Lacey’s Ricardo’s steakhouse ready to expand

Ricardo’s steakhouse in Lacey is set to expand this year by moving to the Woodland Square Loop area near Huntamer Park.

That move means more momentum for Lacey’s efforts to transform the Woodland District — the area between the Chehalis Western Trail, Interstate 5, College Street and Pacific Avenue — into a true mixed-use destination, similar to a downtown.

The current catalyst for the district is the construction of South Puget Sound Community College’s new Lacey campus. Work is underway and is expected to be completed in time for fall semester. The city also is extending Golf Club Road to Third Avenue, providing another gateway to the college and district.

For Ricardo’s, work begins June 1 for a November opening.

“We are thrilled to get Rick,” MJR Development of Kirkland partner Mark Lahaie said Wednesday about Rick Nelsen, the owner of Ricardo’s.

MJR owns seven office buildings near and around Huntamer Park, and Ricardo’s is set to occupy 3,000 square feet on the south side of what MJR now calls its Woodland Center Plaza, formerly known as the “quad.”

The current address is 676 Woodland Square Loop Southeast, although the restaurant is expected to get a more specific address.

“It won’t look like an office building,” said Nelsen, 34, about his new location.

The exterior landscaping will be revamped, adding a water feature, fire pits and outdoor seating, he said. About half the area will be covered, he said.

Inside, the restaurant will seat 100, up from 75 at its current location on Lacey Boulevard, and retain the wine-bottles-on-the-ceiling decor. It also will have a bar and lounge, a partially glass-enclosed kitchen and the centerpiece: a display of the dry-aged beef it serves.

“We want to make dry-aged beef look as sexy as possible,” said Nelsen, who has run Ricardo’s for 11 years. He has a staff of 10, but expects that to grow to 25, he said.

Ricardo’s also is set to provide catering in 3,000 square feet of banquet space next door to the new location. That common space will be available to office tenants during the week and be open to Ricardo’s during evenings and weekends, Lahaie said.

On June 1, in addition to being a construction start date for Ricardo’s, construction work is scheduled to begin on MJR Development’s various office buildings in the area, he said.

Longer term, MJR plans to demolish the former Prudential building on Woodland Square Loop and replace it with a possible apartment building called the Woodland Park Apartments. The feasibility of such a move is being studied, Lahaie said.