Even in the midst of a global pandemic, Walla Walla has created a nurturing and supportive environment for new businesses to thrive. Serving locals and visitors alike, several notable new Walla Walla businesses have opened their doors in recent months, reimagining underutilized spaces and further enlivening our hospitality, retail, and culinary scene in the process. Add these new Walla Walla businesses to your itinerary (or build your itinerary around them).
Sip, Dine, and Stay at Yellowhawk Resort and Sparkling Winery
As of winter 2020, one of Walla Walla’s most iconic locations has transformed into a destination resort for people to escape, engage, connect, and experience the layers of agricultural heritage found in the Walla Walla Valley. Basel Cellars Estate was purchased in December of 2020 by Pacific Northwest hospitality leaders Dan Thiessen, Chad Mackay, Scott Clark, Philip Christofides, and Paul Mackay. Newly imagined as Yellowhawk Resort, the 84-acre view estate and vineyards includes a sparkling winery offering four different types of sparkling wines, farm-to-table dining, a swimming pool and cabanas, lodging, and event space for weddings, reunions, and corporate retreats.
The sparkling winery is open 11am-4pm Thursday through Sunday, with a full menu available Friday-Sunday and charcuterie boards available on Thursdays.
New Walla Walla Restaurants to Discover
Two notable spaces in Walla Walla have been reimagined or have introduced new culinary offerings during the pandemic, with another slated to open its doors in 2022. Whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, these establishments deserve a place on your meal plan in Walla Walla.
Chef Andrae Bopp has relocated his digs from a gas station and food truck to a prominent space right on Main Street. AK’s Mercado is a two-story, full-service restaurant with a diverse menu centered around tacos, smoked meats, and other street foods. Paired with a craft cocktail program curated by local mixology legend Jim German, any meal at AK’s Mercado is sure to be a highlight of your visit. Making AK’s Mercado especially unique is the pop-up boutiques and tasting spaces housed inside, including the cult favorite Secret Squirrel Wines, and Daylight Plant Co.
The Kitchen at Abeja
As if you needed another reason to covet time spent at the Abeja property, the 38-acre Walla Walla farmstead, home to the acclaimed Abeja winery and charming Inn at Abeja, now has a food program. The Kitchen at Abeja is a fine dining experience that showcases wine country cuisine, overseen by Executive Chef Elodie Li. The menu is updated weekly, and is a reflection of perfect pairings created in collaboration with Abeja winemakers Dan Wampfler and Amy Alvarez-Wampfler to highlight the qualities of their award-winning wines.
The Kinglet at Whitehouse-Crawford
Opening in early 2022, The Kinglet at Whitehouse Crawford is a new project from acclaimed Seattle Chef Maximillian Petty, a multiple James Beard semifinalist. This bistro eatery will take over the historic space that was vacated by the Whitehouse Crawford Restaurant in the early stages of the pandemic. We are already hungry for all the things Chef Petty has planned for this space!
New Walla Walla Wineries & Breweries
This new family-owned small lot winery and vineyard is perched atop a picturesque knoll in the Southside winery district of Walla Walla. The property, with 8-acres of Merlot, Cabernet, Carmenere and Malbec, enjoys unobstructed views of the Blue Mountains and is the perfect setting for family and friends to connect while enjoying their thoughtfully crafted wines.
KINHAVEN opened in the spring of 2020. At the time, COVID restrictions stated that only tasting rooms with outdoor seating could open; industry requirements turned to silver linings, not the least of which is the guest experiences created right on property as co-founder Lisa Davenport notes. “People came to visit KINHAVEN ready to connect with family and friends they hadn’t seen in months. I firmly believe our earliest wine club members will remember joining KINHAVEN during a pandemic. My hope is their moments on our patio gave them an escape from the realities of what we were all facing.”
The Blue Mountains and rolling wheat fields of Walla Walla enticed Laine and Drew Pauk to call the valley their home. That, and their desire to make wine with a straightforward approach amidst an ideal viticulture climate. Moonbase Cellars is one of the newest additions to the downtown Walla Walla tasting room scene, and a must-stop on your downtown itinerary.
Hoquetas Wine Company
Located at the Port of Walla Walla wine incubator facility in the Walla Walla Airport District, Hoquetas Wine Co. opened its doors in September of 2021. Started by musician-turned-winemaker Robert Gomez and his family, the winery focuses on producing wines that are both expressive and representative of the region’s terroir. Hoquetus, a musical method where vocal parts alternate to create a single melody, speaks to Gomez’s musical approach to winemaking, where the ingredients are carefully composed to create a melodious pour.
Five Dollar Ranch Brewing
Self-proclaimed as “Walla Walla’s best new brewery in 2021,” this newcomer to the valley’s growing craft beer scene opened its doors in June 2021. Located on the south side of town along the Oregon border, Five Dollar Ranch Brewing is the perfect place to pair sweeping views of the Blue Mountains with an evolving menu of hop offerings sure to appease the novice to beer connoisseur. The location is both dog and kid-friendly.
Cathy Bay and her husband opened Runway Market in 2021 with the hopes of being a stop for not only bubbles and food, but laughter and celebration. Located in the Walla Walla Airport District, Runway Market serves up local bubbles, as well as an assortment of picnic boxes, paninis, flatbread pizza, and various other grab-and-go options. Kick-start your day of wine tasting in Walla Walla with a bubbles flight at Runway Market, and a grab-and-go lunch to take along for picnics later.
SPECIALTY & RETAIL
In all the clamor and attention given to Walla Walla’s fine dining and award-winning wines, the retail scene can get overlooked. Two new businesses in Walla Walla aim to overcome that noise. See for yourself.
Walla Walla General Store
A new home, kitchen, and gift store founded by Jean Bender and Peggy Frasse, the Walla Walla General Store is a “love note to Walla Walla” that opened on May 6, 2021. From small delights, such as penny cent candy, to homewares from makers such as Simon Pierce, Walter G textiles, Riedel, and Staub – there is something for everyone at the Walla Walla General Store. Much more than just a retail space, Jean and Peggy envision the store as a space for community, as evidenced by their successful summer art series and continuing “Make for Joy” classes hosted there through the fall.
Foodscape Walla Walla
Technically, Foodscape could be described as an online grocer, but after one visit, you’ll see it is so much more. It’s a place to acquire food, talk about food, and to gather meaning from food. Hannah MacDonald, a longtime chef, local, and significant influencer on the Walla Walla food scene over the past decade, created Foodscape to highlight the area’s bounty, from produce to meat and seafood. Foodscape also directly imports hundreds of spices from all over the world, giving locals and visitors alike the tools that they need to cook any cuisine under the sun.
You need to book a longer stay…
Something special is happening in Walla Walla. It’s attracting entrepreneurs and bringing out the entrepreneur in many locals. It’s creating for the local community, and for the community of visitors Walla Walla hosts throughout the year. It’s reimagining old spaces into new experiences, while retaining the essence of what made the spaces special to begin with. Walla Walla locals can feel it; something good, the embodiment of the phrase “a rising tide lifts all boats.” And visitors can experience it, can sense that it is unique, special, a singularly small-town phenomenon with big implications. Our community is welcoming to all, including small business owners with a dream to bring to life. The recent influx of new business openings is evidence of this, and is a wonderful new excuse to make Walla Walla your destination for more than a weekend-long stay.
Immerse yourself in Walla Walla, visit these new businesses to show your support of their entrepreneurial spirit and drive, and see why our small town is so nice, they named it twice.