Located on Winslow Way, next to the Winslow Ravine, sit four of Bainbridge Island’s oldest buildings. Built between 1892 through 1930s, the buildings have housed a variety of businesses over the years. When the owners decided to sell, it was rumored that the land would be developed into a boutique hotel, however, Erika Thayer and her family had a much better idea.
Wanting to preserve these historic buildings and provide a location for her Apothecary and Tea Shops, Erika jumped at the opportunity to purchase the property in 2020 and restore it. At the time, Cuts Above Barber Shop was the only remaining tenant, and was soon joined by the Apothecary in one building and the Tea Shop next door. Not long after, Alex Sanso opened her Bainbridge-centric shop, Island Life Artisan Gifts.
Erika’s dreams were bigger though. To begin with, she started cleaning up the property and renovating the buildings at the back of the lot to accommodate new business. In 2020, Emma & Otto’s Ice Cream moved in, and in 2021, Erika added her Taco Barn to round out the diverse group of entrepreneurs. Phase two of Erika’s plans included a “Hidden Garden” which would have casual seating for guests and a stage for live musical performances. She also decided to combine the Apothecary Shop and the Tea Shop, which is now the Bainbridge Apothecary & Tea Shop, which also allowed for an additional business in the compound, Hot Hot Yoga.
To celebrate and share with the community, their first event was to collaborate with and host Bainbridge Pride’s first mixer of the year on June 19th. (The organization’s Pridefest at Waterfront Park is coming up on July 17).
I stopped by her shop to learn more about her and her ongoing plans, and was immediately greeted by Carrot Cake, the orange tabby and official mascot of The Ravine. Erika has been a practitioner of herbal medicine for almost 30 years and studied culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu. She has also spent years in the catering industry, as well as working as a chef and specialty baker.
We began by discussing the decision to combine the Apothecary and Tea Shop, which she did this past year. The Apothecary, which she referred to as her “fun little witch shop”, carries a variety of tinctures, magical gifts and treasures, as well as plant-based remedies.
The Tea Shop offers a Full High Tea, complete with a sumptuous selection of pastries and treats served on a three-tiered dessert stand. It’s the perfect spot for an intimate moment with a friend, or a larger gathering. If tea isn’t your “cup of tea”, perhaps a bowl of organic soup with a glass of wine, cider or beer? The shop’s environment is enchanting and magical on its own, in addition, there is a private little patio space—which you’ll probably have to share with Carrot Cake—that allows for a perfect spot for you and your friends and/or family to enjoy an afternoon together.
Running the two shops separately, along with all her other ventures, wasn’t ideal, and combining them allowed her to concentrate her energy towards specialized health and wellness teas—which she blends herself—as well as traditional herbal blends. In addition, it allowed her to continue working on her plans for The Ravine.
Erika designed the layout for the courtyard area and employed the skills James Rudolph, who created the stage in the community courtyard behind the Winslow facing shops. Several large boulders, used as a retaining wall, were already there, and James “carved” the stage floor to follow their path. Surrounding the stage, you’ll find a variety of comfortable seating, where you can enjoy ice cream from Emma & Otto’s, tacos, tamales, and empanadas from the Taco Barn, sweets from the Tea Shop, and a variety of libations. There is open space for dancing, and tables and chairs with umbrellas for shade (or a respite from the rain). Whimsical rock art, created by Ethan Currier, can be found throughout the courtyard.
The creativity doesn’t end with James, Ethan and Erika, Alex Sanso also tossed her talents into the project with murals that adorn the back side of her shop, as well as the street facing side. Alex’s creations are a unique and eclectic assortment of art, gifts (including T-shirts, magnets, stickers, cards and more), as well as home accessories. She also features the work of many local artists in her shop. To read more about Alex, click here.
For Erika, the energy of the Winslow Ravine feeds into the vitality and spirit of this quaint little spot in the heart of Winslow. She loves the concept of showcasing the natural wonders of the ravine and combining it with the dynamics of our historical buildings. “I want this place to be an inclusive, safe, and welcoming space…where you feel connected to nature and to each other,” Erika explained.
What’s in The Ravine’s future? Erika will be installing professional lighting and sound for the stage and is currently featuring live music on Friday and Saturday nights, with plans to expand live music to showcase local musicians seven days a week, year-round. The Taco Barn will be premiering their “magic taco” soon; pulled pork, tropical salsa on a gordita shell! New things are on the horizon, and you can follow The Ravine on Facebook to keep up to date.
Get groomed! Stop by Cuts Above Barber Shop for a quick cut and shave and of course, local banter and news.
Get hot! Show your flexibility with a bit of hot yoga.
Get cool! Obviously, Emma & Otto’s is your next stop.
Relax, shop and enjoy! Once you’re done grooming, exercising, shopping and eating – sit for a while and enjoy our local musical talents. Tea, tacos, ice cream and libations and amazing gifts await at The Ravine.
- The Ravine is located at 450 Winslow Way E, Bainbridge Island, Washington
- The Bainbridge Apothecary & Tea Shop was voted “Best of Bainbridge” in 2020.
- This year, Alex Sanso’s Island Life Artisan Gifts is in the running, so don’t forget to vote!
- Alex was also selected to create the logo for the newly awarded Bainbridge Creative District, to read more, click here.
- Join AHB and partners for the July 3 BCD launch and Street Dance, around Winslow and our “experience the creative district” on Sep 10 in Winslow.
This article originally appeared in AHB’s Bainbridge Currents Online: Stories | BainbridgeCurrents.com
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