Snoqualmie's Black Dog coffeehouse blends theater, arts, eats and brews

Rich Payne, Cristie Coffing and Anna Boranian are partners in The Black Dog, newly opened in the former Isadora’s Cafe space in downtown Snoqualmie.  - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Rich Payne, Cristie Coffing and Anna Boranian are partners in The Black Dog, newly opened in the former Isadora’s Cafe space in downtown Snoqualmie.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

In the tradition of its namesake community theatre, Snoqualmie's Black Dog blends the strengths of all its members into a coffee and wine bar, eatery, arts venue, and home for the itinerant Theatre Black Dog.

Restaurant manager and barista Cris Coffing has a lifetime of food service management experience. Her business partners added their own expertise to the production. Rich Payne and his wife Janet, are the wine connoisseurs, so Rich will handle sommelier duties and making the evening tapas. Coffing's husband Greg Balmer creates breakfast specials and cooks occasionally, but is mainly "a jack-of-all trades," Coffing said. Her sister, Anna Boranian, also helps where she can, and with Coffing, runs the Black Cat Soap Co., providing the hand-made soaps and candles sold in the gift shop.

All of them are also Black Dog troupe members, performing, doing tech work, and whatever else is needed for the success of the troupe.

Coffing managed Isadora's for 17 years in the location where Black Dog opened in March, and she was heartbroken to hear from Jody Sands that the place would be closing last December. Sands bought Isadora's from Coffing in 2009.

"It was such a horrible day when she told me," Coffing said. "I felt so sad, and then I thought well maybe this is serendipitous, because our theatre company really needs a home."

Theatre Black Dog had been looking for a permanent venue, and Coffing, with the support of her partners, was ready to give it one. When she left the restaurant business in 2009, she intended to write a novel and focus on her creative pursuits, including the theatre group. Now, the novel is done, and so is a play, and she teaches dance part-time, but according to Coffing "I really can't say that life is any more fulfilling without the restaurant."

So in the first part of the year, she focused her energy on remodeling the restaurant, to add a stage in back, and revamp the remaining space.

"It's going to be a mix of what Isadora's used to be, which is sort of a European salon feeling to it," Coffing said. Breakfast and lunch will be served in the earlier part of the day, and at 3 p.m., the restaurant starts serving wine and tapas, too.

"We're hoping by being open in the afternoons to early evenings that we can encourage this to be sort of a meeting place for people," Coffing said.

They also have lots of live music and entertainment lined up for the weekends, and every Wednesday is open mic night.

The Black Dog is closed on Tuesdays. For more information, visit

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