For those who will be roaming downtown tonight for First Friday, take note because there’s two new businesses in town.
First, the AP Showroom inside the Wharf.
Owner Scott Baxter, who runs the Aurora Projekt on South Franklin Street, showed off a treasure trove of local artistic talent to the Empire on Wednesday. Aurora Projekt, known for its threads featuring Southeast Alaskan decals, has a more diverse range of products at the AP Showroom. A glance inside and you’ll find racks of shirts, displays of jewelry and leather, and photography and art pieces covering nearly every available wall space.
What ties it all together? Each artists’ ties to Juneau, of course.
Every one of the artists, while some no longer reside here, have lived in the capital city at some point. Baxter commented on the interconnectedness of the artists as he gave a tour of the room, and how those connections branch out to all Juneau – everyone knows someone who knows someone. For some of the artists, it’s their day job; for others, it’s an escape from their day job.
Frank Lynn Pierce’s photography is heavily featured, metal prints in an abundance. Notably, he won the grand prize for the 2015 Alaska Magazine photo contest. When he isn’t snapping shots of Southeast Alaska, he works as a dental hygienist in town.
Pieces from the national Nashelle jewelry line are lit up in a display case, but this company’s origin story began in Juneau; founder Heather Pierce attended the University of Alaska Southeast and was inspired to make her jewelry when studying metal arts.
Those are just two of numerous artists, with more stories to be told about their Juneau roots.
While place — Southeast Alaska — is a clear theme for much of the artwork, and the physical location of the store is prime real estate to be focused on selling merchandise to tourists, they’re not Baxter’s targeted market.
“Presenting local people to the locals,” is the goal, Baxter said, saying that the Showroom will be open year-round. To keep it interesting, some products will rotate through, and some shirts will be limited edition.
The Showroom opened in mid-July, but has been something Baxter has wanted to do for a long time. Due to space limitations at the Aurora Projekt, he couldn’t set up a showroom there without pushing out other products.
As Baxter was pointing out designs on a sweatshirt, he smiled and waved at a customer who came in wearing an older Aurora Projekt shirt.
To learn more about the interwoven connections between artists, their Juneau ties and to see their creations, come to the AP Showroom on First Friday. It’s their grand opening from 4:30-9 p.m.
The Coconut Thai Cuisine
“Finally we bring you Thai downtown,” Sithhida Sukkamon of the family-run Suwanna Café said on Thursday as she gestured to the interior of their new sister restaurant, The Coconut Thai Cuisine.
Across the street from the Canvas, right at 224 Seward St., a yellow sign with their name will be going up outside their business today for First Friday. From 4-7 p.m., the family will serve samples of their menu along with Thai iced tea to the community as they can peek inside the recently renovated space. This open house is all in advance of their grand opening where they will be open to regularly serve the public on Aug. 8.
Amid pails of paint and cardboard boxes, Sukkamon said the new location had been on the family’s mind for years. The idea was planted by their customers at Suwanna who had frequently wished for a downtown option.
Sukkamon’s family listened, and so when the location became available, they snagged the space. It just happened at the right time, she said. It’s been about three months since they’ve secured the location and began renovating.
Sukkamon pointed out that there will be a few differences between Suwanna and The Coconut Thai Cuisine. Only some of Suwanna’s menu is coming downtown. There will be new items like Thai burger, halibut salsa (Thai style) and Thai pho. Sukkamon’s brother Krongthum and sister Suthhida helped design this new menu.
While open all year like Suwanna, Coconut Thai Cuisine will be open seven days a week from May 1- Sept. 30 but then only be open Monday through Friday from Oct. 1-April 30. During the day they’ll be open 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and then on Fridays and Saturdays they’ll be open from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. for those craving their food in the wee hours.
Sukkamon said because of the limited seating in the new place, they will be encouraging people to call in at 789-2000 and then swing by to pick up their food or order in-person at the counter. Their website is still being built.
For a full listing of First Friday events, visit juneauempire.com/art/2016-08-03/first-friday-roundup
• Contact Neighbors Editor Clara Miller at 523-2243 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.