MUKILTEO — So many people have an Arnies story.
Since 1979, the seafood restaurant with white tablecloths and sweeping water views was the place for first dates and first jobs, birthday celebrations and brunches with the grandparents.
Later this month, the doors will close as the four partners who own the Mukilteo mainstay wind down their careers.
The leased building at 714 Second St. will reopen in October as Hook and Cleaver, operated by Lombardi’s Restaurant Group, owner of Lombardi’s restaurants in Everett, Mill Creek and Bellingham.
There will be a farewell open house at Arnies on the afternoon of Aug. 27.
“For employees and guests and anybody who wants to stop by to have a last look and take a walk around,” said Rob Davis, president of Arnies Restaurants Northwest and general manager of the Mukilteo Arnies. “We thought it would be a nice going away. So many great guests have been coming here for so many years.”
The Arnies name evokes memories.
“Just mention it and people say, ‘Oh, Arnies.’ They have a story,” said Davis, who lives 4 miles away in Everett.
At the bar there are plaques above the stools with names of regulars who have passed away.
“You meet people who work here or come here and they are friends,” said Kevin Armintrout, of Everett, a regular for decades. “I’ve probably eaten everything on the menu.”
The staff knows to serve him a side of tartar sauce with his French fries.
Roger Gorham, of Everett, is part of a Thursday lunch group he met at Arnies who became his friends. Other days he enjoys the water view with a glass of wine.
“I’ll see what Lombardi’s does,” he said.
The Arnies location operating in Edmonds since 1981 will remain open, as will the Coho Cafe in Issaquah created by the Arnies group in 1998. At one time there was a third Arnies in Seattle.
Davis started in the kitchen at the Edmonds Arnies 40 years ago and later was a chef in Mukilteo.
He has worked with hundreds of people and hired teens for their first jobs.
“They come back later and you see that they are doing well,” Davis said. “The best thing when looking back is having that impact with so many people. You don’t realize it when it is happening.”
The 6,500-square-foot restaurant can host over 150 people for intimate and group settings, with patio dining. Dining is on three levels. The floors have blue carpet. The booths have blue upholstery.
“There is solid mahogany everywhere,” Davis said. “It’s like a ship, especially down in the bar.”
Arnies is no longer serving dinner, and closed Sunday and Monday.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m for lunch and 3 to 7 p.m. for happy hour, Tuesday through Saturday.
For Davis, the Mukilteo Arnies closing is bittersweet. Sure, it will give him more time to spend with his toddler granddaughter. He will still be involved with the Edmonds Arnies and the Coho Cafe in Issaquah.
The Mukilteo Arnies is a big part of his story.
“It has been 44 years since they started. This is the flagship,” Davis said. “It’s emotional.”
He is confident about the next chapter for diners.
“Lombardi’s is a local, established company,” Davis said. “It was comforting to me that Lombardi’s is taking over, not somebody that as a whim wants to buy a restaurant.”
Kerri Lonergan-Dreke, CEO and co-owner of Lombardi’s Restaurant Group, is set to get the keys to Arnies on Sept. 5.
“We’ll close and do a major remodel,” Lonergan-Dreke said.
New carpet, new booths and chairs and a new logo that combines a fishhook and meat cleaver will greet customers when the restaurant reopens under the new banner in early October. The new menu is still being cooked up but will feature locally sourced seafood and steak.
Hook and Cleaver will offer dinner, lunch — including traditional fare such as burgers and sandwiches — and brunch on Saturday and Sunday.
The price point will be higher than Lombardi’s but similar to Ivar’s, Lonergan-Dreke said.
“It will be elevated yet approachable dining,” she said. “We want to be a restaurant not only for special occasions, but going out with friends and family.”
Lombardi’s hopes to retain as many of Arnies’ 30 employees as possible, she said.
“Arnies has quite a few staff that have been with them for a long time,” Lonergan-Dreke said. “That’s the sign of a well run organization.”
The Lombardi’s group will move its corporate offices from Everett to Mukilteo, taking advantage of office space on the restaurant’s lower level, she said.
Like Arnies, Lombardi’s also boasts a long history.
Lonergan-Dreke’s mother, Diane Symms, founded the chain, opening the first Lombardi’s restaurant in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood in 1987, followed by an Issaquah location in 1991. Both are now closed.
In 1998, Symms opened Lombardi’s at the Port of Everett. Mother and daughter teamed up in 2012 and opened a second Snohomish County location in Mill Creek. A Lombardi’s in Bellingham debuted two years ago.
Symms restaurant roots go even farther back to the 1970s when she opened a sandwich shop with five wooden picnic tables in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood.
Symms semi-retired in 2021 and sold her interest in the chain to Lonergan-Dreke and two longtime Lombardi’s employees, Andy Hilliard and Kristofer Korshaven.
Earlier this year, they learned the Arnies in Mukilteo was for sale.
It was the chance to “branch out and launch a new concept,” Lonergan-Dreke said. “If we are not taking risks, we are not growing.”
For its soon-to-be-former owners, she pictures a bittersweet parting.
“Arnies is an iconic Northwest brand,” she said. “It’s hard to let your baby of 44 years go.”
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