Beach Business: Diverse new eatery options open

By SCOTT D. JOHNSTON

The two new restaurants that opened in Ocean Shores to start September actually have a number of things in common for places that offer fare from, literally, opposite sides of the world.

Double Barrel BBQ & Grub opened Saturday, Sept. 1, at 732 Pt. Brown Ave. NE and UMI Sushi debuted Thursday, Sept. 6, at 698 Ocean Shoes Blvd. NW (in back along Chance a la Mer).

Both are owned locally by folks who happily say the North Coast will be their last homes, and both offer culinary creativity from head chefs with more than 30 years’ experience. And in their first few days, both have delighted diners and received enthusiastic comments in local Facebook groups.

UMI Sushi

It’s been no secret that a sushi restaurant was coming to the former home of the Ocean Shores Bakery and Craft Co-op, next to First Cabin in Driftwood Plaza, the mini-mall at Ocean Shores Blvd. and Chance A la Mer. Owner and Master Iron Chef Young Hwa Jin and his wife, Sun, have been remodeling the retail space that faces south on Chance A la Mer for three months, with Jin doing almost all the work himself, utilizing some of the skills he acquired while majoring in architectural design in college in Korea.

They have been slammed at the 60-seat eatery since opening, due in part, Sun explained, to the only negative they have found since they moved to Ocean Shores from Palm Desert, CA, three months ago: “It’s too hard to find employees.” So much so, she continued, that Jin has hired a sushi chef who used to work with him.

Another factor may be a menu of 150 items, incredibly, just a small fraction of the “thousand kinds of food in my brain,” Jin said with a grin. He has been cooking and operating restaurants, from New York to California and Texas to Alaska, for 32 years since coming to America. A US citizen for 10 years, he said UMI Sushi is “my 15th restaurant, and my last restaurant.”

Chef Jin and Sun chose Ocean Shores after a year of internet research. She wanted cooler weather than the Southern California desert, and to live near the beach. He lived in Seattle 10 years ago, so was familiar with the climate. He sold his 14th restaurant, Domo Sushi, on the exclusive El Paseo strip in Palm Desert, in April.

Sun said they bought a small house here, and her 92-year-old father lives with them. She said, “so far, it’s been really good,” adding that they enjoy the quiet, small town feel here. Because UMI, which is Japanese for ocean, has been “going crazy busy” since opening, and is still seeking to add to the four employees, Sun worries that service is not as good as they want it to be. But, she has found that “people understand,” and promises it will improve.

Otherwise, they’re pleased that “almost 100 percent like my food,” Jin said. They knew going in that the nearest fresh sushi is in Olympia.

UMI Sushi is open for dine-in and carry-out from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. Their phone is 360-289-2293.

Double Barrel BBQ & Grub

June Bongirno and Charlie McShane are partners in life as well as the Waves of Bling store in Ocean Shores that specializes in Seattle Seahawks wearables and collectibles. And like most football fanatics, they occasionally find themselves in need of some serious “Q.”

The obvious solution? Take the empty space at the end of the building at 732 Pt. Brown Ave. NE that houses their “Hawks Haberdashery,” create a kitchen, set up table seating for 20, then load up both barrels and start blastin’ some old school barbecue. They hired head chef Tony McGraw, a Lake Quinault native who has 35 years of restaurant experienced in the Harbor, and pit master Bryan Bearham, with 30 years as a butcher, most recently at the Aberdeen Safeway.

They opened Sept. 1 with a limited menu, part of their promise to “cater to our community” and “find out what the pulse is, what people want,” Bongirno said. She said they are intent on becoming the place “where locals can afford to go out to dinner,” with the “best prices and best food.”

McGraw, who has been “making barbecue sauces since 1991,” said the recipe he has been developing for two years is “sweet with a little bit of heat and garlic,” plus a smidgen of smoke. “They’ll know Northwest-style BBQ here very soon,” he promised.

Early each morning, Bearham fires up the smokers, using a savory dry rub, with beef brisket going six to seven hours over hickory and mesquite. Chicken and pork, following an apple vinegar brine, smokes with apple wood. While those three meats comprise the core of the menu, it also features a variety of scratch-made traditional sides. Plans call for it to grow to include baby back ribs, wraps, panini-style pressed sandwiches and even dessert crepes.

“This is my retirement job, something I really enjoy,” Bearham said. Their soft open has been “fantastic, a nice, steady flow,” that meant they “were not overwhelmed at any point.”

“They love my food and I love their attitude,” Chef Tony said of the owners. Along with pit master Bryan, “the four of us are a pretty good team; we’re a good little unit together.”

Double Barrel BBQ & Grub is open Wednesday through Monday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., closed Tuesdays. Their phone is 360-500-5872, and they have a Facebook page, Double Barrel BBQ Ocean Shores.

Economic forum

Greater Grays Harbor Inc. would like to invite members of the business community to a focus group to review the results of the 2018 Grays Harbor Business Survey Report for Grays Harbor County. For businesses located in Ocean Shores, Lake Quinault and North Beach communities, the focus group will take place on Monday, Sept. 17 at the Canterbury Inn, 643 Ocean Shores Blvd SW in Ocean Shores from 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. For more information or to RSVP, contact Candie Gleason with GGHI at (360) 532-7888 or candie@graysharbor.org.