YAKIMA, Wash. -- Take 5 is a meetup with a local entrepreneur.
Twenty-one years ago, Allan Marks and his wife, Kristi, took over Jean’s Cottage Inn in Union Gap, which he described as one of the longest-running restaurants in the Valley.
It was a quiet transfer, as Marks, 51, had worked there since 1990. His goal, he said, was to continue to provide good service at the restaurant, which specializes in steak and burgers, seasoned with Deccio’s spices that are available for sale at the restaurant and online.
The restaurant first opened as the Tick-Tock under Bob Boyd in 1946, and became Jean’s in 1962 when his wife, Jean, took over the business, and her son and daughter-in-law, Ron and Betty Boyd, ran it.
Since taking over, Marks has tweaked the menu slightly, offering a breakfast option.
An A.C. Davis High School graduate, Marks and his wife employ eight people at the restaurant. The Marks have two children, Jacob and Jaron, who are Central Washington University graduates.
Which came first, the restaurant or the spices?
Jean’s came first. The spices came later on, when Ron and Betty Boyd wanted to retire completely. Jim Deccio started the seasonings in the 1960s, Betty bought it in the 1990s, and had it until 2005. We didn’t want someone else to buy it and screw it up because we have been using it at the restaurant since the late 1960s. It was so much a part of our flavor.
Did you have any idea what you were getting yourself into when you decided to buy the restaurant?
Ron Boyd was the greatest mentor a person could have had. He was always there for me after we took over to give advice and keep me positive. There was more responsibility, nerves and wondering if people were not going to come if it wasn’t Ron’s anymore. He’d been semi-retired for three years before we took over, and it was perfect, the way we did it. He said what matters is that people keep coming in the door.
What do you like most about owning your own business?
We have met so many great people along our journey. We have watched kids in high chairs grow up and are now bringing their little ones in for dinner. You got to get them hooked while they’re young.
Where do you find inspiration for your recipes?
We don’t mess with our recipes. We stick to the old motto, “If it’s not broken, don’t mess with it.” We have added a few salads and sandwiches to the menu as the times change. We are a place that when you order a dinner meal, your salad, choice of potatoes and a dinner roll are included. You order a sandwich, and it includes fries or a salad. They’re not extras that are charged for, as they are at so many places these days.
What do you think about the rise of celebrity chefs on TV?
I’m too busy to pay attention to celebrity chefs. We do think it’s funny how people watch these shows and think it’s easy to operate a restaurant and go out and open their own. The numbers aren’t good for them. Ron always said when a new restaurant opened, “Welcome to the party.” We keep doing the same thing.
If you are a business owner who would like to be featured in Take 5, contact Donald W. Meyers at 509-577-7748 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @donaldwmeyers.