For local restaurants, this is the toughest stretch of the year for attracting customers.
From early January to Valentine’s Day, this traditionally is the quietest time of year at restaurants, except for those that have big-screen TVs and the Seattle Seahawks in the playoffs. That’s good news for people who have wanted to try out a restaurant but found it too crowded during the holiday shopping season.
This is also a time of year for change; eateries decide not to renew leases and end up closing. For many of those that remain open, the first part of the year is a convenient time to shake up the menu or do a bit of remodeling.
After Valentine’s Day, restaurant business usually starts to pick up locally, particularly as the weather improves. Whatcom County restaurant sales numbers improved nearly 10 percent from the first quarter to the second quarter of 2014 to $80.7 million, according to the Washington Department of Revenue.
Here’s an update on local restaurant activity:
• A new tap room has opened at3207 Northwest Ave.,
in the former Osaka Japanese Restaurant building. It’s called Hops ’N Headz and is operated by the Kim family, who operated Osaka for years. The tap room has 30 draft beers, with many being local craft brews, said Steve Kim, general manager. It also has a food menu that includes chicken wings, burgers and cheese steak sandwiches. It is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Details can be found on the company’s Facebook page.
• At the end of December, Jeckyl & Hyde Deli and Ale House closed its James Street location near Hardware Sales. Owner Richard van Dommelen said the decision was made to consolidate back to one location at709 W. Orchard Drive
“We hope all our James Street customers will visit us there and continue to support us through these tough times,” van Dommelen said in an email. “With food costs up and labor costs getting higher, it is getting tougher for the restaurant industry to survive.”
He added that they plan to make a few menu changes and to cater more weddings and other events.
• The Taco Bell at Sunset Square is up an running after a soft opening in December. It’s in the southeast corner of the retail center, near the soon-to-open Safeway grocery. Safeway is scheduled to open around the end of January.
• Twofiftyflora, a cafe that has been in the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher building for a little more than 18 months, is moving to a new space. According to its Facebook page, it’s moving to1015 Railroad Ave.,
which is also home to Onyx Coffee. The two companies will serve coffee and food. An opening date in the new space hasn’t been announced.
Restaurant Update runs monthly in Take Five. Have an update on a Whatcom County restaurant? Send questions or tips to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-715-2269.