Business

Salty's adds flavor to Redondo history

By PAT JENKINS

The Mirror

In the 1890s, Redondo Beach was a popular picnic spot. Word is that some families even pitched tents and camped there for entire summers.

Salty’s at Redondo Beach doesn’t date back that far, but for the past quarter-century it has carried on the waterfront location’s historical reputation for food and fun.

The cozy restaurant perched on a pier jutting into Puget Sound in Des Moines is a south King County institution. Its biggest fans say there is no finer place anywhere near for seafood. Individual palates can make their own conclusions, but there’s no denying the staying power of this dining institution that is marking its 25th year.

The recipe for success is an upbeat dining experience in a a nautical and marine-themed atmosphere that’s equally casual and formal, said Gerry Kingen, who with his wife Kathryn, a University of Washington-educated nutritionist, owns the Redondo eatery. It’s one of three carrying the Salty’s moniker. Salty’s on Alki, opened in Seattle in 1985, and one opened in Portland, Ore. in 1979 are the others.

Kingen –– who also carved a big niche for himself in the restaurant industry as the founder in 1969 of what is now the sprawling Red Robin empire, yet has the title of “Head dishwasher” on his business cards –– spreads the credit for Salty’s to “the team” of managers and employees.

“They make our customers happy and they have fun working,” he said, seated at a window table while smiling waitresses and waiters bustled about and general manager Terianne Broyles went from table to table greeting lunchtime customers. Chefs, for instance, are encouraged to be “sensitive” to local preferences, which Kingen said results in the kitchenmeisters getting to stretch their culinary arts and diners getting more of what they want from a menu with “more adventure.”

The latter includes a limited-time three-course “prix-fixe” dinner (it started in October and continues through November) that has drawn raves for its quality and value.

“Never stand still,” said Kingen, a youthful 62-year-old with lots of ideas to talk about. “The beauty of capitalism is that it’s always reinventing itself. If I see something (in a restaurant other than his own) that I like, I tell my staff and have them check it out.”

He said he has “no burning desire” to open more Salty’s, but he’s open to possibilities.

In a sense, opening the one in Redondo was destiny for Kingen. His late father, Bob, who went on to own a variety of eateries ranging from drive-ins to steakhouses before selling out at age 56, frequented an amusement park and roller skating rink that stood near the beach in the 1930s.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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