The future of Dub's
A sign on the window of Dub's indicates the pending changes ahead for the iconic Sandpoint restaurant. While owners Jeralyn and Marty Mire approached the city about buying the property on which the restaurant sits, the restaurant will continue to be a mainstay in the community. If the deal goes through, the site will be leased back to the Mires, who will sublease it to Ryan and Bethany Welsh, who will have the option to buy the business down the road.
(Photo by CAROLINE LOBSINGER)
An early photo of Dub's which hung on the wall of the iconic Sandpoint restaurant. While owners Jeralyn and Marty Mire approached the city about buying the property on which the restaurant sits, the restaurant will continue to be a mainstay in the community. If the deal goes through, the site will be leased back to the Mires, who will sublease it to Ryan and Bethany Welsh, who will have the option to buy the business down the road.
A look at Dub's when it was owned by Dub Lewis, who originally opened it as a Dari-Delite.
Staff Writer | January 25, 2023 1:00 AM
SANDPOINT — It was time for a change — and Dub's owners Marty and Jeralyn Mire wanted it to be on their terms.
Marty Mire was ready to retire on more than just a part-time basis, but neither he, nor his wife, Jeralyn, wanted to close their iconic Sandpoint restaurant.
So they went to the city with an offer: Do you want to buy Dub's? (Or at least the property on which the restaurant sits.)
"The city did not come in and say they were going to take the restaurant," Marty Mire said. "We approached the city. This was our choice. … we don't want any rumors to get started that it's gonna be torn down next week or next month."
The Mires said the decision to sell the property, but find a way for Dub's to survive, was important — to them, their family and the community.
"We approached the city because it is the best path forward," Jeralyn Mire said. "We called the state, too, and asked if they were interested, but the city called back first."
Since then, the two sides have been "working out the kinks" of what a deal might look like to separate the property from the business. In the end, it comes down to the city buying the land, pending council approval; and the Mires leasing it back from the city so they continue Dub's. The Mires would then lease the business to the Welshes, with the potential to buy it down the road.
It is a proposal that offers the best of all possible options to all involved, the Mires said. They were able to work out a fair deal for everyone — and provide a path for Dub's to stay around and thrive in the future.
"Our hope is that Ryan and Bethany really like it and will eventually buy the business and, hopefully, be able to find its new forever home," Jeralyn Mire said.
The deal now heads to the Sandpoint City Council for a vote. The proposed purchase of the Dub's site is slated for discussion at the council's Feb. 1 meeting.
The restaurant had been run by the couple's daughter and son-in-law, Kristi and Austin Terrell, for several years after Marty Mire opted to retire after 33 years of running Dub's. This past fall, their son-in-law was offered a great job in his field of study where he gets to work for the state but stay in Sandpoint.
With it being a slow time, the Mires said they opted to close the restaurant for the winter to decide what to do next. They knew changes were coming and that, eventually, a decision would have to be made on Dub's future.
It was then they decided to approach the city: What did they think about buying the property?
"Marty's had Dub's for 33 years," Jeralyn Mire said. "And we know our town is growing. We felt that it would be much better if the city was in control of that property versus what the state might elect to do whenever they decide to come through."
The city was, to say the least, surprised.
“We certainly weren't expecting the conversation,” Sandpoint City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton said.
However, they were also interested, noting it opens up additional opportunities to improve safety and access at the intersection of U.S. 2 and Boyer Avenue.
All sides said the deal, which heads to the Sandpoint City Council next week, will benefit everyone.
“It's a win-win with a new business owner taking over Dub’s with dreams of a larger future space, and the city secures the property for future corridor improvements,” Stapleton said.
In fact, an initial couplet concept for the U.S. 2 corridor in Sandpoint’s recently adopted transportation plan was designed to minimize impact to Dub’s. The city wanted to respect the iconic restaurant and all it meant to the community, Stapleton said.
However, that changed when the Mires came to the city with their proposal. Now, with a pending deal on the table to purchase the property, a revised design will be presented to the council on Feb. 1. The plan will feature improved access to South Boyer and overall connectivity for all modes of transportation, said Stapleton.
"Improvements are needed to the Highway 2 corridor due to increased traffic and we are regularly hearing concerns about safety for pedestrians and bicyclists from neighbors," she said.
While it will primarily be an ITD project, the city administrator said the city will need to be a partner and provide some of the funding.
"The Mires were more comfortable negotiating a sale with the city, and the property acquisition costs will count toward the city's participation in the overall corridor project," she said.
Mire has owned Dub's for the past 33 years, buying it from the original owner, Dub Lewis, who started the business as a Dari-Delite. He knew he wanted to work for himself and put a few feelers out for businesses that might be for sale. Pretty soon, he had worked out a deal. Now, Mire said, he is making a deal of his own — one that benefits the community and secures the best path forward for Dub's.
There is no definitive date for Dub's to leave its current location and all sides said it will likely be years before the iconic restaurant does have to move. But this offers the best path forward for everyone, the Mires said.
"The traffic is getting really congested and, at some point, the state is going to make something happen on Highway 2," Jeralyn Mire said.
"At some point, they're going to do something at that intersection there," Marty Mire added. "It could be three years, five years or 10 years. Nobody knows."
This way, there are plans for both Dub's immediate — and long-term — futures. Going through heart-wrenching uncertainty in the early 2010s on how a proposed highway relocation project known as "The Curve" would impact their business was difficult, the Mires said.
"It was a rough time for us. It was tough for the whole family," Jeralyn Mire said, her voice trailing off.
"When your livelihood could be taken away from you without a voice," Marty Mire said, picking up where his wife left off. "At least now, we're leaving on our own terms."
They have loved being a part of the community, of being a part of its celebrations, from hosting the winning (and losing) teams after a T-ball game to hosting a dinner for students headed to prom. They have given ice cream cones as prizes for read-a-thons and supported any number of causes and fundraisers.
"The community always supported us," Marty Mire said. "We wanted to support the community."
The Mires said they've loved working with so many students over the years at the restaurant, helping with everything from prom dresses and rental tuxes to co-signing for loans on their first car.
It's rare to go someplace where they don't run into a former employee, Jeralyn Mire added, noting a recent visit to the Cocolalla post office.
"They all think so fondly of Marty and, for Marty, it's like he has all of these extra kids who consider him their bonus dad," she added. "But he said it was time to retire when the kids he hired now had their kids working for him."
Marty Mire agreed, laughing.
"I wanted to get out before I hired their grandkids."They have been upfront with the Welshes, letting them know exactly what is going on, but giving them the ability to carve out their own legacy with Dub's.