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Shoreline's North City Bistro is for sale, its owners hope to pass on a live music legacy

North City Bistro-Cherrie Adams
Sharon Bloom
North City Bistro
Cherrie Adams sings and Rick Leppanen plays bass at North City Bistro in Shoreline, Wash.

North City Bistro, less than 10 miles north of Seattle, may be under new management by the end of the year. Owners Ray and Sharon Bloom are seekingsomeone to continue their legacy of live music and community.

The wine, food and music venue in Shoreline, Wash., first opened in 2005 and The Blooms took over in January 2014.

"We spent a few months working there with the previous owner, just to kind of see what the place was all about, and what we would want to keep and what we wanted to change," said Ray.

Neither of them had run a restaurant before.

"I've started a few businesses," said Ray. "So I've never been afraid to jump into something that I don't know much about. I worked in restaurants as a young kid. But we had a lot to learn. We also had some incredible friends who jumped in and taught us the ropes."

Ray had a career in professional audio, and is a lifelong musician, playing bass and guitar. He's traveled all over the world, and got into the wine business, which is how he met the previous owner of the bistro. "I've done a few different things, and a lot of them revolved around either wine or music, if not both," Ray recalled.

From the beginning, he and Sharon intended to make North City Bistro a music venue, even though it's not a large place.

"Capacity pre-COVID was 75," said Ray. "Now it's 65 because the liquor laws changed. We were a wine shop, but now we're a wine shop and liquor store and music venue. That took up a couple of tables, and we tried to spread things out for social distancing."

The Blooms made it clear that they are not simply retiring. They've had an offer that's like a dream come true.

"I've never worked in any industry long enough to have a pension. And I'm kind of a workaholic anyway," Bloom explains. "But we have an opportunity to move to the south of France, and caretake a brand new Airbnb that is being built by a friend of mine, whose family has had a winery there for six generations. They're building this beautiful Airbnb and we're going to be the caretakers, living on the premises, no expenses, plus salaries."

They'll take fond memories of North City Bistro with them.

North City Bistro Presents: Lavon Hardison

Above: Eric Verlinde, LaVon Hardison, Jeff Johnson and Mark Ivester perform at the North City Bistro.

Ray said that while he's proud of their food and beverage program, its the music that's brought people together and made North City Bistro "quite magical."

"We've had artists come in from Brazil and Argentina and England and Japan, and we have some national stars, Michael Shrieve from Santana has played there numerous times. Lee Oskar plays there three or four times a year. And we have Jeff Busch, Adriana Giordano, Eric Verlinde, so many incredible local musicians who play there."

The intimate space brings the audience close to the musicians, and that exchange of energy during a performance is something that the Blooms treasure.

For Sharon, it's all about community as guests became friends.

"It's been a wonderful blessing, for both sides, I think. We know so many of our customers by name, we get invited to dinner. That's a terrific experience, the friendship."

Music nights at North City Bistro are bookedthrough the end of the year. The new owners will be able to experience how it all works, and the expectation is that they'll want to keep live music as a feature of the bistro.

"We're hoping to close the sale by late September or early October, if possible, which gives us time to help the new owners through the transition, so that guests aren't walking into a bunch of new faces, so they feel like this can transition smoothly," said Ray.

"And then we'll have a couple of months of purging pretty much everything we own before we head to France."

Corrected: October 2, 2023 at 10:34 AM PDT
Updated to reflect The Blooms did not open North City Bistro in 2014 but took over from a previous owner. North City Bistro opened in 2005.
Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.