Award: Excellence on Main Award
City: Port Townsend
Each year the Excellence on Main selection committee chooses one exceptional person or project that most embodies the Main Street spirit to receive our top award. If you tell Kris Nelson of Port Townsend that owning four successful restaurants, employing more than seventy people, giving generously to her community, and serving as a leader in her local Main Street program – all while being an avid traveler and Zumba instructor – makes her exceptional, she’d say, “I thought that’s just what people did.” Kris’s level of energy for and dedication to her downtown district is nothing short of extraordinary.
Let’s start with Kris as an entrepreneur and downtown property owner – she has owned Sirens Pub, a local institution, for 18 years and has seen growth each year. Her other restaurants – Alchemy Bistro and Wine Bar, The Old Whiskey Mill, and her newest establishment, The In-Between – are all located in the heart of downtown Port Townsend.
As an employer, Kris cultivates her staff and pushes them to become entrepreneurs themselves, often serving as an informal adviser to them. Kris’s personal philosophy is “you are only as good as the people around you, and you should give them the opportunity to be their best.”
Kris has served for 11 years on the board of the Jefferson County Chamber and 6 years on the board of the Port Townsend Main Street Program, of which she is currently board president. Her past civic service has included leadership roles on city council, the planning commission, and the community foundation board. She is exceedingly generous with the profits from her businesses, supporting many festivals, organizations, and arts programs.
Kris has been instrumental in many of the Port Townsend Main Street Program’s initiatives over the last several years – from the Water Street construction project and bringing RevitalizeWA to town to chairing the team that oversees the downtown loan program and participating on the Creative Districts planning committee, and much more – Kris is continuously striving to make her community more prosperous and vibrant.
People sometimes say they are too busy to volunteer in service to their community; they may say “their plate is full.” Then there’s Kris. Port Townsend is fortunate to have her vision, energy, and community spirit light up their town.