Cross Walk of Salem
On New Year’s Day 2011, Salem resident Mary Lucas decided to honor her resolution to walk more.
Left to Right:
President & CEO,
Valley Credit Union.
Cross Walk Salem Founder.
Rich Kansky, President,
of Green Acres Landscaping.
She set off from the carousel at Riverfront Park, walking along the sidewalk bordering the Willamette River.
Only ten minutes into her walk, Mary was grabbed from behind and dragged down the embankment by a man holding a knife.
In a final plea, Mary cried out “Lord, help me please!” Mary’s words were heard/answered as three men rushed down the bank to rescue her from her attackers.
Since 2012, Valley Credit Union, Green Acres Landscaping, and Paramount Reality have partnered to present “Cross Walk” of Salem. On January 1st, hundreds of community members gather at the Salem Riverfront Park to help raise funds to support victims of violent crime in Marion County.
Join Valley Credit Union, Green Acres Landscaping, and Paramount Reality at this years’ Cross Walk event. Registration and details are available at www.crosswalksalem.org.
Nordstrom Is Local &
Helpful For The Holidays
Nordstrom at Salem Center,
dressed up for the Holidays
Nordstrom Personal Stylists are available to shop
the entire store for customers. This is a free service
and we can work with the whole family on finding the
right gift on everyone’s list. We just ask the customer
to share their list with us and we’ll take it from there.
Customers can call 1.877.310.8537 or go to nordstrom.
Our social media team, also has some fun things going
on this holiday.
“You Pick the Deal”: We will be crowd sourcing Cyber
Monday deals (1 handbag and 1 shoe) on Facebook
the week before Cyber Monday. The winning
handbag and shoe chosen by our customers will be
discounted on Cyber Monday.
“Show this Post”: We will be giving the first 50 customers
who follow @Nordstrom or their local store
account and “show this post” at our E-Bars 12/6 &
12/7 a free Merriment Mocha. All they have to do is
show the applicable post (to be posted on 12/6) at the
counter to redeem their drink.
One way we will work to help customers find the
perfect gift is through our customers’ most popular
choices on Pinterest. Each week, we will feature
about 100 of the most popular and re-pinned items
from our Great Gifts board on Pinterest.
For customers who want to shop online or do their
research first online, we offer Buy Online/Pick Up in
Store and Free shipping/Free returns year ‘round at
Nordstrom.com. A lot of customers have told us this
saves them time during the holidays.
We also encourage customers to join us in helping
give a child a new pair of shoes this holiday season.
Since 2010, we’ve given 43,700 pairs and this year,
and in partnership with our customers and New Balance,
we’re looking to give 15,000 more this year.
• Beginning November 1 through December 24,
customers in the US can visit any shoe department
in Nordstrom stores or the checkout areas
in Nordstrom Rack stores to find $10 giving cards
that include the names and ages of children in
need of new shoes.
• Every $10 tag purchased goes towards giving that
child a new pair of shoes.
Dino Venti, Rebrander
I first wrote a column on Dino Venti and
his restaurants for the March 2013 edition
of the SBJ. With some updates, I believe
it’s worthy of another run.
Dino Venti is proud of his
cutting edge South Salem location,
Venti’s Cafe + Taphouse
2840 Commercial St SE,
According to Wikipedia, “Brand” is the
name, term, design, symbol, or any other
feature that identifies one seller’s goods or
service as distinct from those of other sellers.
Wikipedia further states that “Brand
trust” is the intrinsic “believability” that
any entity evokes. In the commercial world,
the intangible aspect of Brand trust impacts
the behavior and performance of its stakeholders
in many intriguing ways. It creates
the foundation of a strong brand connect
with all stakeholders, converting simple
awareness to strong commitment.
This, in turn, metamorphoses normal
people who have an indirect
or direct stake in the organization
into devoted ambassadors.
“Rebranding” then would be the
process of, hopefully, improving
on everything I quoted in the first
2 paragraphs. Dino Venti is a “Rebrander”.
And I’ll tell you why.
Dino Venti was born in1967, one
of eleven kids (3 brothers and 7
sisters), raised in San Gabriel, a
suburb of Los Angeles. He graduated
from Alhambra High School
From high school, Dino took his
football skills to junior college. Academics
and football didn’t work
out at that level too well, however,
so tying Christmas trees to cars for
money and various other jobs soon
Venti’s parents (now deceased),
wanting a slower lifestyle, moved
to Salem in the late 80s and Dino,
tired of spinning his wheels in California,
followed them to Oregon in
Dino had been working at a Lexus
dealership in California and
landed an equivalent position in the parts
department for Lexus in Portland. After 8
total years with Lexus, Venti decided to try
something different with his brother, Mike
who had also moved to Portland (he has another
brother living in Tillamook).
According to Dino, Mike, and his entrepreneurial
spirit, has always been a mentor
to him. About 1995, they were working together
in a property flipping venture when,
after losing out on a bid, decided to have
lunch on a sidewalk in Portland. There was
a bento pushcart there right on the sidewalk
with a guy making chicken teriyaki
and rice for his customers. They watched as
the owner banged out one chicken and rice
dish after another. That’s when their lives
would begin to change forever.
Dino noted that there was no business
with such a simple menu like this in Salem.
After some discussion of the possibilities,
they decided then and there on the sidewalk
of Portland to replicate it in Salem.
But there was a big problem to overcome
right out of the gate.
Salem’s fire marshal code did not allow
pushcarts like they needed to use to cook
the chicken and rice. They’d need to find
something else. And that’s when Dino
found the Ice Cream Café on Court Street
in the middle of town right next to the sidewalk.
It would be perfect, he thought, if he
could just get them to sell. He did.
After many hours of cooking practice and
a few burnt chickens, Venti’s Bento opened
for business in the old Ice Cream Café spot
in 1996 with his brother and partner, Mike.
Mike took care of all the administrative issues
while Dino cooked. Dino would eventually
buy Mike out in 2003 with Mike settling
into early retirement.
Business was real good but Dino also
began to recognize some important intangibles
about his relationship with his employees,
customers and the city of Salem.
He started paying more attention to “quality
of life” issues in the community. It redefined
his priorities. More about that later.
After 12 years in his first location and his
year long, frustrating attempts to grow elsewhere
downtown, Venti’s moved across the
street to 325 Court St NE, in the old “Sip”
bubble tea place and renamed it Venti’s
Café and Basement Bar (Ventiscafe.com).
It was a much larger space and for the past
6 years, Dino has used his passion and creativity
to make it quite a thriving success
complete with that beautiful basement bar
and nights with live music.
It’s an energetic establishment in the heart
of downtown where they pride themselves
on good, clean food, an inviting yet edgy atmosphere,
and a commitment to unique flavor,
attitude and culture. Beer flows all day
and the basement bar opens at 4pm Monday
thru Friday, and at noon on Saturday and
Sunday. My friend, Maury Johnson, and I
ate lunch there every Friday until about 1
½ years ago when we switched to his South
Salem location. We love being pampered by
managers, Nicole and Sean (ask Sean to do
his unbelievable Donald Duck voice. Best
I’ve ever heard), and sitting at the window
table watching the sidewalk activity as we
enjoy their outstanding food.
Three years ago, Dino saw that big opportunity
to expand his product to South Salem.
He named it Venti’s Cafe + Taphouse (Ventiscafe.com) and set up in the old Busters
Barbeque spot at 2840 Commercial St SE
(PH: 503.391.5100). And it’s doing so well
that Dino has pulled his brother, Mike, out
of retirement to help with the administrative
side of the business.
Venti’s Cafe + Taphouse features a cosmopolitan,
cozy, modern, one-level restaurant
with outdoor patio
a possibility for
expansion of the
patio next summer). They also have tons of
bike parking! And for you beer snobs out
there, they have up to 24 rotating taps, including
two nitro + two cask engines. They
also have exciting nights with fantastic live
music such as the outstanding blues band,
Still Water Vibes.
Their product, originally, was
largely the same as the downtown
location, but last year they rolled
out a brand new menu. In fact, in
mid February, Dino and Leslie hosted
a fantastic, classy and seldom-ifever-
seen-in-Salem menu release
dinner for about 12 members of the
local media (me and the indispensable
Freddy Ruiz from the SBJ) and
each with a guest. The food, craft
beer and service were nothing short
of amazing! Venti’s “Beer Czar”,
Matt Killikelly, entertained and informed
with some very interesting
information about their craft beers.
The honorable Rooster is Venti’s
logo, so named since teriyaki
chicken is the core of their business
and Dino estimates over 50 tons
prepped in his first 10 years of business!
It’s a nod to the glorious cock,
an animal loved for its power, boldness
and beauty. The concept and
design were the brilliant idea of Dino’s
wife, Leslie who, happily, lends
her passion, skills and training as
a graphic designer to the benefit of
Dino and Leslie met through mutual
friends in 2002 and married in 2004.
He considers her his “flashpoint” in life.
She grew up living back and forth in London
and Colorado while her dad worked for
Lockheed as a rocket scientist. She’s also a
retired Cherry City Derby Girls roller derby
star having been voted MVP for her team 2
years in a row! More importantly, she’s also
a devoted practitioner of Yoga and appears
to me to apply its peaceful philosophy to her
every day life.
For fun, Dino’s an avid, passionate mountain
biker. He belongs to the Salem Area
Trail Alliance (SATA, salemtrails.org) and
organization committed to building sustainable
trails in Salem, and the Black Rock
Mountain Bike Association (BRMBA.org)
which is dedicated to building, riding and
respecting mountain biking trails and their
environment. He’s determined to spread the
good word of mountain biking far and wide.
To Dino, mountain biking is a life style
that he’s promoting as part of a Salem recreational
balance which contributes to a
re-branding of Salem. One that connects
the Salem areas “greenways” with bike and
walking trails that everyone can enjoy year
Dino Venti is also re-branding the dining/
entertainment experience in Salem. His
restaurants are more like the classy but yet
“family” places you’d find in a larger city like
the Pearl District of Portland. He’s looking
to continue to grow his business while doing
everything in his power to take care of
his 80+ employees in a responsible and considerate
way. And, as a Viet Nam Veteran
myself, I certainly appreciate how he does
his very best to find and hire qualified military
veterans who, he completely believes,
should never have to want for opportunities
to succeed when they return to civilian life.
Boy do I support that!
Dino Venti’s “environments” have such a
warm, lively, friendly, and fabulous atmosphere.
If you’ve never been to a Venti’s, or
if you’ve been but not lately, you must check
them out. It is/they are, indeed, the place(s)
And finally, Dino Venti desires to “Rebrand”
for the better his restaurants and
Salem. He loves this place and wants to create
a foundation of a strong new brand connect
with all stakeholders, converting simple
awareness to a strong commitment to Salem
and its overall quality of life. This, in turn,
will “morph” normal people who have an indirect
or direct stake in Salem into devoted
ambassadors in a holistic way. And who
among us would not want that?
Bill Isabell is chief meteorologist for KBZY
No One Travels Further
So You Can Buy Local
Gems In Antwerp
This last October Dave Wilson, of Dave
Wilson Designer-Goldsmith, boarded a
plane in Portland to fly to Belgium. He does
this around the same time every year to buy
diamonds directly from the diamond cutters,
and save the mark up from U.S. suppliers.
The flight was smooth and before
he knew it, he was picking up luggage and
catching a bus from Brussels into Antwerp.
At the hotel, he met up with some other Retail
Jewelers Organization members. RJO
is a group of independent jewelry stores,
who together, have enough buying power to
gain access to the best prices on diamonds.
After dinner with the RJO members and
some of the diamond cutters, the first evening
was soon over.
Early the next morning, Dave walked the
short distance from the hotel to the Diamond
District. The Diamond District is a
small area in which the diamond cutters’
offices are located, occupying a few blocks.
Once past the rigid security screening,
Dave and other RJO members meet with
individual diamond cutters. It’s a chance
for new members to learn about the company
policies, specialized products, and see
new things. Dave says, “I was glad to learn
more about the social and environmental
responsibility built into the cutters’ business
policies and practices.” Some of the
exciting new things Dave saw were large
black diamond bead strands twinkling like
a million stars, huge rough diamond crystals
marked and ready to be cut, a tray of
red carpet-worthy faceted diamonds ranging
from just over three carats to a little
over ten carats, and Champagne Diamonds
from the Argyle mine in Western Australia.
Before leaving for Antwerp, Dave planned
new designs for the case, made a list of
popular sizes and price ranges for his inventory,
and took orders from clients ready
to purchase and wanting the best deal on a
premium diamonds. With his shopping list,
tweezers, loupe, and 30 years of experience
grading diamonds, it was time to get down
Asking to see specific sizes, grades, and
price ranges was just the beginning. For
each stone on his list, Dave has to sort
through hundreds of similar stones, finding
the highest quality in the right price
range. There were eight offices to visit, and
he may have found diamonds fitting orders
at one office, but the next diamond cutter
might have a finer stone for a better price.
He had the cutters hold his selection so
he would have the chance to grade similar
stones in other offices. Under magnification,
he judged the cut and clarity of each
stone, on a white tray the color grade was
determined, on a scale the stone is weighed,
Dave asks for any certifications a stone may
have and the price per carat, and using his
tweezers compared the brilliance.
the price, cut, clarity, carat and color
of two stones were the same, but the decision
was made based on one stone just having
more brilliance. After three eight hour
days sorting through thousands of stones,
it was time to finalize orders, and decide
on any extras for inventory. “This year, I
was thrilled to find some Champagne Diamonds
ranging from Dark Champagne, a
medium brown color sparkling with every
color of the rainbow, to Fancy Cognac, a
deep coffee color with intense red flashes!”
No one travels further so Salem can shop
for world class diamonds locally. Once he
reached Salem again, Dave will have traveled
over 10,000 miles to bring home significant
savings for clients in Salem with
quite a variety of budgets. Diamonds for inventory
were tucked away, and the clients’
custom designs got under way.
One set of
stones were for a client wanting earrings
like one’s she saw on the red carpet, some
were used to create a new engagement ring
and a few were upgrades for existing wedding
rings. One diamond was gift wrapped,
and the client proposed with the diamond,
and brought his new fiancé in to meet Dave
and create her very own ring. Getting the
design process started seemed complicated,
but it is as easy as knowing your budget,
having an idea of what you want or dream
of, and a visit to Dave!