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.”

5 thoughts on “PO Eateries Dropping Like Flies

  1. Actually I find my spouse and me have eaten in Gig Harbor restaurants more often than Central or South Kitsap. We have noticed more places opening in Gig Harbor, Blazing Onion to name one. You can go to the “all you can eat” on Bethel only so many times. The same with local Mexican fare. Hopefully the Lighthouse will gain back its reputation. They made a start on New Years and we will try them again soon to see if they can follow through.

    We have, a few times, gone to both restaurants that closed . We return to the business’s that have excellent service, good if not exceptional food, and have convenient and consistent hours. Both those business’s and a few others in Central and South Kitsap did not meet that criteria. I do not mind traveling for good food, we have gone to Oceans Shores just for lunch at one business. We would do that again.

    For new places and old, customer service = doing more than expected. Food must look good, smell good, and taste good, but if it is cold, overcooked, and looks like yesterdays leftovers, I take my money elsewhere.

    Roger Gay
    South Kitsap

  2. We eat at the Thai Taste on Mile Hill and are often the only diners. The food never disappoints, is cheap, and made fresh. Unless traffic picks up there, how much longer can it be around?

    Is there an industry ratio of restaurant seats to population?

  3. ““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.”

    Please tell me you’re not referring to the BBQ joint on 166. Sure, there may be alot of drive-by, but to make a special trip there would have to be REAL special. Why do you think two owners have bailed on their dream? Coming from 16, you need to go into FOrst, take your life into your hands and turn around to get there. Coming from PO, you blink, you miss it. Did they even advertize? Trust me, I love BBQ, but not bad enough to go there.

    Read more: http://pugetsoundblogs.com/south-kitsap/2010/01/12/po-eateries-dropping-like-flies/#ixzz0cVi7KOAa

  4. I’m sorry to here the Clubhouse is closing. Smokey’s downfall was there business hours, the food was par, nothing to write home about. I had the Prime rib once 40% fat. Never went back again.

    I was at the King County Comm. meeting a couple weeks ago. They plan on a 35% reduction in construction compared with 2009 numbers which saw a 45% reduction from 2008. So it looks like a 80% drop from 2008. How important would the NASCAR track be now…

    When the County Cronies wanted to “Keep Kitsap Rural”, I’ll bet they never gave any thought to the ramifications of their actions, this is just the start. Rural tax dollars do not support the lofty plans of our elected officials. The more businesses that close add to the tax crunch we face.

    Common sense would lead me to believe that Restaurants and Specialty Shops would be the first to suffer from the lack of income, yet these are the businesses that officials want to encourage to come here.

    “News Flash”… Lets hire a marketing person to form a plan to help, maybe install 12′ statues of fish and such, that will help…

  5. The Restaurant, “Honey in the Rock”, turned over a new leaf. It’s now a Fish and Chips place. The original “Skippers” had problems with that location, we’ll see if this can do any better.

    My thoughts, lead me to believe that the economic crunch we are facing will make people alot more finnicky with their money. If they go out for dinner they will be more apt to seek comfort food, like “good ole’ pot roast with mashed potats an’ gravey”. Businesses that serve specialty foods will most likely see a drop in revenue.

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