Thursday, April 25, 2024

New bar, restaurant stormin' into CDA

Staff Writer | December 23, 2020 1:09 AM

After facing Gov. Jay Inslee's and the Washington State Liquor Control Board's tight restrictions, the Spokane Valley bar and grill Stormin' Norman's Shipfaced Saloon is looking to a bright future at their new downtown Coeur d'Alene location.

When Gov. Inslee ordered businesses to shut down inside dining in November, Stormin' Norman's was one of two Spokane Valley bars that pushed back. Originally planning to open for indoor customers on Dec. 26, co-owners Carrie Thomson, 48, and Norman Thomson, 70, were warned their actions could cost them their liquor license.

"They basically threatened us with losing our license permanently. We just got a written warning, which is ridiculous," Carrie Thomson said of Washington officials. "If we lost our license permanently, we wouldn't be helping anybody, so that's why we decided not to open Saturday."

They weren't doing it for personal gain, the Thomsons said, but to support their employees who have suffered through multiple government closures.

"When we shut down in March, it was OK because they had the $600 extra, so they were getting by," Norman Thomson said. "But now they don't have that extra. Unemployment is pretty small, and some of them are running out of money."

Instead, the Thomsons are giving 12% of the Spokane Valley proceeds and half the restaurant's recent grant funding to staff.

"They bend over backward for us. They've been fantastic employees, and a lot of them have become our friends," Carrie Thomson said. "In addition, they all have kids and families to pay for."

When Stormin' Norman's posted on their Facebook page last week about their push to stay open, Carrie said they received 70,000 comments of support.

"The Texas governor came out and said they're not shutting bars or restaurants down because people need to work," Norman Thomson said. "Then you look at California, they have the strictest rules, and they have more cases than anybody. So it isn't just us that is causing the problem."

Despite everything, the Thomsons hope that meeting with their lawyers will provide some leeway.

However, better days are ahead as the Thomsons are setting sail for Stormin' Norman's expansion into Coeur d'Alene, at 314 N. Fourth St., tentatively scheduled to open in April.

The Coeur d'Alene restaurant has been a long time coming, they said. Norman applied for an Idaho state liquor license 17 years ago. He's a Sandpoint native and a North Idaho College graduate who loves the area.

The face behind "Stormin' Norman," Thomson was an NIC basketball player who earned the nickname in school. Combined with his boating interest, the nautical-themed sports bar and restaurant was born two years ago.

Serving the Coeur d'Alene community was always in the back of Thomson's mind, and he secured the downtown building late this year. As the restaurant waits on a building permit, Stormin' Norman's will soon be packed with sports on the TV, breakfast through dinner meal options, a back patio, and a boat-shaped bar dead in the middle.

"We're excited to be in this community. We love this place," Norman Thomson said. "Summers here are just amazing, people everywhere downtown. This is going to be fun."

Carrie Thomson said getting the Coeur d'Alene location up and running has only been incentivized by Washington restrictions.

Until opening day, they're focusing on getting their Coeur d'Alene restaurant ready for business and enjoying North Idaho.

"Our customers are our No. 1 priority," Carrie Thomson said. "And we're so excited to get Coeur d'Alene regulars."


One of two Spokane Valley restaurants that tried to defy Gov. Jay Inslee's indoor dining restrictions is jumping across state lines to open a bar and restaurant in Coeur d'Alene next spring. Pictured are Carrie and Norman Thomson, owners of Stormin' Norman's Shipfaced Saloon. (MADISON HARDY/Press)