Krista Lessenden

Krista Lessenden presents food prepared at The Cove Restaurant in Long Beach, Washington.

In 2017, husband and wife Doug Brown and Angie Brown visited the Long Beach Peninsula for Labor Day weekend. While there, they visited The Cove Restaurant and Peninsula Golf Course in Long Beach.

“We had lunch at The Cove and were surprised at how good the food was,” Angie said. “We then learned that the restaurant was to close permanently the next month and I thought, ‘What a shame. If a restaurant was this good in my back yard, I’d eat there all the time.’”

Sandwich

A Reuben sandwich with sweet potato fries.

By then, the golf course had been for sale for more than a year. Doug, an ardent golfer, had been eyeing the golf course with his brother.

“RV-ing around and stopping at various golf courses, we would say to each other half-jokingly, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to own a golf course? Think of the fun project it would be when we retire,’” Angie said. “Little did we know … We’re not retired yet but the opportunity arrived unexpectedly.”

After talking to each other about purchasing the golf course and restaurant, the couple decided to make an offer. They’ve since been owners of the golf course and restaurant.

A community spot

“It wasn’t entirely about the excitement of having my very own golf course,” Doug said. “I was looking forward to the whole project. I grew up on Vashon Island and was used to a small community and familiar with the seasonal challenges it can present. Similar to the peninsula, I knew it could be busy in the summer and quiet in winter. But I also knew what a small community and the peninsula would offer — fun, interesting, engaging and safe places to stay and play. I was ready for the challenge.”

Since opening in 2018, it has been important to Angie and Doug that the community feel comfortable and welcome. The couple have hired locals and focused on serving families and children.

Bartender

Bartender Nancy Von Essen makes one of The Cove Restaurant’s signature Bloody Mary cocktails.

“I know what it’s like to eat out and have antsy little ones,” Angie said. “Let them sit on the bar stools and squirm all they want, twisting away as mom and dad have their drinks or a meal and conversation.”

Dogs are welcome too — both on the golf course with their owners and an outdoor heated patio known as the “Pup Patio,” where owners can select treats for their dogs from a special menu.

The couple enjoys creating programs and tournaments for kids to enjoy. Their first summer kids golf program had 142 kids — they expected 20.

“Doug is fantastic with kids,” Angie said. “He’s always ready to dream up activities and mentor them. Sometimes I’ll see youngsters trying out the mini clubs on the putting green while their parents relax on the patio with a glass of wine and before you know it, Doug or our golf pro will be out there giving tips.”

Interior

The restaurant’s interior.

There are tournaments and diversions for adults too, like the “Lucky Honey Pot” competition on Sundays for Players Club teams vying to sink a birdie on the number four, three-par, 150-yard hole, mowed like a clover leaf.

“We’re all about inclusion and community building,” Angie said.

In the restaurant, staff prioritize quality.

“Culinary excellence is high on our agenda. I like to call what we offer ‘casual fine dining,’ elevating the quality of our food and introducing new and interesting items that are not on your average menu,” Angie said.

Appetizers include spicy chili cilantro glazed Thai prawns and sashimi grade yellow fin tuna, perfectly seared rare. Heartier fare includes cast iron grilled steak and prawns; Japanese udon noodle bowls; and seafood coconut curry — a combination of halibut, prawns and scallops in a curry sauce with veggies over rice.

Patio

The restaurant's outdoor dining patio, also called the "Pup Patio" where dogs have their own menu.

The restaurant has won the Iron Chef Goes Coastal competition multiple times. In 2020, employee Sarah Pringle won “Best Dessert” for a tiramisu cheesecake.

Adapting to change

Earlier in the coronavirus pandemic, the restaurant’s staff was furloughed but most staff have returned, Doug said. The restaurant adapted to offer mostly take-out rather than primarily having customers dine in.

“We had to pivot quickly last year and were able to purchase a small van so that we could make deliveries. It’s amazing how that has expanded,” Doug said. “It’ll be interesting to see how many people are going to stick to home deliveries now that in-house dining is opening up. The 50% capacity for our inside tables, still at six feet apart, doesn’t make much of a difference from the 25% regulation but with summer, when we can extend service to the lawn, we’ll see if more people are comfortable with being on site.”

Noodle bowl

An udon noodle bowl with calamari and a glass of Oriana from Brian Carter Cellars.

Angie hopes to soon reintroduce wine dinners, other special events and more catering services. The restaurant also will soon have a “grab n’ go” cooler with ready-made meals that customers can pick up.

“We both take delight in people and appreciate good food,” Doug said. “We expect good service and have high expectations, so we try to integrate that with whatever we do. How can we go above and beyond, take on challenges and do things well? We always ask ourselves, ‘How can we make things better? How can we help others to blossom?’”

“Always find a way to say, ‘Yes.’” Angie added.

Golf course

Peninsula Golf Course surrounds the restaurant.

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