The city of Kent terminated its lease March 29 with Half Lion Public House at the Riverbend Golf Complex. COURTESY PHOTO, Half Lion Public House

The city of Kent terminated its lease March 29 with Half Lion Public House at the Riverbend Golf Complex. COURTESY PHOTO, Half Lion Public House

City of Kent again looking for new tenant at Riverbend restaurant

City terminates lease with Half Lion Public House, which had hoped to reopen at golf complex

Half Lion Public House is done at the city-owned Riverbend Golf Complex in Kent, starting yet another search for a new operator.

City staff would love to find a smooth operator at the location, 2019 W. Meeker St., which has had four restaurants since 2010 – Fire Creek Grill, Mick Kelly’s Irish Pub, Scotch and Vine and Half Lion. All closed owing the city money.

Half Lion closed in October 2023 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in November 2023 with the hope it could reopen the Kent location. But that’s not going to happen. And now Half Lion owes the city money for a broken lease.

“The bankruptcy court granted the city’s motion for relief from the automatic stay, which allowed the city to move forward with formally terminating Half Lion’s lease,” City Attorney Tammy White said in a March 27 email.

Since that time, White said the city and Half Lion mutually agreed to terminate the lease on March 29, when Half Lion had to vacate the premises.

Half Lion vacated, but it left lots of items behind that city staff will need to clear out, said City Parks Director Julie Parascondola at an April 2 City Council workshop.

Half Lion Public House opened in 2019 and just six months later had to shut down due to the pandemic. In 2022, its first full year of operation, the restaurant/bar made a profit on its operations. But other company debts led to the closure. Half Lion Brewing was based in Sumner, before that location also closed last fall.

Half Lion signed a 10-year lease with the city of Kent in 2019, plus three five-year options to renew, at a rent of $3,000 per month or $36,000 per year, with increases based on the Consumer Price Index.

In addition to clearing out the interior of the restaurant, city staff also must repair an entrance damaged when a vehicle recently crashed into the building.

Meanwhile, the search for a new tenant begins.

“There is a lot of interest,” Parascondola said at the council workshop. “We need to get it cleaned out and get a new lease agreement.”

When a new tenant might be found remains to be determined.

It could be late summer or early fall, said Eric Hinrichs, manager of the Riverbend Golf Complex, during his April 2 report to the City Council.

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