Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Classic Grill’n

Staff Writer | April 10, 2024 1:30 AM

OTHELLO – Othello-based catering business and food truck Classic Grill’n has been operating in the area for about 20 years, helmed by barbecue lovers Tim and Birdie Fought. Now they’ve opened the very first sit-down Classic Grill’n café.

The barbecue restaurant is located behind the Old Hotel Art Gallery and Museum, using the Old Hotel’s kitchen and cafe space, newly renovated by Classic Grill’n.

“Othello needed a restaurant,” Tim Fought said. “I mean, Othello needed something different and people were asking for something different and we kind of fit that niche.”

The restaurant opened at the beginning of March, Fought said. 

“It's a roller coaster. I mean it's up and down. The first week we were super busy and then it kind of tapered off, but it seems like and feels like we're building again, so we're steadily getting more and more people to know that we're here,” he said. “That's the biggest thing, is people don't realize we’re here. We’re kind of off the road, we’re not right on the curb and so we're kind of hidden back here.”

Fought said they are working on putting up more signage to direct customers to the restaurant, which sits inside an addition to the Old Hotel’s main building. The cafe is accessible through its own entrance and the Old Hotel. 

The restaurant can seat 24 inside and will soon be able to seat 48 to 50 on the outside patio, Fought said. 

“Hopefully by the middle of April or 1st of May we'll start being able to open that patio up and see how that goes,” he said.

Fought said the catering business began by accident when a caterer hired for an event with the Othello Gun Club never showed up and the Foughts had to use the caterer’s barbeque and supplies to feed 200 people at the event. 

“(Birdie) and I had always done concessions type food up to that point, for, like, the gun clubs and different things like that,” he said. “So it wasn't new to us, but running the barbecue, getting that figured out, (getting) the heat right and all that stuff figured out was. For a couple years, I borrowed his barbecue, then I built my own and then now I've got four of them.”

Classic Grill’n covers much of the Columbia Basin and Central Washington. 

“We do a lot of work in the Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Cle Elum, Ellensburg area. We're starting to do a lot more in the Tri-Cities area,” Fought said. “I've got several corporate accounts, like SVZ, Lineage (Logistics) and McCain's out here, Simplot out of Bruce and then we’ve got RDO and several different plants down in Tri-Cities that kind of keep us going.”

Fought said business ramped up after getting through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Pre-pandemic, we were doing probably 25 to 40 events a year, which is perfectly manageable. In 2020, when the pandemic hit, we lost between 60 and 65 events that we had already had booked,” he said. “Coming out of the pandemic, we didn't know what to expect. So coming out in 2021 we did somewhere right around 75 to 80 events. In 2022 we did 110 to 115, and then last year in 2023 we did 175.”

Business was outpacing the Foughts’ ability to keep up, especially with both working other full-time jobs. Tim Fought said they decided in early 2023 to open a stationary location. 

“We made the decision then, ‘Well, we'll find a commercial kitchen,’” he said. “We knew about the Old Hotel, and we actually had already talked to them about using the kitchen, so we decided, ‘Here we go.’ So we remodeled the kitchen … We quit in June of 2023. June 1 was our last day at our nine to fives and then we didn't really have a plan. We were hoping to have this open in July but with contractor issues and getting people to commit to work, it took us a while.”

Fought said the community aspect of catering has always been the passion behind the business.

“We've always liked to do things community-oriented, and that's how we got our start, really … You're only a stranger until you say hi, so that's what we always go with,” Fought said. “We want to have a friendly atmosphere that a family can enjoy, a family can come into and sit down and have a good meal. It's fun when this place has people in it because you hear the laughter, the joy and stuff like that … People have really enjoyed their meals, really enjoyed the atmosphere in here.”

For more information on Classic Grill’n, visit www.classicgrillin.com.

Gabriel Davis may be reached at gdavis@columbiabasinherald.com.

Classic Grill’n Café

33 Larch St.
Othello, WA 99344

Tues.-Thurs. 10:30 a.m.-2 p.m. and 4:30-7:30 p.m.
Fri. 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 4:30-9 p.m.
Sat.-Mon. Closed

    Classic Grill’n co-owner Birdie Fought prepares food inside the Classic Grill’n café’s commercial kitchen, which is attached to Othello’s Old Hotel Art Gallery and Museum and was completely renovated by Classic Grill’n.
    Interior of Othello’s newest sit-down restaurant, Classic Grill’n café, which can seat about 24 people inside according to co-owner Tim Fought.

    Interior of Classic Grill’n café, including a round table that will eventually be used along with other similar tables to seat 48 to 50 people on the restaurant’s outside patio, according to co-owner Tim Fought.
    Exterior of Classic Grill’n café, which is attached to the Othello Old Hotel Art Gallery and Museum, located at 33 Larch St.. The café can be accessed from the pictured exterior door or from inside the Old Hotel.