New owner but a familiar face at the Braeburn

The Braeburn, downtown Langley’s cozy and venerable little restaurant, has changed hands.

The Braeburn, downtown Langley’s cozy and venerable little restaurant, has changed hands.

And the new hands belong to an old hand — she knows the establishment well.

Lisa Morrill, at 29 a veteran of the hospitality industry, recently purchased the Braeburn from Constance Ross and Jim Matheny of Langley.

A few years ago, she worked there.

“I love the area, and I’ve always loved Whidbey,” Morrill said. “It seemed like a really good fit.”

She said she first came to the island in 2002 from her native Vermont.

“I followed a boy,” Morrill said. “I’d never been to Washington state until I drove here with a car full of belongings. I fell in love instantly.”

She said she worked for a time at Bush Point, and the rest of her first stay here at the Braeburn. In 2005, she returned to Vermont, but she said she was always looking back over her shoulder.

“I was out here for a visit in May, and heard the Braeburn was for sale, so I pursued it,” Morrill said. “I’m very excited.”

Morrill said she’s no stranger to small towns. She was raised in one in Vermont.

“I just feel comfortable in them,” she said.

She graduated from high school in Vermont, and attended a university outside Boston, Mass., enrolled in liberal studies. She said she left after two years to travel, and found herself drawn more and more into the hospitality industry.

She has a dozen years of experience in the field, everything from washing dishes to planning weddings.

“I’ve kind of done everything there is to do,” Morrill said.

The Braeburn, next to the city’s old fire station on Second Street, has been a go-to place for years in Langley for those looking for breakfast and lunch. It has accumulated a tidy cadre of regulars.

There’s been a bit of fame, too.

This past summer, the restaurant’s corned beef mash was named best breakfast in Washington state by Food Network Magazine in its July issue.

The dish features homemade mashed potatoes mixed with corned beef, topped with Dubliner cheese, herbs and spices and three eggs your way, with a buttermilk biscuit or toast on the side.

“We make a lot of them,” Morrill said. “It’s delicious.”

She said she has no intention of straying far from the restaurant’s successful formula, “great breakfasts and lunches.”

But in the spring, she hopes to expand operations to include weekend specials and a dinner service a couple of nights per week. “We’ll see how it goes,” she said.

She also may expand to include special events, banquets and wedding dinners, all of which she is experienced in, she said.

Morrill said she currently has a staff of eight — employees from the Braeburn’s former ownership and one new asset, William Phelan, who is overseeing the kitchen.

Morrill said she’s optimistic about the future success of the Braeburn, and the rest of the Langley business community, despite the recent economic woes that have resulted in several business turnovers and empty storefronts in town.

“I know these are tough times,” she said. “But I think in a small town like this there’s a real market for a place where locals and tourists can go.”

Thursday, Morrill will continue a Braeburn tradition, serving the annual Southern Style Thanksgiving, featuring a Louisiana turducken, a de-boned chicken stuffed into a de-boned duck stuffed into a de-boned turkey.

There also will be Cajun oyster stuffing, pot roast, handmade desserts and more, she said. Those interested are requested to call for reservations.

Former owners Ross and Matheny will participate in preparation and service on Thanksgiving, Morrill said.

“It may be the last one they get to do,” she said. “It should be a fun night.”

Morrill currently lives in Clinton, but may eventually relocate to Langley to avoid the “12-minute commute.”

“I think it’s a great town,” Morrill said of Langley, and she’s excited about the future.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting the residents, business owners and visitors on the island,” she said. “I hope people will continue visiting us.”

The Braeburn is at 197 Second St. in Langley. Winter hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For information, or to make Thanksgiving reservations, call 221 3211 or e-mail