Tag Archives: snake-bit

PO Eateries Dropping Like Flies

Not a pretty image, I know.

I just heard today that the Clubhouse Grill & Cocktail Bar (4215 Southeast Mile Hill Drive) is the latest Port Orchard restaurant casualty of the recession. On a tip from South Kitsap resident and Kitsap Sun blogger Travis Baker, I called The Clubhouse and spoke to a person who declined to be identified after telling me they had closed yesterday (Jan. 11). When I asked why, I was told (in no uncertain terms), “Because the economy sucks and this is going to be the worst year for restaurants and bars, and there’s no reason to piss away our money.”

The Clubhouse was opened in 2001 by Frank Tweten, whose family has been in the restaurant business for two generations. It had been sold to a new owner.

Also up for lease is the Mentor property on Highway 166 (682 SW Bay St.), which has seen a succession of restaurants over the past 20 years. Gary Hobbs opened Smokey’s Bar B Que and Grill in 2008, after Fat Rascal’s, another BBQ joint, ran into debt from back taxes. Before that, it was a Mexican place, and there were a few other incarnations, including the old Clam Bake in the 1980s. I was unable to contact the Hobbs family to find out why they closed in mid-December. My guess is I’d get a response similar to that from the Clubhouse.

Undaunted by the economy is Tim Tweten, Frank’s brother, who is investing in an upgrade of the former Gino’s (429 Bay St.), soon to become the Lighthouse Restaurant and Lounge and already under new management. I was unable to contact Frank, but when I called Tim Tweten to see if he knew anything about the Clubhouse, he said he was sorry to hear about the closure.

“It’s a very, very challenging environment for everybody, as you know,” Tim said. “It’s just too bad they weren’t able to weather the storm.”

When I asked Tim if he, too, wasn’t a tad bit uneasy about launching a new venture even as the recession grinds on, he said, “No, I’m not nervous one bit about my ability. I have rather deep pockets, so my situation is quite unlike most anyone else.”

Location is another factor that can make or break a restaurant. Back when I wrote about Fat Rascal’s closing, I made a blog entry about “snake-bit” restaurant locations in Kitsap County. But Jennifer Mentor Mills, speaking last week on behalf of the Mentor Company, countered my suggestion that the property on Ross Creek with a view of Sinclair Inlet, is somehow hexed. As I mentioned in the blog, the property is slightly off the beaten path. Mudslides across the highway in the early 2000s didn’t help, but have now been fixed by the state DOT. Mills said her company has “a number of prospects” and hopes to lease the place soon.

“I think its great location,” Mills said. “Its got high traffic, high visibility, a nice layout for a restaurant and a great view. I think it could be a great location for a successful restaurant, and we have quite a lot of interest in it.”