Take a building big enough to house a car dealership. Fill it with the smells of french pastries and buckwheat crepes. Add an oyster bar, a gelato maker, a distiller, an epicurean grocer and a bone broth maker, and you've got the recipe for 222 Market, a slice of old Europe in downtown Olympia.
Open since last November, the market is the latest entry, in the city's evolution as a foodie destination, the outgrowth of an abundance of agricultural land surrounding the state capitol.
When a major tenant moved out of a building that housed a Packard car dealership in the 1940s, owners Gray and Joy Graham teamed up with Olympia restaurant owner and chef Lela Cross to design what they envisioned as a community meeting place as well as an incubator for food-related businesses they felt the city lacked.
Nine vendors occupy niches in an open, indoor space designed for gourmet grazing.
"Their dream," says Fred Moore of Blind Pig Spirits, a distillery which relocated to the market from Centralia, "was to get local people who actually produce something."
The partners first decided what type of businesses they wanted. High on the list was gelato, Northwest oysters, fresh flowers and a grocer who would stock locally-produced products.
Next they set about hand-picking vendors, some first-timers who graduated from a training course offered by Enterprise for Equity, a community nonprofit that helps people with limited incomes turn their ideas into small businesses.
"Part of Olympia growing up is helping the next generation of people finding ways to become business owners," says Cross.
Anchoring the project is long-time tenant André Le Rest, a Frenchman from a small village in Brittany who opened the Bread Peddler bakery and cafe in a corner of the building in 2006. With its cases lined with french pastries and rustic loaves of naturally fermented breads, the Bread Peddler remains the market's biggest draw, generating foot traffic for the newcomers.
Best advice: Stop in for late breakfast or early lunch, and do a little exploring around town. Then return for cocktails and dinner; a scoop of gelato; homemade tamales; or container of bone broth before heading home.
Besides the bakery and cafe, Le Rest and his partner, Frances Wolff, run two other sit-down dining spots in market, the Bistro, a Parisian-style cafe open for dinners and weekend brunch; and the Creperie, specializing in crepes made with buckwheat flour imported from France.
"In Britany, creperies are like Starbucks," says Le Rest."But there were none in Olympia."
Picture windows face the sidewalk, replacing the frosted glass that hid the payroll offices of a financial services company that once occupied the space. Customers can watch while cooks turn out paper-thin pancakes on pizza-size griddles, then fill them with roasted tomatoes, ham and eggs or poached pears with chocolate hazelnut sauce. The restaurant doubles as a boutique filled with imported French treasurers such as old keys from Paris ($2 each) and woven farmers bags ($7.85).
Sofie's Scoops and the Salt, Fire and Time Broth Bar share a counter with four, bright yellow stools that spin around soda-fountain style. Sophia Landis and Chris Proctor use an Italian gelato machine to make 12 flavors of gelato from scratch daily, using locally-sourced ingredients and milk from the Tunawerth Creamery in Tenino which they pasteurize on site. Flavors include goat cheese and honey; olive oil; and their signature gelato, Oly Fog, made with tea from Olympia's Encore Chocolates and Tea.
On tap at the Broth Bar is house-made Kombucha along with vats of nutritional broths brewed from beef, chicken, lamb, pork, bison and alpaca bones. Sisters Tressa
and Katie Yelling opened their first broth cafe in Portland last August. The pair source the bones from Northwest farmers and ranchers, then cook them for three days with cider vinegar to extract trace minerals. Basic broths ($5-$9) can be spiked with extras such as rosemary salt, juiced ginger and scallions; or coconut milk, basil, olive oil and lemon.
Facing the center of the market is the Pantry, a cooking school and artisan grocery where Olympia chef Kevin Gerlich showcases his homemade pates, black bean, yam and quinoa tamales and herbed gnocchi.
Filling spaces near a back entrance fronting on Olympia Avenue are Fleurae Floral, selling flowers grown by organic farmers in Centralia and Shelton and Blind Pig Spirits, distilling gin, vodka and flavored moonshineon site and serving samples in a cozy tasting room lined with wine barrel tables. Across the hallway is Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar, a 40-seat cafe with a cocktail bar open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.
Brother-and-sister team Shina Wysocki and Kyle Lentz wholesale their family's oysters around the U.S., and ship their geoducks to China. With their farm just five miles away, and the ability to bring in fresh shellfish daily, opening a restaurant in the market was a logical next step.
Wysocki said they looked several years for a space they thought would appeal to Olympia's diverse population of locals, government office workers and visitors.
"Here, we have legislators sitting next to farmers," she says. "That's what we wanted to see happen."
If you go: 222 Market is at 222 Capitol Way North in downtown Olympia, 60 miles south of downtown Seattle. Shop and restaurant hours vary, so check the website before visiting. www.222market.com
More to see and do around Olympia
STATE CAPITOL TOURS
Free, guided 50-minute tours of the Washington State Legislative Building are offered daily — weekdays 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on weekends. Completed in 1928, the Legislative Building has the tallest free standing masonry dome in North America and houses the world's largest Tiffany chandelier. Tours begin at the information desk on the second floor of the Legislative Building inside the main entrance.
GOVERNOR'S MANSION TOURS
Volunteers offer free, 45-60 minute tours of the Washington State Governor’s Mansion on most Wednesdays.
HANDS ON CHILDREN'S MUSEUM
More than 150 hands-on exhibits on two floors and an outdoor discovery center connecting children with nature. General admission (2-64) $12.95; seniors $10.95. 414 Jefferson St NE.
Perfect for rainy days because it's undercover is the Olympia Farmers Market, 700 Capitol Way N., open Thursday-Sunday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Vendors bring fresh produce, meats, dairy products and nursery plants from Thurston County farms. Specialty food producers sell homemade pastries, chocolates, salsas, jams and jellies. Crafters include glassmakers, jewelry designers, metal workers and potters.
BILLY FRANK JR. NISQUALLY NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE
Walk off the calories with a hike through the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, 8 miles southeast of Olympia at 100 Brown Farm Road NE. The Refuge was established as a natural habitat for migratory birds. Estimates are that more than 200 species visit through the year. The Visitor Center, with a nature shop, information desk, a view of the freshwater marsh, and interpretive exhibits, is open Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The daily fee is $3 per four adults.
Make time to explore all or part of the Thurston Bountiful Byway, a 60-mile agritourism route pointing visitors to craft distillers, winemakers, farmers and family-owned businesses showcasing locally-produced culinary treats. More than 60,000 acres of farmland form the backdrop for a day of exploring, with opportunities to soak up bite-sized chunks of state history, and enjoy hiking trails and bike paths.
MORE INFORMATION AT VISIT OLYMPIA