The fact that parts of the Plaza were still under construction at the time didn’t stop the excitement. It was the first holiday season at Issaquah Highlands with many of the long-awaited retailers open for business. Gone were the days of driving down the hill and around the bend for that box of diapers or forgotten can of cranberry sauce. Grand Ridge Plaza was open for business.
Looking back, it’s amazing how quickly the building process moved forward. Construction officially broke ground in October 2012, with the first openings just 10 months later. Regal Cinemas was the first to open in July 2013 with two blockbuster movies, “The Lone Ranger” and “Despicable Me 2.” Several restaurants quickly followed suit, with The Big Fish Grill and The RAM both opening in September. BevMo! opened a few weeks later and even heavy rain couldn’t deter shoppers on opening day; the line-up for goodie bags went around the block. Safeway, arguably the most anticipated retailer, opened in October 2013.
The opening of Bai Tong Thai restaurant this summer completed the cycle of grand openings on the retail front at Grand Ridge Plaza.
Bai Ton Thai’s co-owners are sisters: Chadillada (Noi) Lapangkura & Noina Champayom inherited the business from their mother, who opened the first Bai Tong near Sea-Tac Airport. At the time, their main customers were Thai Airways flight crews on layovers in Seattle. Noina and her family moved to Issaquah Highlands to open and run the new restaurant.
“When we first scouted locations for our third restaurant, we quickly identified Issaquah Highlands as a location,” recalls Noina. “My mom simply liked the environment and feeling of the community, and we all saw the potential business opportunity. This community is like a small town and we love that so many families are here.”
Bai Tong is proud of their authentic Thai cuisine. Each of the chefs hail from Thailand. It’s all part of the family’s goal to offer a unique experience to all who visit. Noina is especially proud of their efforts to give guests a taste of true Thai hospitality. “Doing business here in the community, you get a sense of how people are supportive of their neighbors and rally around each other. It’s such a pleasure to live and do business in this community.”
According to long-time resident Sondi Lind, the opening of Grand Ridge Plaza has brought more than just conveniences, “I love how I can walk to everything and bump into my neighbors. The community has so much more active energy now. It’s just a great gathering place with more social opportunities.”
Sondi, who works for the YWCA Family Village at Issaquah, shared that businesses have also offered employment opportunities to several Family Village residents, “Many of the businesses reached out to the YWCA to recruit new employees, and several people got jobs at places like Safeway, Marshalls and Regal Cinemas. It’s been wonderful seeing how these new businesses have built ties to the community.”
Recent Grand Openings at Grand Ridge Plaza
Comprising 325,000-square-feet of commercial space built on 14 acres, Grand Ridge Plaza includes more than 45 businesses, which in July was awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Sliver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. Also, several merchants opened this year. Here’s a snapshot of the “Class of 2014.”
Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches opened in the early days of the New Year. It has proven to be one of the most popular new additions to the community, especially for families on the go. Famous for its delivery service, the shop at the corner of Park and Highlands also offers catering services.
TD Curran, the Bellingham-based Mac computer and Apple product specialists, opened at Grand Ridge Plaza in February. Located next to Soma Intimates, the store — arguably the Eastside’s best place to learn about the latest Apple products — also offers business services and technical support.
NaturoMedica, a provider of individualized naturopathic healthcare, opened a beautiful new clinic next to Caffe Ladro in April. The clinic’s five naturopathic doctors use methods such as acupuncture, IV therapy, botanical (herbal) medicine, homeopathy, diet and lifestyle modification, and counseling.
In June, Issaquah Highlands Dental Group opened at the corner of Highlands and Ellis. Drs. William McGlashan and Jessica Raber provide services for all ages, ranging from cleanings to exams to crowns. The clinic also offers evening and weekend appointments.
Bai Tong Thai Restaurant, one of the most eagerly-anticipated new restaurant openings, officially opened its doors in June. The restaurant at the corner of Federal and Highlands, has quickly become a hot spot for everyone who craves curries and true, five-star spiciness.
More construction is on the horizon: HomeStreet Bank recently signed a lease to construct a 3,300-square-foot building on the block of cleared land between the Safeway gas station and grocery store. Construction is slated to begin in early 2015.
Also see in December 2014 Connections Grand Ridge Plaza Gives Back.
This story was published in December 2014 Connections. Produced by Nina Milligan, Connections Editor, and written by Suzanne Lee, a freelance writer who has worked in and for Issaquah Highlands since 2008. Feature and Safeway photos by Jennifer Durham for Regency Centers. Others by Suzanne Lee.