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Friday, Feb. 25, 2011

Yakima Valley restaurant Picazo 717 moving to Kennewick (w/video)

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Picazo 717, a Prosser restaurant that has been embraced by the Washington wine industry and relies on Yakima Valley farmers, is relocating this spring to Kennewick. The popular restaurant also plans to maintain a presence in Prosser.

Frank Magaña and his wife, Tricia, will keep their popular downtown Prosser restaurant open through Yakima Valley Spring Barrel Tasting weekend, which is April 15-17, then plan to open in the Southridge area of Kennewick by May 1.

Picazo will take over space vacated by the tasting room of Canyon's Edge Winery, as well as two adjacent spaces. It will give Picazo almost 4,000 square feet of space and room for 110 seats, up from 60 seats in its current location. It also will have a full bar.

Since opening Picazo in October 2007, Magaña has gained a reputation as a wine country chef. Two-thirds of his business is catering, and 90 percent of that is with wineries throughout the Yakima Valley and Tri-Cities. By relocating to Kennewick, he hopes to expand his catering business into Walla Walla and its more than 100 wineries.

"We're very plugged into the wineries," Magaa said. "If we can do in Walla Walla what we're doing in Prosser and Red Mountain, we'll be able to carve out a nice niche."

Magaña also runs Mojave by Picazo, a restaurant inside Desert Wind Winery in Prosser that is open for lunch and private dining. In April, that will change to lunch and dinner, so Prosser residents still will see plenty of Magaña.

"We really want to remain in Prosser and stay on good terms with the people who have helped build us up," he said.

"Picazo" is Magaña's mother's maiden name, and "717" is the address on Sixth Street. Even though Picazo's address will change to 3617 Plaza Way in Kennewick, Magaña will keep "717" as part of the name, as he has invested a lot into marketing.

Picazo is known for its "local fare with a Spanish flair." Magaña relies heavily on Yakima Valley farmers for the majority of his ingredients and is a regular at the Prosser Farmers Market. He's now excited to have access to the Kennewick Farmers Market, which is held in the parking lot outside his new location, as well as the Pasco Farmers Market.

Whitney Maldonado and her husband Dean own the South Ridge Village complex and AVA Wine Rooms wine shop. They are leasing the space to Magaña, and Picazo is adjacent to AVA.

"Not only does the restaurant provide our neighbors an elegant casual dining option, but their commitment to local products and support of the Southridge Farmer's Market also solidifies our larger commitment to create self sustained, community minded, focus on the 'village,' and the lifestyle that is extended to the neighbors," she said.

The move also will provide Magaña with the opportunity to expand his award-winning wine list, which now is heavily focused on Prosser wineries. He plans to add wines from Tri-City and Walla Walla Valley wineries.

Picazo employs about a dozen people year-round, and that number doubles in the summer, when catering is busiest. Magaña said many of his summer employees are college students. Picazo also will provide lunch service this summer at Columbia Crest in Paterson. It will run every other weekend, he said.

Magaña grew up in Tacoma and studied at South Seattle Community College's vaunted culinary arts program. As the executive chef for a catering company in Gig Harbor, Magaña got to know many winemakers and winery owners in the Seattle area, which inspired him to relocate to wine country in 2007. He plans to continue living in Prosser for now.

"I love living in Prosser," he said. "I live on a vineyard, and I love it and believe in Prosser. This is just a business decision to do what we love."

However, Maldonado, who is a commercial broker for Windermere Tri-Cities Real Estate, is delighted to have lured Piczao to Kennewick. Canyon's Edge Winery, based in Prosser, moved out in early February.

"The bulk of Picazo's customers will be of our Canyon Lakes/Panoramic Heights neighbors," she predicted. "The increased foot traffic will allow us at AVA to schedule more regular tasting activities without such heavy reliance on RSVP guests. As we continue to add restaurant, and recreational amenities to South Ridge Village, we are seeing a positive impact in home prices and new housing starts at SRV and nearby."

-- Andy Perdue is editor of Wine Press Northwest, a quarterly consumer magazine owned by the Herald. For information, go to www.winepressnw.com.

-- Eric Degerman, managing editor of Wine Press Northwest, also contributed to this report.