The Cliff House is back.
Or, at least it will be soon.
After closing in December, the Cliff House expects to reopen after the first week of February, depending on whether the liquor license, and other permits, are approved as quickly as the restaurant would like.
Fans of the restaurant, which is one of the South Sound's oldest restaurants dating back to 1925, may be happy to hear that longtime owner Guido Brendicke will be back at the helm. Former chef and general manger David Masuda also is returning.
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So what happened? I’m still piecing it together, but here’s what I know.
For those unfamiliar with the Cliff House’s history, Brendicke has owned the business and the land it sits on for 34 years, according to those who are working to reopen the restaurant. More than a year ago, Brendicke leased the business to a group that operated the Cliff House from around January 2009 until last month.
It was a shock to many diners that the restaurant suddenly and unexpectedly closed last month. My phone started ringing about two weeks ago about the closure and I’ve received dozens of inquiries.
Note: This blog post will be updated as I find out more information, so this is only what I know so far.
The restaurant closed on/around Christmas, several TNT Diners report. There was no sign or notice to diners and the phone was temporarily disconnected.
I’ve tried for more than a week, without success, to reach the previous operators to find out what happened. UPDATE: This evening, Robert Denny, who, with partners, was leasing the restaurant from Brendicke, left me a voice mail saying he is declining comment about the closure, but he asked that I call him back tomorrow if I had other questions. I will do so.
Brendicke last week filed for a liquor license, and workers at the Cliff House started answering the phone a few days ago. Dru Bishop, a friend of Brendicke's who is helping with the opening, said he and workers were just able to get back into the building a few days ago.
Bishop said workers are busy giving the restaurant a mini makeover before it reopens. Workers are adding a coat of paint, staining the teak wood, and cleaning the restaurant.
He said predicting an exact opening date could be tricky because so many things depend upon permits being granted, but right now they’re looking at an opening on/around Feb. 4. I’ll continue to report on the opening as I get more information.
A big question for diners: will the Cliff House be taking reservations for Valentine’s Day? The restaurant long has been a popular destination for Valentine’s diners. Bishop said managers there are hesitant to book reservations until all the permits in place, so interested diners should call as soon as the restaurant opens to see about making reservations.
What about diners with gift certificates issued by the previous operators? UPDATE: Since the previous operators haven’t (or won’t) comment on the closure, I posed that question to Bishop. He said the restaurant absolutely would honor any gift certificates that were issued (if there are any) under the former management. Diners with concerns about that should contact the restaurant to ask questions, Bishop said.
As for the nuts and bolts of the new Cliff House, Bishop said the restaurant will keep business hours with an opening time of around 11:30 a.m. every day. They intend to have an aggressive happy hour, Bishop reported.
For the food, expect to see a retooled menu from what the previous operators offered. Masuda, the former chef and general manager, said regulars should expect to see a return of old Cliff House favorites. He said diners will recognize some of the popular items from the previous menus of the restaurant upstairs and the more casual bistro downstairs. Among them will be chicken picatta, the pesto pizza and fettuccini. As for the future menu, Masuda said the staff will listen to what diners say and make tweaks accordingly.
Have questions for the staff or Brendicke when I interview him? Please comment here.
Cliff House ResturantWhere: 6300 Marine View Drive, Tacoma Phone: 253-927-0400Website: http://cliffhouserestaurant.comOpening date: Sometime around the first week of February