Contreras brothers open Parkplace Pub in Kirkland
By MATT PHELPS
Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
February 12, 2010 · Updated 10:48 AM
Santos Contreras has served the Kirkland community in many capacities, including a decade on the Kirkland City Council. That spirit of community has been passed down to his sons Greg and Eric Contreras.
The brothers opened Parkplace Pub Jan. 4 in the old TGI Fridays space and are finding that their third restaurant/bar is thriving thanks to the spirit of the Kirkland community.
"We grew up in the Bridal Trails neighborhood," said Greg. "We see old high school friends in here. We didn't think this would happen and when it did we just said we have to take a shot. You don't get this opportunity very often and our parents connections are definitely helpful as well."
For the Kirkland natives, the opportunity to open a restaurant in their hometown was a dream come true.
"I live right up the street so it is close to home," said Eric. "This is a tight community but we have been pleasantly surprised."
Both of their parents have deep ties to the community, which has helped to make Parkplace Pub a new socializing place in the heart of downtown. The brothers said that they have not done any advertising past the large banners hanging on the railings and some neon signs in the windows.
The bar has seen a steady increase in business since opening day. Friday at 6 p.m. has become a big socializing time for some of the movers and shakers in Kirkland.
"It has been kind of a Kirkland 'social' for lack of a better word," said Eric. "We have had all the city council members and the mayor in here. Last Friday we had 25 people."
The new establishment is a lot different from TGI Fridays, from the local ownership to the fact that the restaurant/bar is 21 and over. But with the failure of TGI Fridays the brothers are all too aware of the economy and the risk they are taking.
"It crossed our mind for sure," said Eric, who received over 200 applications after posting an ad on craigslist for the server position. "But we think there are still people out there that are willing to spend money."
The brothers are also aware of the risk they are taking by expanding so fast, as they opened Damon's near Overlake in Redmond two months ago. The brothers also own Sidelines in Factoria.
"Yeah, we are a little nervous," said Greg, who worked at Anthony's in downtown Kirkland before opening Sidelines. "There are a lot of bars shutting down."
They hope that their menu and philosophy of good food, with good portions for the price and a full bar will catch on. Two menu items that have caught on with patrons is the fish n' chips and whiskey burger.
"We will put our fish n' chips against anyone's. We are bar owners with good food," said Eric. "But we try to give bigger portions for the price. We just want to get people down here and take care of them."
Other menu items include pasta, sandwiches and deep-fried food.
Parkplace Pub still looks a lot like TGI Fridays on the inside with some additions like pool tables, a Juke Box and new plasma TVs. But the candy striped table tops and awnings are still around. The brothers don't plan to make any more changes in the near future as their lease is only for 18 months. The short lease is based on remodeling plans for the location in two years.
When TGI Friday's closed in September of 2009 the opportunity to reopen the place was a win-win for both the owner of the space, Jeff Cole, and the two Kirkland natives.
"My dad knows Jeff," said Greg. "I think for him and the shops around us it was better to not have this place sit empty. This is a great opportunity for us because we didn't have to put a lot of money into it up front."
The brothers are cautiously optimistic about the restaurant's future and said that even if they lose the space in two years they may make an attempt to move the restaurant to another location in Kirkland.
"We would like to be here for a while but we will see how it goes," said Eric.Contact Kirkland Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-822-9166 ext. 5052.