Popular Tri-Cities riverfront dining spot getting new owners. Here’s what they have planned

Cedars Restaurant on Kennewick’s Clover Island is being sold to owners who don’t plan to change a thing.

Well, almost.

The pending sale of Cedars to Tri-City entrepreneurs Carrie and Doug Lundgren cleared a hurdle this week when the Port of Kennewick indicated it’s friendly to altering terms of the restaurant’s ground lease.

The current lease was signed in 2006 and includes significant rent hikes at the end of the initial 15-year term and each of the five-year extensions.

The monthly rent would rise to $4,500 in 2021 and by more than $1,000 per month every five years after that, until the lease expires in 2061.

That’s a deal killer that threatens the sale and Cedars’ future, longtime owner David Mitcham told the port’s elected board at a special meeting Tuesday.

The commission agreed and directed staff to investigate terms that meet the needs of both the port and the restaurant.

Mitcham and his wife, Darci, put Cedars up for sale in 2017, saying they wanted to retire after decades in the dining business.

Darci and Dave Mitcham, longtime owners of Kennewick’s Cedars Restaurant, are selling the business to Carrie and Doug Lundgren. Tri-City Herald/File

Rumors of sales have dogged Cedars ever since, but no deal appeared imminent before now.

Lundgren called Cedars an excellent opportunity and a sentimental one as well.

It is the Lundgren family’s go-to spot to celebrate special occasions. The couple’s now-grown children routinely demanded to be taken to Cedars to mark milestones when they were young, he said.

“It’s pretty dear to us,” he said.

Doug Lundgren is an entrepreneur who has owned restaurants, truck stops, orchards, farms and more. Carrie Lundgren is a local real estate agent and is handling the transaction on her husband’s behalf.

The couple opened Holy Mac & Deli in Kennewick in 2015 and even expanded it to serve as an evening steakhouse. The restaurant closed two years later.

At the time, the Lundgrens cited Washington’s rising minimum wage for the decision.

Cedars for sale
A pending sale of Cedars Restaurant on Clover Island cleared a hurdle Tuesday when the Port of Kennewick indicated it’s friendly to renegotiating the long-term land lease for the restaurant’s land and parking lot. Bob Brawdy Tri-City Herald

Lundgren said Cedars is different.

Holy Mac & Deli was a comfort-food oriented restaurant with mid-range pricing.

Cedars is high end, with prices to match. That makes it less vulnerable to wage pressure, he said.

Lundgren said the only visible change will be him taking Mitcham’s spot.

“We don’t want to change anything. It’s not broke. There’s nothing to fix,” he said. “Hopefully, no one will even notice the change in ownership.”

Terms of the pending deal weren’t released. Lundgren plans to purchase the building and business through Boulder Heights LLC. The new owners will take over the land lease from the port.

Lundgren hopes to close the deal by the end of the year.

Cedars is at 355 N. Clover Island Drive and opens daily at 4 p.m.

Wendy Culverwell writes about local government and politics, focusing on how those decisions affect your life. She also covers key business and economic development changes that shape our community. Her restaurant column and health inspection reports are reader favorites. She’s been a news reporter in Washington and Oregon for 25 years.