Local steakhouse chain sets eyes on Blaine

Published on Wed, Sep 1, 2010 by By Jeremy Schwartz

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Bellingham developer Ken Imus has confirmed that a high-end steak house will be the first tenant of the recently refurbished bank building on G Street.

Imus said local restaurateur Jack Niemann has leased the first floor and the basement of the renovated building to house a member of his popular Black Forest Steak House chain. Niemann opened the first Black Forest Steak House in White Rock, B.C., in 1968 and has since expanded to Everson and Bellingham.

Having finished the exterior of the building, Imus said his company needs only to work with Niemann to design and build the restaurant’s interior. This process, which will include installing sprinklers and all the electrical equipment, will hopefully take only three months, Imus said.

The high-class reputation Niemann has built for the Black Forest chain will hopefully attract more tenants to the second floor of the building, Imus explained.

“If Jack thinks it’s good, then that’s a good thing right there,” Imus said.

Born in Germany in 1938, Niemann immigrated to Canada in 1955 and apprenticed as a chef de cuisine with Canadian Pacific Hotels (Banff Springs Hotel and Palliser Hotel Calgary).

In 1968, he opened his first restaurant in White Rock, B.C. and later sold the restaurant to open a new one in Everson.
The city of Blaine and the surrounding area are in need of a high-end restaurant, Imus said. He said he has heard from many people who have stayed a few nights in the area that they do not want to go all the way to the Semiahmoo area for a taste of upscale dining.

Imus said he is confident Niemann will be able to bring much of the customer following he has established in White Rock across the border to Blaine. 

The rear of the bank building, which Imus helped design to appear like a separate structure, will house a combination dairy products store and ice cream parlor, owned by David Vargo.

Imus’ development plans in Blaine started in the beginning of 2010 with the refurbishing of the bank building. He said he hopes to bring the success he had developing the Fairhaven district in Bellingham to the Peace Arch city.