Mi Piace Italian Deli & Pizzeria. “All of the businesses work really well together. We don’t have problems sharing customers, and Garfield Street is starting to turn into a location to hang out instead of just businesses.”

It’s just one example of how Garfield Street is changing, in ways that benefit the businesses, the university and the greater community.

“I sense from the PLU community and especially from students that having a vibrant business area near campus is seen as a great amenity,” said Mark Mulder ’93, ’00, director of Auxiliary Services at PLU. “Not only has Garfield Street become an activity area for PLU, but its future is only looking brighter.”

PLU hopes to stimulate growth along Garfield Street with an ambitious redevelopment plan. The university bought lots on the busy corner of Pacific Avenue and Garfield and tore down the dilapidated buildings. It will be a new retail center, home to a bigger PLU Bookstore and other services, which will hopefully create new customers for the businesses in the area.

Liz Myers, owner of Northern Pacific Coffee Company, loves the community feel on Garfield Street.

Felix and Reyna Guzman of Reyna’s Mexican Restaurant hope their young children will one day attend PLU.

Faith and Aaron Stevens, with son Atticus, opened an import and antique store called The Urge on Garfield Street.

“I love change. I think it’s wonderful that PLU bought that lot at the end of the road…it’s very important,” said Elisa Marzano, owner of Marzano’s restaurant.

Marzano, who has been in the area for 17 years, has watched the community grow. “When I first started the restaurant (the street) only had a few businesses,” she said. “Over the past few years it has definitely come along.”

Patterson is a new business owner, having taken over Mi Piace last year. Since taking ownership she has been involved with the Garfield Street Business Association, which aims to keep businesses informed and working together for a better community.

She said she looks forward to improved sidewalks and parking, and all the owners look forward to an increase in customers that will result from the PLU redevelopment plan.

As Garfield Street develops, not only are the businesses sharing customers, they also serve each other. For instance, customers at Extreme Gaming or Tsunami Tattoo often order food from nearby restaurants to eat during their visits to the stores.

“It’s a neighborhood where everybody knows everybody and people are always popping in to say hi,” said Harry Blaisure, owner of Disc Connection.

“ We joke and we call it the Garfield Nation because it is such a tight community.”

Tsunami Tattoo is another new business on the block. Owner Tim McCarthy was eating lunch one day on Garfield Street, saw a vacancy and opened up shop.

“I like the street. It’s an excellent place where people actually get out of their cars and walk around,” McCarthy said.

Although McCarthy said he doesn’t get many PLU students as customers, Garfield Street provides him with many new clients. Northern Pacific Coffee Company owners Liz and Mike Myers have tattoos from Tsunami Tattoo and have referred most of their employees there.

The couple has owned NPCC for just over a year.

“We love the feel of the street, everybody seems to help each other and are really friends,” said Liz Myers.

NPCC is involved with both the Garfield Street and the PLU community. The coffee shop regularly hosts evenings of music, poetry, theater, meetings and the monthly Garfield Street Business Association meetings.

“We have six boys together and we feel like parents here,” Liz Myers said. “We have fun, we feed them. I think that’s why we like it here, because of all the kids.”

Members of the Garfield

  • Street Business Association:
  • Elizabeth’s Holistic Health*
  • Reyna’s Mexican Restaurant
  • Northern Pacific Coffee Company
  • Mi Piace Italian Deli & Pizzeria
  • HobbyTown
  • Westside Community Bank
  • Western Auto
  • Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
  • Marzano’s
  • From the Bayou
  • Disc Connection
  • Garfield Center Building
  • Dr. Daniel Olivera (dentist)
  • PLU Northwest and Scandinavian Gift Shop

*President, Elizabeth Johnson

Taking over NPCC was Liz’s project, with her husband continuing to work as an electrician. Over the year, however, they have grown attached to and involved with the business, and Liz says she can barely tear Mike away from his work there.

Across the street from NPCC is Hobby Town, housed in one of Garfield Street’s oldest buildings, once home to Parkland Light and Water and the Parkland Library. Now people come to check out model airplanes and oil painting classes.

Longtime manager Jon Packer admits that most PLU students don’t have time to pursue hobbies on top of their schoolwork, so he finds his customer base in the greater community. However, Packer says he still benefits from PLU’s proximity. He is excited about PLU’s plans for development on Garfield Street and thinks it will help draw more people to the area.

Having new and different businesses in the area creates a more vibrant community. Marzano said her favorite part of owning her restaurant is getting to know the people and being a part of their lives. She remembers when Kevin Roy, owner of From the Bayou, was one of her employees, and she has enjoyed watching him succeed, recently opening a second From the Bayou in Puyallup.

Felix Guzman, owner of Reyna’s Mexican Restaurant, also looks forward to change. He hopes to someday get more space for his restaurant and be able to cater more to the PLU community with a bar and entertainment. His wife, Reyna, recently gave birth to their third child, a girl named Ruby.

“We have the best students in this area. They are respectable. I am very proud of the students around here,” he said. “I want my kids to go to PLU. That is what I am working for. We are working to create a plan.”



© Scene 2005  •  Pacific Lutheran University  •  Summer 2005

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