Bremerton bar bails out Henry’s

H. John Bridger, owner of Henry’s Deli, and Rebecca Dove-Taylor, owner of the Manette Saloon and Sidebar, are teaming up to save the sandwich shop which is being forced out of its location in the Norm Dicks Government Building. - Steven DeDual/staff photo
H. John Bridger, owner of Henry’s Deli, and Rebecca Dove-Taylor, owner of the Manette Saloon and Sidebar, are teaming up to save the sandwich shop which is being forced out of its location in the Norm Dicks Government Building.
— image credit: Steven DeDual/staff photo

Deli is evolving, moving to the

Manette Saloon.

When H. John Bridger, owner of Henry’s Deli in the Norm Dicks Government Building, found out his lease was being cancelled at the end of this month, he was confused and more than a bit worried.

“My focus has been, ‘What do I do with my staff?’” Bridger said. “They need jobs. This is horrible that we are coming into the holiday season and they won’t have jobs.”

He started by sending a text message to his long-time friend, Rebecca Dove-Taylor, owner of the Manette Saloon.

He was hoping she would be able to provide positions for the soon-to-be-unemployed staff members from Henry’s, but he also wanted to run an idea by her that would save the popular deli from its demise. And the idea became the perfect win-win situation for both parties. Bridger was in need of a place for him and his staff to practice their craft and Dove-Taylor and her partner, Kimm-Heydel Anderson, were in need of someone to manage the food service for the bar.

“Since I have owned (the Manette Saloon) for the last 14 years I have wanted to get someone in there like John and have him do the kitchen so we could do the bar,” Dove-Taylor said.

Henry’s Deli is morphing into Henry’s Bistro and moving from its place on Sixth Street to the Manette Sidebar.

“It’s also going to extend their hours,” Bridger said, explaining the bar will open at 8 a.m. for breakfast service and lunch service will go until 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. “We’ll eventually take over their entire food service and it will be two businesses working together. It’s a different concept and a different way of doing things. But it’s a way we are taking care of each other as small businesses, especially in this economy.”

Dove-Taylor said the economy has been a bit hard on the bar as well, and with Bridger joining them, paying bills will be easier for them as well.

“The Manette has been there for a really long time so it’s keeping its doors open, but this is definitely going to help us,” she said.

“We have to take care of each other,” Bridger said. “That’s called family.”

The concept evolved through conversations between Bridger, Dove-Taylor and Anderson, but it started with Bridger looking for assistance.

“I am not ashamed to say (I was reaching out for help),” he said. “But we’re taking care of ourselves and we’re doing it.”

The limitations of the space Bridger currently leases will disappear with the move as Henry’s will go from a deli to a full-service restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and a special concept Bridger has for a Sunday evening meal.

“We call it Sunday supper,” he said. “Going and sitting with friends and family and instilling the family atmosphere. We’re going to serve a pre-fixed menu where you get options of two or three items and it is served family-style on big platters and bowls and you pass it around the table. It is to instill getting together.”

Henry’s Deli closed in the Norm Dicks Government Building yesterday and will open for breakfast at 8 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 28 in the Manette Sidebar. Sunday, Nov. 29 will be the first Sunday supper and Bridger’s partner, David Johnson, will be preparing brown-bottom meat loaf.

“Now (Bridger) is going to be way too busy,” Dove-Taylor said, laughing.

Bridger said Henry’s Deli gift certificates will be accepted at the new Henry’s Bistro and they will be doing some delivery for the deli’s customers in the Sixth Street building.

“We have a great following of customers and we know that we need to take care of them,” Bridger said.

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