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Feat uring the best: • Restaurants • Shopping • Schools • Family activities • People

• Places to go • Services • Businesses • Music and more!

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Best of Tacoma 2014

TABLE of CONTENTS People.................................................2 Around Town.................................... 5 Entertainment..................................7 Business............................................. 11 Restaurants..................................... 15

project. Many times she will know other people who have discussed, done or perhaps attempted the same goals that they’re working on. She is a walking Rolodex full of resources and helpful people. It’s her attitude that makes all of this possible. She knows that a thriving community is one where people work together and the good that she does creates a ripple effect of good deeds that keeps going and going. She believes that one thing leads to another so that multiple victories can be achieved. There are way too many to list but here are a few of the projects she has personally championed: Tacoma Arts Community, Glassroots Festival,

Downtown Merchants Group, Go Local, Neighborhood Identity Banner Project, Downtown Wayfinding Sign Project and Culture Crafting for businesses and non-profit organizations.

Best Boss

Jolene Dittmar Willow Salon

Jolene Dittmar runs Willow Salon and Spa with her husband Dave with a passion for people as well as for perfection, both from her employees and their craft, by creating a work environment that employees love and want to be part of. And custom-

people Best Community Activist

Patricia Lecy-Davis

Patricia Lecy-Davis is a dot connector. Because she is connected to so many people and organizations, she always has great insights to offer and it’s inevitable that people share with her the goals and projects they are working on. They do this because she can offer a big-picture perspective and point out for them the farther-reaching aspects of the

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Best of Tacoma 2014 Best reporter

kathleen merryman

ers benefit from that. The salon, for example, strives to be green by using energy-efficient lighting and recycling whenever and wherever possible. Willow Salon’s product lines contain organic and natural products as well as treatments containing plant and flower extracts. The salon also schedules appointments according to availability and specialities of its team members that range from coloring and styling services to peels, waxings and microdermabrasion treatments. The spa is soon going to be offering massages and nail services as well at its Three Bridge neighborhood location, where it has called home since 2007. It is Willow Salon’s workplace environment that has put it on the roster of top salons of Puget Sound. The salon is located at 2702 N. 21st St. Visit www.willowsalontacoma. com or call (253) 759-2000.

Kathleen Merryman’s retirement from 29 years at the News Tribune was the Tacoma Weekly’s great fortune. Readers told us they were thrilled that she came to work at the Weekly, and Merryman (“Kits� to those who know her) quickly attracted a new and loyal readership. She’s come a long way from her first job as a reporter for The Cody Enterprise in Meeteetse, Wyo. It was 1972, she was 24 years old and she made $10 a week. “My family had a ranch

Kathleen “Kits� Merryman

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there,â€? she said, “with no central heat and an outhouse,â€? which the eight members of her family shared. Kits met and married fellow reporter Mike Archbold when the two worked at the Billings Gazette and they’ve been married best friends for 34 years. “I’ve covered cops, courts, social services, medicine, families, kids, features and hard news‌and I love Tacoma,â€? Merryman said, and she means it. Today this strong, compassionate woman is facing the battle of – and for – her life with breast cancer. The outpouring of support and love from across Tacoma has


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touched her deeply and has proven to be real medicine in her healing. With so much still to write about, Kits is fully determined to get healed and back on the writing beat so that she can continue building her own, unique brand of community unity that embraces all Tacomans.

Best business owner

Mike & Lori Graham Terry’s office tavern

Terry’s Office Tavern has been a Northend staple for more than 75 years, and current owners Mike and Lori Graham, who purchased the tavern in 1996, have made sure the legacy of the building stays intact. Terry’s Office Tavern is one of the few remaining Tacoma taverns that sells beer and wine exclusively. Terry’s also offers a wide menu of food items, from pizza to burgers to seafood, such that anyone can find something they enjoy. “We are honored to receive this recognition from our customers, friends, colleagues,� said Mike and Lori. “Terry’s has been in our family for more than three decades and we’re proud to be an influential part of the Northend community. We plan to continue our legacy where you’re guaranteed to find good times, great food and cold beer.�

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Best of Tacoma 2014 It All Happens Here!


Proctor’s businesses stand out! The district is home to many of the city’s favorite businesses.

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Best of Tacoma 2014 Additional Winners Best Elected Official: Marilyn Strickland Best School District Staff Member: Kim Messersmith

Best Photographer: Marvin Patterson (Big Shots Photography) Best Artist: Kerry Cole

Best Police Officer: Shelbie Boyd Best Veterinarian: North End Vet

Thank You Tacoma For Voting Wag Best Pet Store

aro u nd tow n Best district


Uniquely delightful and always pedestrian, family and pet friendly, Proctor District is a consistent winner with Tacomans and out-of-towners alike. Offering 250 free parking spaces and served by four convenient bus routes, the district makes it easy to dine at any of Proctor’s fine restaurants and to shop in Tacoma’s largest independent retail district of charming owner operated shops, along with entertainment, lodging and services. Proctor District is conveniently located as well, just five minutes from downtown and the waterfront. Nearby Point Defiance


Park, University of Puget Sound and the Narrows Bridge bring an element of sight-seeing interests to the neighborhood. The heart of historic North Tacoma, Proctor District is an anchor for the city and a comfortable home for many Tacoma residents.

Best park

wright park

An oasis of greenery nestled within the concrete jungle of Tacoma, Wright Park is undeniably one of the city’s most beautiful urban escapes. This 27-acre arboretum is home to a rich collection of more than 630  trees, including 30 state cham-

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North Proctor Office 253.761.8888

Mark Hulen, Owner


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Best of Tacoma 2014

pions. Visitors can see them all on a nice amble along the park’s 9/10 of a mile loop trail. There’s also a playground and sprayground for children, a basketball court and picnic tables for those summer outings. Within Wright Park is the W.W. Seymour Botanical Conservatory, a beloved Tacoma icon that houses exotic plant displays from all over the world. Also nearby is the stately Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum. With its distinctive look that includes six, large Greco-Roman columns and portico, the museum houses many original papers and documents of historic importance in some 50 oak

and glass display cases. Exhibits, which are always admission free, are normally on display for three months at a time.

Best non-profit


MDC is a non-profit community action agency dedicated to the mission of ending the cycle of generational poverty. MDC works with individuals and families to provide services in health, housing, education and employment to ensure that the most vulnerable in our community are safe and stable, and people have

access to the tools necessary to become self-sufficient. Since 1964, MDC has been a place of care for those in short-term crisis, and a place of hope for those working to reach their long-term goals. MDC is proud to be celebrating 50 years of helping people and changing lives in the South Puget Sound. Thank you, Tacoma, for voting MDC your favorite non-profit for 2014! Visit www.

Art on the Ave

Best community event

art on the ave

6th Avenue Business District’s annual Art on the Ave Festival stands out among the many festivals in Tacoma because it’s the chosen playground of the fresh, vibrant art and music scene of Tacoma. Truly an all-inclusive event, Art on the Ave festival is attended every year by multiple generations of music and art lovers. Art on the Ave is the largest free art festival in Tacoma. The

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vision of the Art on the Ave festival is to draw together the neighborhood and the business district, to see its businesses thrive and to promote the district throughout the entire northwest region. The festival theme for this 16th year of Art on the Ave is “Operation Epic.” This theme reflects the organizers’ intention to increase the size and scope of the festival to include even more art, music, food and fun. Vendor applications were released last week, along with a call to artists inviting them to submit proposals for large temporary art installations to be featured at the festival. For more information, visit

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Best of Tacoma 2014 e ntertainment

Additional Winners

Best blues band

rod cook

Best Family Recreation: Point Defiance Park Best Capital Improvement Project: Stadium Way Best School: Stadium High School Best Place to Walk: Point Defiance

Rod Cook


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Rod Cook is a well respected, indemand Seattle/Tacoma area guitarist known for his stylistic versatility and soulful, melodic playing. Working as a professional musician for more than 35 years, he is known for his collaborations with former Mercury recording artist Laura Love,  former Steve Miller Band guitarist James “Curley” Cooke, rising star and 2011 “The Voice” finalist Vicci Martinez, Northwest icon Little Bill Englehart and many others, as well as his exploits with Rod Cook and Toast, a band performing original and cover material based in blues, rock, country, Americana, surf and American roots music in general. Cook has also backed

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up blues legend Taj Mahal and opened as a solo act for Todd Rundgren, Sonny Landreth, and Charlie Musslewhite. He has been nominated numerous times for the Washington Blues Society’s “Best Of The Blues” Awards, including nominations for all three guitar categories (acoustic, electric and slide) in 1999, 2000 and 2004. In 2004, Cook received the award for “Best Acoustic Guitar” and “Best Electric Guitar,” in 2006 was again awarded the “Best Acoustic Guitar” award and in 2012 “Best Electric Guitar” again.

Best heavy metal band

cody foster army

When Cody Foster learned that his band had won the “Best Heavy Metal” category, he described it as a pleasant surprise. “I thought most

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Best of Tacoma 2014

of these vote-in kinds of things were generally won because everyone asked their friends and what not to

Cody Foster Army is a fun loving band that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Take these quotes from fans, for example: “Y’all make me bust a gut laughing, then tear into me like a crack of thunder,� or this one from a seasoned CFA fan: “I love seeing people baptized in CFA for the first time, ultimately their jaw will drop.� Cody Foster Army What is Cody Foster Army’s vote for them. Well, unbeknownst to purpose? To entertain and have a good us we won this. We are humbly grate- time. “We are comfortable on stage. I have been playing shows for 26 years. ful and humanly vindicated.�

We’ve all played in various bands in the local Northwest scene over the years,� Foster said. Being on a great label, Ripple Music, certainly helps too. The band is currently in the process of re-issuing their first release, “Smoking Gun,� on vinyl. The cover is adorned with a local artist’s work. Cody Foster Army is inspired by independent and DIY kind of people of any medium. “I know that’s broad and vague, but I swear it’s true and that is our ticket to success,� Foster said. “As far as our history, hopefully we are

still making it. We three are very old friends and will keep it that way. That you can count on.�

Best alternative rock band

girl trouble

Photo by Don pyle

Girl Trouble

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Best of Tacoma 2014 They may have been “eluding fame since 1984,” as their cynical motto goes, but Tacoma garagepunk outfit Girl Trouble still gets a lot of love around these parts. Readers voted singer and go-go dancer K.P. Kendall, bassist Dale Phillips and brother-sister team Bill and Bon Henderson (a.k.a. guitarist Kahuna and drummer Bon Von Wheelie) the area’s best alternative rock band. And there’s an unusual amount of activity in the Girl Trouble camp as the quartet’s 30th anniversary approaches: They’re working on a documentary and their first album since 2003’s “The Illusion of Excitement.” Meanwhile, your next chance to catch the band live is just a

short drive away, on April 4 at Slim’s Last Chance Saloon, 5606 First Ave. S., in Seattle.

Best live theater venue


Often regarded as the most beautiful of Alexander Pantages’s theaters, the Tacoma Pantages was designed by Seattle architect B. Marcus Priteca after an ornate theater in the Palace of Versailles. The Tacoma Pantages served as a live theater for only eight years before being converted to a movie house and being sold to RKO, at which time the name was changed to The Orpheum. In 1932, the theater was purchased by Will Conner of

Additional Winners Best Cover Band: Woodies Best Jazz Band Nate Dybevik Best Acoustic/Folk Guitarist: Ty Elwin

Best Rap/Hip Hop Group: Rockwell Powers Best Museum: Museum of Glass Best Festival: Ethnic Fest

Pantages Theater

Tacoma and was known as the Roxy. A proposal to restore the Pantages as the crown jewel of a revitalized downtown area led to the restoration beginning in 1978 after the city bought the theater. On Feb. 12, 1983, the

Pantages Theater officially reopened under operation of Broadway Center for the Performing Arts, now celebrating its 30th Anniversary as an organization.

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Best of Tacoma 2014

Best live music venue


Jazzbones covers all bases when it comes to having a good time. Providing a stage for local and regional talents, the entertainment at Jazzbones is matched only by its tasty sushi bar and bar-fusion menu offerings with two full bars for libations. Jazzbones offers a bar and grill style menu, anything from beef sliders, burgers, pizzas, steaks, pastas to hot wings and jalapeno poppers. Jazzbones has a nice selection of fresh salads as well and many different sandwiches and burgers to choose from. At their sushi bistro raw bar, Jazzbones presents a delightfully creative experience in Asian dining. California/Northwest/Japanese fusion offers everything from seared salmon

roll, baked scallop California roll, miso soup and albacore salads to fresh cut sashimi, variety of sake, Japanese beers, plum wines, and gyoza. Sushi is available Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at door time. Jazzbones welcomes music lovers 21 and older. However, the club does offer special shows from time to time that are all ages and are noted as such on the Jazzbones calendar. The restaurant and nightclub is open every day: Doors open two hours prior to show time, which is listed on the ticket and website. The menu will be served at door time. All menu items are available until at least midnight, then select menu items may be offered. Jazzbones is located at 2803 6th Ave. Call (253) 396-9169 and visit

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Best of Tacoma 2014

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bu s i nes s Best auto repair

Bristow’s Exclusive Auto Repair

Bristow’s Exclusive Auto Repair shop has won the title of “Best Auto Repair” for its high standards of repair and personal touch. All employees take part in continuous training to remain experts in their fields and are also required to complete a minimum of six different training sessions per year. That knowledge is matched by state-of-the-art equipment and personalized attention to both car enthusiasts and automotive novices. In keeping with the theme of all things cars, owner Peter Bristow is a driving instructor for basic and advanced schools and he has been affiliated with

several racing teams and car clubs, including Porsche Club of America, Pacific Northwest Region, BMW Car Club of America, Puget Sound Region and Northwest Alfa Romeo Club. Bristow has been a professional technician since 1978 and has run his own business since 1989. The South Tacoma shop offers personalized services at competitive prices on all vehicle repairs. The shop also has early-bird and late vehicle drop-off times and a shuttle service upon request, while its complimentary vacuum and car wash are given every time. Visit Bristow’s Exclusive Auto Repair at 4731 S. Washington St., online at or call (253) 471-1663.

Peter Bristow

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Best of Tacoma 2014 in Tacoma and then running her own private practice for two years, she provided outpatient, hospital and obstetrical care for a diverse population.  Since  joining Qliance in 2011, Dr. Ho is optimistic that direct primary care clinics like Qliance will be a model for high-quality health care in the near future. Dr. Ho strongly believes that open access to knowledgeable and compassionate primary care physicians yields the best health outcomes. She  approaches primary care with compassion, thoughtfulness and respect for both patients and their families.

Best medical professional

Dr. Roxanne Ho

Dr. Roxanne Ho has been serving Tacoma for more than six years. Working as the primary care physician for her sister’s OB/Gyn practice

Best pet store


Dr. Roxanne Ho

Danette Knowles’ Wag Pet Market

provides the sort of luxurious accessories for pets that people often find in vacation spas and higherend hotels. Pets get pampered with wardrobe and playtime needs the way tourists find relaxation with plush hotel robes and fluffy towels. The Proctor District store offers natural, grain-free pet foods and treats from Addiction, Orijens, Acana, Taste of The Wild, Merrick Wysong, Tiki Cat, Werruva, Canidae, Precise Plus, Honest Kitchen, Raw Advantage, Solid Gold, Dogswell, Stella & Chewy, Zukes, Buddy Biscuits, Free Range and Sojos, for example. Wag Pet Market is rarely void of four-legged family members since the shop encourages leashed, wellmannered dogs to venture into the aisle to check out their array of foods, clothes, and a variety of additional

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Best new business

harbor greens market

Harbor Greens didn’t just earn its place as the best new business by fitting into the culture of Tacoma, but by actively contributing to it. Harbor Greens is a grocery store that specializes in fresh, homegrown products and offers a wide range of organic and natural fruit, vegetable and dairy options. The store’s all natural inhouse butcher shop ensures that you will get the freshest meat possible. The store also focuses on buying

local, reducing their carbon footprint and pumping up the Tacoma economy. “Thank you Tacoma for making Harbor Greens your local market of choice! We will continue to bring you the freshest local groceries at the best prices with a smile,� co-owner Chad Roy said. Harbor Greens opened up last spring at 2620 Bridgeport Way (27th and Bridgeport) in University Place, expanding from its original Gig Harbor location. The store is open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. Call (253) 460-2901 and visit

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Best of Tacoma 2014

Additional Winners Best Wine Shop: Tacoma Boys

Best Movie Theater: Blue Mouse

Best Flower Shop: Brown’s Flowers

Best Specialty Store: Marlene’s Natural Foods Market & Deli

Best Hair Salon: Jade’s Salon and Day Spa

Best Auto Dealership: Gene Pankey Motors

Best Barber Shop: Nova

Best Health & Fitness Center: STAR Center

Best Tanning Salon: Bronze Age

Best Financial Institution: Columbia Bank

Best Music Store: Rocket Records

Best Gift Shop: King’s Books

Best Art Gallery: B2 Fine Art Gallery

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Best of Tacoma 2014 re stau ra n ts taurant that could.” Jim Higgins started PSP, as he was inspired by a pizza parlor owned by a friend in Skagway, Alaska. Brenner first found out about PSP when she took a job at the City of Tacoma. One of her fondest Jason McKibbin on security places she used to watch at Puget Sound Pizza hang out at was the Pioneer Bar in Sitka, Alaska. They don’t Best pizza serve food, but it was one of those puget sound pizza places you could go dressed to the Puget Sound Pizza is what owner nines or in your sweats. A scrubby Shannon Brenner calls “the little res- fisherman could be at the bar talking

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with a businessman in a suit. And if you were by yourself you would probably run into someone you know. “PSP had the same comfortable feeling for me when I first went there and I loved the pizza,” Brenner said. “I became aware that the current owner was looking to sell and I bought the place in 2011.” While Brenner’s background is biology, not pizza, she has slowly been learning about the trials and rewards of being an owner. “Luckily, in some of my past jobs I had done some waitressing, bookkeeping and payroll, skills that have come in handy,” she said. “We are a small restaurant with a tight staff who have stuck

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it out through changes in ownership and managers. We also have a loyal group of patrons and I am grateful for both. I want to continue to provide simple but awesome food in a comfortable place and hope to see our fan base and the downtown community grow in the upcoming years.”

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Best of Tacoma 2014

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Best italian cuisine


Pomodoro backs up its fine Italian cuisine with a comforting atmosphere and a friendly serving staff. Located in the heart of Tacoma at 3819 N. 26th St., Pomodoro’s large array of Italian options is sure to please anyone – classics like Pomodoro’s to-die-for Chicken Linguine that combines chicken breast, broccoli and gorgonzola cheese in a garlic cream sauce topped with roasted almonds. Or spaghetti with the option of rich meat sauce or zesty marinara, Pomodoro offers its own brand of desserts, including Jack Daniels Bread Pudding, homemade bread pudding served warm with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Other sweets include Lemon Meringue Pie

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Ice Cream and Tiramisu. Pomodoro packages these meals into a friendly, inviting atmosphere that includes a bar and sidewalk seating.

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Best diner


Shakabrah Java has enjoyed being part of the fabric of Tacoma for over 20 years. The diner’s comfort food and laid-back, come-as-you-are atmosphere make it the kind of place you want to “shaka” (hang loose), “brah” (bro). Shakabrah loves the city of Tacoma and appreciates its diverse community. The fine folks at Shakabrah plan to keep serving breakfast all day as long as the city wants it! Shakbrah is proud to participate in Art on the Ave and Dine Out for life, as well supporting many

local charities and network services of Tacoma.

Best deli


MSM Deli started in 1983 founded by Mike Mohamed, a man who immigrated to America in the 1970’s. Inspired by the shops he came to love in his earlier years while living in New York, he decided to start his own version in the city he ultimately fell in love with: Tacoma. He added his own twist to the standard East Coast sandwich menus he had remembered (salamis, pastrami, etc.) with some West Coast flavor (avocado, sprouts, etc.) turning it into a hybrid of sorts. From East Coast offerings, such as the Italian Coldcut, along with West Coast style staples, such as the Deli Club, the sub shop is not short on options. Not to mention the amazing beer selection; this at the time was a first of its sorts. The shop wasn’t always as busy as it is today, with the struggles that

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come along with almost any new business. But once word got out about this hybrid of a convenience store with the East meets West hybrid of a menu, there was no looking back. Going on 30 plus years now, the deli has delivered a consistent winning product. It’s only fitting that the well-traveled man who has always claimed Tacoma as “the best city” gets rewarded by that very city as being recognized as the owner of “the best deli.”

Best coffee shop

b sharp coffee house

Located in historic Opera Alley in downtown Tacoma, B Sharp Coffee House is the place to go for high quality coffee, tea, beer, wine, music, and food. B Sharp strives to serve downtown Tacoma by providing the best in local and northwest coffee that is locally roasted, sustainability harvested and traded, with a taste that reflects it. B Sharp’s wine selection comes from a cellar in Seattle that has the philosophy of providing exceptional northwest wines, and its beers have an accent on micro-brews and Belgian Ales. The fine people at B Sharp always have the environment in

mind when making business decisions as well as incorporating green living in their personal lives. Owner Dennis Ellis has been in the blues business for many years, performing locally with the popular Guitar Slim, the award winning Crossroads blues band, and currently the T-Town Aces, who won the best new band award from the Washington Blues Society. Stop in at 706 Court C, give them a call at (253) 292-9969 and visit to see their full menu.

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Best of Tacoma 2014

Additional Winners Best Sushi: Flying Fish

Best View: Stanley & Seaforts

Best Restaurant to Take Kids: Shake Shake Shake

Best Burger: Meconi’s Pub & Eatery

Best Bar or Lounge: Marrow

Best New Restaurant: Mandolin Sushi & Steak House

Best Asian Cuisine: Indochine

Best Coffee House/Drive-thru Espresso: Bluebeard Coffee Roasters

Best Indian Cuisine: Gateway to India Best Mexican Cuisine: El Toro

Best Romantic Setting: Over the Moon CafĂŠ

An independent carefree lifestyle is waiting for you at Point Defiance Village. For one low month-to-month rent our residents enjoy the convenience of:



MOTHER’S DAY Gospel Brunch



2 Shows MAY 11, 2014 11:30 AM & 2:30 PM


6414 N Park Way, Tacoma, WA 98407 | 253-759-8908 |



w/ the purchase of a regular cheesesteak, fries, & drink of equal or lesser value. *Offer good with coupon only.

MONDAY-FRIDAY 11AM-7PM SATURDAY 11AM-5PM 1402 Tacoma Ave. South Tacoma, WA 98402

253-572-3000 Offer expires 4/15/14


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$350 treatment OFF

(Must bring in this ad. New patients and full treatment only. Cannot be combined with other offers.)


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Best of Tacoma 2014