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Future of Robert Earl Lighthouse remains unknown

A sign on the front door at Robert Earl Lighthouse stated that the restaurant is closed for a “remodeling.”

Multiple phone calls to the restaurant seeking comment went unanswered.

But an employee of the restaurant Tuesday afternoon said she was told the establishment will reopen at an undetermined date.

The Independent first reported July 3 that veteran Seattle police officer Eric Smith, who was arrested June 30 on charges of child molestation and booked into Snohomish County Jail, was the owner of Robert Earl Lighthouse.

KOMO reported the officer, who has spent more than 20 years with the department, is accused of molesting his former girlfriend’s daughter on several occasions between 2009-13, according to the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office. Deputies reported the victim in the case was between 7 and 11 years old when the alleged crimes were committed.

Deputies arrested the Bothell resident on June 30 following a two-week investigation into the case. He’s now facing charges of first degree child molestation and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, according to KOMO.

That occurred about two months after the Lighthouse, which was shuttered for more than a year, reopened. Robert Earl Enterprises LLC signed a lease with the building’s owner, Tim Tweten.

Tweten, president of the South Sound Restaurant Group, said he shut down the Lighthouse in January 2013 because it was not profitable and did not fit in well with his portfolio of restaurants in Pierce County.

He said the 9,254-square-foot Lighthouse, which was built in 1984, was the vision of Tweten’s parents, Del and Gloria Tweten, who opened the restaurant that was known as Tweten’s Lighthouse for years.

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.

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