The Elks lodge is home to a restaurant and events space. Lodge members will now operate the restaurant on site and it will be open to the public, as it always has been. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com
The Elks lodge is home to a restaurant and events space. Lodge members will now operate the restaurant on site and it will be open to the public, as it always has been. Sue Kidd skidd@thenewstribune.com

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Here’s what’s happening next at the Urban Elk restaurant space at Allenmore Golf Course

September 28, 2017 3:00 PM

With the impending exit of the restaurant operators at the Elks Lodge at Allenmore Golf Course, lodge members were left with a quandary.

There would be no restaurant for their members or the golfers and visitors to the public golf course they operate.

So they’ve come up with a plan to run the eatery themselves.

The transition from the former operators to a take-over by the Elks will require licensing and permit transfers. That might result in a day or two (or potentially more) of down time. People planning to eat at the restaurant over the next several days should call first to ensure the place is open.

To make the transition easier, the Elks lodge plans to keep calling the restaurant the Urban Elk.

Taking over a restaurant during golf’s off season brings challenges, said Chris Barnes, the secretary trustee of the lodge’s board of directors. He’s overseeing the restaurant transition.

“I’ll be honest. We’re coming in at the worst season to come in and take over a restaurant. The weather has turned. Golfing is over,” he said. “This is just keeping the lights on. We want to keep the lights on and keep the employees.”

Staffing will stay the same, including the restaurant’s current chef, Dallas Woodruff, whose resume includes Anthony’s.

Other staff members have been offered jobs, Barnes said. The restaurant also is hiring.

Menu changes will be immediate. Woodruff and Barnes plan to host themed dining nights, such as tacos on Tuesday. The daily lunch and dinner menu will be straightforward sandwiches and American classics. The restaurant also will serve breakfast daily.

The goal is to offer a modestly priced restaurant that lodge members, golfers and families can afford.

“Price point is important. We want people to come back and to do that. We want to be reasonable,” said Barnes.

Because the Elks Lodge No. 174 is a fraternal organization, Barnes noted, the Elks don’t have to turn a profit.

That will translate into the ability to lower menu prices to a more affordable level — such as sandwiches at or below $10 — which was tough for the previous operators to offer and be profitable, Barnes said.

For a little more than a year, Giuseppe Nappo and his son-in-law and daughter, George and Bianca Filiss, operated Urban Elk. The longtime restaurateurs own the Cliff House in Northeast Tacoma, Verrazano’s in Federal Way and Al Lago in Lake Tapps. Their last day running Urban Elk is Saturday.

Before Urban Elk opened in July 2016, Gordon Naccarato of Tacoma’s Pacific Grill operated a restaurant called Smoke + Cedar at the golf course from March 2014 to October 2015.

Both restaurant operators had a difficult time attracting customers who thought the lodge was a private club.

It’s not.

The lodge has hired a marketing director to recruit diners, businesses and potential catering clients and to also alert the public that the golf course and restaurant are open to all diners and golfers, Barnes said.

Urban Elk Kitchen and Bar

Where: 2013 S. Cedar St., Tacoma; 253-272-1117; urbanelktacoma.com.

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