Breakfast is on in Kingston with the opening of the Seawolf Diner next to the Firehouse Theater.
Kafe Neo has been transformed from a taste of the Mediterranean to a good old-fashioned sit-down breakfast and lunch diner named for (depending on who you talk to) a creature of native folklore or a euphemism for the orcas that can often be seen swimming in Puget Sound.
The name for the diner was sprung on the staff by owner Sofeea Huffman after they had given her a few ideas.
“She thought she liked a few of them, but then she called us one day and said, ‘It’s the Seawolf’s Diner,” said Shawn Murphies, manager of the diner.
Orca whales, are also known as Killer Whales, have often been called seawolves due to their social and hunting habits that are similar to wolves.
Additionally, there is a native folktale that stretches to coastal tribal cultures around the world that tells the story of a mythical creature called a Seawolf that can survive both on land and in the ocean.
In the case of Seawolf Diner, it was an idea from a marketing professional at a time when the diner needed a name in order to reopen.
“I think we just needed to come up with a name because it was holding us back from opening, and she just went with it,” Murphies said.
Though its name would suggest that seafood is on the menu (some items) the Seawolf Diner is a sit-down breakfast place that is finally filling the gap left by the Kingston Inn that burned down in 2005.
“There used to be a few [breakfast diners] but they’ve kind of teetered off…So there’s definitely been a need in Kingston for a sit-down breakfast place,” Murphies said.
While the food at Kafe Neo had an excellent reputation, it was not sustainable. Locals didn’t want Greek food every day, and maintaining a return customer base was becoming difficult even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Murphies said.
“When we went to just to-go service here we were really struggling and hurting before that. The business was teetering off and slowing down a lot, and we had to let some people go…It was a struggle to keep this place open,” he added.
In a way, the pandemic served as the catalyst for the much-needed change, he said. While the menu will have some options for those looking for a taste of Greece, the focus has shifted to traditional American breakfast, with some interesting innovations.
“My personal favorite menu item that is sparking a lot of people’s interest is the glazed donut fried chicken sandwich. It’s a house-made fried chicken recipe on a glazed donut with a house-made glaze on it,” Murphies said. “It’s super sinful but it’s amazing.
A secondary menu item that is sure to test the will of some patrons is the Lumberjack – a large plate of breakfast foods smothered in house gravy.
“I think I’ve only seen one or two people completely finish that meal,” Murphies said. “Might even start to do a giveaway or something if you finish the Lumberjack meal.”
While an official grand opening is in the works for later this month, the Seawolf Diner has already been welcomed with open arms by the community.
“I haven’t served at a breakfast restaurant in eighteen years, so it’s nice to get back into it and see the local community. A lot of the same people that I served eighteen years ago are coming back for breakfast now. People just love to come out, sit and drink coffee, and eat breakfast and talk with friends,” Murphies said.
A focus on the Kingston Community is also a large part of the changes at the Seawolf Diner, which partnered with the North Kitsap Boys & Girls Club to have children design the kid’s menus.
“We did a contest and just said to the kids, what do you think a Seawolf looks like? So they all drew a picture, and we had about forty entries and the staff here voted on their favorites. We had a first-, second-, and third-place winner and we’re alternating those pictures as the image on our kid’s menus for kids to color when they come in,” Murphies said.
The Seawolf Diner is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. serving breakfast and lunch all day.