Brynn Grimley (253) 983-7761 • Fax (253) 589-3774 •
Communications Manager

If all of the shoes that have been given new life at Ardesson’s Shoe Repair & New Shoes could talk, they would have nearly 70 years worth of stories to tell.

Of course, shoes can’t talk. Luckily, Alex Bennett can. He can do it well, in fact. He can speak about the intricacies of the shoe repair industry – how most shoes these days are molded directly together, rather than the old days of welts. That’s where the leather rim is sewn around the edge of a shoe top, attaching to the sole.

Bennett - who began working at Ardesson’s in 1970 – has seen the store change, along with the community around it. A lot of the shoes that the store originally sold were more orthopedic in nature, but over the years they began to also emphasize a sense of style.

He can recall generations of families walking through the doors at 9635 Gravelly Lake Dr. SW, in need of a shoe fix. Often, a nice pair of shoes they had purchased was starting to hurt, and that’s where Ardesson’s earned its dollar.

Tijuana Taco is as much Lakewood as lakes, oak trees and the military.

Sure, to someone new to the area, the connection might not make sense. The South Sound is located some 1,200 miles from Tijuana, Mexico, after all.

But talk to any longtime Lakewood resident, and he or she likely can recount fond memories of the family owned-and-operated restaurant that opened its doors in 1969.

The Tijuana Taco brand originally began in Scottsdale, Ariz., and thanks to a Northwest businessperson with franchise visions in mind, there were plans to open multiple locations in the South Sound and Portland, Ore., area.

The Lakewood restaurant – located at 10005 Bristol Ave. SW – opened and was an immediate hit with locals, who could order and munch on anything from tacos to bean tostadas to burritos.

From one-hour film development to digital cameras and lenses to cell phones, technology has revolutionized the art of capturing still images in recent decades.

But for Lakewood’s own Robi’s Camera Center, Print Labs and Custom Framing, qualities such as a camera’s price, release date or ability to post quickly to Facebook don’t define the quality of a picture.

It’s more than that – much more, actually – according to Operations Manager Tod Wolf. He has witnessed countless examples of people who, despite buying an expensive camera or lens, still produce a less-than-ideal picture.

“I do so much one-on-one coaching when they come in,” he says of frustrated customers seeking photography help. “To me, it’s mind-blowing how  much difference a quick lesson in the basics can make."

For customers in the Puget Sound or Midwest who are starved for great food, beer and atmosphere, chances are the letters “R,” “A,” and “M” will beckon to their calling.

The RAM Restaurant and Brewery has more than 30 locations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Illinois and Indiana. Soon, the folks in Ohio will get a RAM of their own.

The restaurant has grown into a semi-national brand on the strength of its award-winning  beer, great cuisine and 2,000-plus team members/owners who take pride in serving guests.

But for those of us in Lakewood, there’s another sense of pride - one that comes with knowing no matter how popular the RAM ultimately becomes, it all began here in our community.

“The whole thing started in Lakewood,” said Mark Patterson, who started out as a server at the Lakewood location in 1989 and today is a Regional Leader for the company. “It’s our home.”

The story of Greer Steel, Inc. began 61 years ago and 2,200 miles away in a garage in Fairbanks, Alaska.

At the time, Glenn Greer recognized the need in his community for consistently built, quality steel fuel storage tanks. Using a small set of plate rolls to bend the steel, Greer began making 100-, 200- and 300-gallon tanks.

In the following decades, Greer built a shop suited for welding and earned a license to build UL listed tanks. In 1972, Greer expanded to Anchorage – Alaska’s largest city – to meet a growing a demand. Still, that state’s geography and lack of roads meant Greer couldn’t reach Alaska’s southeast coastal region.

That’s when the company decided to open a location in the South Sound, where barges could originate and navigate to the regions in Alaska that were difficult to reach via land. The company started on the Tacoma Tideflats but realized it needed more space to operate.

The manicured grounds of Mountain View Funeral Home, Memorial Park & Crematory seemingly whisper a century’s worth of South Sound history.
The cemetery boasts some of the region’s most noted figures. From Harry L. Brown, co-founder of the Brown & Haley candy company, to Marcus Nalley, founder of the Nalley food company, and from Ben Cheney, owner of Cheney Lumber who helped standardize the 2-by-4, to Jose Calugas, one of the most decorated soldiers of World War II, individuals who shaped the region and country rest eternally among Mountain View’s sprawling grounds off Steilacoom Boulevard Southwest.
But the region’s historical celebrities mingle amongst  thousands of mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts and friends who have come and gone.
James Richard Thompson started Mountain View Memorial Park in 1915 to “provide a service for the community that was badly needed,” according to General Manager Clarke Thomson. The first burials took place Dec. 15, 1915 – three people, to be exact.

Few people – let alone businesses – can say that they’ve laughed, cried and celebrated with an entire community for nearly half a century. In Lakewood, however, Crane’s Creations has the mementos, “Thank You” notes and pictures to prove it.

Since 1970, the family owned-and-operated business has provided countless prom-goers from Clover Park, Lakes and Steilacoom High Schools with corsages and boutonnieres. It has saved apologetic husbands and boyfriends by offering an array of bouquets for their wives and girlfriends. It has done everything it can to allow grieving families to worry about one less thing after the loss of a loved one.

As owners Bob and Roma Crane explain it, they have helped generations of Lakewood residents during their most important life moments. “Whatever they’re going through, we’re not numb to it,” Roma explains. “Sometimes we’re crying with them.”

The family business began with Bob’s parents – Marvin and Joanne Crane. Marvin was enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, and the college sweethearts had been stationed in Germany and Texas before being assigned to Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. It was there that Joanne first planted the seeds of what would become Crane’s Creations, so to speak. She became a self-taught florist, working out a deal with a florist in nearby Fairbanks to sell flowers on the base. Joanne operated one of the first flower shops in the military services at Eielson.


The City Manager's Weekly Info Bulletin is a roundup of news items, happenings and other items of note for the City of Lakewood.

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