When Bartel’s Clothing and Shoes closed permanently earlier this year after 101 years of business, a large retail lot was left vacant in downtown Chehalis.
Now, a local Chehalis couple — Frank and Danielle Pfannes — is converting Bartel’s previous retail space into the Northwest Salmon Smokehouse and Artisan Market.
The Chronicle spoke with Frank Pfannes earlier this month to find out more about their new business while the couple works on renovating the space and converting it to a restaurant.
“We’re excited to open up this January, that’s the goal,” Pfannes said.
Pfannes said half the store will take after its namesake and specialize in smoked salmon. The other half will be an artisan market stocked with locally sourced items from throughout Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon.
“We specialize in smoked fish, smoked salmon spread, smoked mac and cheese, and chowder,” Pfannes said. “We also smoke our own cheeses and we do paninis with smoked fish inside or just cheese, and bagels or croissants with the smoked salmon spread.”
He’s been making his smoked salmon spread since 2018. Pfannes said it has won awards and been a big seller at farmers markets throughout the region, including in Portland, Vancouver, Battle Ground and Rainier.
The couple considered a few other locations to open Northwest Salmon Smokehouse, but when the space Bartel’s was located became available, they jumped at the chance to open up a business in the same city where they live.
“We wanted to keep it here in Chehalis, and this kind of just fell in our lap. It’s a big spot, but we’re going to fill it up, and we love downtown here,” Pfannes said.
Aside from opening the smokehouse, they plan on building a lounge area for customers in the space’s upstairs area, complete with televisions.
“You can bring your relatives and friends and study groups up there, and drink espresso and have some fish sandwiches and smoked fish, and not have to go to the beach anymore to get good smoked salmon,” Pfannes said.
Salmon won’t be the only meat smoked by the couple, though, as they also plan on smoking pork shoulders for pulled pork sandwiches and providing mashed potatoes and other comfort foods.
“We won’t have a fryer, so it’ll be more hearty stuff like the soups and chowders and potatoes, so there won’t be a lot of fried foods, at least until we get a hood down the road,” said Pfannes.
While the couple hopes to have the Northwest Salmon Smokehouse open by January, they also hope to have the artisan market section of the smokehouse open by December so customers can do some gift shopping there.
Additionally, those attending the upcoming 73rd annual Chehalis Santa Parade starting at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2, in downtown Chehalis may have the chance to sample the smoked salmon.
“We’re going to try to get out here and hand out flyers and coupons, and maybe some little packets of fish,” Pfannes said.
Once the Northwest Salmon Smokehouse is open, it will be located at 486 N. Market Blvd. in Chehalis.