Category Archives: Business

PO Mayor: Don’t call it Myhre’s anymore

At long last, work is under way on the Myhre’s building … at least the exterior.

Abadan Holdings, LLC, owned by Mansour Samadpour, in October told city of Port Orchard officials it would address the crumbling exterior of the building, that was gutted by fire in 2011. The city had fielded complaints about the building’s appearance and concerns about the safety of the rock veneer on the front and the wood canopy, which was loose.

The Rylander family had an interest in the property since 1930, operating a restaurant there and rebuilding after a fire in 1963. A couple who bought the property in 2005 lost it to foreclosure, after the 2011 fire, and the building was tied up in a legal morass, sitting fallow, incomplete and exposed to the elements. Samadpour, who owns seven other downtown properties, bought it at auction in May 2014.

The building’s appearance became a political issue last fall. Incumbent Tim Matthes was pushing for a derelict building ordinance — with Myhre’s as the poster child — while his challenger, Rob Putaansuu, said developers needed incentives to help projects “pencil out.” Putaansuu said at the time he had reached out to Samadpour.

In April, Putaansuu — who beat Matthes in the election — expressed frustration that the Myhre’s building sat as dilapidated as ever. But the mayor was hopeful work on the building would start soon, since the contractor, BJC Group, Inc., of Port Orchard, had applied for a permit. Apparently, however, the damage caused by moisture to the unfinished building was worse than expected, so BJC had to revise plans leading to yet another delay.

But, lo, here about three weeks ago, new siding started to appear. Last week, Putaansuu said BJC was working on permits to pull old plywood off the second story deck and jack up a corner of the building that is sagging. A little paint on the canopy, and the cosmetic fix will be complete.
Myhres
The interior remains a shell that would need extensive work, however. Putaansuu said he’s been networking to try and find someone to buy or lease the space. “Now it’s time to find a tenant and make it a vibrant part of our community again,” the mayor said. “I think it’s a fabulous location for a brew pub or restaurant.”

As it happens The Lighthouse is looking for a new location. But owner Brooks Konig said he is interested in the building that formerly housed the Port Orchard Pavilion. The Pavilion property also is owned by Mansour Samadpour and, like Myhre’s, is located on the 700 block of Bay Street.

Putaansuu wants people to quit referring to the Myhre’s building as “the Myhre’s building. “It’s not fair to the family that operated it as Myhre’s,” he said. “It’s been a thorn in our side in the community. It’s gotten some negative connotations, and I just want to refer to it as 737 Bay until there’s someone else in there.”

That would make “the Pavilion building” 701 Bay.

I hope we all can keep that straight, and not get the numbers mixed up. A better solution would be for both buildings to be quickly occupied, so we can refer to them by their new business names.

A map of Port Orchard’s billboards

Anyone remember back in 2011 when the owner of a Gig Harbor advertising company sued Port Orchard for delaying permits for billboards he wanted to place inside city limits?

The city banned billboards while Rick Engley waited for his ruling, but a federal district court judge decided the applications of Gotcha Covered Inc., were grandfathered in.

Engley also sued for damages and recently settled with the city for a quarter million dollars.

Our coverage of the settlement will be posted shortly at kitsapsun.com and run in print tomorrow (Aug. 1,2016). And with that, we’ll close the loop on this lengthy litigation saga.

Engley sold five of the six billboards to pay his attorney costs. I thought you might like to see a map of where all six billboards are located.

St. Vincent’s meets financial goal for construction loan

Just more than a week ago, St. Vincent de Paul thrift store lacked $65,000 needed to qualify for a construction loan on its new building. Time was running out for St. Vinnie’s, which for 25 years has offered aid to needy folks with profits from its sales. The thrift store was in danger of closing.

Today, St. Vincent met its goal to raise a total of $100,000, Sean Jeu, director of operations announced. The money was raised largely through small donations of $5, $10 and $20, plus several larger donations and a really big gift from an anonymous donor.

“The community’s really stepped up,” Jeu said.
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The thrift store must move from its Bay Street location, owned by Bruce Titus of Bruce Titus Ford, by January 2017. In December 2016 , St. Vincent announced it had secured roughly $400,000 in collateral but lacked an additional $100,000 the bank said would be needed to qualify for the loan. Renting was not an option, since there are no big enough spaces in Port Orchard the thrift store can afford, and building payments on land St. Vincent already owns on Bethel Avenue actually will be cheaper than current rent payments.

As of Feb. 17, St. Vincent had raised $35,300 through donations.

St. Vincent needed to apply for the loan by March 1 to start construction in April and stay on track for a move by early 2017, Jeu said. The funding gap seemed wide.

On Friday, Jeu was elated. He had met with bank officials and received encouraging news.

“I am very happy, so much weight off my shoulders,” he said. “The community is so amazing.”

Jeu said he can’t disclose the amount of the largest donation, which actually pushed St. Vinnie’s over the top of their goal. He also gave no information on the major donor, who wants to remain anonymous.

The additional money will be used for construction costs on the $1.8 million, 24,000-square-foot building, Jeu said.

St. Vincent’s board had come up with a plan B, should they fall short of their goal, which was to scale back the project and forego things like staff office space, awnings and other non-essentials, at least for now. Now, they will be able to go with plan A and possibly pay some of the principal on the loan, depending on the final cost of construction.

Bruce Titus was one of the donors who helped St. Vincent reach its goal. Jeu said he couldn’t disclose the amount, but he said Titus has been very supportive of the organization.

Samadpour’s company responds on Pavilion closing

Abadan Holdings, LLC, Mansour Samadpour’s property management company, on Tuesday responded to our Feb. 7 article about the impending closure of the Port Orchard Pavilion. Delilah Rene Luke said she can no longer subsidize operations for the event center, which she has operated since 2009. Luke said she and Abadan were unable to reach an agreement on rent that will allow the Pavilion to remain open.

In the article, Abadan attorney Mary Ogborn responded to Pavilion manager Joni Sonneman’s statement that Abadan now wants $6,000 a month for the place, by saying the future monthly asking price would be negotiated with the new tenant. She neither confirmed or denied that $6,000 is the current price for the Pavilion, and Ogborn said Abadan had no further comment on the Pavilion closing.

In fairness to Ogborn (and readers) I could have and should have pressed her for confirmation of other statements made by Delilah and Sonneman about arrangements between the Pavilion and Abadan through the years, including Sonneman’s statement that rent had at one time in the past been dropped from $4,000 to $3,000 per month then raised back up. Ogborn, in her response letter, stated the rent was never reduced to $3,000, and I have verified that is correct.

Ogborn gave other additional details about the lease agreement over the years that Pavilion representatives do not dispute, including an arrangement that gave the Pavilion some credit, in the form of one month’s free rent per year, for work done on the building.

Ogborn said the rent originally, in 2009, was $5,000 a month. In 2010, Delilah and company approached Abadan regarding installation of a sprinkler system that was required on the building and requested a tenant improvement allowance. “Abadan was happy to grant this allowance,” Ogborn said.

According to Ogborn and the Pavilion, this option was exercised over the next two years, but not in the following three years. There is some disagreement over who was responsible for initiating the free rent option.

In May 2012, at the Pavilion’s request for a rent reduction, Abadan agreed to $4,000 a month, and it remained at this amount through fall of 2015. As the lease expiration approached, the Pavilion and Abadan entered discussions on rent. The Pavilion proposed $2,750 per month and asked for its three years’ worth of retroactive free rent. Both parties agree that the Pavilion received three months of free rent in the latter part of 2015 and early 2016.

At the same time Abadan offered a one-year extension but stood firm on $4,000 a month. “Thereafter the lease negotiations stalled out,” Ogborn said.

The pavilion obtained a short-term lease extension to Feb. 15 at $4,000 per month and later was granted another extension to March 15 at $6,000 a month (which is apparently where the $6,000 figure came from). Abadan has said if the Pavilion wants to continue renting the space month to month and not enter a fixed term lease, the price is $6,000 per month, Ogborn said.

Samadpour owns multiple properties in Port Orchard, including virtually the entire 700 block of Bay Street, where the Pavilion is located.

Ogborn in a letter to me had this statement: “Abadan supports businesses in Port Orchard and has worked with the tenants at the Port Orchard Pavilion over the years to support them through their struggle to develop a viable business. Over the years, Abadan has worked with many of the tenants in Port Orchard to reduce their rent in order to help keep their businesses viable during economic downturns. Abadan has reduced the rent for the Pavilion in 2012 and has not raised the rent for the Pavilion in three years.

“Abadan takes issue with the characterization of the negotiations in your article because in actuality, tenants demanded Abadan reduce the Pavilion’s rent by $1,250 per month or no deal could be reached. Abadan cannot reasonably be expected to subsidize a failing business by continuing to offer rent reductions and believes it is unprofessional for the tenants to voice their displeasure with Abadan by presenting a one-sided and inaccurate version of the history of their tenancy and the lease negotiations between our businesses to you.”

Regarding Ogborn’s letter, Delilah said that renovations she made to the building, including urgent and critical repairs, tallied far more than the total the Pavilion received in the form of free rent.

Banana Hammock still hanging in there

Speaking of bikini barista stands, did you catch the reference in our recent story on Port Orchard’s downtown banner? Public Works Director Mark Dorsey noted that since a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on sign content, the city could be opening itself up to hosting photos of bikini baristas on Bay Street. My guess is the usual customers — like The Cruz car show, Fathoms O’ Fun summer festival and the Rotary Crab Feed — will snap up all the slots when banner booking opens March 1.

In other sexpresso news, the Banana Hammock of Port Orchard recently was featured in a Zagat video in People Magazine online. That’s owner Adam Lovejoy in the feature shot.

The video largely focused on controversy over the opening of a bikini barista stand in Spokane. The title, “Topless Baristas Have Taken Over Washington State,” makes it sound like the sexpresso trend is something new. Whereas we, at the Kitsap Sun, reported on the first stands to serve coffee with a view near five years ago.

By comparison, Lovejoy’s Banana Hammock, open in April 2014, was a latecomer, but he did have the the niche of being the only such stand in Kitsap County with male baristas (baristos?). And BTW, they don’t wear banana hammocks (I had to look it up when I reported on the business). Think muscular, mostly shirtless guys, sometimes in costumes like fireman, cowboy etc.
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The Banana Hammock seemed to be going out on a limb, especially with its location on Highway 166, outside Port Orchard and off the beaten path. Nearly two years later, however, and “business is great,” said Lovejoy. “We made it the past two years doing what I love. … Business has been great. We’ve been growing every day.”

Banana Hammock is billed in the video as the only male topless coffee stand in the state, which is true to the best of Lovejoy’s knowledge.

The location hasn’t hurt him any. People have beaten a path to the little yellow shack with the cheeky monkey logo, Lovejoys says. “A lot of people will travel the extra mile to come see us because of our product. We offer something different that other people don’t have.”

Lovejoy, 26, who saved up money to open the business by working construction, employs five guys, not counting himself. The stand is a full-time gig for this father of two young children.

The video, which published Jan. 14 and has millions of views on YouTube, has been a boon to the Banana Hammock. “I think I’ve seen some new faces since then,” Lovejoy said.

City’s classification of B&Bs could impact other home-based businesses

You can visit kitsapsun.com later this evening to see how and why the Port Orchard City Council voted Tuesday to increase stormwater rates.

The lead up to this we’ve covered extensively, and last night’s vote was a long time coming.

Due to space constraints, I was not able to elaborate on an issue that arose out of the utility committee’s discussion in June of how bed and breakfasts should be assessed in the stormwater utility.

Here’s a little background you’ll need:
Stormwater charges are based on impervious surface units, with one ISU defined as 3,000 square feet of impervious surface, such as roofs or pavement. Residential accounts, all deemed to comprise one ISU, are charged a flat monthly rate, as specified in the city’s code.

Commercial businesses and multifamily dwellings are assessed for the area of impervious surface on their property divided by 3,000 square feet multiplied by the monthly rate.

And here’s the long version of the second half of the story that explains how, in one attorney’s opinion, the reclassification of B&Bs as commercial could have far-reaching impacts on all of the city’s homebased businesses.

“Gil and Kathy Michael, owners of Cedar Cove Inn B&B, seconded a suggestion that ratepayers be credited for putting rain gardens, pervious pavement and other stormwater treatment systems on their properties.

The Michaels were required to mitigate stormwater runoff during an earlier expansion of the historic home above Bay Street from which they do business.
And the couple had another problem with the proposal, given that the Cedar Cove Inn has been reclassified as a commercial property.

At the June utility committee meeting, members discussed how B&Bs are assessed in the stormwater utility. The committee considered a suggestion from staff that they should be classified as commercial for accounting purposes.

“The way we handle the code and the way the account is set up is if you have a business license, even if it is a home-based business, you are technically commercial,” said Andrea Archer Parsons, assistant city engineer.

Of the city’s three B&Bs, only Cedar Cove would be significantly impacted, the committee realized. They asked staff to see how other cities classify B&Bs for stormwater assessments, and the report was presented Aug. 19 to the full council but no action was taken.

On June 10, the Michaels got a notice saying their B&B would be assessed as a commercial property “due the fact that they are required to have a business license.” On Oct. 15, they got a notice saying they would be charged for four ISUs.

Their attorney Gary Chrey on Tuesday argued that by extension the “commercial property” rule could apply to all of the city’s home-based businesses, and that could have unintended consequences beyond higher utility rates. He listed higher real estate taxes and more onerous building code requirements among a litany of results.

Public Works Director Mark Dorsey said he didn’t know where that wording came from and that it needed to be looked at.

Chrey also took issue with wording in the city’s code that defines commercial property as “all property zoned or used for commercial, retail, industrial or community purposes.” The key words here are “or used,” which technically broadens the definition of commercial. Chrey asked that the code be reworded so the classification is based on zoning only.

“I think we still need to do some work, based on what I’ve heard here tonight. We have issues that are related to the increase,” Councilman John Clauson said.

But the council didn’t want to delay the increase entirely and put the city at risk of falling out of compliance with escalating federal water quality standards.

Councilman Rob Putaansuu proposed a one-year graduated increase from the current $7 per month to $9.70 per month on Jan. 1 and $14 per month on June 1 as a way to buy some time to sort out the complicating issues. The increase to $14 is needed, Putaansuu and others say, to fund capital projects that would control flooding and improve water quality.

Putaansuu, John Clauson, Jeff Cartwright and Jerry Childs voted for the ordinance. Fred Chang, Bek Ashby and Cindy Lucarelli voted against it.

Chris Henry, South Kitsap reporter

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.