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New Manette Saloon manager seeks to serve side of sports
The Manette Saloon and Side Bar is well-known as a nighttime hub of live music, but new management envisions a new identity: the neighborhood sports pub.
New manager and Manette resident Mike Strube sees an opportunity to expand The Manette's customer base. By extending the bar's hours and bringing in several big-screen TVs, Strube thinks he can boost business and become a destination for Sunday football and dinnertime baseball.
But that's not to discount the live music offerings that made The Manette an institution.
"I've always loved the live music down here. It's something that I think is one of our strengths," Strube said, adding that he will continue to bring performers of all genres to the stage. "My goal is not to walk away from the music side at all, but maybe during the day, in the evenings, getting a neighborhood-type pub crowd."
Strube's first day on the job was Jan. 26 and he already started the transformation by slimming down the menu to popular pub fare and adding two more sandwiches. The next goal is to repaint, rearrange seating and bring in additional TVs by about the end of February. He hopes to make the Tuesday-through-Saturday saloon into a seven-days-a-week operation starting with the next football season, or even sooner.
"We've had a fairly strong dinner crowd over the years," he said. "We're just expanding on that."
Strube, president of the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce, was brought into The Manette's fold by co-owner Becky Dove-Taylor at a time that her business partner, Kimm Heydel-Anderson, is about to retire. Dove-Taylor's plan is to let Strube manage for a year before bringing him on as a partner and then handing over sole ownership within the next four years.
Dove-Taylor and Strube have long been friends and have a shared vision of The Manette's transformation.
"We have a lot of the same friends and a lot of the same ideas," Dove-Taylor said, adding that Strube will move forward with her own desires for the saloon.
The makeover comes after some other recent changes. Without the extra dimension of the sports pub, The Manette already has a dual identity — in addition to the saloon, there is the adjoining side bar, completed about two years ago, which offers a more upscale atmosphere for those who want to sip a martini away from the clamor of the music stage. The side bar is something Strube wants to emphasize as a standout feature.
"It's a very unique place," he said, adding that Bremerton isn't known for its martini and wine bars. "I'm lucky that I've got two different bars I can play with."
The bar also partnered with Henry's Deli & Cafe in November after its lease in the Norm Dicks Government Building was canceled. But a couple weeks ago, Henry's was shut out once again because the Liquor Control Board wouldn't allow two businesses under one liquor license.
Meanwhile, Dove-Taylor is relinquishing The Manette's reins after 15 years of ownership. She wants to move on from the business by the time her daughter graduates from high school.
"I do not want to be an owner in four years," she said.
Strube said he brings cooking, serving and marketing experience to The Manette. He retired from 19 years at Costco a few weeks ago, where he worked mostly in electronics sales and marketing. Before that, he was a cook and restaurant manager at the Silverdale Beach Hotel, and he's been a bartender at Amy's on the Bay in Port Orchard for two years - a skill he takes to The Manette's bar five nights a week.
His main mission, he said, was to make The Manette a destination his neighbors could enjoy.
"This is my neighborhood," he said.