The Bridge restaurant opened in 2005 with high hopes of helping to revitalize the Ship Creek area and make it a tourist destination. Just a few years later The Bridge closed its doors and has since sat empty. Now a couple of local chefs hope to have better fortunes and are reopening the downtown landmark.
Chef Al Levinsohn and his partner Chef Patrick Hoogerhyde were gearing up for their first catering gig, Friday night at the newly reopened and renamed Bridge Seafood. Lauren Hazelton and her new husband were holding their wedding reception at Bridge Seafood.
“What I hope it turns into is an icon place to have parties,” Levinsohn said. “Holiday parties and things.”
Levinsohn just recently bought The Bridge, but it wasn't his original plan. He had been looking to open a seafood restaurant downtown and only wanted to buy the kitchen equipment out of The Bridge.
“I looked at the venue and said ‘Hey go with the idea that you would know what would work here’ by doing a seasonal restaurant and using it for a catering facility,” he said. “It just made sense to just do that and here we are.”
Levinsohn says the kitchen is too small, and the dining room too large to do a year round restaurant, which is part of the reason the old owners failed. So Levinsohn thinks this new plan of catering during the off season and a buffet and family-style seafood restaurant during the summer is the best way to go.
“When you have a very large staff you’re just hoping that door never shuts, that it's just a constant stream of people coming in,” he said. “Anchorage is a tough market, especially in the winter time with this given location, it's a tough market.”
Levinsohn and Hoogerhyde aren’t even thinking about the fact that the bridge has gone out of business before. Both of them say it’s something they have to put behind them and operate their business the right way.
Hazelton, the duo’s first catering client, is giving Bridge Seafood good reviews so far.
“It's perfect they really made this place look great,” she said.
Hazelton had been to the previous incarnation of The Bridge, but was looking forward to a new experience. That’s the attitude the new owners hope all of their customers will bring.
“We're going to have people that have the old nostalgic feeling of what The Bridge was,” Hoogerhyde said. “But that's not what The Bridge is going to be. The Bridge is going to be something a little more exciting a little more different.”
The Bridge is already taking bookings for holiday parties and there are big plans for next summer's seafood restaurant which will be prepared almost entirely out of Alaska grown and caught products.
“People say ‘Where do you go to get good seafood?’” Levinsohn said. “And it's really hard to give them an answer. So I wanted to come up with a place where ‘Well there's only one that I can think of: Bridge Seafood.’”
Managers of Bridge Catering say The Bridge is best suited for groups of 100 to 150 people.
For more information about booking go to www.bridgeseafood.com.