The marquee in front of the Katmai Pines Lodge says it all - "Now Open." However, the restaurant is not scheduled to open for a few months.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
With the restaurant gutted out, chairs on table tops and doors locked, the former Ricki's Sourdough Cafe and Jimmy's Cantina connected to the Katmai Pines Lodge seemed like only a figment of the city of Kenai's past Saturday. But the doors of the hotel are open and renting rooms.
A Kansas investor purchased the hotel, restaurant and bar and plans to bring it back to life with a piece of baseball great Ted Williams' legacy to go along with it.
The hotel already is open for business with the restaurant soon to follow.
Mike Henry, an employee of Ocean Hospitality, the company managing the Katmai, said the restaurant will be turned into 406 Family Sports Cafe.
The restaurant will mirror an identical establishment in Dundee, Fla., also owned by the investor, Lindsay Olsen, with the same name.
Because it was Ted Will-iams' batting average, Henry said.
Henry said Williams once owned the property that 406 in Florida sits on today. Williams was also an avid fisherman who liked to visit Alaska, Henry said.
"We started playing off of Ted Williams because of his interest in the area," Henry said about the restaurant's name.
The Katmai closed in December and sat vacant until Olsen purchased it, Henry said.
According to Henry, Olsen likes the Alaska environment and purchased the hotel and restaurant as a "personal investment."
The order of business at the Katmai is to first renovate the restaurant, he said. When finished, the goal is to have a restaurant that has the atmosphere of a sports bar but is inviting for the entire family, he said.
He added that it will have the same design as the one in Florida.
Then the plan is to renovate the hotel's interior and make some changes to the external appearance.
Eventually, the name of the hotel will change, he said, although it has not yet been decided.
For some of the employees who worked at the hotel, reopening was a homecoming and reunion with old friends.
Shari Wilson said she has a 10-year history with the hotel and was sad when it closed.
"I was one of the last people to walk out," Wilson said as she arrived for work Saturday morning. "It's just like a family here."
Wilson was not the only one who was offered her old job back.
Heidi Dillon worked there under the previous owners and was back along with Michael Madden.
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