BELLINGHAM - A well-known vacant waterfront restaurant space might reopen this spring.
Jeff Holmes, a co-owner of a Poulsbo restaurant called The Loft at Latitude 47.7, intends to take over the former Bayside Café space at 1801 Roeder Ave., on Squalicum Harbor. The deal is contingent on approval of a lease transfer by Port of Bellingham commissioners at their Tuesday, Dec. 18, meeting.
The proposal before the commission is to assign the current Bayside lease to Holmes' company, Latitude Restaurants Bellingham Inc., and to extend the lease to December 2017, with three five-year renewal periods. The rent to the port over the first five years would be about $343,580.
If the lease transfer is approved, the company plans to start hiring soon for a possible April opening. The company plans to have a staff of 50 to 60 employees during the peak season.
Holmes noted in a Port of Bellingham news release that the company is in the process of choosing between different concepts for the restaurant. He plans to have a new name and bring a new look to the space.
"Our overall philosophy is to provide menu items made from fresh ingredients, locally provided when available," Holmes said in the news release. "Food should look and taste great. We are an alternative to the world of frozen and processed food."
Holmes is scheduled to attend the Tuesday port meeting to discuss his plans for renovating and updating the restaurant. Holmes and a group of other investors renovated the Poulsbo restaurant, and hope to use that experience for the Bellingham project.
"This is an excellent waterfront location and we have heard from so many people about how much they want another restaurant here," said Shirley McFearin, the port's real estate development manager. "We are pleased the owners of the Bayside found a purchaser who already understands this type of business and has experience undertaking a restaurant renovation."
The Bayside Café, which opened in 1994, shut down suddenly in October. It had been operated by Jim Brown and his son, Mitch.
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