One door closes

At Large in Ballard by Peggy Sturdivant

"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us." - Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)

The doors closed for good on Ballard's own Dandelion Restaurant in the last week, as did the glass door (repaired since the incident of the police cruiser) of Matt's Gourmet Hot Dogs. When a friend emailed me that Dandelion had closed I put on my shoes at 9 p.m. and trotted over to NW 24th Street hoping to debunk a rumor. Nothing that I researched this week turned out to be rumor, from the story of U.S. District Court Judge Carolyn Dimmick encountering her former chambers door in a pizzeria - to business closures.

Snoose Junction Pizzeria opened for business in January 2007 and tell me they are doing well. The back of their menu includes the explanation of the name and their commitment to being a "green" restaurant - down to recycled materials and delivery by bicycle (just launched). After co-owner Mark Ball finished sweeping the sidewalk in front of the business we talked about their first six months, and his plans for creating a cooperative in order to be able to purchase biodegradable paper products. The tabletops were once the lanes at Leilani and the doors to the bathrooms and offices came from renovations at the former Federal Courthouse (by way of Re-Store). As they say at Snoose Junction, "it's a brand new restaurant with built-in history."

Her Honor Carolyn R. Dimmick lived along Shilshole for 20 years before her late husband's health problems necessitated a move to Magnolia. From across the water she can see her former house and visits Ballard frequently, but she was not expecting the surprise friends engineered when they sent her to the ladies room at Snoose Junction. She told me that when she saw the story in the menu about items salvaged from the Western District Courts Building she thought, but that's not possible. Along with a door marked Witness Room there is her own former courthouse door versus that of a male counterpart. Her reaction was, "but I'm a living judge." There was an initial flurry of concern over whether other government items had met even less discreet ends and the General Services Administration considered seizing the doors. Judge Dimmick saw the humor and decided to just "roll with it." An employee visited Re-Store and unscrewed the nameplate from a remaining door; the Honorable Carolyn R. Dimmick had been gold-leafed for permanency and could not be so easily removed.

Since the relocation information was long gone from the window, I tracked down The Vac-Shack , a vacuum cleaner sales and repair business that was located on Leary Way for fourteen years. Its doorway was always flanked by neon uprights. According to Joyce (owner Mike Cain's mom) the new owner of the building that also housed Harvey's Tavern and is still home to The Dish, "planned to put in a coffee shop and made us move out." They looked for space in Ballard but could not find an affordable location. They are now in a former 7-11 at 3502 Meridien Avenue in Puyallup (four miles past Wild Waves - 253-435-7993) where other die-hard customers from Ballard have managed to find them. Per Joyce, business is "not as good as they'd like it to be yet." The locals must not know that vacuum cleaner wizards are now in their midst. Comments on my blog about their closure detailed Vac-Shack's understanding of the deep bonds between vacuum cleaners and their owners. Joyce still takes her Pekinese to work with her and promised to mail me supplies as needed. I wouldn't trust anybody else with my Eureka.

Finally, in my attempts to go beyond lonely signs posted on locked doors, I spoke with Connie Palmore, owner of Dandelion, which served its last meal of "Real Good Food "on July 8th. "Are you a customer, reporter, what exactly?" she rightly asked me before answering my questions. "A fan," I told her, "and a busybody."

Dandelion celebrated their third anniversary in April by opening on Sunday nights. Connie told me even as she realized that she needed to do something different, the restaurant was getting busier and busier. As most people know, the restaurant was the long-time dream of partners Carol Nockold and Connie Palmore; Carol died last December of Lou Gehrig's Disease. Until Connie refreshed my memory I couldn't even remember what was in the location before Dandelion revealed itself (an alteration shop) and "made the corner." In recent months she and chef Kristy Scott have been discussing how to honor Carol's dream, emotional ties with the community, and yet forge their own paths without Carol.

I told Connie that just two weeks ago in France when everyone in the village gathered at long, outside tables I thought about Dandelion and what I'd read about the owners' visits to Provence; planning their destination neighborhood restaurant while eating underneath the stars in Southern France. I didn't tell Connie but I know what it is like to lose a partner, and to carry on as best you can for the first months in a way you think honors the lost soul mate. I know what it is like to wake up and realize that your own life stretches ahead of you, and that you need to make changes based on your own needs. And so as one door closes, another one opens, but the memories, like dandelions, never really go away.

Peggy's e-mail is atlargeinballard@yahoo.com She writes additional pieces for the P.I.'s Ballard Webtown at http://blog.seattlepi.nwsource.com/ballard

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