Restaurant catering to a more adult crowd

Bill Parkinson and Mike Houlihan were fully aware of the problems they might encounter when they decided to buy the Harborside Bar & Grill on Bay Street in downtown Port Orchard.

With all the negative press the establishment earned during the past 10 months, both men knew the odds were stacked against them going in.

But they’re taking an attitude they hope the entire town will come to embrace.

“We want everyone to know that this will be different,” Parkinson said. “We’re not the same people that ran the place before.”

So after a lot of hard work, some interior re-working, a totally different attitude when it comes to dealing with the city and a name change, the duo is ready to take the Port Orchard restaurant scene in a new and better direction.

Taking its name from Parkinson’s two-year-old Labrador Retriever Zeke, the Moon Dog Bar and Grill is now open for business and ready to take its place among the city’s better eateries.

“We want to cater to a different kind of crowd,” Parkinson said. “We’re after the guys that own the boats and live up on the hill.”

In other words, they want a more mature, respectful clientele than used to patronize the Harborside in the past. Instead of being known as a house of swill, the new owners are determined to turn the restaurant into not only a respectable business but also the area’s premiere destination for fine food.

“I’ve been in this business for a long time (more than 20 years),” Houlihan said. “I know how to run a place like this. I know how to give the people, the town, what it wants.”

Houlihan serves as not only the restaurant’s head chief but also lead organizer when it comes to the look and feel. He lives upstairs and is ready to run a clean, respectable place.

“We know all about what happened in the past, and that’s over with,” Houlihan said. “I want everyone to know that that wasn’t us. We play by the rules. We’re working with the city to do what’s right, to do what we need to do to be successful.”

That, Parkinson said, is gaining the respect of the city by offering some things that other places cannot or will not offer. In his words, by offering the best food around.

“We want to be known as a great place to eat, first,” Parkinson said. “We want to be known as a restaurant first and a bar second. We will be both, but the food comes first.”

Houlihan plans to offer a rotating menu of sorts, one that will change with the seasons but will keep a core of favorites.

The top of the list will include a dinner menu that features a filet mignon, freshly cooked and wrapped in bacon served with the requisite baked potato and salad.

But Houlihan’s fare will also include pasta dishes, fresh-baked salmon, a succulent roast beef dish, the hard-to-find chicken-fried steak and plenty of sides.

Houlihan’s lunch menu is full of the norm — burgers, chicken, fish and plenty of lighter dishes for the on-the-go crowd. The after-hours crowd can expect the usual bar fare with a few special twists.

And as far as the drinking crowd goes, Houlihan, who also will spend lots of time behind the darkwood bar getting to know his customers, has plenty in store for them.

First is a wide selection of drinks not offered before, along with both tap and bottled beer. He has also started a bar club that entitles its members to their own glass mug and discounts and on drinks and food.

“We want to do a lot of things and we want to do them right,” Houlihan said. “We are a part of this town now and we want to stay a part of this town. This is our home now and we will do want it takes to see that it stays that way.”

Besides Houlihan and Parkinson, who will both spend many hours in the kitchen and behind the bar, the Moondog will employ a limited number of people for the time being. Houlihan said he hopes to raise the number of employs in time for the summer rush.

The Moondog is open from 11 a.m. till 2 a.m. Tuesday through Sunday and 5 p.m. till 2 a.m. on Monday.

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