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City plans to operate golf course restaurant — Current operators told to vacate by March 31

From left, Donna Simms watches Kathy Regan dispense a refill to her husband, Dick Simms, at the Cedarcrest Family Restaurant and Grill March 19.   - Kirk Boxleitner
From left, Donna Simms watches Kathy Regan dispense a refill to her husband, Dick Simms, at the Cedarcrest Family Restaurant and Grill March 19.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

MARYSVILLE — The city of Marysville’s decision to operate the Cedarcrest Family Restaurant and Grill has drawn objections from the current operators, as well as from customers.

City of Marysville Chief Administrative Officer Mary Swenson touted the move as a means of paying down the debt on the Cedarcrest Golf Course buildings which are owned by the city. She added that Pat and Kathy Regan, who have operated the restaurant for the past six years, failed to renew their lease by the deadline of Oct. 1 of last year, which means their lease expired at the end of 2008.

Kathy Regan admitted that she and her husband had accidentally allowed their lease to lapse, but she claimed that Swenson had encouraged them to put in a bid for the restaurant and assured the couple that, if there were no other bids, the city had no plans to change the restaurant’s operations. The Regans’ attorney, Bob Henry of Seattle, cited Swenson’s alleged assurances in a request for arbitration with the city, filed March 10, but Swenson has denied these claims stating that she lacks the authority to make such promises.

Another bid was submitted by the deadline of Dec. 23, and the Regans and the other bidders made their presentations to the city Jan. 14. Kathy Regan had felt optimistic after the positive reception their presentation seemed to receive, but the Regans began to worry when “the next couple of days” that they were told they would hear back from the city turned into weeks. When the couple was finally informed Feb. 17 that the city planned to operate the restaurant, and that they would have to vacate the premises by the end of March, Kathy Regan felt their time and money had been wasted needlessly.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Regan said. “I asked them to let me know in November if this would be a problem. We spend our summers making the money we need to get through the winters. They’re evicting us March 31 and golf season starts April 1. We ate up all our money preparing for it.”

Among the improvements that Regan pointed to as evidence of the couple’s intent to stay were the $1,500 they spent on a pull-tab license and system, as well as $10,000 for an outdoor events tent.

Henry stated that forgetting to renew a lease has a legal precedent as an extenuating circumstance, which could require the Regans’ lease to be renewed. He has also stated his intent to file a lawsuit if the city either refuses or fails to respond to the request for arbitration. In the meantime, he expects the Regans to be allowed to continue to operate the restaurant until an arbitration hearing takes place.

Swenson projected that the city could eliminate its debt on the golf course by eliminating its debt on the golf course buildings, and estimated that the city would be almost $255,000 in the hole otherwise. Regan countered by citing the more-than-12-hour days that she works, sometimes seven days a week, as well as the fact that the restaurant pays no health insurance for its roughly dozen year-round employees, as profit-turning measures that the city won’t be able to duplicate.

Peggy McKay’s family lives just up the hill from the Cedarcrest Family Restaurant and Grill, and has been going there three to four times a month for the past six years, since the Regans began operating it.

“We’ve watched them build it up from the ground floor, and we’d hate to see it go away,” McKay said. “They talk to you like they know you, like they’re your friends, and they’re good with kids. It’s a comfortable atmosphere. The Regans are just a regular family who gave up two other businesses to run this one, and the rug has just been plucked out from under them.”

As a mother, McKay also appreciates the fact that the Regans employ so many high school and college students.

The city has declined further comment on this issue, due to the ongoing legal action.

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