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Everyday Business | Fresh tastes for the 3 Ts: tacos, tortas and tostadas

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Jaime Aguilar and his sister-in-law Mary Solorio prepare Mexican food with fresh ingredients at Tacos Y Tortas El Pueblo in East Wenatchee.

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As a 17-year-old street vendor in Mexico, Jaime Aguilar dreamed of one day running his very own restaurant. More than two decades later, his dream has come true.

Three months ago, Aguilar, 39, and his wife Maria opened Tacos Y Tortas El Pueblo, a bright and comfortable East Wenatchee restaurant that specializes in the 3 Ts — tacos, tortas and tostadas.

Everything’s made with fresh ingredients,” said Mary Solorio, Aguilar’s sister-in-law and do-it-all employee. “Fresh tomatoes in the salsa, fresh vegetables on the tortas, handmade hot sauce that gives it just the right amount of spice. Even the beans are cooked from scratch.”

Aguilar said he uses the traditional ingredients and recipes from his home state of Michoacan. All three of the Ts are piled high with the customer’s choice of meats, veggies and sauces. Menudo served with homemade tortillas is available on Saturdays.

It makes me happy to know I’m pleasing customers with good food,” said Aguilar. “It makes me happy, too, to have a restaurant of our own.”

Details: Tacos Y Tortas El Pueblo, 936 Valley Mall Parkway, East Wenatchee. Phone 888-7262.

Bella Bistro dishes up more space to sit and sip

In case you haven’t noticed, Bella Bistro has become a buzzing place with the addition of more seating and (soon) more eating.

The downtown coffee shop has nearly tripled its seating space with a cleverly-designed winter expando-room — a 360-square-foot portable extension that provides a comfy, heated area for sitting and sipping.

The temporary structure is made of 8-foot panels, including huge windows, that go up when the temps go down and come down when the … well, you get the picture. In spring, the room will be dismantled to allow more outdoor patio seating.

Bella Bistro owners Flint and Jamie Hartwig said the expansion has proven to be a huge success. “We thought our regular crowd would just have more elbow room,” said Flint. “But the new space — the sofa and easy chairs, in particular — has drawn a whole new crowd.”

Plus, by the end of February, Bistro owners plan to expand offerings to include local wines and craft beers, more pastries (cinnamon rolls!) and, by summer, add cheese plates and tapas-style items.

Our plans are to keep expanding, slowly but surely,” said Flint. “To keep making it interesting for our customers.”

Details: Bella Bistro, 317 Orondo Ave., Wenatchee. Phone 293-5518. Facebook keywords “bella bistro.”

Pretty picture: Arts economy healthy in North Central Washington

As it turns out, the state Arts Commission isn’t just standing around in its beret brooding over the Northwest’s lack of good taste in high-falutin’ art.

They’ve just released a study that shows the state’s art economy — including that of North Central Washington — grew by 7 percent in 2011. Measured categories included musicians, photographers, writers, dancers, designers, art directors, nonprofit organizations and arts retailers such as galleries, book stores, music stores and arts supply houses.

The study uses something called the Creative Vitality Index (CVI) to measure art participation — yep, that includes revenues and jobs — in 12 regions across the state. The NCW region includes Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan, Grant and Adams counties.

The latest data shows that NCW’s arts economy grew 6.91 percent in 2011 compared to the previous year. That’s the fifth-highest growth rate of the 12 regions, with the greatest growth in urban areas such as Spokane and Seattle.

In 2011, our five-county area added 153 arts jobs to bring our total to 2,367. By comparison, the Yakima-Kittitas-Klickitat region grew 0.47 percent and added only 12 jobs (2,554 total).

The fastest growing creative jobs around the state are radio & TV announcers with 95.28 percent growth, musicians and singers with 88.15 percent growth and graphic designers with 73.81 percent growth. The Arts Commission study highlights the explosion of film and video production in eastern Washington and the surge in the music economy of Seattle (from indie bands to the Seattle Youth Symphony).

So what’s all this add up to? Statewide, arts-related nonprofits and businesses had revenues of $1.84 billion in 2011. Art nonprofits revenues were 15 percent higher than the national baseline and book and record sales were 13 percent higher.

This weekly column is compiled from “Everyday Business,” a blog by World reporter Mike Irwin. You can reach him at 665-1179 or irwin@wenatcheeworld.com.

Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business or follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.

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