Island Eats: Losing our local watering hole

Some of the challenges of moving from the city to a PNW island is that restaurants close generally by 8 or 9 p.m., you are out of luck if you yearn for delivery and, at least on the South end of Whidbey Island, it’s nearly impossible to find an open eatery on a Monday.

And if you live in Greenbank and need groceries or a dining option you are limited.

Island life struggles, I know.

When we chose our place in Greenbank it was nice to know there was the Greenbank Store which provided a deli and basic groceries and the Greenbank Grille and Bar upstairs. Just a mile from our house, both establishments offered amenities with no need to go to Freeland or Coupeville for necessities or a cocktail.

This Sunday the Greenbank Store & Grille closed. While the store itself plans to remain open until December 24, that’s contingent upon how much remains in stock.

I feel bad I didn’t write about the Greenbank Grille earlier, but wanted to honor it with a quick post.

The Greenbank Store & Grille has been operated successfully by a local couple, Brian and Nancy Cedars, for 6 years, although the structure has been “Serving Man & Beast since 1904.”

A few months ago the Coupe Family who owned the property started negotiating its sale. We learned a few weeks ago that a couple who owns Duck Duck Goose Farm in Freeland purchased the property. Quite a lot of repairs need to be completed in the building, so they’ve decided to close the establishment for the next 6 months or so to tackle that before gaining momentum of a new business.

Until now, there were only two restaurants available to us in Greenbank, and only one of those served dinner, otherwise its a 10-15 minute or more drive to the nearest establishment. I know, I know, that’s not far to drive but when there is 10 minutes of nothing-ish between Point A and B, it feels longer.

The Grille which was located upstairs from the general store always had great food. The burger, the Reuben, the pasta carbonara, it was hard to go wrong with whatever you ordered.

We could usually get a seat at the bar, our preferred seating so we could mingle with locals coming and going. That’s important when you live in a rural area. And if there weren’t any random seats at the bar, Kurt, the resident bartender, always asked patrons to slide down to make room. I’ve never seen that happen in Dallas, or anywhere else for that matter.

It’s one of the bonuses of small town living.

The Grille closed on Sunday, but tonight, craving their carbonara, is the first time I’m feeling its absence. In the year and a half that we’ve lived here, weeks and even a month or so would go by without bellying up to the bar at the Greenbank Grille, but we relied on its convenience.

While they didn’t deliver, it was only a 1 mile drive to grab to-go food if I wasn’t feeling social. If the restaurant was closed the store always had eggs and milk for breakfast, deli sandwiches available for lunch or frozen pizzas for dinner when we were in a pinch. And we didn’t do those things crazy often, but just knowing the options were there was comforting.

Not having The Greenbank Store & Grille this winter will probably be difficult, but I’m looking for the silver lining, like, saving my liver and saving money from eating out. After all, we are currently getting beautiful veggies from our winter CSA each week, at least until January.

The Greenbank Store & Grille will be missed but I’m looking forward to seeing what the new owners unveil. Just one more reason to look forward to our next PNW summer.

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