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Walla Walla’s Celebrated Gas Station Counter Will Soon Be a Full-Fledged Restaurant

Plus, King County shuts down a Kent sports bar for violating indoor dining ban, and the area’s sockeye count hits a record low

A sandwich packed with smoked meat at Andrae’s Kitchen in Walla Walla
Andrae’s Kitchen in Walla Walla serves up meaty sandwiches and street food out of a gas station.
Andrae’s Kitchen [Official Photo]

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Walla Walla’s Celebrated Gas Station Counter Will Soon Be a Full-Fledged Restaurant

Those who have visited Walla Walla in recent years may be familiar with Andrae’s Kitchen, a walk-up counter inside a gas station that has gained some national acclaim for its various street food. Now, chef-owner Andrae Bopp is planning to close that quirky location January 24 and open a full-fledged restaurant in downtown Walla Walla called Mercado sometime in early 2021. The menu will focus on Bopp’s popular smoked meats and Mexican dishes from the gas station stand, as well as a full cocktail list featuring mezcal and tequila drinks. Mercado will be housed inside the historic 9,500-square-foot Barrett Building and include an outdoor patio area, plus a market featuring products from local farmers, cheesemongers, and others. “This will be an evolution of Andrae’s, not a transformation, and I can’t wait to get started,” Bopp said in a statement sent to Eater Seattle.

King County Orders Kent Sports Bar to Close for Violating Indoor Dining Ban

On January 4, a food inspector for Public Health - Seattle & King County ordered Stimpy’s Sports Bar & Grill in Kent to close for seating customers inside during the state’s current indoor dining ban. According to public records, the bar was warned as early as November 18 to shut down service inside and the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board cited at least least five COVID-19-related violations in December. Despite facing a suspension of its liquor license and other penalties, it sounds like Stimpy’s will continue to defy the state’s order. On January 5, owner Steven Siler told the Seattle Times, “I am opened right now, and I will reopen tomorrow too. It is not right that they are shutting down a small business.”

Area Sockeye Salmon Count Hits Record Low

In an ominous sign, the sockeye salmon count for Lake Washington hit a record low at the end of 2020, a continuation of a steep decline from the previous year. Out of 22,950 sockeye counted at the Ballard Locks, only about 3,000 made it to the mouth of the Cedar, and half usually die before they can reproduce, setting off alarm bells to environmental and wildlife preservationists. One report says “extinction looms” as predators, development, and the impacts of climate change imperil the fish species. Even worse: there doesn’t seem to be a pathway to reverse the trend, as a $31 million hatchery project from Seattle Public Utilities from 2011 hasn’t delivered the desired results. A greater awareness and acknowledgement of the problem is a start, though.