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Out of the dark

The New Yasui Building was caught in a dispute that would have left $60,000 of restaurant equipment without electricity and many employees without jobs. A city intervention turned on the lights.

June 11, 2005

Developer Maui Meyer was in the dark last week. Not only did he not have any power available to finish work on the new Yasui Building, he didn’t know when the electricity would be turned on.

So, he was looking at a delay in the opening date for the five businesses that would be located at the corner of First and Oak streets. And he had intended for three of his new tenants to start off in style by capitalizing on the downtown summer tourist trade.

“People ask when we are going to open, but I have no clue, I have no idea and this is starting to seem like a bad joke,” he said.

In agitation, Meyer paced the unfinished floors of his new restaurant, Celilo, that would soon feature Northwest cuisine. He proudly showed off the weathered timber that had been purchased from an old log boom on the Columbia River. The 8-12 foot planks were waiting to be erected into place to create a forest atmosphere at the new eatery — once the power to perform that task became available.

He made an appeal to Hood River City Manager Bob Francis and Steve Everroad, finance director, to help him out. At issue was the city’s dispute with Pacific Power and Light over a $22,500 fee to offset the cost of undergrounding lines. Twice before the city had successfully protested the charge, and they planned to do so again.

But Francis and Everroad were also mindful of Meyers’ predicament and, by early this week, had come up with an alternate plan. They had convinced Pacific Power to go ahead and turn on the power while their dispute was being resolved.

“We need to get this settled but there is no reason that Maui’s project has to be caught up in the middle of it,” said Francis.

After hearing this news, Meyer’s mood became noticeably upbeat on Monday as he directed workers to put the finishing touches on the two floors.

“I’m a little disappointed that we won’t be open by the middle of June as planned but this is construction and delays happen,” he said.

By the first of July he expects Celilo, Copper West Properties — which he also runs — Knot Another Hat, Innovative Tools and Sushi Okalani to be up and running. He is not only excited about attracting visitors to the 16,000 square foot structure, but the fact that about 40 people will soon be employed there. And the look and feel of the establishment almost exactly duplicates the diagonal building that housed the original Yasui Bros. Store.

“This is just our personal gift to Hood River, it’s going to be a gathering place and I couldn’t be more excited,” he said.

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