Ranch House BBQ pitmaster Amy Anderson is feeling the heat in her new location.
It sounded a bit like a fairy tale ending to a bad dream: Ranch House BBQ was demolished by mudslide in December. Then Olympia's Governor Hotel gave the restaurant's owners six months free rent and three months free utilities. Now the fairy tale is fracturing. The News Tribune's sister paper The Olympian reports:
Since moving in January after its Kennedy Creek Road location was destroyed by flooding, the business has had to adjust to new customers and competition from other downtown restaurants, co-owner Melanie Tapia said.
The result has been a 25 percent year-over-year drop in first-quarter sales; a staff reduction of six employees, leaving the restaurant with about 20; and mounting expenses as the restaurant invests in its new location while making mortgage and insurance payments on its old 5.2-acre site west of Olympia, Tapia said. Those payments are about $5,000 per month, she said.
"It's lost something," Tapia said about Ranch House, which has existed for about four years. "We're just another restaurant downtown."
Tapia said she has considered closing the restaurant, which she co-owns with Amy Anderson.
Tapia said Ranch House plans to rebuild at its previous site. She said the business has been approved for a low- interest loan of 4 percent from the U.S. Small Business Administration, although she's not sure whether it will receive the full amount needed to rebuild. She estimates that rebuilding will cost $750,000.
Ranch House's free rent runs out in July.
"I'm open to negotiating (rent) and supporting them as best we can, but I just can't continue to operate it for free," Governor Hotel general manager Sandra Miller said.
One customer told The Olympian that customers might miss the down-home feeling of the old location.