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Thursday, September 09, 2004 - Page updated at 12:45 A.M.
Exploring the Eastside: Crossroads Bellevue
By Leslie Fulbright
Possibly a Finnish accordionist, a Croatian singer or fiddlers from Spokane. Maybe some music from Colombia, Brazil, Haiti or Cuba. Perhaps big band, swing, jazz or blues.
"We specialize in music that makes our customers happy," said Lynn Terpstra, director of marketing at Crossroads Bellevue, formerly the Crossroads Shopping Center. "It's usually an even split between jazz, blues, folk and world music and geared for adults."
Entering its 15th year, the late-night music event at Crossroads Bellevue remains as lively as ever. And it's free. Every Friday and Saturday night, you can find children, teenagers, families, Microsofties, high-school sweethearts and elderly couples. They shop, eat, dance, drink and listen to music in this ethnically diverse neighborhood.
Jenny Lee sipped a margarita at the cantina at Toreros Taqueria one recent Friday while tapping her foot to Cooke 'n' Green, a local blues band.
"It's such a good mix of people, a hangout spot," the 24-year-old said. "It can be better than going out in Seattle, sometimes."
The shows started in 1990 as Crossroads was transforming itself from a mall into a community space. The idea, to have people socialize while eating, seems to have worked. It is definitely a people place, and is usually crowded on weekends.
If the music doesn't draw you, Crossroads offers plenty of other activities.
There is the huge granite chess board (near the QFC) with 2-foot-tall playing pieces. It is popular with visitors of all ages, and a number of languages can be heard from both players and onlookers. Bring a computer and you can get free Wi-Fi service from anywhere in the shopping center.
There is a Half-Price Books and a bustling magazine stand, where customers are encouraged to browse and chat. There is a large space around the MarketStage where people relax, drink coffee, eat dessert, read and talk under the skylight.
"It's one of the best places to meet people on the Eastside," said visitor Lupe Rivera. "I don't even really think of it as a mall."
Crossroads is more of a village, an international one in the middle of the suburbs. Not only does the clientele reflect the many foreign-born residents of Bellevue, but the food court features all types of international cuisine.
There are 100 tables in the food court and restaurants serving Mediterranean, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Indian, Japanese, American, Italian and Russian foods.
Crossroads was built in 1961 and struggled with its identity until developer Ron Sher took it over in 1986 and brought in more stores and community services. There is a mini-City Hall, a movie theater, public art and a police substation. It has turned into the downtown of east Bellevue.
Late-night music is open to all ages and is every Friday and Saturday from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Crossroads is at 15600 N.E. Eighth St. in Bellevue.
Leslie Fulbright: 206-515-5637 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Exploring the Eastside is an occasional series spotlighting the Eastside's special places. If you've got a suggestion, send it to email@example.com or call us at 425-453-2130.
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