Black Bear Diner in Sequim to start building

SEQUIM — Construction of a Black Bear Diner, part of the Holiday Inn Express & Conference Center plaza, is expected to begin this month, the hotel’s owner and chief executive officer said.

“There are not a lot of restaurants undergoing new construction nationwide, so we feel real fortunate to be able to do this,” said Bret Wirta, with Wirta Hospitality Worldwide, which owns the Holiday Inn Express at 1471 E. Washington St., just west of Simdars Road, and the Quality Inn and Suites, 134 River Road.

Blyn-based Jamestown Excavation cleared and leveled the restaurant and park site on the 0.78-acre site late last year.

“We are hoping to be open for the full summer season,” Wirta said of the restaurant, which is a unique partnership he has formed with the restaurant franchise that will add the third Black Bear Diner in the state.

Wirta originally took out a city building permit, tentatively valued at $621,812.45, for a 5,000-square-foot restaurant in late 2008, records show, and that permit was recently extended.

He plans a groundbreaking ceremony to be announced.

“The interesting thing about this project,” Wirta said, “is with a franchise hotel and a franchise restaurant, it’s usually never the twain shall meet.

“What is very exciting about this is Black Bear Diner allowed us to modify the kitchen to cater to the hotel.

“One reason we chose Black Bear Diner is the flexibility.”

The restaurant’s large kitchen is designed to support busy meal times while at the same time catering hotel conference functions.

The 125-seat restaurant and 77-room Holiday Inn Express will function independently or work together for the 250-seat conference center guests as needed, Wirta has said.

Links between the two

The separate hotel and restaurant sites will share an existing pond and be linked by a bridge.

Wirta said they will be linked electronically, too.

For example, hotel guests will be able to charge a meal with their room keys, while restaurant guests can reserve a room while enjoying their dinner.

A full range of buffet-style food options will be available for business conferences, wedding receptions or reunions, Wirta said.

The restaurants have large booths, counter seating, a private dining area and outdoor seating.

Two other Black Bear home-style food franchises are located in Washington state, one in Olympia and one in Federal Way.

In addition to those in Washington state, Black Bear Diner has nearly 50 eating establishments in Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Colorado and Iowa.

Black Bear Diner was founded in 1995 in Mount Shasta, Calif., by Bob and Laurie Manley, along with founding partner Bruce Dean.

They named it for the native bear found in Northern California, and the owners place their signature bear carvings in front of each restaurant, created by Ray Schulz of Deer Park, a city in Eastern Washington.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at [email protected]

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