Category Archives: Business

Signs of life at the Lighthouse

Back from the ashes … again, the Lighthouse restaurant will reopen next week under new ownership, former general manager Brookes Konig said Friday.

And the new owner would be Konig himself, who is leasing from property owners Tim Tweten and Gordon Rush, doing business as 429 Bay Street LLC.

By now, everyone in Port Orchard knows the back story: how the grand landmark building sat unoccupied during the recession, how earlier this year Eric A. Smith of Bothell, a Seattle cop took a stab at the restaurant business, hiring Konig as general manager, how Smith called the place Robert Earl Lighthouse, after his dad, how the community was happy to see the place reopened in May.

Konig, former regional manager of Famous Dave’s, had no personal connection to Smith. A friend of Konig’s in the local hospitality industry hooked them up. So Konig was just as shocked as the rest of South Kitsap when Smith was charged July 2 in Snohomish County with three counts of first degree child molestation. Business, dropped off after the charges came to light. Employees were laid off, and in mid-July, the Lighthouse closed.

Word was, Konig was looking for a backer to reopen the place. On Friday, he signed the final papers on the lease, and he has purchased the business from Smith.
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On Saturday (that’s today) Rotary members will be at the restaurant, now called the Port Orchard Lighthouse, helping get the place back in shape for reopening some time next week. There’s a free barbecue from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and anyone is welcome.

Konig is eager to regain the good will of the community and hopes to distance the Lighthouse from the tarnish of allegations against Smith. “The recovery is what’s so important to this restaurant,” he said.

Konig has rehired 23 former staff members and is still hiring.

The Pink-a-Nator petitions to park at the courthouse

Surely you’ve seen the Pink-a-Nator. It’s hard to miss the Pepto-Bismol pink utility truck with the slogan “Servin’ it up curb side.”
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The food truck dishing out specialty burgers, po’boys and other hearty comestibles has had a regular spot at the Annapolis Sunday Market and in a lot near the Fred Meyer shopping center (although not so much lately, since owner Michelle Roberts-Wash has been busy with catering).

Now, Roberts-Wash has her sights set on the Kitsap County Courthouse campus.

She attended last week’s Port Orchard City Council meeting to pitch her plan. The truck would occupy more than one space. The council’s public property committee has discussed the idea, said Councilman Jeff Cartwright, a committee member. The committee suggested a 90-day trial pending feedback from the county.

Meantime, the Kitsap County administrator expressed concerns about loss of parking spots that are already at a premium, according to Port Orchard City Clerk Brandy Rinearson.

Roberts-Wash had scoped out parking spaces on Austin Avenue between the county administration building and public works building. Councilman Rob Putaansuu noted that, at the previous meeting Aug. 12, a city resident had complained that she couldn’t find a place to drop off her ballot.

Other spaces Roberts-Wash had looked at were in front of the courthouse or the Sheriff’s Office.

Councilman Jerry Childs asked if this would set a precedent. What if others came along looking for space to sell their wares?

The public property committee talked about that, Cartwright said. In fact the Pink-a-Nator sparked a wide ranging discussion about food trucks, including Portland’s approach of designating whole blocks to meals on wheels. “Should the city have its own designated food truck zone?” the committee pondered.

“We talked very heavily about the parking versus the convenience of having a food service there,” Cartwright said. “We also talk about would that food service impact other businesses that also serve food.”

A hot dog vendor has a permit to sell in front of the administration building. Inside, Coffee Oasis has an espresso stand that sells food items.

Several council members commented — in the spirit of free enterprise — that competition with other businesses shouldn’t drive their decision.

Putaansuu also suggested the Pink-a-Nator might work in “underutilized” areas including Cline Avenue (the flat part not the mountain climb) and the gravel lot off Taylor Avenue.

Mayor Tim Matthes said South Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido “would appreciate more notice and more information than she’s received so far.”

The council agreed to honor Garrido’s request, and Roberts-Wash said she’s fine with that.

So what do you think? If Port Orchard were to designate a food truck zone, where should it be?

And, if you’re a restaurant or cafe owner with a brick-and-mortar location, what are your thoughts on a food truck zone?

Lighthouse restaurant closed, seeking new backer

The Robert Earl Lighthouse, open in late May, closed Monday, disabled by criminal charges against owner Eric A. Smith of Bothell. General manager Brookes Konig is looking for new financial backing, according to bar supervisor Linda Martens of Port Orchard, who came out of retirement to work with Konig.

Smith, a Seattle Police officer, was charged July 2 in Snohomish County with three counts of first degree child molestation. Business, dropped off after the charges came to light, said Martens, who was at the empty restaurant Wednesday, awaiting delivery of final paychecks for the remaining employees. Initially, after Smith’s legal troubles were reported, 20 of the roughly 55 Lighthouse employees were laid off. Smith struggled valiantly to keep the restaurant afloat, Martens said, and the hope is that a deal in the works might still be brokered.
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Martens had high praise for Konig, who has a long career in the food and beverage industry. “He’s such a wonderful man,” she said. “He cares about his employees like they’re his family.”

Konig preferred to be call “coach” by employees, Martens said. “He doesn’t want to be the boss, because he feels like his strength is coaching.” She added that Konig “moved heaven and earth” to make sure the final paychecks were cut.

Martens also praised the team Konig assembled to re-open the landmark restaurant, which had sat shuttered for a number of years. “I’ve never seen a group of people so dedicated to one person, and that was Brookes,” Martens said.

Smith, doing business as Robert Earl Enterprises LLC, had leased the Lighthouse from property owner Tim Tweten, whose parents opened the original Tweten’s Lighthouse in 1984. Tweten’s was a destination, special occasion kind of place. Konig wanted the new Lighthouse to be more of an every day, gathering place for the community, Martens said.

Martens hopes the Lighthouse, named for Smith’s father, can outshine the tarnish of the accusations against Smith, who was placed on administrative leave from Seattle PD. “It’s up to this town if it does come back to step up,” she said.

Gorst auto dealer diverts $10,000 in advertising dollars for Seahawks-themed raffle

In mid-December, as the Seattle Seahawks pumped their regular season record to 12-2 in a shutout against the New York Giants, Kenneth Bayne and Kasey Osborne, owners of Kitsap Auto Mall in Gorst, decided to gamble with their advertising budget.

No, they didn’t hit the casinos. They dedicated $10,000 — the amount they would have spent for print, TV and online ads between then and the Super Bowl — to a raffle.

Anyone could enter. The tickets were free for the asking. People who bought cars got 100 raffle tickets. They checked with their lawyers, and as long as no purchase was required, they were on the good side of the state’s gambling commission.

Had the Seahawks fallen out of the running for the Super Bowl at any time, the raffle would have been called off. But we all know how that turned out.

The drawing is at 5 p.m. this Friday at the dealership.

“We’re going to have a huge party,” said General Manager Phillip Olson. “We’re going to celebrate the Seahawks being the world champs.”

Bayne and Osborne are big Seahawks fans, Olson said. Bayne attended the Super Bowl game in New Jersey.

Were they crazy to give away $10,000? Crazy like a fox.

The dealership sold 124 vehicles between Dec. 15 and Feb. 1; last year during the same period, they sold 81. That was an all-time record for the dealership, Olson said.

The dealership gave away 621 tickets via Facebook; 91 people came in to get theirs. And the 124 car buyers each got 100. That makes the odds of winning 1:13,112.

One more little piece of trivia, the dealership was open the day of the Super Bowl, and they sold three cars. But none during game time.

The auto mall is located at 3555 W State Hwy 16, Port Orchard, WA 98367.

Neighbors would be notified of extra pets, under PO ordinance

The city of Port Orchard allows residents to have up to three dogs and up to three cats per household. Licensed kennels are excluded from the pet limit.

But what about the family who moves into town with more than the allowed number of dogs or cats? Or the family that inherits a pet from a family member who moves into a nursing home or dies?

For those folks, the city offers a “pet variance.” Up to now, getting a variance has been a simple matter of filling out a form to document “hardship.” The city council recently revising the ordinance to factor in the impact of extra pets on neighbors.

The original proposal, discussed at an April 16 work-study meeting, was to require written permission from neighbors on either side of the residence slated for bonus pets.

The council discussed the issue of barking dogs, the most obvious potential source of annoyance. The city’s nuisance ordinance prohibits, “frequent, repetitive or continuous noise made by any animal which unreasonably disturbs or interferes with peace comfort and repose of property owners or possessors …,” Licensed kennels, shelters, vet clinics, pet shops and service dogs are exempted.

Councilman John Clauson pointed out that the number of dogs is not always the issue, when it comes to noise.

“You got five dogs that are little quiet dogs that live in the house, and you never see ‘em, I don’t care if you have 10 of ‘em,” Clauson said. “But you could have one sitting in your backyard that howls all night long, and I’m going to be unhappy.”

City Clerk Brandy Rinearson said the city’s contract with the Kitsap Humane Society covers barking dogs and yowling cats. Animal control officers from KHS are contracted to enforce this part of the city’s nuisance ordinance.

Public Works Director Mark Dorsey said health and sanitation also were concerns in allowing people to have more than three of any type of pet.

According to Rinearson, three was a somewhat arbitrary number set by the council that established the pet variance ordinance in 1999. Some cities have different limits (up to five dogs in one town she knows of); others have no ordinance limiting the number of pets allowed.

The council, after some discussion, decided it would be adequate to simply notify neighbors on either side if someone applies for a pet variance. The notification would come before the variance is approved. Members of the public can comment on any city council agenda item at the start of each meeting.

“My heartburn was we were constantly granting these with no process, and so the neighbors didn’t know,” said Councilman Rob Putaansuu. “So for me it’s about notifying the neighbors. I think you notice the issue so they know this is coming before us, and if they’ve got heartburn with it, here’s an opportunity to come and testify.”

The council agreed to place the amended ordinance on an upcoming agenda for formal approval.

Another “process” gap in the city’s code is how to handle the occasional request from a business for after-hours music and other goings-on. Such a request came before the council in early April, when Amy Igloi of Amy’s on the Bay sought permission to play music on her deck after 11 p.m. (the city’s noise curfew).

The city’s nuisance ordinance prohibits a host of public disturbances between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., including the sound of machinery and power tools like lawn mowers, blowers, grinders, drills and power saws. The code bans loud vehicles and music from both inside and outside buildings, along with “yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing on or near the public streets” during those hours.

What’s missing, said City Attorney Greg Jacoby, is “a fair and reasonable process that’s applied consistently regardless of who makes the request.”

The city now issues special event permits, reviewed by staff and approved by the council. Jacoby said the council might choose to roll the music-after-hours requests in with special events.

Several people at the meeting raised the concern about “what if” authorized events became a magnet for complaints either because of mismanagement by the business owner or in spite of their best efforts and intentions.

Rinearson said then-Cmdr. Geoffrey Marti, now Port Orchard’s police chief, suggests that such events be allowed on a one-time basis only, not as recurring events.

Marti said his officers get many complaints about noise after 11 p.m., coming from both inside and outside Bay Street establishments.

Two city residents who were at the meeting testified to the remarkable ability of noise to carry up the hill from Bay Street.

“I hear the music all the time. It wakes me up,” said Bek Ashby, who is a member of the Port Orchard Bay Street Association, a business owners group.

The council was in a quandary as to how to proceed on the after-curfew music question. Rinearson offered to see how other cities handle the issue and get back to them at a future meeting.

Poulsbo restaurant makes national news for well-behaved child discount

Brynn writes:

It was brought to our attention this morning that Poulsbo’s Sogno di Vino restaurant has been making national news lately. Although it largely hasn’t been named beyond being called a “small restaurant in Poulsbo, Wash.”

As the story goes a picture of a receipt from an evening out at the restaurant has made its way to the Internet and as a result national news organizations jumped at the chance to opine about the story (see Fox News, Huffington Post, Reddit, Babble, et. all.)

A local woman, who goes by the name LauraInk on the Reddit site, wrote on her “beer after tea” blog about the dinning experience where she and her husband, along with their three children (ages 2, 3 and 8), received a “well-behaved child” discount. It sounds like this is the first time the restaurant has offered the $4 discount for well-behaved “mini diners”.

Here’s excerpts from Laura’s blog post explaining what happened and her response to all the national attention about the discount:

“We were seated at one of the last available tables around 6pm and were greeted happily with menus and bread. We sat and discussed planets, racecars, zebra jokes and “Freckle Juice” until we ate our pizzas, pasta and aforementioned ragu. The food was lovely, our oldest, who is clearly in a growth spurt, ate her share and mine, and our littles munched happily while periodically stopping to notice the small fireplace in the corner and the window paintings on the wall of grapevines in Italy.

Near the end of our meal, our server visits our table to tell us how impressed the staff was with our kids’ behavior and that many of them didn’t even realize we had little ones eating with us. She then brought us a bowl of ice cream to share. When we received our tab, it had a discount listed for “Well Behaved Kids”. A pleasant surprise after a lovely meal.

We, as parents, lead by example and if we have to spell out what and how we’re doing something, we will. We don’t expect handouts for acting respectful of the folks who bring us our food. But it certainly makes you feel good when someone else notices your kids in a positive light.

It’s interesting to read some of the comments from other people who have heard this story — note the link to the Reddit and Babble sites offer more adult language than wet use here — the responses are mixed on whether a family should get a discount because their kids behave well, or as some argue “the way they should”, when they’re in public.

Regardless of where you stand on the decision to give the discount, the bottom line is a local family of five was the recipient of an unexpected act of kindness from a local business. That’s something that should make you smile.

Forget Las Vegas. There’s Heronswood.

The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe will recognize the passage of Referendum-74, which allows same sex marriage in Washington State, with a same-sex marriage event Sunday. The new law goes into effect at midnight Thursday.

The tribe, which supported Ref-74 and owns the world-renowned Heronswood botanical gardens near Kingston, on Sunday will offer same sex couples the chance for a “private, intimate ceremony” on the grounds.

The offer is being extended to up to 20 couples, according to Heronswood spokeswoman Ginger Vaughan. Each ceremony can include up to 12 guests, and a wedding officiant will be on site. Weddings on Dec. 9 will be limited to 30 minutes, but the grounds will be open to wedding parties for pictures and self-guided tours.

The gardens will open noon to 5 p.m. Sunday for the event. Heronswood is providing the rental free of charge, but donations will be accepted. Pre-registration is required.

The tribe is renovating the gardens with plans to re-open them to the public through special events — including weddings — and open houses several times a year.

“While Heronswood won’t officially begin scheduling weddings until early next year, the opportunity to host same-sex couples as they celebrate their special day was too important to pass up,” Vaughan said.

“Heronswood is a magical place that has touched the hearts and lives of many people,” said Noel Higa, Economic Development Director for the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe. “We can think of no better way to show our support and express our congratulations to the gay community than to welcome same-sex couples as among the first to get married there.”

While Sunday’s event at Heronswood is free, publicity from the event could position the economic development arm of the tribe to benefit from passage of R-74.

The Williams Institute, a UCLA-affliated think tank, used U.S. Census data to estimate that, within the first three years of same-sex marriage becoming legal, Washington will see 9,501 gay marriages. That’s about half of eligible couples.

The institute estimates that Maine, Maryland and Washington, which all legalized gay marriage in November, will see a total of $166.6 million over the next three years in wedding-related spending, with Washington’s portion being $88.5 million.

Space for the Heronswood event is limited to the first 20 same-sex couples who register. For reservations, contact JoAnn at 360-297-6305 or send an email to heronswoodgardens@gmail.com.

On Thursday, the Kitsap Sun will be covering the first day of legal same-sex marriage in Washington as it unfolds in Kitsap County. Any couple planning to marry as a result of Ref-74 and willing to be interviewed for the article should email chenry@kitsapsun.com or call (360) 792-9219.

Time to move on for Manette’s Kate

If your friends from Manette seem to have long faces lately, it could be because of the news that the owner of Kate’s Jersey Subs has put the business up for sale.

Kate Reid, owner of the sandwich and pizza restaurant, has plastered a sign in the window offering a phone number to potential buyers. I had heard rumors a while back that Reid was considering selling. I talked to her about it in September when folks in Manette were ready to celebrate their community even while they were suffering from a closed bridge. She said then she had thought about it.

On Wednesday I stopped by for a sandwich and Emily at the counter told me Kate just found it was time to move on. Owning a restaurant is tough work. It can get tiring.

Kate and Brad Reid bought the business in 2003 from Pete Retzlaff, who founded the business and ran it for six years. The Reids changed two letters of the business’ name from Pete’s to Kate’s, but not much from the menu right away. A few years back they started offering pizzas.

No word yet if there are any potential buyers.

Mending fences on Main Street

Board members from the Port Orchard Bay Street Association and the newly formed Port Orchard Historic Revitalization Association will meet Tuesday to discuss where their respective goals for Port Orchard’s revitalization overlap and how they can work together for the good of the town.

The relationship between the two organizations got off on the wrong foot after an April 24 meeting of the Port Orchard City Council at which Shannon Childs presented the idea of forming a local affiliate of the national Main Street movement. POBSA president Don Ryan, after the meeting, said he had felt left out of the loop.

You can read the story for details of how things went south. But both Childs and Ryan appear to be focused on moving forward.

Ryan said of an email exchange between himself and Childs, “It’s been very professional, and we both have what’s best for the town in mind. So we’d like to come to a resolution.”

Childs talked about efforts of the various nonprofits all dedicated to promoting the town in their own way: POBSA, Fathoms ‘O Fun, the Chamber of Commerce, the Cedar Cove Association and the Sidney Museum and Art Gallery, as well as local service groups. She suggests that, if the groups agree, the Main Street Association could serve as a hub to coordinate activities and amplify efforts of each. Or not …

“Please make no mistake; our intentions have never been to step on anyone’s toes or conflict with any one of these organizations, especially POBSA,” Childs said. “Alternatively, if POBSA would like to become the designated Main Street organization for Port Orchard, we will step aside, withdraw our Main Street application, and make way for you. You have a very talented and dedicated team, and we are sure that you can be successful.”

The Main Street program offers a protocol advancing the rebirth of historic urban areas, including a tax credit program only available to businesses that donate to local Main Street affiliates. The affiliates in turn direct the donations toward efforts that promote their respective towns as vibrant places where people will want to gather, shop and play.

I plan to follow up with Ryan and Childs after Tuesday’s meeting, so stay tuned.

Chris Henry, reporter