In 2007, Darryl Baldwin started MoonDogs, Too in the location formerly known as Port Orchard Tavern.
Six years later, Baldwin’s business was recognized as the “2013 Small Business of the Year” by the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce on Oct. 11 during the Chamber’s annual Fundraiser, Installation, Auction and Awards Banquet at the McCormick Woods Clubhouse.
This is not the only recognition for Baldwin. In 2009, he was named as “Man of the Year” by the Chamber and this summer he was honored as Mayor Tim Matthes’ 1,000 Points of Light.
“I was really surprised to win the award, but I am very honored,” Baldwin said. “There are plenty of other businesses who deserve the award.”
During his acceptance speech, Baldwin said his family was disappointed when he told them he was opening a bar and grill in Port Orchard.
“My mom has been involved in church her whole life,” Baldwin said. “Her grandfather was a minister and this went against everything she was raised with.”
Baldwin said his father was his role model, but he went ahead with his business decision.
He said it took about six months to realize an adults-only bar in downtown wasn’t going to be successful. Baldwin re-evaluated the situation and planned for a change. A year later, he moved things around and opened it up to families.
“Even after that, trying to convince local moms and dads that the place formerly known as the Port Orchard Tavern and as the Harborside was safe for children became a daily challenge,” he said. “We’ve slowly removed much of the stigma through persistence and education.”
Baldwin reported that last year, MoonDogs gross sales were $1.57 million — a 19 percent increase over 2011.
“Our restaurant sales — open to 10 p.m. — were 65 percent of overall sales, 35 percent of our sales was after 10 p.m.” Baldwin said.
He said food comprised 32 percent of the business sales, with sale of beer and liquor making up the balance.
From 2009 to 2012, MoonDog’s growth has been 15 percent and 3.5 in 2013.
“That includes more than $13,000 to charity and sponsorships,” Baldwin said. “And an enormous amount to medical.”
MoonDogs sponsors Kitsap Renegades Rugby, Relay for Life, Boy Scouts, Derby Bratz, Chamber of Commerce and Western Washington Cultural Association.
But Baldwin credits his staff for his success. Dave Jones has been the kitchen manager for more than six years, Christine Dougherty has been serving as the daytime bar manager and Tracy Nickerson as nighttime bar manager for five years, respectively. Tyler Porter has been one of MoonDogs’ top chefs for four years, while Corina Herring heads up Sunday nights service and booking live entertainment. Shelia Cline has served as the establishment’s bookkeeper, manager and community relations.
“They have taken my vision, values and transformed them into the MoonDogs you experience today,” he said.
Baldwin, who is battling cancer, said while he was away from the business in July and August, MoonDogs had the largest two sales months in its history — topping the same period in 2012 by 15 percent.
Baldwin said during his career he’s seen a lot of businesses fall off track because they treated the community as “if it owes them.”
“We are gracious that you’ve chosen to stop in and see us, each and every time,” he said. “I’ve seen lots of people struggle with life’s challenges and unfortunately we’ve lot a few that couldn’t go forward. I’ve also seen a lot for kids grow up and become young responsible adults. Those we celebrate every day.”
Since opening MoonDogs, Baldwin and his staff has been serving dinners during the Thanksgiving and Christmas. The business has fed as many as 600 people and donations from the dinners have been donated to South Kitsap Helpline.
He told the story about a woman from Bremerton who read about his $1 Thanksgiving dinners. She told Baldwin she had never stepped inside a tavern before, but he assured her it would be OK.
He greeted her at the door and seated her with an older Eagles couple.
After the meal, she wrote out a check for $2 — one dollar for the dinner, the other for South Kitsap Helpline.
“I smiled and thanked her for her donation and asked her if she enjoyed herself,” Baldwin said. “She said ‘yes’, but said the couple I sat her with talked too much.”
Since opening MoonDogs, his mother and brother have visited his business.
He found out his mother likes “Long Island ice teas” and that she and her female friends stop by a lounge in Finley, N.D., for steak night every Thursday.
Baldwin said during his brother’s visit here, his sibling “knew more about MoonDogs’ staff than he did.”
“So what would my father think,” Baldwin said. “I think tonight, he’d be pretty darn proud.”
In closing, Baldwin told the crowd his cancer is not curable, but is currently stable and has been for the past 10 months. He underwent radiation treatments during the summer which stabilized the cancer and that the treatment’s side effects damaged some of his digestive system.
“I lost about 40 pounds in five months,” he reported. “I’ve gained six pounds back and I am on track to continue to gaining weight. I believe the worst is behind me.”
He thanked everyone for their prayers and support.
“God isn’t through with me yet,” he added.