FACES AND PLACES - Seen and heard downtown

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Art, wine and sunshine combine in the newly opened Wine@NINE tasting room, a joint venture of Plumb Cellars and Mansion Creek Cellars at 9 S. 1st Ave. in Downtown Walla Walla.

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The Tomato Truck near the new Garden Vegan Cafe on Colville.

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The new Green Spoon venue on Main Street.

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Windows slant skyward on the street-facing door of Charles Smith Wines.

An occasional report on new arrivals downtown, updates on former features, and whispers of projects in the works.

New arrivals generate great excitement for those of us who work and play downtown - especially if there is the possibility of a new spot for lunch! Personally, anything that involves a historic building restoration makes my heart beat faster...

Wine@NINE - Plumb Cellars and Mansion Creek Cellars' joint space at 9 S. 1st is open and pouring on their gorgeous custom tasting bar, in their beautifully transformed tasting room. Visit with "Mama Julia Russell," Crandall Kyle, Margo and Gary Kagels, & Edie and Dale Johnson, and taste wine from both cellars.

Green Spoon - Gene Soto and Katie Gonzales have opened Green Spoon at 13 E. Main (site of a former jewelry store) to rave reviews and lines practically out the door. The culinary excellence that patrons experienced at Someone's In the Kitchen has transferred seamlessly from Rose to Main, with what looks like a slightly more Mediterranean flavor to the menu. They are closed on Tuesdays, but offer lunch and dinner on weekdays, brunch and dinner on Saturdays, and brunch on Sundays.

Charles Smith Wines World Headquarters - The wild child of the Walla Walla Valley has opened a stunning rehab project at 35 S. Spokane as the new home to his wine. A former auto repair shop, the floor still bears the oil stains and painted parking stalls from those days. But rather than cover over all the character, the concrete and painted brick have been cleaned and sealed, the beams and trusses have been revealed and the original pyramid-shaped skylights let in the sun. The giant steel and glass doors swing up like garage doors to open the space to a sidewalk seating area. It has been whispered that dancing, lectures, concerts, and possibly movie nights will take place here. Stay tuned.

The Garden Vegan Caf - You may have seen the Tomato Truck in and around downtown, and soon you'll be able to enjoy these fruits and more in the new Garden Vegan Caf?©. The space at 36 S. Colville, next door to the Patisserie, is undergoing a transformation from one-time dance club to charming caf?© serving fresh and healthy whole foods. Steven Binus & crew, who serve up all-natural foods at His Garden Bakery & Caf?© in College Place, are bringing their 100% natural deliciousness to downtown. Look for an opening before the end of May.

Public House 124 - Jim Sanders and Matthew Price-Huntington are turning the former home of Pete's Ski Sports at 124 E. Main into a full-service bar offering small plates and entrees. The first step, already in progress, is installing a fire suppression system in the building. After much poking around under the sidewalk in front of the building, the connection to the city's water service has finally been located. Many financing hoops have successfully been jumped through and heavy construction is about to begin. A June opening (fingers crossed!) is on the schedule.

Whispers heard around town: It sounds like the Whiteside Building at 51 E. Main (recently profiled in this column) has been sold and is on the way to a new life...the empty space left by recently closed Nicholas Cole Cellars at Palouse & Main may soon be filled with a downtown location for Caprio Cellars and Doubleback (you know, Drew Bledoe's label)...recent west-side transplants are seeking space for a restaurant...stay tuned!

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