Waterfront restaurant plans are put on the back burner

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A former local resident is hoping someone will be inspired to lease or purchase the 12,000 square foot building that was originally designed to be the Black Pearl on the Columbia restaurant – near the Port of Camas-Washougal marina.

Kimberly Sherertz, widow of Bill Sherertz, said Monday night it was her husband’s wish to open the restaurant at the former site of the Parker House, 56 S. “A” St., Washougal,

He passed away in January at the age of 64.

“I’m not as passionate about the restaurant business as my husband was,” Sherertz said. “He was one of those guys who always was dong something.”

She is busy managing her family, which includes a son and a daughter who are active in sports.

Sherertz also has a stepdaughter who is in law school and a stepdaughter who lives in San Francisco.

“Restaurants are 24-hour-a-day projects,” Sherertz said. “It’s all about service and getting it right. You have to be there. People want to feel connected. They want to see you now and again. They want to know the owner is part of the community.

“While I love doing that stuff, I just do not have the energy to do that,” she added. “I am smart enough to know when to say when.”

Sherertz grew up in Camas and graduated from Camas High School in 1975. She now lives in Battle Ground. Bill was from Bandon, Ore.

The waterfront building is available for lease or purchase.

Potential uses include restaurant and/or office spaces, as well as penthouse suites.

“Someone could build another 12,000 square foot building — an office structure — in the northeast corner of the gravel parking lot,” Sherertz said. “There is interest in putting a card room upstairs. The second floor lends itself to that. My husband was a big time gambler. He would probably laugh at that.”

In 2001, Silver Dollar Casino Corporation expressed an interest in building two enhanced card rooms, restaurants and a hotel at that same site. The city of Washougal’s gambling ordinance currently prohibits all types of gambling except for pull-tabs.

Sherertz said it would cost approximately $500,000 to finish the interior of the building, in the manner in which her husband had planned. That includes tables, decorations, chandeliers and a kitchen.

Operational expenses would be separate.

“My husband had expensive tastes,” Sherertz said.

Last fall while in Hawaii, she and her husband bought several Tommy Bahama brand shirts and pants as samples of uniforms for Black Pearl employees.

Ron Frederiksen, president and chief executive officer of RSV Building Solutions, said construction of the potential restaurant site has been brought to “a soft landing.”

“The building is fully weather tight,” he said. “The site is weather protected and fenced. There has been no electrical or mechanical systems installed.”

Mechanical systems would include plumbing, heating, cooling and fire sprinklers.

“We were under contract to construct all of the site work and the building shell,” Frederiksen said. “We were still designing the interior build out when Bill passed.

“We want to help our client find another user for the building to protect our client’s investment,” he added. “Oftentimes in tragedy, there comes opportunity. Bill’s death, while really tragic, created an opportunity for other people who might have a vision for that area to talk with Kimberly about that. Fortunately she has the financial resources to help them make their dreams come true.”

Russell Brent has served as project manager for the Black Pearl.

“My heart is broken that we can’t continue at this time,” he said. “It’s a tremendous project and a great location to capture the views of the Gorge and the marina. It’s a gorgeous facility.

“It’s too good to sit for too long,” Brent added. “I’m hopeful somebody will come in and step up as an operator, to purchase it or lease it. The community really wants it to happen.”

While remaining a member of the Black Pearl on the Columbia LLC, he has been approached by investors to work on other restaurant-related proposals in Clark County.

Washougal Mayor Sean Guard said he would like to see the Black Pearl building occupied.

“I would hope that some other folks might see the potential in it and step up,” he said. “It’s a gorgeous site, and they are building an unbelievably beautiful building.”