Friday Afternoon Club: The New Dog in Town

Yes, Yes, I know it’s not Friday yet, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the weekend.

While stretching my legs in downtown Port Orchard before a recent city council meeting, I noticed the neon signs were glowing in the windows of the former Moondog Tavern, which closed earlier this year. Swinging open the heavy, old door, I found Darryl Baldwin and Kimberly Green hard at work getting ready for the grand opening Friday of MoonDogs Too.

Baldwin is optimistic about the vitality of the downtown area, despite the papered windows of surrounding properties.

Baldwin said he and Green plan to bring back the friendly town tavern feeling. To that end, they’ve hired security personnel, two burly bouncers — one of whom went to daycare with my son, so that dates me. Baldwin said he wants to distance himself from the bad reputation the bar earned during its last years as the Harborside. He also wants to steer clear of any fallout from Mako’s, across the street, which, according to Kitsap Sun records, has come to the attention of law enforcement for a disproportionate number of assaults.

Here’s the full story, with a little history of the place.

The neon signs are back on at the bar in downtown Port Orchard formerly known as the Moondog Bar & Grill. MoonDogs Too is now open for business.
Co-owners Darryl Baldwin and his partner Kimberly Green have no direct affiliation to former Moondog owner Bill Parkinson, who closed up shop early this year. But they wanted to capitalize on the familiarity of the catchy name, Baldwin said.
Baldwin, from Tacoma, said he sees the glass half full in Port Orchard’s downtown area, even though economic stagnation is a concern of many business owners and residents. On a recent evening, as Baldwin and Green were spiffying up the place for an opening celebration, the city council was meeting to discuss its proposed downtown renovation plan. The process has gone on for more than a year, “way too long” in building owner Ron Rider’s opinion, but Baldwin is optimistic.
“I think Port Orchard has a lot of potential,” he said. “It’s got that small town feel.”
The tavern that is now Moondogs Too has had many incarnations over the years. The building, which dates to the early 1900s, has always been a tavern of one sort or another. Early in its history, the building’s second story housed a brothel, Rider said. The antique back bar was made in the 1880s and was shipped around Cape Horn.
Beginning in the 1950s, it was the Port Orchard Tavern, which remained a downtown institution through the 1990s. Rider bought the building in 1999, renovated it and operated the Harborside Bar & Grill until December, 2004.
Scott Hlinka and a partner bought the business from Rider and continued to operate as the Harborside. During their ownership, the tavern earned a reputation as a rough and seedy place, and was eventually shut down by the liquor control board, Rider said.
The next person to take a whack at the place was Bill Parkinson, who, with a partner, opened the Moondog Bar & Grill in 2005, naming it after his dog. The Moondog, which featured live music on the outdoor patio, showed promise, and seemed to be a popular destination. But when the partner left, Parkinson, who was not familiar with running a bar, struggled to stay afloat, Rider said.
Kimberly Green’s family is in the bar business, a point in her favor in Rider’s opinion. She and Baldwin have put a lot of energy into cleaning up the place, and Rider is encouraged.
“I think they’ve got a really good shot,” he said. “It seems like they’ve got a good attitude about things.”

MoonDogs Too, 714 Bay St. in Port Orchard is open from 11 a..m. to 2 a.m. daily, featuring a full bar and a menu of sandwiches, appetizers and dinner entrees, such as steak and lasagna; (360) 895-2300. Tavern’s new owners say downtown Port Orchard is on the upswing.

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