Patrick Robinson
The Heartland Cafe and Benbow Room will be under new ownership in April.

Heartland Cafe changing hands; Admiral District restaurant will be under new ownership in April

"It was like the biggest house party I ever had", Heartland Cafe owner Jay Wergin said on Friday. After a memorable four years serving Midwest-inspired comfort food to the people of West Seattle’s Admiral District, he announced that the business has been sold to new owners Allison and Ian Hill, effective in April, 2014

In a letter describing the change Wergin wrote:
"We are grateful for the community’s support over the past four years and thank everyone who took the time to stop in and patronize our business. I’m thrilled that we had the opportunity to resurrect the Benbow Room bar and launch a family-friendly café in the Admiral District. As longtime residents of the area, we knew our neighborhood needed an establishment like the Heartland. It took us almost an entire year, back in 2009, to breathe new life into a building that had been abandoned and neglected for five years. We felt strongly about resurrecting the Benbow Room (originally the Admiral Benbow Inn), one of West Seattle’s historical institutions. We were also aware, once Bank of America took over the old Admiral Café space, that West Seattle needed a good, all-American breakfast joint.

We met some challenges as we worked hard to please a diverse clientele in West Seattle and made many changes along the way – some for better and some for worse. We enjoyed sharing our business with the now defunct Shipwreck (even when people had a hard time distinguishing between the two bars).
During our tenure as owners, we hosted hundreds of local and touring bands, a multitude of birthdays, local meetings, celebrations and pirate-themed parties. We saw tears in the eyes of old timers, and even Seafair Pirates, when they walked into the Benbow Room to share their stories. It wasn’t uncommon to get visits from third-generation West Seattleites whose grandparents, parents and kids had shared memories here.

New owners, Allison and Ian Hill will take over in April, carry on the business and keep our neighborhood vibrant. Please join them in support of this charming location and keep the spirit of West Seattle alive.
As for us? Co-owner Jeff Loren is off to Alaska, cooking on various service vessels and fishing boats. I am working on my web marketing degree and plan to return to the corporate world I left behind back in 2008.
Please stop by and say hello to the staff and my lovely wife Jenny. Wish them the best as the bar and café change hands. Let us know if you have any last requests to bring back a favorite menu item or a drink that you miss. We plan to have a final blowout celebration the last weekend of business and would love to toast you one last time."

Wergin said the new owners have talked about changing the ceiling height of the room in the back to make live music events better and plan on a few improvements.

For Wergin, he's back in classes getting brushed on digital marketing and seeking a job in the field but also keeping his options open.

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