By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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After 26 years as a Sequim landmark in the Sequim Village Shopping Center, Tarcisio’s, The Italian Grill, closed two weeks ago.
Farther east on Washington, the doors of Sequim’s Fresh Seafood and Smokehouse have not been open for more than a week.
While the fate of Tarcisio’s is certain, the future of Sequim’s Fresh Seafood and Smokehouse — one of the Dungeness Valley’s few seafood restaurants — is a mystery.
“I hate to shut it down. This place has been my home,” said Randy Wellman, owner of Tarcisio’s for the past two decades.
Wellman planned to replace kitchen equipment when he closed two weeks ago.
The restaurant was opened by Tarcisio Miglia in 1987 and has been a popular gathering place for Sequim since.
But as the project took longer, he decided it was time to keep the doors closed and look for another buyer.
“It just became one of those things where we didn’t see the future getting any brighter,” Wellman said.
He cut paychecks to all his employees and hung the closed sign in the front window.
“They were family,” he said. “I wanted to make sure they got what they had earned.”
He and his wife, Deanna, plan to remain in the Sequim area.
“I guess I need a new job, though,” Wellman said.
Earlier this year, the Islander Pizza and Pasta Shack on East Washington closed suddenly and many employees told the Peninsula Daily News at the time that they did not receive their final paychecks.
A sign on the former Islander building advertises that it will soon be a Chinese restaurant.
Customers went to eat at Sequim’s Fresh Seafood and Smokehouse last week only to find the doors locked. There is no sign indicating a reason for the closure.
“We ate here every time we come to Sequim,” said Mark Bunford of Tucson, Ariz., who comes up to visit family in the valley.
The PDN could not contact owner Ralph Lovely about the closure of the restaurant, which opened in the summer of 2012 in a building that previously housed an Arby’s.
While Wellman said a number of factors led him to close his restaurant, he said his fight this year with the city over advertising signs on the West Washington Street sidewalk had nothing to do with it.
“I’d like to say that was what did it so I could have somebody else to blame,” he said.
“But the truth is, that worked out pretty well and the city was really good about coming to a productive solution with me.”
Wellman had advertised specials on a readerboard by the sidewalk, which violated a new city ordinance against signs outside the downtown core.
After receiving warnings, he was given a $125 ticket.
The $125 was later paid by a sympathetic former mayor, Walt Schubert.
The owners of the Sequim Village Shopping Center, anchored by a J.C. Penney Co. Inc. department store, ordered official, permanent posts for the sidewalk that allowed Wellman to hang his special advertisements in compliance with the city’s new code.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.