For 35 years, Sterling’s Restaurant has faced busy George Washington Way instead of the Columbia River out its back door.
That changes later this month.
Sterling’s expects to move into its new river-facing restaurant by the end of the month, said Laura Sterling, who owns the local Sterling’s chain with husband Jim.
The Sterling family is replacing its aging Richland restaurant with a $1.1 million one on the same site. The larger restaurant occupies the former parking lot and faces the river rather than the road.
It doesn’t yet know what day it will make the move, but Sterling said the team is ready to jump as soon as it secures an occupancy permit. There will be a brief closure while the team makes the move. Sterling said the downtime is being minimized.
The move is a long-awaited upgrade for fans of Sterling’s original Richland restaurant, 890 George Washington Way.
Designed by Richland’s ALD Architects, the new Sterling’s takes full advantage of its location near the Columbia River.
The family first hoped to improve the view by lowering the levee bordering the property, but abandoned the idea after it couldn’t reach an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers, which controls the levees. Instead, it commissioned its architect to make the building high enough to see the water.
“We built the building taller,” Sterling said.
Our customers have been very loyal. We were just ready for a new building. We owe it back.
Laura Sterling, owner
Jim Sterling is the general contractor on the project. It is financed with new debt, something Sterling said the owners felt they owed to customers.
“Our customers have been very loyal. We were just ready for a new building,” she said. “We owe it back.”
Sterling said she’s thrilled by the result. Sterling’s new home will add extra seating, as well as a bar and covered outdoor dining patio overlooking a garden.
The project is getting rave reviews from city and tourism officials as well.
Kerwin Jensen, Richland’s community development manager, said the new building is an important addition to the waterfront and the Howard Amon Park area.
“We’re beginning to see quite a bit of redevelopment,” he said.
And Visit Tri-Cities, which promotes regional tourism, is eager to see another river-oriented restaurant. Even though Sterling’s is only moving from one side of the property to the other, the new orientation will raise its profile and give visitors a local dining option, said Kris Watkins, president and CEO.
Watkins said it will be good for area hotels as well, especially those that don’t offer on-site food service.
“They are investing in the Tri-Cities, and we certainly hope their investment pays off,” she said.