KINGSTON — New Main Street Ale House owners Darren and Kim Gurnee believe running a business in Kingston doesn’t need to be a seasonal enterprise.
“The business model for most places around here is to survive the winter and thrive in the summer,” Darren said. “The business model should be to cater to locals. The ferry traffic will always be there.”
In their first few weeks of ownership, the Gurnees have worked to raise Ale House’s profile in North Kitsap. They joined the Kingston Chamber of Commerce, hosted a “night out” event and launched a Facebook page.
In coming months they plan to support school sports teams and charities.
Kingston Chamber Director Linda Fyfe said the Gurnees approach is welcome. Many businesses that cater only to summer visitors have come and gone, she said. The key to stability is in attracting local shoppers year round.
“To make locals feel welcome and make your products affordable on a daily basis is half the battle,” Fyfe said. “For any business to be sustainable they need to think of their neighbors.”
While making connections in the community, the Gurnees are maintaining thefamiliar atmosphere inside the restaurant.
Both Darren and Kim worked as bartenders and servers in the Ale House for former owner Rohn Rutledge, after moving north from California. Most of the staff of more than 20 employees remains largely the same, though the Gurnees have added a cook to meet demand.
The menu will also remain largely intact. Kim said they plan to build on a core of favorites, including pear salad, fish tacos, burgers, filet mignon and wild salmon entrees.
The Gurnees have installed a few TV screens to show sports events, but say they want to avoid the sports bar label.
“We want to become the fine dining establishment up here,” Darren said. “That’s our goal.”
The Main Street Ale House is located at 11225 State Highway 104, Kingston.