As the second-largest city center in Washington, downtown Bellevue is the economic and cultural hub of what is called “the Eastside.” As the city has continued to grow, the Bellevue Downtown Association (BDA) has worked to strengthen the economic and cultural vitality of Downtown Bellevue through spotlighting member successes and sustaining the leadership and collaboration needed to shape downtown Bellevue’s growth and progress. Since COVID-19, the BDA developed a campaign, The Heart of Bellevue, to help reconnect its members to the Bellevue community. One of the key members behind this campaign is Mason Luvera, communications manager for the BDA. The Spring District resident is in the thick of exploring great small businesses and has gotten to know downtown. We caught up with Luvera to hear more about the campaign and his favorite spots on the Eastside.
TO RELAX Bellevue Botanical Gardens
FOR BREAKFAST Cépaé. They have the most amazing espresso and French pastries, plus everyone there is so welcoming. And it’s a wine shop, so you can stock up for the evening … win-win.
TO GRAB A COFFEE Honor Coffee. Perfect for an outdoor meeting or moment to yourself.
FOR DINNER Andiamo or Carmine’s for Italian, Fern Thai or Monsoon if I’m in the mood for umami, and Castilla for tapas. Black Bottle for cocktails and shared plates.
TO BE INSPIRED Instagram. If you follow Downtown Bellevue, I keep tabs on the creative ways local businesses are responding to the pandemic. I’ve gotten to know great folks by stumbling upon things they’re doing.
CURRENTLY READING I recently finished Boomtown. It’s the amazing and often-unbelievable story of Oklahoma City’s history, told in the coolest way by Sam Anderson.
CURRENTLY LISTENING TO For music, Leon. She’s this powerhouse Swedish singer with the perfect amount of soulful angst. I’m also podcast-obsessed: American Scandal is my latest go-to; it’s so well done and so easy to get sucked in.
MANTRA YOU LIVE BY I don’t have a mantra, per se, but I do live life with the notion that we never have it all figured out. We are always growing, always learning. That’s how I get through the tough moments and cherish the great ones.
HOBBIES I’m a prolific cook. Pulling together a big meal for friends and family is my jam. It can be hectic, but that’s what wine is for.
HOW HAVE YOU (ALONG WITH THE BDA) PIVOTED DURING COVID-19 TO HELP LOCAL BUSINESSES?
The pandemic has rewritten so much about our daily lives and for small businesses. Early on, we knew that once things could reopen, downtown needed a boost, so we created and launched our Heart of Bellevue campaign. We’ve been profiling open businesses through blogs and on social media, we’ve helped create expanded patio spaces for restaurants in Main Street this summer, and the list goes on.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN THE WORK YOU HAVE DONE THROUGH THE BDA SO FAR?
I think the relationships I’ve built with our small business owners have really helped me see why I love the work I do. I’m proud of how I’ve been able to help in small ways.
WE’RE ALL UNDER A LOT OF STRESS RIGHT NOW, LIVING IN THIS CLIMATE OF GLOBAL UNCERTAINTY. WHAT HAS BROUGHT YOU JOY RECENTLY?
Early on in the pandemic, I was going nuts. I’m a social human. Being forced to slow down helped me see the beauty in what really matters, and I’ve found so much joy in that.