Birch Bay will soon have a new restaurant owner, but to many people in the community he is quite familiar.
On Friday, Aug. 24, Jack Niemann signed the papers to lease the former CJ's Beach House restaurant at 7878 Birch Bay Drive. It will be the 50th restaurant opening for Niemann, who also operates the Black Forest Steakhouse restaurants in Blaine and Bellingham.
Niemann said he has already hired some of the former staff of CJ's and plans to keep a similar fresh seafood menu.
The restaurant was owned by Homestead Northwest until the company fell into financial troubles and the restaurant was taken over by Union Bank. CJ's closed in September 2011.
Niemann also plans to add some of his own touches to the menu, including Black Forest's steaks and burgers.
"I'm really excited about getting this started; CJ's had a good following and I think the community is large enough to support it," he said.
Niemann expects to have the restaurant open again after the first of the year, but hopes to get everything ready early to be open during the holidays.
In a bit of serendipity, Niemann plans to keep the CJ's Beach House name because it matches the first initial of his first name and of his wife, Christina. In another coincidence, Niemann operated a restaurant out of the building once before, when it was called the 19th Hole, about 40 years ago.
"It really felt like it was meant to be," Niemann said.
Earlier this week the restaurant building, along with the nearby Sea Links Golf Course and other property, was sold by Union Bank to a Canadian investment group called North America Chen's Holdings LLP. Niemann said the sale of the property was a factor for him moving forward.
"It seems like a good fit for us and the new ownership group," he said.
For details or updates, call the Blaine restaurant at 360-306-8342 or visit the company's Facebook page.
Reach DAVE GALLAGHER at email@example.com or call 715-2269.