POULSBO — Holly Jo Saccomanno celebrated her second anniversary in business this month by opening up a nice bottle of wine.
The owner of the Gazebo Cafe, which has become a popular lunch spot with locals and tourists alike, now includes evening hours and an upstairs lounge that is already drawing a crowd just by word of mouth.
“I’ve really always wanted to move into this spot, ever since I opened up downstairs I’d been telling people it was sort of my pipe dream,” Saccomanno said of the upstairs space she expanded into. “I’ve always wanted to open for a lounge and for dinner.”
Until recently, the new Gazebo Cafe area was home to Rainflower, which has now moved to a spot on the New Havne Veien walkway.
Besides offering an impressive 12 microbrews on tap, an extensive wine list and a full bar, the lounge is also a smoke-free environment with a cozy feel. Saccomanno decorated the entire space herself with traditional pub-style furniture and brick-red walls covered with artwork, including whimsical scenes of waiters and bartenders and tavern memorabilia like silver bottle openers and ceramic wine jugs, giving the area a comfortable, lived-in look.
“I’m thrilled,” Saccomanno said, looking around the space with a grin. “I’m here seven days a week even on my days off. People say they see me in the morning for their coffee and in the evening when they come in for a glass of wine and they say, ‘Aren’t you exhausted?’ I may be exhausted but I love every minute of it.”
The same lunch menu of paninis, baguettes and soups that has kept many people coming back to the cafe time after time has been expanded for dinner offerings. Although Saccomanno hinted that there may be a different dinner menu coming in the future, she feels the current menu items (all of which cost $9.95 and less for dinner) fit well with the atmosphere she was trying to create.
“It’s a nice alternative for a dinner option,” she commented. “Not everyone wants a steak dinner every night. I wanted it to be cozy and comfortable. I wanted people to know they can dress down or dress up to come here.”
While opening her own lounge is a dream come true for Saccomanno, she said the space is also a nice bit of nostalgia for a lot of locals. Many of her customers have commented that they already enjoyed her fireside dining and seasonal outdoor seating, however, they remember dining upstairs in the old Olympic Inn Hotel, which was once located where the Gazebo Cafe is located.
While the space is not exactly the same as the old hotel’s dining room was, the inspiring views of Liberty Bay are.
“I have a lot of people come in who have great memories of dining upstairs here and they really like that I’m trying to revive a bit of that,” Saccomanno said.
And as if drinks, dining and atmosphere weren’t enough, the space offers cable television for those wanting to watch “the games” during the week. There is also live music with no cover charge on Fridays and Saturdays. Friday nights usually feature the musical stylings of popular jazz musicians Skip Morris and Midge Pike. Saturdays so far have been a mix of musical influences, but Saccomanno emphasizes that its all live and local music.
The Gazebo Cafe lounge is open from 4-9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. In April it will be open on Sundays.