Spokane chef, developer draw on the past to shape the future of new restaurants

SPOKANE, Wash. — A historic building on the east end of downtown Spokane has been transformed into a hub for delicious dining and urban living.

The building that formerly housed the Bickett Hotel was a hollowed piece of history when Jed Conklin first found it. The developer and photographer had a vision for what it could be. Years later, that finally came into focus.

“This whole block was real different when I bought this five or six years ago,” Conklin said.

His vision was one of beauty and community. That’s what he helped create alongside renowned chef Tony Brown. The two just opened two new restaurants inside the building at 225 W. Riverside.

Chef Brown owns Eyvind and co-owns Hunt with Conklin. Each restaurants has its own specialties and flares.

Brown said that diners will find his take on New American cuisine at Eyvind. The restaurant was named after Eyvind Earle, who was an American artists most widely known for his work featured in Disney films in the 1950s. It’s a fitting namesake because Brown channels a sense of art in his dishes.

“Each plate can be a piece of art. That’s kind of what we concentrate on here, plating, obviously flavor, colors, kind of something a little different,” Brown said.

Unique fare is what you’ll find on Brown’s other menu at Hunt. Just walk down the 115-year-old stairs and find a seat in the dimly-lit, rustic space downstairs from Eyvind.

“Hunt is our elevated camp cooking restaurant,” Conklin said.

People will find meals like braised rabbit stroganoff and wild boar schnitzel on the menu at Hunt. While you eat Brown’s creations, you’ll be sitting on Conklin’s. He did all the woodworking in the basement restaurant, from the booths to the bar stools.

“I’m just this ol’ Kentucky boy with a hammer that pounded it out,” Conklin said.

While he joked about his hands-on approach to development, his skills shine in the basement and in the upstairs apartments.

Conklin renovated the former Bickett Hotel rooms into apartments. He designed them with history in mind, so the floors are original and other hints of the past remain.

There is also a newly-opened event space next to Eyvind. The Redband Room offers a rental space for dining and a full bar for up to 60 guests.