Red Bike Dueling Piano Bar & Restaurant in Lacey and downtown Olympia's Governor Grill have closed, perhaps victims of the slowest time of year for the restaurant industry.
January and February typically are the slowest months, a time when some restaurant owners decide whether to remain in business or close after the holidays, Washington Restaurant Association President and Chief Executive Anthony Anton said Tuesday.
Owners for both restaurants could not be reached Tuesday.
An unsigned note on the front door of Red Bike states that the restaurant at 4441 Pacific Ave. S.E. “has officially closed its doors for business.” It goes on to say, “We will truly miss our great friends we called customers.”
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Prime Locations commercial real estate broker Priscilla Terry is trying to lease the restaurant, she said Tuesday. She said the 5,300-square-foot business closed about a month ago.
Red Bike opened in spring 2009 at that location, which previously was home to the Lone Star Kitchen. That restaurant opened in about 2006, said Adam Adrian, a former managing partner of the restaurant. Adrian continues to operate Ramblin’ Jacks, Mercato and i.talia Pizzeria in Olympia and recently reopened the Rib Eye restaurant in Chehalis, he said.
“It wasn’t a location issue,” Adrian said about his decision to sell Lone Star. “I just think I didn’t have the right management, it wasn’t the right fit, so I cut my losses and moved on to other projects.”
Lone Star was sold to a Seattle-based group, Adrian said.
Governor Grill owner Bonnie Elsey, who runs the 5th Avenue Sandwich Shop downtown, could not be reached Tuesday, but Marti Schultz, a cook at the business, said the Grill closed in mid-January.
It opened in August 2010.
Although January and February are slow months, a stronger fourth quarter was an encouraging sign for restaurant owners, Anton said.
“We’re not popping champagne corks yet, but I do think it’s reason for hope,” he said.
The industry still faces rising food prices and stepped-up enforcement by the state to make sure restaurants are paying sales tax on employee meals. A bill in the Legislature would eliminate the sales tax for employee meals, Anton said.
Restaurant owner Adrian also said the economy seems to be moving in the right direction after two challenging years. The Rib Eye in Chehalis has good exposure to Interstate 5 – allowing the business to market its Olympia restaurants to new customers – and Adrian is looking forward to the opening of Olympia’s new City Hall, which is across from Ramblin’ Jacks.
And when restaurants close, new ones always appear. Recent openings downtown include Little Roni’s and Al Forno Ferruzza next to the Eastside Tavern.
Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403 firstname.lastname@example.org www.theolympian.com/bizblog