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Kolbeins gives voice to downtown’s needs | Who's Who
POULSBO – As president of the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association, Sandy Kolbeins wears a lot of hats: advocate for downtown’s interests, an occasional lobbyist at City Hall, and protector and promoter of all things “Little Norway.”
Kolbeins had his hands full the last year in remodeling his restaurant, The Loft, on the wharf jutting out into the Port of Poulsbo. But in between, he advocated at City Council meetings for reconstruction of Anderson Parkway during the slow season; worked with businesses, the Chamber of Commerce and the Visitor & Convention Bureau to promote downtown; and helped direct the use of lodging tax money for marketing purposes.
Because of his work on behalf of downtown, Kolbeins — in his second one-year term as HDPA president — was named Person of the Year by the Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce.
Kolbeins came to Poulsbo well-versed in business and marketing. He graduated from high school in 1986 and studied at Capilano College in North Vancouver, B.C. In the 1990s, he owned the Brickyard in Vancouver, B.C. From 1999 to 2003, he and some partners (one investor was actor Tom Skerritt) opened I-Spy, a Belltown nightclub that featured hiphop, rap and rock shows, as well as local and touring DJs. No easy task: Imagine keeping a business going during the WTO protests, an earthquake, and then 9/11.
Kolbeins moved to Poulsbo to be closer to his future wife and scouted around for four years for the right place to open a restaurant. He opened The Loft at Latitude Forty Seven Seven in 2009. You’d have to dine on a boat to get a better view of Liberty Bay. You’d also have to know how to master seared ahi, lime-and-cilantro-marinated steak, and garlic parmesan fries to duplicate The Loft dining experience.
“He’s a real sharp guy. He works real hard and he’s got a great business in The Loft, and those are great things for Poulsbo,” Mayor Becky Erickson said.
“The HDPA is very important to the city. Downtown is a business improvement area. The HDPA was formed over 20 years ago when Poulsbo Village was built, because downtown businesses were fearful of the impacts such a large development would have on downtown. HDPA is one of the reasons downtown is so healthy and so vibrant.”
Leading the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association (www.historicdowntownpoulsbo.com) is a tall order. The HDPA is the marketing arm of downtown. Its members organize downtown events, among them the sidewalk sale, Hopstock Pub Crawl June 20, the Street Dance Aug. 11, downtown trick or treating Oct. 31, and Julefest in November and December.
The HDPA pays for and installs downtown’s Christmas decorations, pays for the care of downtown’s hanging flower baskets, and bought the blue benches downtown and in Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park.
“Sandy brings some big-city flair to our town,” said Tammy Mattson, Kolbeins’s predecessor and owner of Tizley’s and Hare & Hounds. “Basically anything going on downtown, he’s got his hands in. He makes sure businesses are heard at City Hall, whether over the parking issue or at lodging tax time.”
Kolbeins represents the HDPA on the Lodging Tax Coalition and was part of a big change in how lodging tax revenue is spent on marketing. Formerly, numerous organizations, including HDPA, competed as separate applicants for lodging tax revenue that is set aside by the city for tourism promotion. Kolbeins and others realized that if the organizations banded together, they could get more bang for the promotional dollar. The Lodging Tax Coalition was formed; it applies for the grant money and decides how best to use it to benefit all coalition members.
“There were times when our advertising dollars were being spent blindly month after month, year after year,” Mattson said. “He was the one who took the charge and said, ‘Hey, let’s see if this is working for everybody.’ ”
Kolbeins is also a member of the Downtown Parking Advisory Committee.
“He’s a very good president. He does a fine job and he’s pretty sharp,” said Bill Austin, who leads the HDPA’s beautification committee. “We have one event every month. It’s a tough job, being president. I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it. He commands a pretty tight organization and he’s doing a pretty good job.”
Mattson added, “He’s a great president. He has a lot of positive, forward-thinking energy. He’s constantly looking out for the welfare of the membership and what our townspeople and our guests are looking for.”
Despite his responsibilities to his restaurant and HDPA, Kolbeins finds time to devote to his wife, Angela, their 8-year-old son, Hayden; and adult stepdaughter, Jessica.
“He’s an awesome family man,” Mattson said.