The move is part of the restaurant company’s plan to sell its real estate while the market is hot, and arrange to lease them back for the long term.
Ivar’s has sold its Salmon House property on Northeast Northlake Way for $13.73 million, but will be leasing it back long-term, with no changes planned for the restaurant.
Ivar’s sold the approximately 58,000-square-foot property, which includes the full-service restaurant and a fish bar, two parking lots and a dock, to Bellevue-based real-estate company Fana Group. The sale went through Thursday.
The restaurant company signed a 20-year lease, with two five-year options, with Fana, said Bob Donegan, Ivar’s president.
Customers won’t see any changes resulting from the switch in property ownership, said Donegan, who added: “Every employee who worked there three months ago (is) still there. The menu won’t change.”
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Ivar’s received seven offers on the property and selected Fana in part because it’s local.
“When problems come up, we can see them in 15 minutes,” Donegan said.
Fana Group was founded in 1989 by Firoz Lalji, then the founder and CEO of Kits Cameras, according to the real-estate company’s website. Lalji is now chairman of Fana Group’s board. He’s also CEO of information-technology company Zones Inc.
The sale is part of Ivar’s previously announced plan to take advantage of the hot real-estate market by selling the properties it owns and leasing them back long-term.
Unlike many restaurant operators, Ivar’s owned the properties that house its full-service restaurants: the Salmon House, Acres of Clams on the Seattle waterfront, and Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing property.
It sold its Mukilteo property in the spring to Seattle-based developer Martin Smith Inc., with a lease-back arrangement for 25 years.
The downtown Acres of Clams property has a deal that should close in February or March and would include a 30-year lease with options on top of that, Donegan said.
The company plans to use part of the proceeds of the Salmon House sale to pay down its construction loan from a recent remodel of Acres of Clams, Donegan said.
Some also will be used to build a war chest to open more fish bars when the real-estate market gets more affordable.
Ivar’s operates 24 fish bars, which are smaller than its three full-service restaurants and offer fast-casual options such as fish and chips and clam chowder. Those are typically in leased locations.
“Now we have a pot of development clams that we can use to open new stores,” Donegan said.
Ivar’s has owned the Salmon House property since 1966. The restaurant opened in 1969 — for one night. Founder Ivar Haglund apparently used wet alder in the grill at the center of the restaurant on opening night. It caused so much smoke to build up — there was no exhaust hood over the grill then — that the restaurant had to be evacuated and closed, Donegan said. It reopened a year later — complete with exhaust hoods.