By Polly Keary, Editor
Two long-time Monroe businesses are closing this month in Monroe.
The Hitching Post Restaurant, in the historic Monroe National Bank building that was constructed in 1907, will close Feb. 23.
The closure is due to an increase in rent, said owner Marie Maass, who bought the restaurant from Searle Vermedal in 2011.
The rent when she bought the long-time restaurant was $1,200 per month, and when the lease expired, the landlord, Canh Pham, who also owns the Monroe Steak and Spirits building, asked for $1,750.
The restaurant was operating sustainably before that, said Maass, but it’s no longer feasible now.
“I’m going to lose all my money,” she said, on the verge of tears. “My husband left me money, and I took everything out of my 401K to invest in this. And all my employees will be out of a job.”
There aren’t very many places to eat that offer as much homemade food as does the Hitching Post, she went on.
“We’re 90 percent homemade,” she said. “We don’t use MSG. We try to use local as much as we can. And when we run out of things, or when we buy things we don’t buy in bulk, I buy locally.”
Six people are currently employed at the small restaurant.
It’s not clear whether the place will reopen as a restaurant even if it is re-leased or sold, Maass went on. It’s operating under several grandfather clauses that remained in effect as long as it remained open, she said. But once it closes, the grandfather clauses end, and any new business owner will have to bring it up to current codes.
As for the many murals that cover nearly every inch of the walls, the work of local artist David Hose, they will be painted over with Hose’s blessing, said Maass.
The other things that make the place unique, the collection of figurines and antiques, are all for sale, Maass added.
Canh Pham couldn’t be reached Thursday.
When Video Factory opened in Monroe in the early 1980s, people not only rented VhS tapes there, they rented the player to watch them on, so new was the technology.
Today, the shelves are lined with slim DVD and Blue Ray cases. But now, they are all for sale.
Video Factory, Monroe’s first video rental place, is closing.
Netflix, Redbox and other new entertainment technologies have taken a toll.
“The writing has been on the wall,” said a woman who works there.
Currently, the store is offering a 10 percent discount on everything, and as the store moves closer to closing, the discounts will increase. There currently is no set closing date, and the store is continuing to rent movies, as well, and will even continue to bring in new titles for a while.
“It’s the end of an era,” said the employee.
El Tapatio Mexican Restaurant changes hands, name
Long-time downtown Mexican restaurant El Tapatio has been sold to a new owner, and renamed Los Potrillos. It’s one of two Los Potrillos restaurants; the other is in Everett, and has a five-star rating on Urban Spoon.
The new owners have brought in a new menu, a waiter said.
DJ Big Dog opens a hot dog place in Sultan
Jerry “Big Dog” Dixon, a local DJ who emcees many Sky Valley events such as the Monroe Fair Days Parade and who was named one of Western Washington’s best DJs in this year’s Evening Magazine contest, is opening a hot dog place in Sultan.
The new eatery, to be called (what else?) Big Dog’s, will feature some Pacific Northwest favorites, he said.
“It’s the only place in the Sky Valley where you can get a delicious, gourmet hot dog like the ones you’d find outside of a Seahawks or Mariners game,” he said. “Conveniently located off of Highway 2 in Sultan (next to the Sultan Liquor Store), Big Dog’s will offer famous dogs like the Seattle Dog, Philly, and New Yorker, not to mention specialty dogs like the Slayer (cream cheese and Sriracha sauce) or the Dirty Dog (cheese sauce, onions, BBQ sauce and crushed potato chips!).”