Joseph Little Store has new owner

Owners of the Blithe Cricket Restaurant, currently going up on North Main in Joseph, Margaret Lamm and Rachel Nutter, pose in the midst of construction. They hope to open before the new year, serving Italian food and a variety of menu choices.

The progress of construction on The Blithe Cricket Restaurant on North Main Street in Joseph is the subject of a lot of speculation. When will it open? What will it serve? Is it true it’s going be a vegetarian restaurant?

So, first off, no, it’s not a vegetarian restaurant, but the variety of wholesome foods planned will mean that vegetarians will be able to find something yummy to eat there.

Here’s what I can tell you, straight from the horse’s mouth.

“It’s looking really good, but we don’t have a projected opening date,” said Margeret Lamm, co-owner of the restaurant. “We’re hoping the end of December, but no promises.”

She and lifelong friend, Rachel Nutter, formerly of Washougal, Wash., are realizing a dream they’ve shared for decades.

“It’s a lifelong dream or a midlife crisis,” Lamm joked.

Lamm has been manager of Wallowa Memorial Hospital cafeteria for the past 18 years, and Nutter has been coming to Wallowa County to help cater the dual sport rides produced by Lamm’s husband Clayton.

“We were always saying, ‘We need to be responsible and hold down nine to five jobs,’ but we decided if we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it now,” Lamm said.

The restaurant will serve Italian food, espresso, European bakery goods and a variety of meal choices.

Lamm and Nutter also plan to develop a supper club two nights a week. The Italian sit-down dinners will be made with fresh ingredients and will follow a revolving cycle of dinner presentations.

The duo is also hoping to provide take home service — requiring orders in advance, of course.

The restaurant can seat 49 people inside and more outdoors during seasonable weather. It will also be available to rent for special events outside regular business hours.

“We’re just really excited about being part of the community,” Lamm said.

UP THE STREET from The Blithe Cricket, Joseph Little Store is sporting a fresh paint job and expanding offerings inside.

New owner Tim Harrison has been in the county for 10 years after a career as a teacher and coach in Pendleton.

He manages property part-time and will continue to do that, but he “wanted to own a piece of paradise,” he said.

“I wanted to see The Little Store have some inventory that served the community, and I wanted a new business venture for myself,” Harrison said.

The store carries smokes, condiments and candy as usual, along with “the best beer prices in town,” but Harrison is also expanding hot deli food offerings including several breakfast sandwiches, chicken strips, corn dogs and more. If you give him a head’s up five minutes before you arrive, the food will be fresh.

“I really don’t like to serve food that’s been sitting under warming lights,” he said. “I’d much rather serve customers fresh food. We’ll also be doing pizza and calzones and will eventually have delivery.”

The store is closed Monday and Tuesday and open Wednesday and Thursday 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A TIP FOR artists, Wallowa County developer Andy McKee has invited artists to consider placing their art in his vacation rentals. It’s a way to show your art, outside a gallery, and I’ve observed some of the art in place and it is presented beautifully. Sale prices for your art are placed on small cards next to the art. Email McKee at andy@eaglecapflight.com.

SPEAKING OF ART, Wallowa photographer and city librarian Debbie Lind is being recognized with a new show of her fractal photography art at the Wenaha Fine Art Gallery in Dayton, Wash. The showing of her work runs until Nov. 17. You’ve seen Lind’s work at her booth at the Farmers Market in Joseph and in several stores in the county.

Many folks have been fascinated by her fractal photography, which is an art form created by blending mathematical formats and digital manipulations of images. For instance, by repeating a pattern of flower or fern parts and placing them within the shape of an insect, Lind creates a stunning photo of a butterfly or dragonfly that appears to be made up of plant designs.

Her prize-winning Butterfly Blooms, for example, build the image of the insect out of tulip blossoms. You can purchase framed photographs and even her notecards are suitable for display in your home. Info: art@wenaha.com.

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