When the gravy runs out at the Braeburn Restaurant in Langley, it’s a sure sign breakfast orders are flowing.
By 10 a.m. this past Thursday, no gravy, no crab. But plenty of people found other favorites to order as they checked out the restaurant’s new streamlined look.
“It’s spectacular,” said Colette Riggs who was catching up over breakfast with friend Traci Winn. “It’s aesthetically beautiful, and it has an incredible freeing feel.”
The popular family-friendly restaurant known for its comfort food and all-day breakfast choices opened May 31 after being closed all winter.
A major remodel and expansion increased seating, doubled the size of the kitchen, added patio space, spruced up restrooms, created an entrance area for a host station and upgraded plumbing, electrical and kitchen equipment.
“It was more of a rebuild than a remodel,” said Lisa Carvey, owner and head cook. “It was stripped down to the studs. It was closed for four months, but it seemed like a lifetime.”
A sleek counter made of poured concrete is where customers can eat or order a Bloody Mary, wine or beer. Bottles of liquor and glasses are lined up in a stylish white cabinet, and beer and wine pours from a new keg dispensary system.
“It’s a little more open and fresher,” Carvey said. “But a lot of the local touches have remained. We still use Callahan water glasses from next door. We kept the mismatched coffee mugs and we kept the apple theme, definitely.”
More space has been needed for years at the popular diner but only recently became available when next-door neighbor, Gregor Rare Books, relocated to First Street.
Artwork lines one wall where books were once stacked as Carvey continues offering local artists space for temporary shows.
Carvey kept and added some touches of home to the revised decor.
“I’m from Vermont originally and I wanted to keep some of what was here before and add a bit of New England charm,” she said. “It was a little bit more kitschy country before.”
She also offers tastes of home.
“I have maple syrup shipped in from Vermont and sharp white cheddar shipped in,” she said. “Then we try and pull from local farmers for all the fresh produce.”
The Braeburn, next to the city’s old fire station on Second Street, has been a go-to place for years for locals and visitors looking for breakfast and lunch. Regulars left “hurry up and open” messages on the restaurant’s Facebook page as Carvey posted photos and construction updates.
“Their food is wonderful here,” said Pam Carroll eating out with Diahn Stetner. “When it first re-opened, there were people lined up to get in.”
Besides being known for its biscuits and gravy, Braeburn’s veggie hash and corned beef mash are popular.
The corned beef mash was named best breakfast in Washington state by Food Network Magazine a few years ago.
There’s not only more space, there’s more staff being hired. Employees managed to get through the down time either with unemployment benefits or finding temporary work.
Of all the new looks and spaces at the restaurant she’s owned since 2010, Carvey seems most thrilled with the huge gleaming commercial kitchen, complete with a new stove hood and many other updates.
“We built in a walk-in cooler, added a prep space for production and it’s more than doubled in size,” she said. “It’s like a dream being able to spread out and get things set up the way we need for efficiency. But it is totally different and there’s such a learning curve for myself and my staff.”
It seems, however, they’re quick learners.
“We didn’t advertise the re-opening, we just opened the door at noon May 31,” Carvey said. “That Friday and the whole weekend, we were doing numbers we don’t usually see until August.”
To keep up — and to catch a break — she decided to close one day a week, Tuesday, through the end of June. With a bigger kitchen, menu options may expand. Dinner might even be added, Carvey hinted, but not until after the summer rush.