Holland Inc. will take back cafe site

Dulin’s Cafe did not exercise the option to extend its lease

By Cami Joner, Columbian retail & real estate reporter

Published:

 

Owners of the Vancouver-based Burgerville chain might redevelop the iconic Holland Restaurant site downtown when it returns to the company’s hands in August.

But the project, just off the proposed light-rail line, probably won’t be a new downtown Burgerville, said Tom Mears, board chairman of Holland Inc., which owns the burger chain founded by George Propstra. The company is looking at options for the almost full city block it owns on the southwest corner of Main Street and West McLoughlin Boulevard. Dulin’s Cafe has leased about 10,000 square feet of the block’s one-story building since 2002. The building had been the home of The Holland Restaurant for 68 years until it closed in 2001.

Mears expects Dulin’s to move out in August.

Restaurant owner Pat Dulin did not return calls for comment Monday. The cafe chose not to sign its final option for a five-year lease extension on its space at 1708 Main St.

Once vacant, Holland Inc.’s downtown building isn’t likely to be redeveloped into the newest link in Burgerville’s 39-restaurant chain, Mears said.

The company has been searching for a new downtown site since 2011. That’s the year Burgerville closed its 50-year-old city center site, a walk-up hamburger stand at 305 E. Mill Plain Blvd. That property, just a block west of Interstate 5, was sold for $750,000 to Vancouver-based developer Elie Kassab, of Prestige Development, who plans to break ground in early 2013 on a $16 million apartment project.

Kassab said Holland Inc.’s Main Street site would increase in value as plans for light rail move forward.

“Light rail makes it extremely valuable, because they own a full city block,” he said. Holland Inc. also owns the entire block to the south, which houses its headquarters building at 109 W. 17th St.

But Mears declined to give details of options being considered for the site. He added that any redevelopment project could face a great deal of uncertainty, due to the unclear status of the proposed light-rail project, part of the planned $3.5 billion Columbia River Crossing project to replace the Interstate 5 Bridge. “We’ve ruled out putting a Burgerville there, but that all could change,” said Mears, who married George Propstra’s daughter and purchased his father-in-law’s restaurant company nearly 20 years ago.

The Columbia River Crossing proposal, which faces influential opposition, would locate a Park & Ride building a block south of Holland Inc.’s headquarters.

“There’s just a lot of uncertainty” around the property, Mears said.

In addition to Dulin’s, Holland Inc. has allowed Vancouver nonprofit Share to use a portion of the building at 1708 Main for offices, work space, and warehouse space for supplies and food.

Dutch immigrant Jacob Propstra founded a creamery in downtown Vancouver in 1922, moving it to Main and McLoughlin in 1928. The family-style Holland Restaurant was an outgrowth of the creamery business.

Jacob’s son George Propstra, who left college to work in the business in 1933, founded Burgerville in 1961 when he saw the success of restaurants across the country that offered drive-up service to customers ordering hamburgers and fries.

Mears would not rule out the possibility of launching a new restaurant. The company opened Beaches in 1995; the casual dining restaurant now has two locations.

Mears said he expects to make an announcement within three or four months.