Ex-Lonny’s restaurateur Ritter, 67, dies

PORT TOWNSEND — Lonny Ritter, whose Port Townsend restaurants drew celebrities and politicians, has died in Thailand.

Ritter was found dead in his condominium in Hua Hin, Thailand, after neighbors became concerned that they had not seen him around, said John Sheehan, a longtime friend.

When neighbors alerted the condominium owner about their fears, he broke down the door and found Ritter’s body, Sheehan was told.

Ritter was 67.

Ritter died sometime between May 5, when he made a phone call, and Monday morning, when Sheehan received a 3 a.m. call from the embassy about the death.

Originally from Los Angeles, Ritter was born on Dec. 20, 1942, the son of a produce broker and a mother who was passionate about cooking.

He moved to Port Townsend with his first wife and two children in 1971, where he set up and managed the first restaurant at Point Hudson.

He then worked as a chef at Discovery Bay Lodge and at the Harbormaster in Port Ludlow before opening his own restaurant, The Lido, in the old De Leo building across from the Boat Haven in 1979.

That was the year “An Office and a Gentleman,” was being filmed in Port Townsend, and the cast ate at his restaurant every night for three months, Ritter said in a 2003 interview.

Lido, Lonny’s

The Lido also became a destination for Seattle celebrities, as did his namesake restaurant, Lonny’s, which Ritter opened in 1994, also in the Boat Haven.

Among the guests who have eaten at Lonny’s are Al and Tipper Gore, who flew into Port Townsend in 2002 to celebrate Tipper’s 54th birthday with friends.

In the 2003 interview, Ritter said he originally pursued a career as an artist, teaching art at a Lake Tahoe college, and then was part owner of a Los Angeles art gallery.

He helped design the kitchen of The Timber House in Quilcene, he said.

After closing The Lido, he moved to the West End, where he operated the restaurant at Sol Duc Hot Springs.

When he returned to Port Townsend to open Lonny’s, he chose a location that would provide parking for locals, whom he considered the basis of his business.

“Visitors are just the cream on the top,” Ritter said in the interview.

Retired to Thailand

After he sold Lonny’s, he retired to Thailand.

Sheehan, former owner of Dogs Afoot in Port Townsend, also has a condominium in the same complex where Ritter lived. He is married to Sai Sheehan, the sister of Jiap Ritter, Ritter’s second and now former wife.

Sheehan said he and another old friend, Overton Berry, will get together with Ritter’s son from his first marriage, Jordan Rubin, to plan a suitable memorial.

“He was a prince,” Sheehan said.

Besides Rubin, who lives in Seattle, Ritter is survived by a daughter in Austin, Texas, and her children, Sheehan said.


Port Townsend/Jefferson County reporter-columnist Jennifer Jackson can be reached at jjackson@olypen.com.

More in Life

A GROWING CONCERN: For every season, there is a plant

WELL, THANKSGIVING HAS come and gone, and hopefully so has all the… Continue reading

Photo by Karen Griffiths

Cutline: My niece Brooke Stromberg and Lacy, both 15, make a winning turn during a barrel racing competition during an April game show in 2008  at JeffCo fairgrounds.   Later, the duo became the 2008 Washington High School Equestrian Team  and Patterned Speed Horse Association’s (junior division) state champions in barrel racing. Both shows were held in Wenatchee.
HORSEPLAY: Saying goodbye to a faithful friend

I’M FEELING A bit emotional as I share my Lacey passed away… Continue reading

Singers, from left, Abbigail Cuellar, 16, Danielle Lorentzen of Ghostlight Productions, Kaylyn Stroup, 15, and Max MacFall, 15, perform a Christmas carol during Wednesday evening’s opening ceremony for the 33rd annual Festival of Trees at Vern Burton Community Center in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Tickets are available for Festival of Trees

Senior breakfast, gala and family days also part of annual event

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith
Service set for Unity in Port Townsend

The Rev. Pam Douglas-Smith will present “Nature, Peace and… Continue reading

The Rev. Larry Schellink will present “The Great-Fullness” at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Schellink is the guest speaker at Unity in the Olympics, 2917 E. Myrtle Ave.
Weekend program scheduled for Unity in the Olympics

The Rev. Larry Schellink will present “The Great-Fullness” at… Continue reading

Joseph Bednarik
‘Grace’ is set for Sunday program

Joseph Bednarik will present “Holding Hands with Grace” at… Continue reading

ISSUES OF FAITH: Being thankful for Thanksgiving

I AM THANKFUL for Thanksgiving and how it prepares our hearts for… Continue reading

Volunteer Merry Svenson of Port Angeles carries plates of turkey and fixings to be served to hungry visitors during Wednesday’s annual pre-Thanksgiving lunch at the Salvation Army Social Service Center in Port Angeles. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)
Salvation Army offers meal on Thanksgiving Eve

Additional free community fests to be offered today

Free public Thanksgiving feasts offered on Peninsula

First meal set today in Port Angeles

Conservation district hosting annual plant sale

The Clallam Conservation District is taking orders for its… Continue reading

Betsy Reed Schultz (far left), founder of Captain Joseph House, gets a look at a carved bear donated by Bret Wirta’s Black Bear Diner and Holiday Inn & Suites last week at the Port Angeles facility. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)
Carved bear added to Captain Joseph House grounds

Gold Star families can find respite at Port Angeles facility

Ocean Sains of Port Angeles, then in fourth grade, was among the younger recipients of Music on the Strait’s 2022 Alice Rapasky scholarships. (Music on the Strait)
Music scholarship applications open

Young musicians who are taking part in their schools’… Continue reading