By Marjorie Woodfin
Pilot staff writer
Two of Brooking-Harbor's popular restaurants have just completed remodeling and refurbishing projects and a third looks forward to completion of a major reconstruction early in July.
Customers are already enjoying the results of work done at Smuggler's Cove and The Flying Gull restaurants and looking forward to the reopening of O'Holleran's Restaurant and Lounge.
All three owner/managers are pleased with the results of their remodeling investments and believe that business will be good in spite of high gas prices.
Jerry Brown, owner of Smuggler's Cove at the Port of Brookings Harbor, said that he is pleased with the complete remodel of his restaurant's kitchen.
His project required the least time of the three, with the restaurant closing for only six weeks, from the day of the Super Bowl in early February, to St. Patrick's Day.
"We replaced almost all of the equipment in the kitchen, installed all stainless steel and a new walk-in refrigerator, making our kitchen more efficient. Plus we steam-cleaned all of the furniture and carpets," Brown said.
Although he indicated that the furniture and carpeting were in good shape and did not need replacing and the dining room needed no new construction, he felt it did need the complete cleaning.
"The building is 12 years old and I figure about 130,000 customers a year, and that's a lot of wear and tear," he explained.
Brown, who moved to Brookings 10 years ago from Plano, Texas, to retire, said, "Retirement lasted about two years." He felt he needed something challenging to do and, when the opportunity arose to purchase Smuggler's Cove, it just seemed like the right challenge.
At first he had several managers that he said didn't work out for various reasons. After approximately eight months he decided to run it himself, in spite of lack of any previous experience in the restaurant business, having retired from management at Electronic Data Systems.
"I tended bar and, fortunately, we had good people along the line. We tried to improve it each month," he said. "I have a first class chef, Steve Grabs, who does all of the plans for the kitchen, plus my general manager, Allan Peterson, and the three of us have to delegate."
He admitted that business slowed down just a little with the increase in gas prices. "With gas at $4 to $4.50, you can't help it, but we're basically OK, and different periods in the year are slow. We've been here eight years and we try to do a decent job; there's word of mouth and we always try to rectify any problems and make the customer happy."
Brown stressed, "You have to have a good product, like the certified Angus beef we serve, and you must be consistent. We probably have the largest wine selection on the Oregon Coast Â– 40 different kinds. We try to be customer-driven and with two or three requests (for a wine not on the list) we'll get three bottles and see how it goes."
He added, "We try to do as many special things as we can. Gil Kirk plays here five nights, Tuesday through Saturday in the summer. And, there's Monday night football, shopping show, and discount tickets.
"Plus, we have a new Web site to show specialties on the menu and special events."
Perhaps the biggest payoff for Brown is, "I enjoy it. I enjoy the people, especially the regular repeat customers."
The restaurant is open from 7 to 11 a.m. for breakfast, lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner is served from 3 to10 p.m., sometimes later on weekends, depending to the customers and if people are having a good time, Brown said.
The address is 16011 Boat Basin Rd. The phone number is (541) 469-6006.
The Flying Gull:
Peter Spratt, who has been the resident partner and general manager of The Flying Gull Restaurant and Lounge since he and his family moved to Brookings in 1995, said about his remodel, "It's been a very busy time."
When asked why it was undertaken, he said, "It was time for a change." He indicated that he started thinking about the project in November 2007.
Pleased with the results, Spratt gives credit to builder John Zia and planner Patrick Chew who, Spratt said, designed the remodel, "from my ideas."
The restaurant closed and the work began the Tuesday after Memorial Day weekend. The dining room reopened June 6 and the bar reopened June 13. "Everybody loves the changes," Spratt said. "One of the first people here (after the reopening) said that we always had good food and now we have a great place to eat."
He added, "Our goal is to provide the best service in Brookings in terms of food service, great prices, great food, great service, and great atmosphere."
He said that there will be changes in the menu and some different serving policies, with all dinner salads coming from the salad bar. Customers can choose to be served or go through the salad line.
The Flying Gull is now all no smoking, including at the bar. There will be big changes in the bar that have not yet been completed. "We have a couple of huge plasma screens to compete as the best sport bar in town," Spratt said.
He pointed out the new separation in the dining room, with the front section retaining the breakfast family atmosphere while the back has a better fine-dining atmosphere. "I think it's a neat split, something for everyone," he said.
He noted that some of the booths in the front section haven't changed, but everything in the back section is new.
"We only lost about 10 days for the remodel, but we're still not quite finished. We will have a grand opening sometime soon. We'll make an announcement."
During the summer months, the restaurant will open at 6:00 a.m. for breakfast, which will be served all day, as will lunch and dinner until the current 9:30 p.m. closing. During the winter months the restaurant will close at 8:30 p.m.
The bar is currently open until 10:30 p.m. with future plans to stay open until midnight. The Flying Gull is associated with and adjacent to the Best Western Brookings Inn on Chetco Avenue. The telephone number is (541) 469-5700.
Rodney and Eileen Minnier, owners of O'Holleran's Restaurant and Lounge, familiarly known as "O's steak house" by by locals, announced that the restaurant will be reopening for the public July 7, preceded by a private dinner party on July 6 for all those who have been working on its complete renovation.
"We started March 2 with a 100-day window," Rodney Minnier said last week. "And we'll do it in about 120 days."
The Minniers moved to Brookings in 2002 to retire, but retirement only lasted about two years, when the opportunity to purchase O'Holleran's surfaced and they couldn't resist.
When they purchased the business in August 2005, their intention was to completely remodel, perhaps even tear it down, rebuild, and rename it.
However, Rodney said, "It only took a few months before we realized the value of its name and history." Plans then started to move in the direction of a complete rebuild of interior and exterior, keeping the O'Holleran name, with a sign calling it "O's Steak House," as the regulars have called it over the years.
"It's been a Brookings tradition since 1953," he said. "We'll keep the O'Holleran name forever."
The Minniers have three contractors working together on the job: Ernie Turner, Rick Weaver, and Phil Bernhardt. "It's a joint venture between the three contractors," Rodney said. In addition, Tom Davis in charge of planning and design for the extensive use of hand-planed hickory, black walnut and birch on the bar, floors, furniture, and walls.
"We wanted to create something of the Pacific Northwest," Minnier said. "There's been lots of good will with this thing, and the outcome is fabulous."
He proudly displayed the handmade tables and trim, saying, "They're made from 1 by 6 (inch) pieces we milled ourselves."
There is also a new outside deck where they will be serving breakfast and lunch in July and August.
The Minniers were not newcomers to the business when they took over O'Holleran's, having run a successful restaurant in Ventura for 10 years. At the time they began their Brookings venture, Rodney said, "Our restaurant in Ventura was the number-one breakfast spot in the county."
In fact, Rodney and Eileen met in a restaurant in Orange, California, in 1976. She was a waitress and he was a cook, and they're still a team, looking forward to serving their customers together in the newly-renovated restaurant.
Rodney said being a cook is a big advantage for a restaurant owner. "I buy the best of everything, and I age my meat and cut all of the steaks myself, and I don't cut corners. We haven't had a single complaint about a steak. We serve Black Angus prime rib and my special baby back ribs."
When the restaurant reopens it will be a no smoking establishment. Breakfast will be served from 7 to 11:30 a.m., lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., closed from 2 p.m. until it reopens for dinner, served from 5 to 10 p.m. The bar is open until 11:30 or midnight, depending on the clientele.
To make reservations, phone (541) 469-9907. The address is 1210 Chetco Ave.