For peninsula-based business owner Josh Armstrong, an old adage — one that says the only thing constant in our world is change — rings true.
“I can’t sit still,” he said last week, fresh from a bike ride from home to his newest venture, the soon-to-be-reopened Blondie’s Plate.
Armstrong’s business focus comes into sharp relief in the past few years. He sold his Armstrong Marine Inc. (now Armstrong Marine USA Inc.) in the fall of 2017 and recently sold off most of the marine trade equipment he had in the North Carolina-based US Work Boats.
Now his focus is on real estate, Armstrong says, with eyes on opening an office in Sequim at some point. But it also seemed a good time to add what he calls a complimentary piece in owning Blondie’s Plate, the downtown Sequim restaurant that’s offered locally-sourced, Northwest-style cuisine and hand-crafted spirits for nearly seven years.
Armstrong said he’s been a customer of Kim and Rick McDougall’s restaurant for a number of years, so when the opportunity came that the eatery was up for sale, he jumped.
“They were burned out on it (but) they put a lot of effort into this place; I don’t want to see (that) go to waste,” Armstrong said.
Blondie’s Plate shifted from regular hours to curbside service in mid-March before closing in mid-March. Owners marked a bittersweet seventh anniversary on May 5, announcing the restaurant’s closure.
City licensing and permits will likely dictate the restaurant’s reopening Armstrong said, but he hopes to have doors open for at least a soft opening by early to mid-July.
Armstrong said he doesn’t expect to make major changes, particularly to the staff (a large majority of the 12-person crew are staying on, he said) or to the food and drink offerings. He said the food menu will retain staff-recommended favorites with a few new offerings (including a hamburger and chicken sandwich) to pair with popular specialty drinks.
Armstrong credited Kim McDougall for creation of “fabulous food” for many menu favorites.
Armstrong is inheriting a building with a storied past: one of the earliest churches and the first Episcopal church in Sequim, construction of the small white building began in 1893 and the first service held at the (now former) St. Luke’s Episcopal Church was in 1894. In 1992, after a larger structure took on the role of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, the church was moved to North Sequim Avenue and then four years later was moved to its current location at Second Avenue and Bell Street. It made the transformation from episcopal church to restaurant, first Jean’s Deli and then Lippert’s to finally Blondie’s Plate.
The most obvious change for Blondie’s Plate regulars in recent days, however, is on the building’s west end, where Armstrong’s crew was hard at work last week adding a rail and Plexiglas to expand and provide comfort to an outdoor seating area. The Plexiglas will cut down on the afternoon breezes and help people enjoy a bit of the town, he said. Heat lamps and more furniture are being added, Armstrong noted, along with possibly a server station.
Along with a fresh coat of paint inside, Armstrong is eyeing a bump-out expansion in the fall: he wants to add 6-8 feet on the building’s southeast corner for an expanded bar — but said he will be keep the architecture of the former church’s roof line and Gothic-shaped windows. The renovation will probably happen in the fall and may force a short closure, he said, but workers can do much of it while remaining open.
Armstrong said he doesn’t plan to be “micro-managing” on-site but rather offer his skills in the accounting and legal end of the business.
“I’m a team builder; I like to treat people well.”
A number of things about Blondie’s Plate will remain the same, Armstrong noted: the phone number, the website (www.blondies plate.com) and in particular, the name — one that locals have come to know and love.
“The goodwill of the people is what I bought,” he said.
“I like bringing people together.”
For more about Blondie’s Plate, see www.blondiesplate.com or call 360-683-2233.