Sonic and Dutch Bros lead project to revamp downtown Ellensburg

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Sonic and Dutch Bros lead project to revamp downtown Ellensburg

Rune Torgersen, Staff Reporter

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The beginnings of a new construction site have been visible from the I-90 for the better part of six months now. The old Bar 14 restaurant on Canyon Road near the I-90 overpass was demolished early last year, and plans are moving along to replace it with two newcomers to the Ellensburg fast-food scene; a Dutch Bros Coffee and a Sonic Drive-In.

Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce Director of Economic Development Laura Bobovski has high hopes for the area.

“That area is in an opportunity zone, so it…has great potential for growth. It is ideally situated, just right next to the I-90, highly visible,” Bobovsky said.

This addition to the freeway area, what is colloquially known as “fast food lane” promises to attract more traffic from commuters looking for a quick bite or a hot cup of coffee.

In addition to the Sonic and Dutch Bros, which Bobovski says will offer employment opportunities for college students as well as Ellensburg residents, a revamp of lodging and travel amenities is under way in the Canyon Road area. An Extended Stay America hotel will break ground soon, along with a host of new retail outlets. The development will take place on Umptanum Road, and is being overseen by Hogback Development. Previously, Hogback has been responsible for various retail developments in Yakima.

All of this development is primarily in the interest of getting traffic on I-90 to stop and spend their money in Ellensburg. The Chamber of Commerce is looking into WSDOT data surrounding freeway traffic and local businesses to improve business performance in this regard.

“Those numbers are being looked at because of future development that is being discussed in Umptanum…but there will be a significant impact in terms of the number of retail establishments that are going in and pulling people off the freeway,” Bobovsky said.

CWU students are excited about the new developments as well. Miles Foucault, a psychology major, sees himself visiting the new Dutch Bros once it opens.

“Dutch Bros I definitely would [frequent]…it’s a really good coffee place, and I really enjoy it,” Foucault said.

Brendan Wasmunh, a senior studying chemistry, is ready for more retail options in Ellensburg.

“I’d be looking for something more specific than Fred Meyer…shoes, clothes and the like,” Wasmunh said.

A smaller, more high-end hotel is planned for downtown Ellensburg as well, catering to people who visit for the cultural and shopping experiences Ellensburg has to offer.

Sonic and Dutch Bros are eyeing a summer opening date, though it’s difficult to be precise this early into construction.


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