The newest restaurant at Richland’s Columbia Point doesn’t open until April 4, but it’s already buzzing with activity.
Servers are training with selected guests before the grand opening of LU LU Craft Bar + Kitchen. The kitchen staff has been at it for more than a week.
Meanwhile, the bar staff is hard at work stocking the shelves as work crews finish installing light fixtures and railings in the new space overlooking the marina at Columbia Point Park.
Owner Cindy Goulet is eager to welcome guests to her latest venture at 606 Columbia Point Drive and show them the variety and quality of dishes she and her staff can produce by sticking close to home, she said.
“Really, what we wanted to do was the farm-to-table concept,” she said. “I think we’ve done a really good job of staying local.”
Goulet’s previous restaurant, Florentyna’s, had served the Tri-Cities since 1992, first at Richland’s Uptown Shopping Center and then at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco on a contract with the Port of Pasco. That eatery started as strictly Italian but added American fare after the move to the airport, in order to appeal to more customers.
The contract for the airport ended in August 2015 after the port settled with Goulet to buy out her lease. But Goulet began working on the concept for LU LU almost a year before that, she said.
She saw it as an opportunity to return to her roots — she was raised on a farm in north Franklin County — and showcase the region’s agricultural diversity.
LU LU will use beef and pork from Goulet’s family farm in its dishes. Much of the produce, from asparagus and apples to potatoes and onions, comes from local growers.
While not everything on the menu — lunch and dinner with brunch on the weekends — will be exclusively from the Mid-Columbia, a lot of effort was put into limiting the need for sources outside the region.
“Many items are grazed or grown within 30 miles,” she said.
Among the appetizers are salt and pepper chicken chicharrones — a fowl take on pork rinds — and candied bacon served in a Mason jar. Entrées include fried chicken and waffles, BBQ ribs and a variety of burgers. There’s also lighter fare such as soup and salads like the Thai steak and noodle salad. Prices range from $6 for an appetizer to $18 on average for an entrée.
“It’s food you want to eat,” Goulet said.
As for the bar, its signature will be barrel-aged martinis, Negronis and Manhattans, kept in small wooden casks on the back bar for a minimum of 14 days. There are 12 beer taps, of which two will be rotated. About 80 wines are sourced locally, a benefit of Goulet’s ownership of 3 Eyed Fish, a wine bar in south Richland.
But quality dining doesn’t mean it will be stuffy. Goulet wanted an informal, fun and light atmosphere. The décor is modern rustic with a lot of exposed wood grain, earthy colors and hints of pastels in the interior. The outside has solid tones with sheet metal and rust accents.
The bar and dining areas are tiered, with a mix of high chairs, tables and booths, and a few large marble-topped tables for big groups. The outside patio can seat at least 160 people, almost as many as the restaurant’s inside space.
“Every seat has a view of the water,” Goulet said.
LU LU isn’t the only restaurant on the water in the area, with Anthony’s and the more recently installed Budd’s Broiler nearby. Goulet isn’t worried about competition, as she sees each restaurant providing different needs, she said.
“What it does is drive people to Columbia Point,” she said.
Only dinner will be served on opening day, April 4, beginning at 5 p.m. Regular hours will be from 11 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 9:30 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Food trucks, ahoy!
Just a quick reminder that Food Truck Friday will be back in downtown Pasco on April 1 for the start of its second season.
The food trucks will be at the Pasco Farmers Market at the corner of Columbia Street and Fourth Avenue. The weekly gathering goes from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and each truck will offer a $4.95 lunch special.
Food trucks confirmed for the first day of the new season are veterans Fresh Out the Box, Jiggy’s Bacon Burgers and Backyard Grub, along with newcomers Snowie shaved ice of West Richland, baked goods purveyors Two Chicks and hot dog vendor Doggie Style Gourmet.