A restaurant with a popular outdoor patio wouldn’t typically choose to schedule a temporary closure just as warm weather is setting in. But since there’s never an ideal time to shut down a business, the owner of 3 Eyed Fish Wine Bar determined she had the best chance for future success if she timed a massive remodel to align with significant road work at Queensgate Drive and Keene Road in Richland.
“Construction does hurt your business; it’s inevitable. But we thought it was best to coincide with that,” said Cindy Goulet, owner of both 3 Eyed Fish and LU LU Craft Bar + Kitchen in Richland.
The restaurant closure had been scheduled for September, but was moved up to April once she learned about the city of Richland’s road project.
“You don’t want to struggle through the summer with all the traffic disruptions and then close,” Goulet said. “People don’t go to an area when who knows what the traffic’s going to be like.”
The restaurant at 1970 Keene Road is scheduled to reopen in mid-August “bigger and better,” with nearly double the amount of seating than was available on the rooftop patio, and total 2,700 square feet. Goulet says 3 Eyed Fish will be about 80 percent larger than when it first opened in Queensgate Village five years ago, taking the spot once held by Casa Vino. It was a new home for the wine bar formerly housed in the Tri-Cities Airport, along with its sister restaurant, Florentyna’s, which both vacated the airport in 2015.
3 Eyed Fish has since thrived in its south Richland location, hosting private events, live music and Meet the Maker nights that shine a spotlight on rotating winemakers.
But Goulet said 3 Eyed Fish has been forced to have a more limited menu than she’d prefer to offer due to minimal kitchen and bar space. She expects to reveal new menu items when the restaurant reopens, including expanded American cuisine of what she describes as “craveable items” like burgers, pastas and additional craft cocktails.
“We’ll still have an outstanding wine list,” Goulet said. “We’ll continue to feature lots of local wines.”
The general manager for 3 Eyed Fish is also in the process of obtaining her level two certification as a sommelier.
Set to be removed is a roll-up door that connects the indoor restaurant with ground level outdoor seating. Goulet said an open floor plan designed by Wave Design Group of Kennewick will keep the upstairs patio as a focal point. The remodel will include moving the front door and an overhaul of the interior décor.
“It will still be a fairly modern look, but completely different,” Goulet said. “The restrooms will be nicer, and there will be more space in the bar and kitchen to service a busy weekend.”
Space has been a challenge on weekends when the restaurant often didn’t have the room to offer a full menu to the number of people coming through the door.
Goulet’s target market for 3 Eyed Fish continues to be the surrounding community.
“I want it to be a neighborhood casual bar and kitchen where people would be very comfortable going,” she said. “We’ll have a great takeout menu and someone could sit and have a glass of wine before picking up food for their family.”
Goulet promised the menu will continue to be “very much from scratch.”
The building was gutted when demolition began in mid-April, with the entire remodel expected to last four months. The construction of two roundabouts on Queensgate Drive was originally set to begin in March, but the date was bumped to early May. It is now underway. There will be major traffic disruptions during the roadwork, which is scheduled to conclude at the end of August.
The work will result in one roundabout near the west entrance to Columbia Park Trail, and the other at the on-ramp to eastbound Interstate 182. An additional right-turn lane will be added on Keene Road westbound at the Queensgate intersection, which is close to 3 Eyed Fish.
The seven employees from 3 Eyed Fish were offered temporary positions at LU LU during the south Richland restaurant’s closure. Some chose to relocate, while others opted to take the summer off and return when 3 Eyed Fish reopens.
The $750,000 construction project is being completed by IBK Inc., a Richland company owned by Goulet’s husband, Brian, the same general contractor who built LU LU.
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