After six years, Mill 109’s co-owners are saying sayonara to Seabrook.
“We made a deal. We’re calling it Seabrexit,” joked Rob Paylor, who owns the restaurant with partner Patrick Durney.
In a public Facebook post on Wednesday afternoon, the duo said their decision to close Mill 109 was based on “frustration with mall management” as well as lack of space for expansion.
“(Seabrook officials) wanted full menu control in the restaurant, and we just weren’t willing to give that up,” Paylor told The Daily World on Thursday. “I think they were frustrated with that, and we came to an exit strategy.”
“We appreciate everything the Mill 109 owners and their friendly staff have brought to Seabrook, and we wish them success in the future,” said Casey Roloff, the town’s founder and developer. “But it’s become clear over the past few years that we didn’t see eye to eye on multiple items.”
Roloff said that included some financial terms as well.
“There were disagreements on how the lease read and was interpreted,” he said. “I think Rob and Patrick are nice guys, and we think we’re nice guys, too. But we just agreed: This isn’t fun for you guys, and it isn’t fun for us, so let’s just go different directions.”
Roloff also took exception to the “mall management” comment on Mill 109’s Facebook post.
“Anybody who wants to run a business in Seabrook, it’s a partnership in that we’re building this town,” he said. “We own most of the buildings here, and a big part of that is so we can maintain a cohesive group of shops and restaurants that aren’t directly competing with one another, that are more complementary. That’s just good retail management.”
He added: “Watching some of the other restaurants evolve in Seabrook, it was clear to us that they weren’t evolving the way we had hoped.”
Paylor said he and Durney don’t have a solid closing date for Mill 109, but they’re looking at the end of October.
The duo also co-own the Hoquiam Brewing Co. in downtown Hoquiam. When they opened that venue in 2017, they stated their intention to offer a full menu someday.
As a result of their Seabrook decision, that day is coming soon, Paylor said.
“Every piece of equipment inside Mill 109 belongs to us — all the stoves, all the ovens, all the forks, everything — which makes it a very easy move,” said Paylor. “And it’s equipment that we do need to expand the kitchen and take catering into the Hoquiam kitchen.”
There’s no official target date for that, but Paylor said he’s hoping to have a full Hoquiam kitchen up and running by Thanksgiving.
For his part, Roloff said he’s already entered talks with a potential new operator for the Seabrook location and hopes to make an announcement about that in the coming weeks.
“In the past six months we’ve opened eight new businesses,” he said, including two new restaurants. “We obviously know a lot of people like Mill 109, and change can be difficult. But our town is evolving and growing and improving, and there are going to be setbacks along the way.”
Paylor and Durney are not giving up on the North Beach. They’re searching for a new site outside Seabrook for Mill 109 — or, perhaps, a different concept. Paylor said they’re open to all possibilities at this point.
“We love the beach community. I’ve lived in Aloha for almost 16 years now,” he said. “Downtown Pacific Beach is really growing, and there’s some interesting real estate and opportunities for us to stay close to our customer base and our friends out there. But nothing’s in stone yet.”