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Posted on: December 13, 2012

Bellingham Waterfront Café Gains New “Lease” on Life

A prime Bellingham waterfront restaurant location will be back in business with a new name and a new look next year, if Port of Bellingham Commissioners approves a lease transfer on Dec. 18.

Last October the popular Bayside Café alongside Squalicum Harbor closed its doors, ending nearly 20 years of business. Since then the café owners have been seeking a buyer for their business. Latitude Restaurants Bellingham, Inc., plans to purchase the Bayside Café business, pending assignment of the lease by the Commission.

“This is an excellent waterfront location and we have heard from so many people about how much they want another restaurant here,” said the Port’s Real Estate Development Manager Shirley McFearin. “We are pleased the owners of the Bayside found a purchaser who already understands this type of business and has experience undertaking a restaurant renovation.”

At their Commission meeting on Tuesday, Port Commissioners will meet Jeff Holmes, one of the principals of The Loft at Latitude 47.7 in Poulsbo, Wash., to learn more about their plans for renovating and updating the Bellingham restaurant location.

Almost four years ago, their group renovated a similar waterfront restaurant in Poulsbo that has been very well received and become a cornerstone of the community. Holmes said he hopes that the experience their ownership group gained in Poulsbo can be applied to the Bellingham property. They will soon be hiring for an April reopening, anticipating a staff of 50 to 60 employees during high season.

The company noted that it is in the process of choosing between different concept alternatives for the restaurant.

“Our overall philosophy is to provide menu items made from fresh ingredients, locally provided when available,” Holmes said. “Food should look and taste great. We are an alternative to the world of frozen and processed food.”

Holmes and his family are new to the area and excited to make a contribution to the local community. He said he believes there is always room for dining alternatives where the entire family can enjoy great food in a comfortable atmosphere.

The proposal before the Commission is to assign the current Bayside lease to Latitude Restaurants Bellingham and to extend the lease to December 2017, with three five-year renewal periods. The rent to the Port over the first five years is about $343,580.

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