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Blondie’s Restaurant and Lounge makes entertaining changes
New businesses, a population shift, and the high cost of driving to Seattle and Tacoma has changed the face of Port Orchard nightlife, with several new opportunities emerging over the last few months.
The total will increase by one in September, as the newly established Blondie’s Restaurant and Lounge will add an entertainment component to its offerings with a show by what is described as one of the hottest new comics in the country.
“Port Orchard is no longer what everyone thinks it is,” said head chef and co-owner Lynn Marshall. “It is no longer a poor farm town. There are a lot of sophisticated people who live here, who are looking for a quality, family-oriented place to have dinner.”
Marshall, along with his ex-wife Lisa (“Blondie”) and another partner, opened the restaurant adjacent to Sk8Town in February.
Since then he has drawn an impressive number of local regulars.
And while the fare may be pricey for Port Orchard, it is a steal by Seattle standards — especially since Marshall’s customers keep telling him — the food quality exceeds much of what is found in the big town across the water.
Blondie’s does fit into the expected Port Orchard mindset — it isn’t a wild and crazy place.
It closes at 10 every night because, as Marshall said, “nothing good happens after 10, especially when alcohol is involved.”
That the skating rink is in the building means parents can have a nice dinner while the kids are getting it out of their system (in a supervised way) next door.
The first dip into the entertainment pool will take place Sept. 22, when Blondie’s presents comic Michele Balan, who recently appeared on “Last Comic Standing.”
The plan is to serve a gourmet “surprise” dinner in the restaurant (cooked by Marshall in the guise of “Chef Leonardo”), then move to the skating rink for the show.
The cost for the evening is $75 ($45 for the show only) which, again by Seattle standards, is a real bargain.
Marshall said he expects to sell about 200 tickets for the event. He has already sold half that amount, and could accommodate twice as many for the show, if the demand emerges.
If the event meets expectations — and even if it doesn’t — Marshall plans to bring a variety of entertainment to the facility.
First up will be a wine tasting, followed by a jazz band concert and a musical.
He hopes to eventually take over the management of the Sk8Town facility, adding a posh cafe on the top floor and a diner-type restaurant at skate level.
This is part of a trend that could be interpreted as an increase in Port Orchard options.
Gino’s and Amy’s have offered quality downtown cuisine, while Slip 45 and Moondogs Too are increasing their live entertainment options — although nothing that will overlap the audience that Marshall hopes to tap.
“All of us have our targeted clientele,” Marshall said. “Our restaurant is more family-oriented. But we are all part of the community. (Amy’s owners) come in here all the time for dinner, and we always take Monday off and go down to Moondogs for burgers.”
Lynn and Lisa Marshall’s partnership can be best described as unconventional.
He is the chef, and she runs the front of the restaurant. They are no longer married and have separate residences, but refer to themselves as “significant others.”
They also share in raising a 15-year-old son.
Many couples who live and work together find that something has to give, ending both the business and the marriage.
The Marshalls succeeded by keeping the business — which they both love — and dialing down the personal part to a comfortable level.
Everyone who comes in can supply their name, address, birthday and e-mail to gain immediate access to coupons, deals and free birthday dinners.
The strategy, according to Marshall, is to treat a customer like a regular before they actually become one.
Throughout, he is building a customer base of regular people.
“Everyone in this community works really hard,” Marshall said. “So our motto is that every once in a while you deserve a quality experience.”