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News / Business / Clark County Business

Beaches owner eyes Terminal One for new restaurant

Venture in the former Red Lion space will not be another Beaches location

By Brooks Johnson, Columbian Business Reporter
Published: April 5, 2016, 5:13pm

Get hungry, Vancouver — a second new restaurant is in the works for the downtown waterfront.

The owner of Beaches restaurant is reportedly in final negotiations with the Port of Vancouver to open a new type of restaurant at the old Red Lion at the Quay on the port’s Terminal One.

The port said it’s working on a lease that would see the hotel’s restaurant — which still has much of the nautical decor intact — as well as the ballroom and banquet space put back into use for a number of years.

Beaches owner Mark Matthias applied for a liquor license at the old hotel, 100 Columbia St., under the name Warehouse 1923, according to state records, indicating a new venture and not a second Beaches location. The terminal opened in the 1920s, and the name suggests the possibility of a concept restaurant tied to that era.

The recent license application was the first sign a new business was being considered for the space that became vacant when the Spokane-based Red Lion closed the hotel last fall.

Reached by The Columbian, Matthias said he could share more details following negotiations and an expected deal.

Matthias opened Beaches in 1995, and the waterfront restaurant has grown into a Vancouver staple. Beaches also operates a restaurant at Portland International Airport.

His potential new venture follows the announcement earlier this year that Spokane-based Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar would build a restaurant at the private waterfront development just downstream of the port’s land.

Port officials have sent mixed signals about their plans for the former Red Lion building and the surrounding 10-acre Terminal One property. Even as it engages in long-term planning for the site, it has re-christened the Red Lion as the Columbia River Life Sciences Technology Building. In November, the port announced it had recruited biotechnology startup AbSci from Portland as the building’s first technology tenant. So far, no others have followed.

The port has also talked about demolishing portions of the Red Lion and perhaps adding a new building for biotechnology companies, but so far those ideas have not moved out of discussion stage. The port is also considering moving its offices to the waterfront.

In January, Torque Coffee Roasters moved into a section of the former Red Lion, but the Port has filed a lawsuit demanding that the coffee shop pay back rent.

The port this year entered into a broad agreement that allows Clark College to use the Red Lion’s kitchen for culinary training in the fall as it continues to renovate its own culinary facilities for a re-opening in fall 2017. But an official said Tuesday that the college is no longer interested in using the space.

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“We are not considering the Red Lion space for our culinary program at this time,” Vice President of Instruction Tim Cook said.

In its public statements, the port has said it envisions eventually building a new structure on the pier that would be a throwback to the prune warehouse that was the birthplace of the Port of Vancouver. Some of the structure of the original warehouse is still in use at the terminal and could continue to be.

It also says it’s continuing to pursue a hotel to replace the Red Lion — negotiations are ongoing with potential tenants — and a few new buildings with a mix of commercial and residential uses.

As for the restaurant that will be using that space, an agreement could be reached as soon as this week.

Columbian Business Reporter