There’s a much-needed addition to Raymond due to some young blood: recently returned local, Harley Hendrickson, who has opened up a new restaurant and bar in town.
The 27-year-old graduated from Raymond High School in 2004, and then worked as a government contractor in Afghanistan, where he said he was able to travel extensively. He also studied to be an automotive technician at WyoTech in Laramie, Wyo., and then worked in that field in Olympia.
But after all that, Hendrickson decided to use some of the fruits of his labor to bring something that was lacking to his hometown. About a year ago, he bought the former headquarters of Raymond’s Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 968 — all three stories of it. The VFW had declining membership and has since moved into Raymond’s American Legion headquarters.
“I just thought it would work here, I thought I had a niche with something Raymond didn’t have and I could be around family and friends, with the end result of, hopefully, being self-employed,” said Hendrickson, of his creation of Harley’s Bar N’ Grill. Open three months, the business was sucessful and busy right off the bat, he said, exemplified by the more than 600 followers on its Facebook page. Although, he’s still trying to work out the many issues that come along with opening up a business, especially for the first time. “Normally if you’re going to start out, it’s not on such a grand scale.”
The restaurant — located at 203 Duryea St. — is three stories high, seats 100 people, and includes a main floor with sky-high ceilings, a stage for performances, and several large screens, including one at 12 feet, 7-inches, that display the most popular sports game of the night.
An upstairs lounge adorned with a pool table, couches and more restaurant seating looks out over the main floor.
The downstairs is spacious, and during the nine months of renovations done by Hendrickson and his family, they tried to keep as much of its original interior as possible.
“It’s a really fun atmosphere,” said Valerie Sedy, Hendrickson’s mother. “We tried to keep the vintage feel of the walls but at the same time make it more modern.”
While they are still in the early stages of deciphering what will stay on the menu and what might be added, Hendrickson said all of his cooking staff works under a “formally trained” chef, and that the menu items have been well-received. The favorite? The barbecue chicken burger, and chicken wings in a homemade sauce by Sedy that are a special on game days.
So far Hendrickson is pleased with the restaurant and bar that he considers to be filling a void in the area.
“It’s nice to have something new, something different than what we normally can get here,” said Hendrickson, who pointed out his establishment is the only bar and restaurant in the area to allow minors, which it does until 9 p.m.
“That’s something I think people have been having a hard time with. It is a family restaurant. It’s not just a bar, not just a club,” he said.
On the other hand — they have had a crowded night scene for the most part, he said.
Hendrickson said he has employed live music, karaoke and open mics on a routine basis since the Bar N’ Grill’s opening, but that he hopes to do it even more frequently, up to two or three times a week. The next live performance will feature a country-rock band on the day after Thanksgiving.
Sedy said she had not pictured Hendrickson in the resturant business but that it makes sense as the idea always floated around in family conversations.
“It was just kind of something that the whole family was interested it, we have always been the one’s that have everybody over for family barbeques … we just love doing it,” she said.
Sam Luvisi: 360-537-3935 or email@example.com and @DwSluvisi on Twitter