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Restaurant reopens under new ownership, new name
A sign over the front door of the Lighthouse says, “Under new ownership.”
Once again, the doors are open to the Port Orchard landmark located at 429 Bay Street — this time as the Port Orchard Lighthouse.
New owner Brookes Konig said he purchased 100 percent interest in the corporation from the previous owner.
“The quickest way to make it happen was to buy out the previous owner Eric Smith,” Konig said.
In July, Robert Earl Lighthouse closed its doors after the Independent revealed the owner, a retired veteran Seattle police officer, was arrested and charged with child molestation in Snohomish County.
Smith was arrested June 30.
Smith and Robert Earl Enterprises LLC signed a lease with the building’s owner, Tim Tweten, in March.
Konig, who was a regional manager for Famous Dave’s BBQ, met Smith through a mutual friend. Smith hired Konig as the general manager of Robert Earl Lighthouse.
He said Smith also was a real estate agent.
“When all the news about Eric happened, immediately the community just boycotted it,” Konig said.
Within two weeks, Konig said he couldn’t keep the business open.
“It’s kind of like we got married and asked for the divorce during the honeymoon,” he said. “We signed the lease on March 14, opened for business on May 20 and closed July 20. We were open for two months,” Konig said. “We just started, the menu was being well-received, the sales were great and the staff was getting in line. Then bam, the divorce.”
He was slated to open the restaurant on Sept. 2, but experienced some plumbing problems.
The restaurant opened the next day for business.
“I’ve always believed in the restaurant,” Konig said.
Konig said he thanks the community for their support, especially the Rotary Club of Port Orchard, who moved their meetings to the Lighthouse.
“They were here Saturday to pitch in and help clean up for our opening,” Konig said. “They also are restripping the parking lot.”
He said local vendors also have been supportive of his reopening efforts. Konig said he contacted local vendors and explained he was attempting to purchase the business that was in escrow.
“Escrow takes time and every single local vendor worked with me to make it work,” Konig said.
The restaurant originally opened as a causal and family fun restaurant.
“We’ve added a treasure chest so kids can pick a toy with their kids meal,” said Konig. “We want to bring that family atmosphere back where before we were too expensive for seafood or too expensive for families.”
He said the menu has changed and will have more seafood items, along with several casual items.
Konig said he was able to rehire 24 former employees and is hiring for all positions.
Chef Mark Lemon will head the kitchen, Linda Martens is the bar manager and Kmran Butterfield is the dining room manager.
The 9,254-square-foot Lighthouse, which was built in 1984, originally opened as Tweten’s Lighthouse.
The younger Tweten purchased the building in 2006. He and his business partner, Gordon Rush of Gig Harbor-based Rush Construction, planned in 2007 to build condominiums, a marina and retail space on the 1.5-acre waterfront property. But Tweten said those plans were scuttled when the Great Recession hit.
Instead, the building housed multiple restaurants beginning with Gino’s in 2007, the Lighthouse Bar and Grill two years later and then the Lighthouse Restaurant & Lounge in 2011.
Tweten’s brothers, Frank and Kirby, also operated the building before Gino’s opened.