Business

Poulsbo's Taprock Grill becomes Elmer’s Restaurant Feb. 1

The Taprock Grill in Poulsbo has been converted to an Elmer
The Taprock Grill in Poulsbo has been converted to an Elmer's restaurant.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / North Kitsap Herald

POULSBO — Poulsbo’s Taprock Northwest Grill closed its doors last week, only to reopen them as an Elmer’s Restaurant.

The restaurant location off of Highway 305 in Poulsbo Village is owned by Elmer’s Restaurants, Inc. The company has decided to convert the restaurant over to its namesake.

“We believe the Elmer’s breakfast, lunch and dinner concept is better for the Poulsbo community,” said Elmer’s CEO Jerry Scott.

“Taprock was a polished, casual dining restaurant. Elmer’s is family dining, three meals a day. We serve breakfast all day long.”

Elmer’s Restaurant Inc. formerly owned the Taprock brand, until it was recently sold. The Poulsbo location was one of two. The other Taprock, in Grants Pass, Ore. is now the only location for its brand.

“(Taprock) performed well for us,” Scott said. “It was difficult to make (the) economic model work for expansion. We couldn’t quite figure out how to grow and expand it, but we know how to grow Elmer’s.”

Scott said that along with the name and menu change, the new Elmer’s will employ more people than Taprock did.

“We anticipate it being a more high-volume restaurant,” he said.

Beginning on Jan. 26, the building went under a slight remodel to give it the Elmer’s feel, and will open under the new name on Feb. 1.

“It means a signage change from ‘Taprock’ to ‘Elmer’s,’ ” said Jill Ramos, director of restaurant support for Elmer’s. “Inside, there is minor construction taking place.”

Much of the work involves installing a host stand, and updating kitchen equipment to accommodate the Elmer’s menu. Most of the interior, however, won’t undergo too many changes, Ramos said.

“The thing about both brands is that they both have a Northwest, local feel to them,” Ramos said. “So there isn’t really a need to change the Northwest decor that is in there already. The biggest change is the servers’ uniforms.”

Taprock fare was served with jeans and T-shirt attire. Servers will trade that in for black slacks and shirts.

The menu will convert along with the brand. Taprock and Elmer’s fare is comparable, with breakfast, lunch and dinner features. The new lineup is heavier on breakfast and diner ambiance, though.

“If I am there at breakfast, I’m either going to get a Looking-for-Sun omelet or a German pancake,” Scott said. “At dinner, I’ll get the prime rib.”

Elmer’s is rooted in the pancake house tradition, though it has evolved over its nearly 50 years in business. While steak and burgers share the menu, breakfast is served all day.

“We love that people come in at dinner time and order pancakes,” Ramos said. “Who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner?”

She added, “Elmer’s is more of a breakfast restaurant and we think the community needs that. It’s a restaurant for everybody. When you’re at an Elmer’s you’ll see children, families, business people and retirees.”

Restaurant crew spent Jan. 31 serving an invite-only crowd, learning the new ropes and preparing for the official opening.

Elmer’s home office is in Portland, Ore. The bulk of its chain is in Oregon. The Poulsbo addition will be the fourth Elmer’s in Washington; there are two in Vancouver and one in Tacoma.

Originally opened in the ’60s as a pancake and steak house, the company has grown into a chain of diners across the Northwest and one in California, boasting a family-friendly atmosphere and priding itself on serving local, Northwest ingredients. The National Restaurants Association gave it the 2012 Neighbor Award, the same year a leading consumer publication rated it among the top 10 family restaurants in the nation.

The Poulsbo location was originally a Mitzel’s American Kitchen, but a fire in 2006 damaged the building. It was resurrected under the Taprock title in 2007.

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