The property is now up for sale by the new owners of Willows Inn. This was formerly Lummi Island's most acclaimed dining destination.
The restaurant closed its doors in November after a turbulent year that saw allegations of wage theft, a toxic working environment and chef Blaine Wetzel. Owners Tim and Marcia McEvoy then donated the property to Lighthouse Mission Ministries in Bellingham.
The property also has 16 guest rooms, which can accommodate up to 30 overnight guests. The assessed value for 2022 is $2,04 million.
Amia Frose of Saratoga Commercial Real Estate stated in a press release that the listing does not have an asking price. Instead, the brokers will review each individual offer "due the uniqueness of the property".
She said that some people may be interested to operate the property similarly to The Willows Inn. Others have suggested a retreat/training facility, or a large complex of family rooms. Prospective buyers will use different valuations depending on how the property is used.
After Blaine Wetzel assumed the reins in 2010, The Willows Inn became one of the Northwest’s most popular dining destinations.
The 24-year old came from the celebrated Danish restaurant Noma to Lummi Island. The James Beard Foundation named him Best Chef of Northwest and his restaurant was often ranked as one of the "best" restaurants by publications like the New York Times Bon Appetit Forbes, the New York Times.
In a 2021 New York Times report, Wetzel, along with other restaurant managers, were accused of wage theft, falsifying the restaurant's ingredients, and creating an unhealthy work environment which tolerated sexual harassment, homophobia, and racist remarks.
Many employees quit because of these concerns. Some employees filed class action lawsuits alleging wage theft. Wetzel McEvoy and Wetzel have paid out more than $2,000,000 in settlements.
The proceeds from the sale of the property will be used to renovate the campus at Lighthouse Mission Ministries, a $25 million project.