Half Lion Public House at Riverbend Golf Complex is receiving a 17 month rent waiver from the City of Kent to keep the restaurant running through the business impact of COVID-19.
Kent City Council at its September 7th session approved the rent reduction of $ 3,000 per month (totaling $ 51,000) from March 2020 to August 2021. Owners of the restaurant / bar will have to pay rent again this month.
“I think COVID has affected a lot of us,” said Councilor Bill Boyce. “We visited several restaurants there, many of them left because of the city. I don’t want to go there anymore. Half Lion was fine before COVID.
“If we get them through COVID and keep them up, it will be good for the city and for Half Lion in the long run, so I strongly support this.”
Sumner-based Half Lion opened in June 2019 at the city’s own Riverbend Golf Complex, 2019 W. Meeker St. The company agreed on a 10-year lease. But less than a year after it opened, the pandemic struck.
City Parks director Julie Parascondola told the council that government restrictions resulted in Half Lion being unable to have customers in-house for six months, seven months at only 25% capacity, and three months at 50%.
“It wasn’t just about capacity, it was also about limited opening hours,” she said.
City guides also didn’t approve monthly rent increases for Half Lion through 2023, so the monthly rate will stay at $ 3,000 until it is $ 3,090 in the fifth year of the lease.
Half Lion also received a delay in paying utilities, despite having to repay utilities owed over five years at 8% interest.
“Half Lion is a new restaurant and is still building its brand,” said Parascondola. “You were there 10 months (before restrictions) and simply rebuilt the entire interior and used your reserves for it.”
Parascondola said without the financial disruption, Half Lion would close and the city would be looking for a new tenant to run a restaurant.
“There is no market for restaurants, especially during COVID,” she said.
It also helps the city’s golf course attract business when golfers have a restaurant / bar to go to after they play, Parascondola said. She added that due to uncertainty about how long the pandemic would last, city officials have been waiting to make recommendations about the lease.
“We made the wrong assumption that it wouldn’t take too long,” said Parascondola, adding the staff who didn’t want to keep coming back to the council with contract adjustments.
Councilor Marli Larimer said it made sense for the city to help a tenant as city guides have asked other landlords to help tenants during the pandemic.
“We didn’t have a restaurant there for many years, so it is vital for the community to do so,” Larimer said.
City officials changed the original lease with Half Lion to a monthly rate two years ago after more complicated leases with previous restaurants on the site backfired. The city made a cut in gross receipts in previous agreements.
Scotch and Vine closed in April 2017 after less than a year in business, Mick Kelly’s Irish Pub closed in June 2015 after five years, and Fire Creek Grill closed in 2010 after nine years. The city wrote off about $ 175,000 owed to these three restaurants.
“That’s right,” said Council President Toni Troutner. “Half the Lion came to Kent for this partnership to provide space for service clubs. … we will come out on the other side and the partnership will continue. I’m a frequent visitor and Councilor (Brenda) Fincher is. ”
City officials also approved a space near the driving range for Half Lion to serve drinks and light meals, and let the restaurant set up dedicated parking spaces near the front doors.
Half Lion opened in Sumner in February 2016 and its beer is tapped in locations from Seattle to Olympia. The name does not come from a lion, but from a Great Dane.
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