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Puget Pantry owner plans new store, lounge in Olympia’s northeast neighborhood

The current Puget Pantry at 1100 Puget Street NE in Olympia. A new Fresh Market with apartments above has been proposed for an empty lot on the southeast corner of the intersection there, with the Puget Pantry slated to be remodeled into a restaurant and lounge.
The current Puget Pantry at 1100 Puget Street NE in Olympia. A new Fresh Market with apartments above has been proposed for an empty lot on the southeast corner of the intersection there, with the Puget Pantry slated to be remodeled into a restaurant and lounge. sbloom@theolympian.com

The owner of Puget Pantry in Olympia’s northeast neighborhood wants to build a new convenience store with apartments on the second floor, then turn his current store into a restaurant and lounge.

Plans are still in the early stages, said owner Nam S. Woo, who expects to start construction in the spring and open the new store by next winter.

The business will be called Fresh Market and will be on a now-vacant lot across from Puget Pantry at 1100 Puget St. NE. Woo said the second floor will include three two-bedroom apartment units. The future restaurant will serve alcoholic beverages along with his wife’s crispy fried chicken wings, which will come in a variety of flavors, Woo said.

“I’m almost retired,” he told The Olympian. He has owned Puget Pantry for nearly 18 years.

Neighborhood resident Mike Dexel said there is strong interest for mixed-use development such as what Woo has proposed. He cited a recent survey in which several neighborhood residents had suggested amenities such as a small grocery store, restaurant or coffee shop.

The neighborhood’s de facto center and hub, however, is about one-third of a mile north of Puget Pantry in the area surrounding the San Francisco Street Bakery at Bethel Street.

Dexel said the proposed Fresh Market can still meet a need for residents.

“I think about what’s over there at the Wildwood Center on Capitol Way,” said Dexel, referring to the shopping center in the Wildwood neighborhood that includes Vic’s Pizzeria, Olympia Coffee Roasting Co., Spud’s Produce Market and The Lucky Lunchbox. “That’s the kind of stuff people are interested in.”

Puget Pantry’s neighborhood is part of a larger sub-area known as the Olympia Northeast Neighborhoods Alliance, which was formed to give residents a stronger voice in planning and development. Located northeast of downtown Olympia, the sub-area has about 7,134 residents and is bordered by East Bay Road to the west, rural areas to the north and east, and Fourth Avenue and Martin Way to the south.

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