Elise Landry wins “Chopped Next Gen”

As a contestant and winner on the first season of the Food Network’s show “Chopped Next Gen,” Elise Landry became the chef on everyone’s mind in Olympia almost overnight. Her new restaurant, Chicory, which she co-owns and runs with her husband Adam Wagner, went from just getting open to having to close down online orders to focus on in-restaurant diners in a time when most restaurants were struggling to make it during the COVID-19 health restrictions. 

“It’s been amazing. We’ve had such support from the community,” noted Landry when I caught up with her on a warm summer Monday watering the plants in the restaurant. “In a small, tight-knit town like Olympia, not only does everyone feel connected, but there is already a deep appreciation for sustainable and locally sourced food. We felt like we fit in.”

Growing up in Kansas City, Landry loved her upbringing and region, but wanted to be closer to nature. After a quick scouting trip to the PNW, the couple retrofitted a motorhome, drove West, and spent two summers working in restaurants on Orcas Island. The dream was to open a restaurant of their own and everything came into alignment just when the pandemic hit. 

The process of opening Chicory started long before the pandemic and included navigating new building owners, leases, small business loans, and lots of renovations. Landry shared that, for a while, every day began by watching YouTube demonstrations and learning by doing. From hanging drywall to replacing a water heater, they had to figure it out. “There was no turning back.”

Veterans of many restaurants and kitchens, Landry and Wagner see Chicory as a platform to talk about sustainability and food systems, but also to rewrite the rules and create a truly healthy work environment for staff. “We want to create a place where our staff feels respected and valued.” 

They are walking the talk. In addition to showing care by baking a staff member’s favorite cookie on their birthday, bigger changes have been made at Chicory. Instead of customers leaving tips for their individual server, a 20% service fee is added to the bill which is shared by all employees. This new norm shifts some of the financial inequities experienced by all staff in the restaurant industry and has become common practice in restaurants in major metropolitan centers like Seattle and San Francisco, but has yet to be more widely adopted. In addition, they will be offering a special class with a personal trainer to learn stretching exercises to help alleviate some of the physical stress created by restaurant work. “It’s important to encourage both physical and mental health for our staff,” noted Landry. 

As she finished up watering the plants, Landry paused. “We have amazing light in the restaurant in the mornings when we are closed. I can just imagine a floor of yoga mats and potentially offering wellness classes to others in the restaurant industry,” she said. It might be a dream right now, but this next-generation chef is about more than an amazing menu or time in the spotlight. With Chicory, she is here to change restaurants one small step at a time. Hilary Ryan

Team — CHICORY (chicoryrestaurant.com)

Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County: Youth Inspiring Youth

Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County inspire youth to realize their greatness. Boys & Girls Clubs fill the gap between school and home by providing a welcoming, positive, out-of-school environment. Kids and teens have fun, participate in life-changing programs, and build supportive relationships with peers and caring youth development professionals.

From homework help to tutoring, art to sports, and STEM activities to gaming, the Club experience prepares kids and teens for future success. By focusing Club activities on academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles, youth are better prepared to graduate from high school, have a plan for their futures, and thrive as adults.

Nearly 3,000 kids and teens find safety and support annually at Clubs in Lacey, Olympia, Rochester, Tenino, Tumwater, Yelm, and new this year, a second Lacey branch located in the Raj Manhas Activity Center (RMAC). Low membership fees and scholarships keep the Club accessible to youth who need them most, thanks to 76% of funding coming from generous individuals and community supporters.

Visit BGCTC.org or contact one of the seven Thurston County Club locations to see if the Club is the right choice for youth in your care:

Lacey Branch
360.438.6811
1105 Tracey LN SE
Lacey, WA 98503
Facebook: @LaceyBGCTC

Olympia Branch
360.556.3615
Jefferson Middle School
2200 Conger Ave NW
Olympia, WA 98502
Facebook: @OBGCTC

Rochester Branch
360.273.9397
10140 Hwy. 12 SW
Rochester, WA 98579
Facebook: @BGCTCRochesterRocks

Tenino Branch
360.810.3700
Tenino Elementary School
301 Old Highway 99 N
Tenino, WA 98589
Facebook: @BGCTCTenino

Tumwater Branch
360.570.8888
600 Israel Rd. SW
Tumwater, WA 98501
Facebook: @TBGCTC

Yelm Branch
360.956.0755
105 W Yelm Ave
Yelm, WA 98597
Facebook: @BGCTCYelm

NEW! RMAC Branch (Next to North Thurston HS)
360.888.6614
200 Sleater Kinney RD NE
Olympia, WA 98506
Facebook: @ @BGCTCRMAC

Capitol City Honda: A Family Tradition

Kelly Leavesque, owner of Capitol City Honda, understands better than most what it means to do business in your hometown. According to Kelly, “It means your neighbors are buying from you and it is so important that they walk out of our dealership feeling great about their purchase. Our reputation depends upon it.”

At Capitol City Honda, that reputation was earned by Kelly’s father, Ed McCarroll, who opened the dealership in 1971. Impressed by the quality of the Honda motorcycles, Ed took a risk on a relatively new car brand to the US as a leap of faith. Through his industry knowledge of car sales and service, he built it into a thriving dealership, winning national awards from Honda.

Kelly purchased the dealership from her dad in 2017. Serving as the dealership manager since 2000, she and her husband Chris knew she was buying a legacy. The couple share the workload of running the dealership with Chris serving as General Manager and Kelly as the Principal and President.

With Ed McCarroll’s passing in June at the age of 94, the dealership where Ed had still kept an office is adjusting to a life without him. But Kelly learned from her dad that your reputation is built through relationships.

Like Ed, Kelly and Chris continue to build relationships through their support of the community. Whether it is the Boys & Girls Club, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, or their newest commitment to 4 the Love Foundation that donated Thanksgiving meals to more than 500 local, school-age children, the couple picks charities in the most need.

A strong reputation with customers extends to their employees as well, with several of the staff at the dealership, including the office manager and sales manager, boasting a tenure of several decades. “Employee morale is important to us. It starts from the ground up. Customers feel that morale and it sets the tone for the store,” said Kelly.

Capitol City Honda
Olympia Auto Mall
2370 Carriage Loop SW, Olympia
800.594.2956
capitolcityhonda.com

BY LYNN CASTLE

Olympia Farmers Market

Shopping at the Olympia Farmers Market can be a great way to get to know your community while supporting your local economy. Open year-round with three distinct operating seasons, it’s a great addition to your weekly shopping routine. The market is open Thursday to Sunday, April through October for High Season, Saturday and Sunday in November and December for Holiday Season, and every Saturday in January through March for Winter Season, always 10am to 3pm. (Please check for current hours due to pandemic restrictions.)

Founded in 1975, the Market has been in its current location at the top of Capitol Way in downtown Olympia since 1996. With four dedicated full-time employees and a volunteer board of directors comprised of vendors, they are committed to their mission “to promote and encourage the development of local, small-scale agriculture and ensure a dynamic market balance for small, local growers and others to make available their products to residents of this community.”

The open-air, barn-inspired building provides protection from the weather and space for over 100 unique small businesses from the South Sound region to connect directly with customers in the community. Visitors to the market will find fruit and produce, artisan foods, wine, plant starts, cut flowers, pasture-raised meats, dairy, baked goods, seafood, jams and preserves, confections, handcrafted gifts including jewelry, woodworking, textiles, ceramics, glasswork, photography, local art and more. Free daily live entertainment can be enjoyed at the Market main stage with ample seating and space to enjoy delicious foods from the eight restaurants. The Market also has over 200 free two-hour parking stalls, accessible restroom facilities, and three ATM’s for customer convenience.

The Market accepts new farmer and food processor applications year-round and new crafter applications annually from December 1 through December 31. Visit the website for more information at www.olympiafarmersmarket.com.

Merle Norman: More than a Cosmetic Store

Even though it’s been reopened since June 1 of last year, the owner of Lacey’s Merle Norman Cosmetics, Wigs and Day Spa, Madelin White, answers phone calls every day asking if they are open. Approaching five decades in business, White proudly says yes and encourages people to visit. “We are open, and we also ship out product every day,” said White in a recent interview.

White’s father first brought up the idea of starting up a beauty related business those many years ago because he viewed it as having the ability to withstand the downturns. He was right.

“I’ve owned this Merle Norman business for 47 years and survived eight recessions. And, we will make it through this too,” White proclaimed. This, of course, refers to the pandemic and all the issues it brought with it.

Diversification has also proved to be a strong strategy that has sustained the Lacey location when others around the state and country have fallen. What started out as a beauty endeavor grew into so much more.

The store, of course, sells a wide variety of Merle Norman cosmetics, and the namesake company is the last remaining cosmetic producer to manufacture in the United States after 90 years. White’s store provides personalized services including free and specialty makeovers, but goes many steps further by offering facials, including a wide variety of masks from Miracol to Charcoal to Bubbly, waxing services, massage therapy, and hair care/styling.

According to White, “We have three amazing hairdressers, each having well over 25 years of experience.” To add to the ambiance of the salon, all three stylists have private rooms. Additionally, the Spa houses a large room to try things on and a secluded area to try on wigs.

With a huge offering of wigs varying in price points, styles and materials, the Spa offers discounts for people going through chemotherapy and cancer treatments. They sell turbans and head coverings as well to assist people in camouflaging their treatment’s side effects.

Merle Norman Cosmetics, Wigs and Day Spa
360.491.4911
3925 8th Av SE, Lacey
merlenormancosmeticsolympia.com

BY LYNN CASTLE

Holy Lamb Organics: Natural Bedding

Holy Lamb Organics has been making natural bedding products locally by hand in the small town of Oakville, Washington for 18 years. The South Sound community can access a “touch and feel” experience in Olympia. The company’s retail showrooms are the only all-natural bedding stores between Seattle and Portland, according to owners Jason and Mindy Schaefer.

The showroom is a great way for customers to experience the products. “We’re excited to be part of the downtown Olympia neighborhood – it is a great fit for our business,” says Mindy Schaefer.

Holy Lamb Organics’ manufacturing plant is located in what was once Oakville’s historic Little Bit General Store, which served the community in eastern Grays Harbor County for over 85 years. Built in 1902, the building also includes a showroom that is open to the public.

According to the Schaefers, Holy Lamb Organics bedding is handmade using the highest quality materials and forward-thinking design and innovation. Made in the USA, the products are natural and certified organic. The Schaefers add that replacing the bedding of an allergy sufferer with natural products can reduce or eliminate the effects of allergies.

Besides promoting health and well-being, the Schaefers’ vision is to strengthen the local economy using sustainable and ecological practices in their manufacturing and selling. “We bring distinctive, comfy, healthy goods to the marketplace without ever compromising our commitment to sustainability and the environment.”

The Schaefers’ showroom has become a welcome space for the community. They invite you to the showroom to experience the difference all-natural bedding offers.

Holy Lamb Organics
418 Washington St SE, Olympia, WA
holylamborganics.com

BY LEAH GROUT

Getting Settled into a New Home

After the last box is moved into your new home, you might think the hardest part of moving is over. And you’re right, but there are still things to take care of before you can relax completely.

Get Your Utilities Set Up

You don’t want to arrive at your new place, late at night, and find that the lights don’t work. Before you move, arrange for the utilities to be set up there. Make sure all of your services are up and running so you can check your electronics and appliances.

Check Major Appliances

If you moved major appliances, such as a range, dishwasher, washer or dryer, check to make sure nothing was damaged during the move. This is particularly important if the mover prepared your appliances for the move. Your insurance policy may have a limited time in which to make a claim. Since these are big-ticket items, you want to make sure they’re all working.

Check all Boxes and Furniture

Make sure all boxes and furniture arrived and that nothing is damaged. If you’re missing something or you find damage, contact the mover and your insurance company to submit a claim. It’s important to do this immediately after moving in or the insurance company may not reimburse you.

Save Receipts

Keep all receipts and documentation related to your move in one file and store the file in a safe, secure place. Make sure you have your bill of lading and payment receipt. You may be able to claim your move on your next tax return, and you’ll need all the necessary receipts to make your claim.

Make Sure You’re Getting Your Mail

Check with the post office about mail forwarding. Update all important files and documents with your new address and notify everyone who needs to know about your move.

BY KELLY LENIHAN

Cultivating Kindness Landscape & Design

Some things are just meant to be. As L.J. Cirilo describes how she started Cultivating Kindness Landscape & Design in Olympia, you are definitely left with the impression that her rapidly growing business is one of those “meant to be” things. “Cultivating Kindness was born from my love for gardening and desire to help people, realizing that by being kind to one another we can all make this world a better place to live,” she explains.

In 2016, Cirilo was working at a local garden center when her landlord asked if she would take on the landscape maintenance of his 20 properties in the area. With a lawn mower and a few basic tools loaded in her truck, Cirilo jumped at the opportunity. It wasn’t long before she realized she wanted to expand her client base and take on more meaningful projects. “I made up a simple flyer,” she reflects with a laugh, remembering how simple it looked. Between word-of-mouth, advertising and client recommendations on social media, Cultivating Kindness has blossomed into serving 171 clients, offering an ever-expanding list of services, and showcasing completed projects on her website with an updated logo.

“I believe that love makes everything grow and I apply that philosophy in everything I do,” says Cirilo. “I enjoy building relationships with my clients and collaborating with them to create a landscape that is unique and personal.” As each project concludes, her most satisfying moment is the smile her work has earned from a client.

Cirilo has taken her love of gardening a step further by starting Eternal Harvest, which builds community gardens, the first of which was at the Providence Community Care Center in downtown Olympia. “Having my hands in the soil is like therapy,” she notes.

“I wanted to give others, especially the homeless, a chance to grow food and build community.” The bounty of the garden was given away at the Center. Cirilo hopes to build more gardens in the future with the help of community support and donations.

Cultivating Kindness Landscape & Design
360.999.2366
cultivatingkindnesslandscapedesign.com

BY JULIE LEYDELMEYER

Olympia OB/GYN Heroes: Babies Born During a Pandemic

Babies are born when they are ready, not when a pandemic says so. Dedicated medical personnel tackle coronavirus challenges to deliver them safely. That’s true of the team at Olympia Obstetrics & Gynecology (OOG) as they work with patients at the office and welcome babies at the Family Birth Center at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.

“We love moms and babies,” said Dr. Darrel Bell. “The virus hasn’t changed how special each delivery has been. I thank all those who protect mothers and babies by wearing masks and practice social distancing.” Providence welcomes moms and an essential support person in the delivery room which, for many patients, creates an intimate experience. These individuals are screened upon entry; moms are also tested. Masking goes without saying…

Expecting a newborn during the COVID-19 pandemic adds stress to an already challenging time in a family’s life. As they care for moms and their babies, OOG and Family Birth Center staff work together to maintain the highest standards of care and safety for their patients and families. The goal is to keep newborns with their mothers in their rooms, as a basic tenet of infant and family-centered care.

Occasionally, separation is necessary because infant care cannot take place safely in the mom’s room. This is rare. An average of 100 babies a month are delivered by OOG’s medical staff with positive patient feedback.

OOG is using technology in positive ways to keep everyone safe. Carie Bussey, certified nurse midwife with the clinic, said, “We’ve discovered a lot of silver linings. Health care workers have been forced to hop on the telemedicine effort. We’ve been able to quickly adopt what works for us and patients enjoy some benefits while remaining safely distanced. OOG utilizes a telehealth system that ties the visit to the patient’s electronic health record. Patients receive a link via email or text and can access us through their mobile phones, iPads and desktops.”

Deb Cannon, practice manager at the clinic, said, “We are a big family, and maybe none of us really understood what it means to be an ‘essential worker’ until now. We have been proud to have maintained a safe environment for everyone; that includes the babies.” OOG anticipates continuation of masking and social distancing until we have fast, accurate testing and a widely accepted and utilized vaccine.

Olympia Obstetrics & Gynecology
olyobgyn.com

BY EMILY HAPPY

Service at the Heart of Light Dental Studios

We can all agree on the qualities for the ideal dental provider: round-the-clock service, free consultations, same-day appointments, entire-family bookings, empathetic service and affordable care. It’s nearly impossible to find a full combination of such attributes. But then there’s Light Dental Studios.

The dentist-owned company—with 16 locations in the South Puget Sound—has customer service at the core of its mission.

“We try to treat people the way we would want to be treated,” says owner and CEO Dr. Steven Broughton, who bought his first office from a former dentist in 1997. “People say our practice feels like we’re all neighbors, like they’re just going down the street for friendly dental care.”

With hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. including Saturdays, doctors available 24/7, free consultations, same-day appointments, and entire-family same-day care, Light Dental Studios has solutions patients need.

“We’re trying to make dentistry effortless by making it about our patients, not the dentists,” says Broughton. “Our schedule accommodates their schedule, not the other way around. Our doctors are always available, and almost all procedures are done in-house.”

Besides standard dental checkups, treatments and other services, Light Dental Studios offers on-site orthodontics, implants, surgeries and dentures. Children’s dental care is also offered. In fact, the offices frequently schedule care for entire families side-by-side on the same day to save time.

Light Dental Studios also gives back to the community at the annual South Sound Free Dental Day. That’s when the staff donates its time and skills to give away more than $90,000 worth of dental work—including fillings and extractions—on a first come, first-served basis.

“We want patients to feel comfortable,” Broughton says. “Our first goal is to provide same-day treatment.”

Broughton notes that Light Dental Studios will continue to add offices over the upcoming years in growing neighborhoods.

Light Dental Studios
lightdentalstudios.com

BY LEAH GROUT