Marie Browne and Troy Kindred will step down as the owners of the The Quartermaster Inn and Restaurant on March 31.
The two have run the Burton business since April 2009, after John “Stormy” Storms and Victoria Davies closed what was then the Back Bay Inn. Until the end of March, “The Q”— as the business is sometimes known — will be open for dinner Friday through Sunday, and the inn will remain open seven days a week.
Browne and Kindred were undeterred by the recession when they took the reigns, but it has not been an easy time for the well-known Island couple.
“I have never worked so hard for so little return,” Browne said recently. “It gave new meaning to the expression, ‘Will work for food.’”
Despite the challenges during their three-year tenure, Browne said she and Kindred had hoped to continue under the terms of their existing lease after it expires at the end of March, but they will not be doing so.
“We were not able to come to terms with a lease going forward,” she said. “We could not find mutually acceptable terms.”
Islander Armen Yousoufian, a semi-retired businessman and private lender, owns the property and the accompanying house next door.
He confirmed that Kindred and Browne will not be renewing their lease and stressed that he would like to see a business remain there, providing Island jobs and offering an eatery at the Island’s south end.
“I would like to see something continue there,” he said. “I am open to any and all possibilities.”
When Browne and Kindred began this venture, they had hoped the recipe for success there would be to turn the restaurant into a community gathering place, with frequent music, special events and a well-rounded menu that would offer what Browne called “comfort food with panache.”
But by the time they had a year of experience behind them, Browne said they had learned they were more dependent on Burton’s many summer residents than restaurants in Vashon town are. They adjusted their hours accordingly, cutting back on dinners but adding breakfasts for a time.
By last summer, they had come to feel that running an inn and restaurant was too much for two people, Browne said then, and they decided to look for someone to take over the restaurant portion of their business. They found someone who they thought would be a good fit, Browne said, but that situation did not work out.
Looking forward, Browne encouraged people to come down for dinner. She noted Kindred has been cooking while their chef is out because of an injury, though they expect him back before they close.
Beyond March, Browne said they will remain on the Island.
“Stay tuned for what comes next,” she said.