BIRCH BAY - If opening day was any indication, residents were happy to have CJ's Beach House back up and operating.
The restaurant at 7878 Birch Bay Drive opened Feb. 7, drawing about 250 customers, said Jack Niemann, who owns it with his wife, Christina. On Sunday, Feb. 10, about 500 customers visited the restaurant.
"The most common comment I received was, 'I'm so happy you reopened this restaurant,'" Niemann said. "It was great to see so many local people coming in to see the restaurant."
CJ's Beach House was owned by Homestead Northwest until that company fell into financial troubles. The restaurant was taken over by Union Bank and closed in September 2011. The property was sold by Union Bank to a Canadian investment group in August, and Niemann signed a lease soon after the sale.
It's the 50th restaurant opening for Niemann, who also operates the Black Forest Steakhouse restaurants in Blaine and Bellingham.
The restaurant menu focuses on seafood, but Niemann said the steak burger has been the most popular item; in the first three days the restaurant sold 591 of those burgers.
The draw of local residents in the first few days of opening was important, Niemann said, because a key to having a year-round restaurant in Birch Bay is to be able to generate enough sales during the winter season.
"About 85 percent of the customers we saw were local, which is important during the off-season," he said.
For details about the restaurant, call 360-746-8775.