Business

Longtime Fairhaven eatery is now under new ownership, but it keeps strong local ties

This longtime owner of Fairhaven restaurant is selling his business to fulfill a dream

Don White, owner of Skylark's, talks about his decision to sell the business to fulfill his dream of living in New York City on Thursday, Feb. 15, in Bellingham.
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Don White, owner of Skylark's, talks about his decision to sell the business to fulfill his dream of living in New York City on Thursday, Feb. 15, in Bellingham.

Skylark’s Hidden Cafe has a new owner and it’s someone who is quite familiar with the Fairhaven district.

Brad Haggen purchased the longtime restaurant from founder Don White in a deal that officially closed on Nov. 28, according to a news release. Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Haggen grew up in Fairhaven while his family was operating the Haggen grocery store chain. He is now president and CEO of Naples Best Restaurants, Inc., which he launched after selling his stake in the grocery business in 2012. He also owns Tallulah’s, a restaurant in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

Haggen said in an interview he doesn’t plan on making any immediate changes to the Fairhaven restaurant, which opened in 1995 and White took over in 1996. Haggen is planning to get feedback from customers while he evaluates how the restaurant operates.

While he is open to new ideas for Skylark’s, he expects the basic menu to remain in place because Skylark’s has a loyal following.

“It’s become a fixture in Fairhaven,” Haggen said.

He is retaining all of Skylark’s staff and is promoting longtime employee Chevy Robertson to general manager. The restaurant employs around 35 people, he said.

In a February article in The Bellingham Herald, White said he decided to sell Skylark’s to pursue a longtime dream of moving to New York City. That’s something White still plans on doing, he said in an interview on Wednesday. Right now he is working on a transition and will be around town for now.

“I feel like I’m a duck out of water,” White said. “(Skylark’s) has been such a large part of my life. I’m really happy that the employees will have an opportunity to step up into new positions.”

White said he’s also happy about Haggen taking over, saying he is a great fit for the restaurant.

Skylark’s got its start as an ice cream and gift shop in Fairhaven’s Sycamore Square building in 1995. White helped set up the business, taking it over a year later. He later moved the business into a corner spot away from the main roads, earning the “hidden cafe” moniker.

In 2008 he tripled the cafe’s size at 1308 11th St. He also expanded the menu, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. He later added live music events. Currently, the menu offers a variety of dishes, including burgers, sandwiches, seafood, pasta along with traditional American breakfast items.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269; @BhamHeraldBiz
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