Maple Counter Café is new branch on restaurateur family's tree

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Downtown Walla Walla's new breakfast and lunch spot is reportedly set to open today at 209 E. Alder St.

Husband-and-wife owners Kory and Rachel Nagler are continuing a family tradition started more than 35 years ago with a restaurant in Chicago opened by Kory Nagler's grandparents. A third-generation restaurateur, he was inspired by his parents' restaurant, The Oak Table Caf in Sequim, Wash., for his own new venture.

That includes dishes made from scratch, including fresh batters and local ingredients, for gourmet breakfasts and handcrafted lunches.

The Maple Counter Caf, which operates in the converted site of a former transmission shop, features apple pancakes, Danish cherry pancakes and homemade biscuits and gravy on its vast breakfast menu. A short stack runs $6.95. Prices for other breakfast dishes range roughly $9 to $13.

Burgers, sandwiches, soups and salads fill the lunch menu at roughly the same prices as breakfast. Wine, beer and breakfast cocktails are also offered. The Maple Counter Caf will operate daily from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Lunch is available only after 11 a.m., and Sundays are breakfast-only.

Want to know more details on the family business? The Peninsula Daily News recently covered the Nagler history: http://ubne.ws/rTwoOL.

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Looking for some family fun after the holiday?

Grand Cinemas has a special event Friday and Saturday that will not only keep the little ones busy, but also perform a good deed for those in need.

Starting at 9:45 a.m. both mornings, the theater will have special screenings of "Rango." Admission is free in exchange for a can of food per person. The donations will be given to the local food bank.

Grand Cinemas, owned by Hallett Cinemas LLC, is located at 1325 W. Poplar St. Hallett Manager Moe Stallings said every theater in the complex will be available to handle crowds for the PG-rated feature about a pet chameleon who accidentally lands in the lawless Wild West town of Dirt and becomes the new sheriff.

In addition to offering some family recreation during the holiday weekend, the screenings are "a great opportunity for parents that need to go shopping," Stallings said.

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Several Milton-Freewater businesses are serving as dropoff points for a food drive currently under way.

The Ladies VFW Auxiliary has coordinated the annual Holiday Food Drive. Through Dec. 10 canned and nonperishable items can be deposited at food-drive boxes at ACE Hardware, 11 N. Columbia St.; Pendleton Grain Growers, 217 E. Broadway Ave.; Les Schwab, 609 E. Broadway Ave.; and Safeway, 455 N. Columbia St.

All items will be donated to the Valley Cupboard and Bread Basket, according to the announcement.

Fort Walla Walla Museum's new flagship building has earned Silver LEED status.

The museum received the status, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Designation, for its new Entry Hall Exhibit Galleries.

The designation is awarded to building owners and operators who implement practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance.

Everything from establishing parking spots for multi-passenger vans and hybrid vehicles to using recycled materials in construction was taken into consideration for the designation. More than 95 percent of the former Exhibit Hall 1 was reused or recycled to help with the construction, museum officials said. The LEED status rating system also evaluates open space maintenance, insulation levels, energy efficiency, water usage, building materials and more.

"We wanted to help set a pattern that this sort of construction has positive benefits for the community," said museum Executive Director James Payne in a prepared statement. "We'll see energy savings and spent a lot less on maintenance during the life of the building."

He said a green building was planned all along, but the Silver LEED status was also a condition of the Washington Heritage Capitol Projects Fund grant that helped pay for the project.

"We were able to show the state from the onset that we were well underway in pursuing those goals," Payne said. "As the economy improves, we'll seek more funding to continue our services and facilities improvements."

In honor of the achievement, the museum received a plaque, which has been placed in the foyer of the new structure. The operation was also selected for inclusion in Walla Walla Sustainable Living Center's televised promotion of area organizations employing LEED strategies.

Walla Walla firm Opp amp; Seibold General Construction led construction of the building, which was designed by Jim Stenkamp of Stenkamp Architecture. Payne said Stenkamp and his wife, Susie, went the extra mile by contributing the cost difference when the application had to be resubmitted.

The building has been open 18 months and used by dozens of community, social and professional groups as a meeting space.

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Fort Walla Walla Museum is on Myra Road and operates 10 a.m.-4 p.m. through Dec. 23, except Thanksgiving. For more details visit fortwallawallamuseum.org or call 525-7703.

Strictly Business is a local business column. Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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