Sequim’s Black Bear Diner’s Assistant General Manager Bill Carmichael General Manager Linda Donaghay say the Sequim franchise has the largest annual sales growth since 2016. At 11 percent, the store’s sales growth is the most in the company, Donaghay said. Sequim Gazette photo by Matthew Nash

Sequim Black Bear Diner’s sales growth the best in franchise so far in ‘17

The wooden bears towering over customers at Sequim’s Black Bear Diner, 1471 E. Washington St., may be big, but apparently so is business.

Managers for the breakfast, lunch and dinner eatery, which opened in July 2012 adjacent to Sequim Holiday Inn Express & Convention Center, say sales growth for the Sequim franchise is currently at 11 percent over 2016, which is No. 1 in the company.

“Our annual growth is normally around 3-4 percent,” said General Manager Linda Donaghay. “This year was booming.”

She and Assistant Manager Bill Carmichael attribute the growth to an improved work force and tourism.

Carmichael said they continually saw a large influx of tourists from across the globe including France and Italy.

Visitors typically come to the area for Sequim Lavender Weekend, Donaghay said, but this year they’ve also welcomed people all summer coming in after trips to the Olympic National Park, Lake Crescent and other popular peninsula sites.

One reason may be that the Black Bear Diner franchise continues to promote the parks across its 100 restaurants selling products with a portion of proceeds supporting National Parks, Donaghay said.

As sales continued to rise in Sequim, Donaghay said they’ve been able to employ upwards of 45 part-time and full-time workers including a full kitchen staff of five cooks too.

“This year we’ve been way more staffed,” Donaghay said. “Instead of three cooks in the kitchen we’ve had five. Before, it was an issue to get orders out on time. We couldn’t find five cooks because Sequim has a small workforce to pull from.”

But Sequim’s diner “has had a great staff in the last year,” Carmichael said.

To make room for the growing clientele, managers had doors to the conference room removed to expand space.

Regular customers come in daily who are “like family to us,” Donaghay said.

The diner’s extensive menu may cross a few eyes, but the biggest hit among customers is the chicken fried steak in two different sizes, managers said.

“They are still in awe of either one,” Carmichael said.

Sequim’s Black Bear Diner owner Bret Wirta said as menu prices increase nationwide at restaurants due to increasing costs, “the value of our consistently delicious comfort food in our generous portions becomes even more important to customers.”

He added that the restaurant’s health inspections are its best ever this year and customer complaints are an all-time low.

“We are serving more satisfied locals and tourists than ever (and) because of that, Linda, Bill and their staff are in the running for the Restaurant of the Year for our franchise,” Wirta said. :We are one of the smallest and the furthest north of the 100 Black Bear Diner franchises. We might be small but we are mighty! “

Across the franchise, restaurants serve breakfast all day and local stores can opt to sell specialty items such as pumpkin pancakes and/or seasonal pies.

Donaghay said they offer daily specials and plan to keep growing in different ways in the coming years such as being more involved with schools, groups and sports teams with “Dine and Donate events.”

Their next event is slated to support Ms. Wheelchair Washington with a portion of sales supporting the program from 9 a.m.-noon and 2-5 p.m. Nov. 14.

Sequim Black Bear Diner was the 51st store to open in the franchise and it’s open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays.

To make a to-go order or reserve a table, call the restaurant at 360-504-2950. Visitors also can order from a phone application or computer at www.blackbeardiner.com.

Reach Matthew Nash at mnash@sequimgazette.com.

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