Poulsbo restaurateurs in potential deal for Bayside Cafe

A company that operates a waterfront restaurant in Poulsbo, Wash., plans to create a new eatery in the Squalicum Harbor space formerly home to the Bayside Cafe.

Jeff Holmes, a principal for Latitude Restaurants Bellingham Inc., said most details of the new restaurant, including its name and menu, have yet to be determined.

Latitude Restaurants would take over the property’s lease from the Bayside Cafe, which was operated by Jim Brown and his son, Mitch Brown, until it shut down unexpectedly in October.

Holmes said if the deal is accepted by his company’s board of directors and a lease extension for the space is approved by the Port of Bellingham commission, a successor to the Bayside Cafe could be open by next April.

Holmes said the former cafe’s waterfront location, located at 1801 Roeder Ave. and surrounded by other established businesses and restaurants, was a deciding selling point for his company.

“We think [the location] is hard to beat,” he said.

Shirley McFearin, the Port of Bellingham’s real estate development manager, said the current lease on the restaurant, which runs until May 2014, would be extended until December 2017, pending port commission approval. The extended lease would include three five-year renewal periods.

The port commission could approve the lease during their next public meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 18.

McFearin said the agreement was somewhat “bittersweet,” since the Bayside Cafe enjoyed a loyal customer following after opening in 1994.

But she was excited for the chance to have a new tenant in the space, which she said is a great spot for a waterfront restaurant.

Holmes said his company’s restaurant could employ up to 60 people during its busier months. Initially though, the staff will be smaller.

“It all depends on how well we’re received,” he said.

The Latitude Restaurants company operates a Poulsbo restaurant called The Loft at Latitude 47.7.

Contact Evan Marczynski at evan@bbjtoday.com or call 360-647-8805.

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