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Maury Island restaurant goes public
For the first time in recent history, and possibly ever, residents of Maury Island and southern Vashon will have a dining option close to home. It’s not exactly a new restaurant, though. Tomorrow, the Vashon Golf & Swim Club will open its restaurant to the public with expanded hours, new chefs, a revamped menu and a new name — the Mileta Creek Restaurant.
Chris Lueck, who was hired as the club’s new operations manager a few months ago, says the restaurant’s opening is part of an ongoing effort to bring new revenue and new members to the 80-year-old club, which has struggled to maintain its membership in recent years.
He believes Islanders will like Mileta Creek Restaurant not only because of its location, but for what he calls “spectacular views” of the rolling green golf course, Quartermaster Harbor and the Olympic Mountains. The clubhouse’s lounge and dining room seat nearly 100, and during warmer months, Lueck said, diners flock to the patio, which looks out at the water and can seat another 60. Even as a private club, he said, the restaurant has been “hopping in the summer.”
Lueck said he has revamped the menu to appeal to a variety of diners — offering everything from hamburgers and macaroni to steak and fine wines, and providing an affordable selection for kids. With chefs Heather Sanders of Heather’s Homegrown and Kael Noah of Uptown Takeout, the restaurant will open with a hearty winter menu with plenty of meat. Come spring, Lueck said, they’ll offer lighter fare with fresh herbs and produce, and they’ll add barbecue in the summer.
“We’ve kind of modernized the menu, especially at dinner,” he said.
Lueck is in talks with local farmers to eventually stock the restaurant with Island produce and eggs, and he says Mileta Creek will sell the cheapest wine of any restaurant on Vashon.
Lueck, who used to manage Vashon Thriftway’s wine section, said that while most restaurants triple the cost of wine, the golf club’s new restaurant will charge less than double a bottle’s value.
“We’re getting some good deals,” he said. “I’ve always thought it’s a ripoff to triple or quadruple a bottle of wine.”
The restaurant will also add what Lueck calls a two-for-$20 deal. Any night, $20 will get diners two appetizers, two plates of a specific entree and one selected bottle of wine.
Lueck said the club hopes Mileta Creek Restaurant — named after the creek that bisects the property and runs into the harbor — will put the club on display in a way it hasn’t been before. Ideally those who enjoy their experience at the restaurant will consider joining the club, which has witnessed a decline in membership since 2003.
In 2010, in an effort to appeal to more Islanders, the club began to offer limited and more affordable membership options, and in 2011 it rebranded itself as the Vashon Golf & Swim Club.
The club has considered opening its restaurant for some time, and Lueck said when he came on board he pushed for the change.
“Looking over the financials, it’s readily apparent that the old business plan isn’t working,” he said.
Lueck — who attended the Culinary Institute of America and was a professional chef for 30 years — has also brought new wine and beer tastings and wine dinners to the club, events open to members only.
The restaurant opens as the organization begins a new membership campaign, waiving initiation fees for those who join in March. Lueck said that to remain vital on Vashon, the club needs to attract younger members with families, something he hopes the Mileta Creek Restaurant will do.
“This is the direction the club wants to get back into, attracting families up here,” he said. “That’s what the club was founded on, families.”