My First Time: BLVD 16 at Hotel Palomar

| August 19, 2014


It may have been the glam of Los Angeles or the ideal location on Wilshire Boulevard, but something about BLVD 16 was just right.

Located in Hotel Palomar—a Kimpton property—BLVD 16 certainly has all of the bells and whistles that a first-time visitor to the city would expect, but the service, prices and, most importantly, the cuisine is what separates it from other trendy places in the area.

Rather than trying to keep up with the Jones’, BLVD 16 holds true to itself in serving what they describe as, “farm-to-fabulous” food, offering a bevy of options in a perfectly designed setting.

Not over-the-top fancy or too dim, BLVD 16 hits on every level, with menu prices that are affordable for a table of two or a large party.


Since they serve Caffe Vita, I wanted to check this place out—and it surpassed all of my expectations.

Making a stop in for brunch this past Sunday, I was immediately overwhelmed by the depth of the menu, with selections for those who like their first meal of the day either light, hearty or sweet.


As a vegetarian, my eyes—and stomach—got big for the Egg White Scramble, which consisted of roasted tomato, spinach and mushrooms, which joined a cup of Vita coffee to help pick me up.

At the first bite, I knew I made the right choice, as the flavor hit about every taste bud in my mouth. The eggs were cooked perfectly and the fresh veggies complemented them just right.


Shawn Jennings—Vita’s Digital Media Manager— and I were so focused on our food that any form of conversation was limited, with Shawn ordering the Acai and Tropical Fruit Bowl.

Scarfing down our plates in a matter of minutes, we eventually talked about how impressed we both were with both the city of L.A. and the friendliness of everyone at BLVD 16.

After overhearing our conversation about surfing after breakfast, our server gave his suggestions as to where the best spots to go are—and pleaded to try and come with us following his shift.

Just as we were set to pay and say thanks to everyone we met, a surprise dessert came out to us, on the house!


Serving a German Chocolate Cake to two guys is never a bad idea—even if it is just after breakfast—as the dessert was gone in minutes.

Making our way out of the hotel, both Shawn and I were thoroughly impressed with our experience, agreeing that we’d have to come back during our next visit to the city.

BLVD 16 might not have the star-studded appeal that other restaurants in the city have, but if you’re looking for a place where you can get great food, drinks, service and actually hold down a conversation, BLVD 16 is one of the best spots in town.


A Chat With Doe Bay Owner, Joe Brotherton

| August 19, 2014


If there’s one thing that everyone should aspire to do, it’s own a place as gorgeous and relaxing as Doe Bay on Orcas Island.

And while that may not have been something that Joe Brotherton had on his bucket list years ago, it actually happened for him, as Brotherton came in and helped rebuild the island camping site to what it is today.

One of the many things that helped revive the resort was the Doe Bay Fest, which just completed its seventh annual music event this month.

Bringing together bands and music lovers to the greatest of the great Northwest, Caffe Vita had the opportunity to serve coffee and sponsor the festival, interacting with a number of fans and different musicians.

We also got the chance to sit down with Joe Brotherton himself to get a little background on the event and see some of the other projects he has his eyes on to host at Doe Bay.

How did an attorney and CPA in training come up with the idea for Doe Bay Fest?

“I was a musician as a kid, playing in rock bands from age 11 to about 17, and then started playing jazz after that. I’m a real estate guy, so, as far as buying Doe Bay, it was kind of a hobby project for me and I had the good fortune of making enough money doing other stuff that I was able to do this. In terms of doing the festival, I just tried tying the music in with the scene. The idea literally started around the dinner table with my five kids, with all of us tossing around the thought of doing a music festival, and one thing just led to the other.”

What’s your favorite thing about Doe Bay Fest weekend?

“The biggest surprise to me is just how fast Doe Bay became the coolest place to play, from the musicians point of view. We actually turn bands down now, that we would have begged for six years ago. In terms of good things from Doe Bay Fest, I mean, I’ve made 20 new memories from this weekend. We’ve had a lot of fun.

You know, the secret shows that we used to do that, well, aren’t so secret anymore, we used to hand out like 20 little tickets, but all of the kids who were handing them out kept telling me that everyone they tried giving them to already knew about it, so we knew that this wasn’t quite a secret show any longer. The plan for the first one was supposed to hike through the woods with some guys and have a small gathering, but instead of being 40 people, it was like 300.”


Is there anything that is at Doe Bay that is really significant?

“So there’s a lion statue down by the bay that has been here for as long as I can remember. Right after I first bought Doe Bay, all of a sudden it was gone. It was just a concrete block there for a long time. A few years later in our newsletter that we used to do, I put a fake ad in there that read something like, “Lost Cat,” and I put some pictures of the old lion from various people in there. Anyway, a family who comes and stays every year as like a family retreat, I get a call that said an artist was going to come and install our new lion, and that the Holt family had paid a very well known sculpture named Tomas Vrba to come and do it. They actually bought us that lion and now all the kids hang and sit on it. It’s a huge part of Doe Bay, and is one of the coolest things.”

What other events do you host on Doe Bay?

“We have music year-round now, because there’s music at the café each week. And then we do a yoga studio show, too. We also do a little bit of theater stuff, like Shakespeare last week. And then Write Doe Bay has sort of just taken off, which is becoming a bigger and bigger deal. And that’s a good one, because the quality of authors we’re getting is really good. This year we have had a load of weddings, with every weekend in July being a wedding. It’s been a good challenge for our staff with everything going on.”

How did you get connected with Caffe Vita?

“The vibe has just been really good with Caffe Vita. My buddy Pearl Nelson—who works at Vita—kept emailing me about it. Vita has just been really low key and everyone loves the coffee, always suggesting to go there when in Seattle.”


The Vita Escort – On The Top 5 Records To Buy At SEATAC

| August 16, 2014


For those who have ever flown from the SeaTac Airport in Seattle, you know that there are always a few things that must be done before boarding your flight.

If you’re at SEATAC anytime between 5:00am and 9:00pm, your first stop should be Beecher’s Handmade Cheese where you can pick up some mouth watering Mac & Cheese, and a cup of your favorite Caffe Vita coffee.

Your second stop should be the Sub Pop Records store that opened in SEATAC this past May, bringing arguably Seattle’s greatest and most famous record label to the forefront of travelers.


Filled with records, merchandise and other PNW history, the store is an oasis for diehard music-lovers and casual fans, alike.

With a few of us traveling to Los Angeles this weekend for the A Walk on Water surf therapy session, we wanted to browse through the shelves at Sub Pop to see what would catch our eye ear.

Instead of including that extra day’s worth of clothing on your next vacation, save the space… and check out the records that Sub Pop suggests be included in your carry-on—as this is the Vita Escort on the top five records to buy at SeaTac Airport. A big thanks to Josh T. for curating.


5. Shabazz Palaces: Lese Majesty

The second studio album from Seattle hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces, Lese Majesty was released in late-July after first debuting a few months earlier at the Seattle Pacific Science Center’s Laser Dome.

Receiving praise following the release by a number of different publications, Lese Majesty‘s sound is one that is both fresh for the band, yet unique to their style.


4. Beach House: Bloom

Released in May of 2012, alt-rock group Beach House’s Bloom may be a couple years old, but, as we all know, music is timeless—and this is an album worth checking out.

Debuting at No. 7 on the Billboard 200 list after selling 41,000 copies its first week, the album eventually peaked to the top spot on the US Alternative and US Independent album charts, meaning Bloom is the perfect record to play from the inside-out.


3. Luluc: Passerby

Just released in the middle of July, Australian folk duo Luluc worked with legendary producer Joe Boyd on this, their sophomore record, as Boyd has bands like Pink Floyd, Nick Drake and R.E.M., among others, on his resume.

The music on Passerby evoke the sounds of the late-sixties and early-seventies, with a new, folksy vibe on the tracks that will no doubt leave one feeling each lyric from the peaceful voice of lead singer Zoe Randell.


4. Broken Water: Tempest

Inspired by the psychedelic sounds of the sixties, Olympia, Washington rock band Broken Water’s Tempest exudes everything one wants in an album when putting a house party together.

Major reverb and hazy sounds make the band’s second full-length album one that isn’t for the faint of heart, and was produced on Sub Pop’s younger sister label, Hardly Art, back in May of 2012.


5. Black Marble: A Different Arrangement

Like the aforementioned Broken Water album, Tempest, Black Marble’s A Different Arrangement was also produced on Hardly Art in 2012, and was the first release from the Brooklyn synth band.

Thanks to the mixture of quick rhythms and dark basslines, A Different Arrangement might resemble that of a mid-eighties, dark pop album, but with a modern twist from the past.

Not traveling through Sea-Tac anytime soon? Check out the gallery below, of the oasis located in the C Concourse.

Caffe Vita Attended the Doe Bay Fest

| August 13, 2014


We do festivals and events all the time, but one of our favorites each year is Doe Bay Fest, located on Orcas Island every second week of August.

For those who look forward to camping, great music, little cell phone reception and a retreat to one of the most beautiful places you can find, Doe Bay Fest is the ideal place to visit.

With the seventh annual Fest happening this past weekend, Caffe Vita served coffee and took in the wonderful sights and sounds, enjoying a weekend full of music and happiness.

It might not be summer camp, but with hot tubs, spas, two stages, a view like no other, cliffs to dive from, incredible music and an intimate atmosphere, Doe Bay Fest might just be the adult version of experiencing summer like they used to as a kid.

And because we loved attending Doe Bay Fest so much, we’re giving you the story about how it went down.


While some of the Caffe Vita crew went up to Orcas Island on Wednesday afternoon and got in later that evening, pulling an all-nighter for setup and installation of the two serving tents, the majority of our group left early Thursday morning—as in, a 4:45am wakeup call early.

Taking the ferry to the island was amazing, with a nice breeze coming in as the gray skies provided small raindrops, a  nice break from the mid-80s that have been baking Seattle recently.

Arriving on Orcas Island was like arriving at one of the most pristine vacation spots a person could go to.

Sunshine accompanied by big, puffy clouds, all hovering over water and bays at every turn made this a personal paradise.


Getting to Doe Bay, we immediately took in the scenery that was around our camp sight. This included a cabin with a deck for all of us to hangout on, a picnic table to eat meals on and, naturally, some areas for tents to actually sleep in. Occasional guests like deer, stopped by our campsite to graze.

In addition to the camping area, we walked the grounds to discover some of the other majestic views Doe Bay had to offer like the hot tubs overlooking the bay, the beach and the point that was used as a platform diving board throughout the weekend.

And while the grounds were gorgeous, everyone was at Doe Bay Fest for one reason—the love of good music.


With Thursday not having anything scheduled—other than mini, impromptu jam sessions—us Vita folks played and sang music while making tacos, getting to know each other better and laughing way too often.


The following morning was the first day of scheduled music, and there were some amazing bands that took both the Big Field and smaller Otter Cove stages.

Bigfoot Wallace & His Wicked Sons kicked off the weekend on the main stage, getting  the crowd prepped for what was going to be a great day of tunes and, thanks to the warm, sunny weather, there wasn’t a care in the world.


Next, Industrial Revelation played a funky jazz set. This was a great show for all of us a Vita because Evan Flory-Barnes, the older brother of our charismatic trainer Elena, plays in the band.

A few of our group had met and seen Evan and his band mates before, and, personally speaking, I was blown away with their performance.


The energy that they brought to the crowd was absolutely insane, as they called fans to come to the front of the stage to jam out and dance around to their final song which, no doubt, left everyone in a frenzy.

LEGS were the act that followed, brought an amazing sound that kept fans on their feet to dance around.


This band also featured three siblings playing together—lead singer Jack Ramsey, keyboardist Tito Ramsey and fill-in bassist for Doe Bay Lydia Ramsey.

Friday night continued great music throughout, as the Vita crew made its way towards a big, family-style dinner at our campsite with friends we had met from the previous days.

Serving up a delicious, home-cooked meal probably isn’t in the guide to camping camping, but if you know anything about Caffe Vita, we do things a bit out of the box, so a homemade pasta with vegetable and tomato sauce was perfect for our hungry crew.

Following dinner, we scattered around the festival, listening to the many mini shows going on beneath trees and around benches before scurrying into the packed yoga studio for the DJ shows by Bruce Pavitt and Michele Myers.


To say this turned wild would be an understatement, as both DJs played popular songs filled with funky beats by artists like Prince, James Brown and a few mash-ups that hadn’t been heard before.

Yes, we all left very sweaty from dancing and singing.

The remainder of the night included mingling with artists and festivalgoers down on the beach, enjoying a few drinks and talking about the weekend up to that point, and, eventually, a spur of the moment interview with Friday’s headliner Cody ChestnuTT in the artist house.


Saturday started with a drive and then walk of the nearby Mt. Constitution, which has one of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen.

Overlooking a number of different areas, one can’t help but take picture after picture of the water and mountains that it looks down on.


We also went swimming in Cold Springs Lake, which actually wasn’t as cold as the name itself suggests.

Returning to the actual festival, the rest of the day was filled with even more terrific acts like reggae group Wet City Rockers, Mirah and You Me & Apollo, among others, who brought varying styles of music that, ignited the crowd.


We then returned to our campsite for yet another family dinner, with Ross Beamish and Erika Locatelli making roasted beef and mashed potatoes for everyone to enjoy.

That included some of the picky eaters and/or vegetarians in the group, who couldn’t pass up the opportunity to at least take a nibble of the deliciousness that was on everyone’s plates.

With an additional 8-10 people joining Vita for dinner, drinks, music and conversation, it was clear that our campsite was, as usual, the place to hang out for the weekend.

After dinner, we, once again, made our way towards the yoga studio for the private DJ sets.

Unlike the night prior, though, the word must have leaked out about how fun these were, as only a few of us were able to get in.


That didn’t last too long for those who did go, though, as Vita’s Maggie Tweedy was playing on a nearby deck with the band Quiet Life, who played their Americana music to great reception, while Maggie helped provide the accompanying sounds on her fiddle.

As Sunday morning came, it was apparent that the long days still hadn’t taken a toll on any of us, as we continued to be amazed at all that was going on.

A great breakfast with a few friends at the Doe Bay Café, some more swimming, a jump off the point into the ice cold bay water, some spa time, reading and, of course, selling coffee all happened.


As mentioned above, Doe Bay is like an adult summer camp, except there aren’t counselors around to give anyone an agenda, so the vibe remains peaceful and relaxing.

With no performances scheduled on Sunday, there were pockets of music going on around the festival as fans scattered around and said their goodbyes, hoping to catch one of the late ferries back to Anacortes.


Before we left, we made sure to get one last group dinner together, returning to the Doe Bay Café, where we toasted to good times that occurred all weekend long.

As several Vita people left late Sunday night, the remaining crew kept things fairly low key the rest of the night, sitting around the campsite playing games like “Telephone,”— the same game one typically plays in middle school—which brought plenty of laughs to the group of 12 that were playing.


Monday finally had come and we were left cleaning up the mess and packing up our duffle bags, all hoping to make a mid-afternoon ferry together—bad idea.

Turns out that everyone had the same plan, and a few of us were left waiting in the parking lot to board the boat for several hours.

Hell, I was lucky enough to run into a new friend that Vita had met over the weekend—Tyler Gaston of Portland restaurant, Olympic Provisions—bumming a ride with him to make sure I got back to Vita’s offices that day.

But even the delay in traveling didn’t put a damper on the weekend, as the remaining Vita group sat on blankets, played music and drank some whisky, which, as you can probably tell by now, was what this year’s Doe Bay Fest was all about.