Rural restaurant may spark more development

$1.5 million Fargher Lakehouse restaurant and pub project expected to open in mid-November

Lakehouse

Bill Doty is designing his soon-to-open Fargher Lakehouse restaurant to be busy.

The project, taking shape across from his Fargher Lake General Store, is ambitious.

The bar area will feature 16 on-tap beers. Seating is planned for 90 with ample paved parking at the back for cars, trucks and motorcycles. Before it closed in 2011, the old Fargher Lake Inn had been a popular watering hole for weekend bike clubs.

Doty described the Fargher Lake crossroads at State Highway 503 and Northeast 156th Avenue north of Battle Ground as a great spot for a restaurant.

According to the most recent figures from the Washington state Department of Transportation, he’s right; an average of 5,300 vehicles per day pass by the location – that’s up from 5,100 per day in 2012.

Bill Doty“In the 25 years I’ve owned the general store, we’ve never seen a real downturn in traffic,” Doty said.

That bodes well for the new restaurant that is expected to open in mid-November.

Doty and his wife, Roxanne, are leasing the new building to Jennifer and Dan Goodenough and Dani and Joe Christiansen, who will operate the restaurant as Fargher Lakehouse LLC. Brandon Marsh is onboard as executive chef to design a menu featuring “upscale pub food.” Marsh most recently worked at the Grant House in Vancouver. At the start, the restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner with plans down the road for breakfast service.

Starting from scratch

The Dotys bought the restaurant property in 2012 and have since been working to develop the landmark site.

At first, they thought more of the old 1940s building could be saved. However, multiple add-ons made by different owners and builders presented too many construction challenges.

Doty’s now $1.5 million project has meant demolishing almost all of the original structure, installing new sewer, well water and stormwater infrastructure and landscaping and constructing the 3,000-square-foot restaurant as well as a separate 1,500-square-foot three-bedroom house next door. The house will be rented in conjunction with the restaurant business.

Doty worked with Vancouver architect Doug Warman and area contractors on the restaurant’s floor layout, exterior design and interior décor. The kitchen, for instance, is larger than most and laid out to support high-volume and efficient food service.

The restaurant is expected to employ as many as 25 or 30 people.

Wood for the exterior lap board siding came off the 400-acre Doty tree farm on Cedar Creek Road. The interior features recycled exposed wood beams, brick and beech wood wall treatments. Doty bought the nearly new restaurant booths out of a closed Macaroni Grill restaurant.

“It was a big dream for me to use raw materials from the tree farm,” Doty said. “I’ve been hoarding the brick and have had the beech wood in storage for years.”

He kept the original restaurant footprint close to the road and has installed a sidewalk from “one end of our town to the other.”

Longer-term plans

The restaurant is not the end of Doty’s dreams for his unincorporated Fargher Lake rural commercial center that has grown to include a total of 30 acres in 12 commercial lots and four residential properties. He envisions a brewery just east of the restaurant site and would welcome a separate drive-up coffee kiosk or ice cream store somewhere nearby.

This summer, the Dotys converted the store’s four-pump gas and diesel operation from the 76 brand to Chevron, which should boost sales because more people use Chevron credit cards. The station is pumping nearly 100,000 gallons a month, he said.

The store sells enough beer that Stein Distributing Inc. makes two deliveries a week.

Six employees of the 20 people who work at the store have been there for more than 18 years.

“They form a core team that has made it easier for me to focus on the restaurant project,” he said.

Meanwhile, Doty said the new restaurant is going to be the catalyst for everything that comes next, whether it is a brewery, a farmers market or a coffee kiosk.

At 59, Doty seems totally engaged in continued development of the north county commercial center, but admitted that his wife (they’ve been married 40 years) wants to travel before taking on another big project.

Fargher Lakehouse restaurant
15517 NE Fargher Lake Hwy.
Planned opening: Mid-November
Operators: Dan and Jennifer Goodenough and Joe and Dani Christiansen.
Menu: Upscale pub food
Chef: Brandon Marsh
Developer: Bill Doty

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