Martin’s Way: A store with a dream, at Delridge and Findlay

January 27, 2012 at 4:20 pm | In Delridge, West Seattle businesses, West Seattle news | 35 Comments

Story and photos by Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

If all goes well, a corner store will open next month at Delridge and Findlay.

Look closely at the upper right corner of the mural on its north side, and you will see its name: Martin’s Way.

As in, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And that is your first hint that this is not just intended to be a store.

From the outside, it doesn’t look like one, and that’s exactly what proprietor Vik Puri intends.

We sat down with him this week to talk about Martin’s Way, its beginnings, and eventual hopes.

This is a labor of love for Vik and his partner Nikhi. As he tells it, that’s about all they have to put into it right now. It’s been in the works a long time, with a shortage of capital. But on the other hand, there are partnerships at its foundation – including the nonprofit that operates a day care immediately behind the building, a source of neighborhood mystery and intrigue as it was built a few years back.

Its site is in the area known as the “Brandon Node,” meant to be a commercial center for Delridge.

Through the windows of Martin’s Way, you can see some of the other businesses already there – like Pho Aroma and Olympia Pizza on the kitty-corner – and across the street, the Super 24. There are more changes ahead, with the DESC homeless-housing complex planned one lot north, and the old Boren school a block south set to reopen with a new elementary program in the fall.

Education is part of Vik’s eventual plan, too. But first, to the beginning:

He has a resumé of entrepreneurial and corporate success, and valleys as well as peaks, since coming to the U.S. a quarter-century ago. Even now, you might consider it a simultaneous peak and valley – he is looking for other work, while working to get Martin’s Way open, and carrying out another project, a home remodel elsewhere in eastern West Seattle.

Initially, they will carry up to 40 types of spices – including a recipe from Nikhi’s family, for the Indian spice blend garam masala – some legumes/grains, and Grand Central Bakery bread. The spices include a variety of sugars (we noticed one flavored with habanero!) and salts:

Then, there’s the lentils and rice:

At the handcrafted counter in the back of the high-ceilinged space, coffee (Stumptown) and tea are planned.

They’re looking for a pre-owned espresso machine, and Vik sings the praises of Nikhi’s chai and cardamom tea.

Fresh produce is in the future plan. And fresh-made samosas, and maybe even more of a deli featuring Indian food.

But the location and the building are meant to send as much of a message as whatever and whomever you find inside. While Delridge may be a neighborhood in transition, it is “rich in spirit,” Vik says. And it deserves a beautiful building, he believes, as a statement against “the decline of our neighborhoods” as much as anything else, and a symbol of love for a neighborhood that’s not as “rough” as it once was, but has a ways to go: “People respond to love.”

And Martin’s Way, according to Vik, is a “response” to Delridge. Its motto, “A Good Life for All,” is also on the mural on the building’s north side:

He says its inspiration is the one inside Giannoni’s Pizzeria in Westwood Village. Exterior touches include even an enclosed rain gutter through which Vik says the downpour of water can be watched – a thing of beauty rather than inconvenience:

The decor inside is centered on this cart which Vik and Nikhi bought from someone in Monroe, though they are told it was a former fixture at the Space Needle:

Perhaps it will be used outdoors in warmer months, they say. Once upon a time, Vik’s hope for the site was in fact something as simple as a produce-vending cart, but he says city bureaucracy thwarted that.

The beauty of the store belies the thrift of the project – less than $100,000 cost, Vik says, pointing to steel light fixtures – he was adamantly against fluorescents – that were $6 each. All on principle, as was the decision of what kind of store they would be; he said he had been told it would be a perfect location to sell “burgers or beer” – the latter drew his reaction, “We’ve got enough beer here.”

What the area does not have enough of, Vik says, is education. He speaks of children back in India who are taught the precise skills sought by American tech firms (and others), giving overseas outsourcers an advantage on people seeking work here in the U.S. He hopes to see Martin’s Way be a hub for math and English teaching someday, and tutoring by volunteers, as there’s room in the back, beyond the retail space up front.

Feed the mind, feed the soul, and feed the body – the dream at Martin’s Way, inspired also, Vik notes, by Gandhi and Mandela, as well as Dr. King.

By the way, you won’t find Vik and Nikhi’s business on the Web – yet, anyway – or on Facebook. Vik says they hope to spread the word through “old-fashioned social media” – face to face, neighbor to neighbor. You might call that “Martin’s Way,” too.

35 Comments

  1. Oh boy — a place for really good chai AND Stumptown coffee?? I’m so there! Can’t wait till they’re open :)

    Comment by moji — 4:34 pm January 27, 2012 #

  2. Nice! Thank you!

    Comment by GreatSoFar — 4:38 pm January 27, 2012 #

  3. Welcome to the neighborhood!
    Love this “Feed the mind, feed the soul, and feed the body”

    Comment by Good Food — 4:49 pm January 27, 2012 #

  4. Blessings to you both for your dream, and your kindness in thinking of others flourishment. It’s rare to have businesspeople who have virtue and values instead of “values”‘just coming to them. I hope you are very successful with the storefront AND your dream for the neighborhood children!

    Comment by KD — 4:57 pm January 27, 2012 #

  5. Can’t wait to check out the spices!

    Comment by GreenGirl — 5:00 pm January 27, 2012 #

  6. This sounds wonderful. Looking forward to stopping in when you open to get some spices and lentils and deli items once you get those.

    Comment by Idle — 5:35 pm January 27, 2012 #

  7. So happy to have you coming in. We will be stopping in soon!

    Delridge neighbor

    Comment by WS Mom — 5:39 pm January 27, 2012 #

  8. Did someone say samosas?! YES PLEASE!!!!!!

    Comment by highlandpark — 5:51 pm January 27, 2012 #

  9. Hmm I’m wondering with the abundance of space if they would consider offering some cooking classes for preparing Indian food. That would be awesome!

    Comment by Franci — 6:07 pm January 27, 2012 #

  10. More positive energy on Delridge? Sugars and salts! Chai tea & Indian food? Awesome, awesome, awesome!

    Comment by Amanda — 6:23 pm January 27, 2012 #

  11. Welcome! Namaste! I will be shopping there for the spices..etc.

    Comment by Cynthia Clouser — 6:47 pm January 27, 2012 #

  12. I love them already!!

    Comment by Cclarue — 7:02 pm January 27, 2012 #

  13. This is a much needed type of business. Do not overlook the advertising potential of the internet.

    Comment by dsa — 7:08 pm January 27, 2012 #

  14. I second Franci’s idea of Indian cooking classes!!!
    Please!!!

    Comment by k — 8:53 pm January 27, 2012 #

  15. Please have a deli! That would be amazing!

    Comment by Shannon — 9:13 pm January 27, 2012 #

  16. Super excited to see this business join the Brandon Node!

    Comment by Holli — 9:48 pm January 27, 2012 #

  17. Very, very good news! Welcome Martin’s Way!

    Comment by Been There — 9:49 pm January 27, 2012 #

  18. Another vote for cooking classes!! And maybe other Indian snacks and desserts at the counter pre-deli? YUM

    Comment by AH — 10:24 pm January 27, 2012 #

  19. We are touched, and humbled by these comments and this story. Thank you. MW isn’t a shop, this is our process of making new, lasting friendships and being part of a community, as in failure we found ourselves alone with our failure since fair weather friends moved to fairer climes, so come expecting warmth, and we will do our best to give the same warmth as we have received from (calling them heroes might make them feel uncomfortable so we’ll just strive to be their friends):
    JUSTIN the creator of FULL TILT Ice Cream; CHRIS PARDO of PB ELEMENTAL ARCHITECTURE; ANDREW, RUSS AND THE GREAT FOLKS OF STUMPTOWN COFFEE (they gave MW a break by giving us a rent free Brewer) plus Josh Brinko and his students Annette, Katie, Kendra, Dave, Kim – they helped us define our interior and we are still waiting for their photo to hang as our 1st decoration.
    And it would be hugely remiss of us not thanking MARCUS JOE for his mural – thank you Marcus! And during these 3 years of facing a daily liquidation of peace we were inspired by local greats: Dino Batali of Salumi, Peco’s Pit BBQ, Uneeda Burger, Spice Route (Bellevue), Proletariat Pizza, our dear friend Donna Burns of Giannoni’s Pizza, and our friend and sage counsel Dr. Lee Lambert – all of them deliver excellence daily and we hope to learn to walk in their footsteps. And very specially Tony – rest in peace dear friend, you showed us what a great fruit stand should look and feel like – that corner of Barton and 35th misses you I am sure like we do, though Joey is doing a good job. Thank you – and please walk with us as we learn to walk the talk. Nikhi & Vik at Martin’s Way

    Comment by Nikhi and Vik — 11:34 pm January 27, 2012 #

  20. Sounds great! :-D

    Comment by pigeonmom — 11:57 pm January 27, 2012 #

  21. Certainly intriguing, I’ve seen this place being worked on when I commute and i wondered what was intended.

    Heaven knows the area needs all the help it can get.

    Please don’t ignore the ‘net, keep us informed, I’d like to stop by when things are going and see what you have done.

    Comment by Jim P. — 12:08 am January 28, 2012 #

  22. We are touched, and humbled by these comments and this story. Thank you. MW isn’t a shop, this is our process of making new, lasting friendships and being part of a community, as in failure we found ourselves alone with our failure since fair weather friends moved to fairer climes, so come expecting warmth, and we will do our best to give the same warmth as we have received from (calling them heroes might make them feel uncomfortable so we’ll just strive to be their friends):
    JUSTIN the creator of FULL TILT Ice Cream; CHRIS PARDO of PB ELEMENTAL ARCHITECTURE; ANDREW of STUMPTOWN COFFEE (they gave MW a break by giving us a rent free Brewer); Josh Brinko and his students Annette, Katie, Kendra, Dave, Kim – they helped us define our interior and we are still waiting for their photo to hang as our 1st decoration; our friend and sage counsel Dr. Lee Lambert and ALLEN, the “other parent” of Martin’s Way – wish you were here Allen (and not in LA)
    It would be hugely remiss of us not thanking MARCUS JOE for his mural – thank you Marcus for your amazing kindness and art! And during these 3 years of facing a daily liquidation of peace we were inspired by local greats: Dino Batali of Salumi, Peco’s Pit BBQ, Uneeda Burger, Spice Route (Bellevue), Proletariat Pizza, our dear friend Donna Burns of Giannoni’s Pizza, – all of them deliver excellence daily and we hope to learn to walk in their footsteps. And very specially Tony – rest in peace dear friend, you showed us what a great fruit stand should look and feel like – that corner of Barton and 35th misses you I am sure like we do, though Joey is doing a good job. Thank you – and please walk with us as we learn to walk the talk. Nikhi & Vik at Martin’s Way

    Comment by Nikhi and Vik — 12:12 am January 28, 2012 #

  23. Great story! We’ll definitely be stopping by.

    Comment by Kayleigh — 5:01 am January 28, 2012 #

  24. Nice

    Comment by ?? — 8:27 am January 28, 2012 #

  25. ?? – the merchandise they say they will carry when they first open is mentioned in the story above. (Not all 30-40 types of spice, though. The spice provider, by the way, is D’Alessandro (have to check my notes to be sure that’s the correct spelling) …

    Comment by WSB — 8:32 am January 28, 2012 #

  26. I live just down the street and every time I drive by I peak in the windows. I had no idea what it was. Thanks for the story, I’m really excited for this to open!

    Comment by eap6 — 9:17 am January 28, 2012 #

  27. Wonderful! This is such great news and I can’t wait to check it out.

    Comment by Cheryl — 11:26 am January 28, 2012 #

  28. excited to see this in the area !

    fresh made samosas ! woo hoo- can’t wait

    Comment by sam-c — 12:35 pm January 28, 2012 #

  29. Clarification: we did not spend 100k on MW what was meant was that the entire building from excavation on can be built on that budget if costs are contained. Our own investment on cost basis is below 3k. Best regards, all.

    Comment by Nikhi and Vik — 12:49 pm January 28, 2012 #

  30. Wonderful! Welcome to the neighborhood!! :)

    Comment by MB — 5:52 pm January 28, 2012 #

  31. I’ve been wondering what that building was. I’m so excited! Had me sold at chai tea. Can’t wait until it opens. I’m so there!

    Comment by Kayla — 7:45 pm January 28, 2012 #

  32. I third, or fourth, the suggestion about cooking classes!

    Welcome!

    Comment by Lisa — 1:42 pm January 29, 2012 #

  33. I live a block away and I’m exciting about the opening. This area is in need of more heathier
    grocery choices. I look forward to purchasing Grand Central Bakery bread and I’m a big fan of
    chai.Offering Indian food would be a great addition to the food choices on Delridge. Bright Blessings to you and I wish you success in your business and educational dreams.

    Comment by lila — 9:36 am February 1, 2012 #

  34. Welcome to the neighborhood! When are you opening? I’m really looking forward to shopping there–and trying your samosas

    Comment by Joan — 11:14 am February 1, 2012 #

  35. Congratulations, Vik. Very impressive. It is nice to see your vision taking shape. I look forward to visiting when I am in the Seattle area again.

    Comment by David Mordue — 10:39 am February 8, 2012 #

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